The aging process carries with it the slow but inevitable decline in many faculties. Vision, hearing, physical strength and stamina, and, at times, mental acuity, all decline. On a cellular level, scientists speak of apoptosis or the built-in biological clock that each cell has. In simple terms for all to understand, it means that we cannot avoid aging.
Yet, there was a man who lived to be 120 years of age of whom it was written, “His eye was not dim, nor his natural force (moisture, Newberry) abated” (Deut 34:7). Lest you think he led some sheltered and stress free life, consider this:
He knew challenges to his authority. He was confronted by Dathan and Abiram and accused of being a self-appointed and selfish leader (Num 16). Only the miraculous intervention of God on that occasion silenced the voices of those who opposed him.
He knew criticism time and again. It came from within his family in Numbers 12, when Miriam, influencing Aaron to join her, “spake against Moses” (v1). It came numerous times from the people. Their murmurings arose over his leadership, lack of provision, and sundry other issues, including the deaths of the rebellious Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num 16:41).
He experienced the rebellion and unbelief of those he was leading when they refused to go into the land God had covenanted to give them (Num 14); and when they again defied his words by trying to go in the next day.
He knew what it was to labor in intercession, pleading with God on different occasions not to destroy Aaron, the people, and to heal Miriam. He knew the rigors and hardships of a 40 year journey in the wilderness, a detour which was not due to any failure on his part.
Perhaps, most significantly, he knew the disappointment of his fondest dream being shattered by God’s unilateral and non-negotiable decree that he was not to enter the land. Shattered dreams have a way of causing personal implosions. Yet, “His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” at the end of 120 years.
What was it that sustained him through challenges, criticism, rebellion, hardship, and disappointment? Certainly, here was man who knew what it was to “return unto the Lord” (Exo 5:22) under every set of circumstances. But there is another truth which may as well give insight into his glowing medical report at age 120: he fed on manna for 40 years. There are only three men of whom we can be sure that they fed on manna for 40 years (you find the other two). Moses knew what some would consider a rather monotonous diet; but it was a diet that sustained him and enabled him to retain freshness and strength despite all he encountered. While his strength, vision, and freshness were physical, and his food material, for us there is the Bread of Life to feed on to maintain spiritual freshness and vision. For Moses, it was the manna!