If you were to look on the internet about celebrating a 70th birthday, you would find that this landmark year is significant for being the entry point of the "golden years." Thus, gold is the color to wear on this birth date. In Jewish tradition, the number 70 represents the "fullness of years." One rabbi says that "There is an obligation to rise in the presence of a person 70 years or older because anyone who has lived so many years and endured so many life experiences is considered wise and deserving of respect."
The Bible shows us that the number 70 is significant to Israel. There are two differing definitions for this number. 70 means perfect spiritual order. It is composed of the number 7 (the number of perfection and rest that we see when reading the creation story) and the number 10 (the number of completeness and God's law as we see when God gave His people the 10 Commandments). 70 also represents a period of judgment. Israel was in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. Daniel's prayer to God for his people was birthed after he realized that the "desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years." (Daniel 9:2) Here is the promise that God gave to all of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah: "...When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:10-11)
I think it is significant that God told Moses to bring 70 elders of Israel with him when he went to the base of Mt. Sinai to worship Him. All of them "saw the God of Israel." (Exodus 24:10) The 70 elders also stood around the tent of meeting while Moses spoke to the Lord. Numbers 11:25 tells us this: "He took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the 70 elders." Deuteronomy 10:22 says that when the Israelites joined Joseph in Egypt there were only 70 of them. However, during their stay in this land, they became "as numerous as the stars in the sky." So, 70 can represent a starting point, a time that begins new growth.
As I approached my 70th birthday, I found myself looking back at my life and contemplating what has happened. One thought is deeply rooted in my heart and mind--The faithfulness of God! He has demonstrated this through supernatural acts of kindness and favor and through touches from dear friends and family members. I have had seasons on the mountain tops and ones in the valley; seasons in the green meadows along the water courses and ones in the wilderness. These seasons have brought fullness and joy along with difficulties and sorrow. Through them all, the Lord has been present, faithfully guiding me and protecting me so that I receive the inheritance He has for me. My heart swells as I remember the goodness of God, and I am ready for the next season He has for me.
The journey of the children of Israel demonstrates that God's plans for them included bringing them out of bondage and directing them into the inheritance of His promises. I feel encouraged that God has so much more for me, as He does for all of us. When the Israelites came out of bondage, God guided them to Elim "where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees, and they camped there near the water." (Exodus 15:27) One of the promises God has given to me, and all of us, comes from Psalm 92:12-15. "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like the cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord. They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'"
My desire for us is that we will continue to flourish--to produce the fruits of the Spirit and to carry the fragrance of the Lord wherever we go. We want to bring the Presence of God and His Kingdom with us. This will require a willingness to sacrifice for Him and a willingness to give Him permission to transform us into His image. May I share with you the words of a song that Julie Meyer wrote for Heidi Baker, missionary to Mozambique, when she turned 50? This is the cry of my heart, and I hope it is yours also:
"Pick me up like a paintbrush, God; dip it in the colors of my life. Paint Your picture, Father, and fashion a heart that is wholly Yours. Take Your fingers, God, Master Potter; come mold the clay. Tell Your story, as You mold me. Fashion a heart that is wholly Yours. And write Your name, write Your name in the clay. And sign Your name, sign Your name on the picture. Take all I am; take all I have. I am Yours forever, forever. Take all I am; take all I have. I am Yours forever, forever.
Joan E. Mathias