What’s the Significance of 120 Years in Genesis 6?

Genesis 6:3 – Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Today, we continue answering some of the most difficult questions in the entire book of Genesis, stemming from Genesis 6, and the second question is the significance of 120 years and the idea that man’s days “shall be 120 years”.

Two possible explanations exist for the meaning of this verse.

One, God promised to no longer allow people to live as long as they had previously (as listed in Genesis 5) and instead determined that no human being would live beyond the age of 120. Curiously, the first man to die at this age was Moses (Deuteronomy 34:7) and today even the longest living people die around this age. In the Genesis 5 genealogy, men lived anywhere from 300+ years to Methuselah, who lived for 969 years! As we get to Genesis 6:3, it says that God would not allow human sin to continue and, possibly, therefore would limit man’s days to 120 years.

Two, 1 Peter 3:20 says, “…because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.” And, if Peter is referring to the 120 years, then God promised His judgment through the flood and then waited patiently for 120 years to provide people an opportunity to repent of their sin, which apparently no one did, and give Noah time to prepare for the flood and build the Ark.

If this second interpretation is correct, and I personally believe that it may be but cannot be certain, then Noah also preached during this 120-year period (1 Peter 2:5) though people were so wicked that they declined God’s invitation to forgiveness. We will see in the following chapters the result of this wickedness.

How can you live for God and impact your legacy in however many years He gives you on this earth?

To help you study the book of Genesis with us, we have the first of three free e-book study guides here.

To get daily devos sent texted to you Monday-Friday, text DEVOTIONS to 99383. Click here to find the sermon series that accompanies this devotional series.

Leave a Comment