Some friends and I were discussing the topic of death. Some in the group believe that every single death is the will of God. In other words, if God didn’t want so-and-so to die, He wouldn’t have allowed it. “We all have an appointed time.”
Others believe that God is often very sad (just as we are) when a loved one dies tragically (e.g., drunk driver). But, because we live in a sinful world, God often permits these kinds of deaths.
I’ve tried to search the scriptures for answers, along with prayer. But, I end up having more questions. Can you help me please.
Thanks for your question. There is only one place to get answers about death, and what it really means, and that is from the Bible. “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Holy Bible, Isaiah 8:20).
First, is every single death the will of God? This question can be answered “Yes,” and it can be answered “No.” It depends upon the context of the question. Here is a good example. Do you beat your wife up very morning? You must know the context of that question before you can safely answer. What did I mean by beat your wife up? Did I mean get out of bed before your wife does every morning? Or did I mean physically hit and bruise your wife every morning? You cannot safely answer the question unless it is made that specific. Even so it is with the matter of death and the will of God.
Is every single death the will of God? No, it is not the will of God that a lost man die in his sin. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED; BUT THAT THE WICKED TURN FROM HIS WAY AND LIVE: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Holy Bible, Ezekiel 33:11) If your question is dealing with a man who is not saved, and he is killed, then, no, that was not God’s will that he die in his sin. God’s will has always been that a lost man get saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE.” (Holy Bible, II Peter 3:9)
No, it is not the will of God that a lost man die in his sin — but it is God’s will to put the man to death if he will not turn from his sin. “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.” (Holy Bible, Exodus 21:14) “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” (Holy Bible, Exodus 21:16) Do you see how that you just have to know the context of the situation?
No, it is not God’s will that children dishonor their parents, and then die before their time would have been. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Holy Bible, Ephesians 6:1-3) It is God’s will that children DO HONOR their parents, so that their lives will go well, and so that their lives will be long upon the earth.
No, it is not the will of God that children dishonor their parents, and then die before their time would have been — but it is God’s will to put children to death if they will not repent and obey their parents. “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (Holy Bible, Exodus 21:15) “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” (Holy Bible, Exodus 21:17) Once again, do you see how you must know the context of the situation?
Another question which you brought up was the matter of whether God is sad when people die tragically. God is definitely grieved over sin. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and GRIEVED HIM at his heart.” (Holy Bible, Genesis 6:5,6) That context is building up to the flood, which was the occasion of the death of everyone alive on earth, except eight people, Noah and his family. God is not happy when sin tragically causes the death of people, and yet, God must judge sin.
Jesus was visibly moved over Lazarus’ death. “Jesus wept.” (Holy Bible, John 11:35) Yes, Jesus was grieved at the hardness of the people’s hearts, but He was also moved at the sorrow of those who loved Him and had gladly served Him. (Holy Bible, John 11:21,32) “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Holy Bible, Hebrews 4:14-16) “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (Holy Bible, I Peter 5:7)
Another part of your question dealt with the matter of whether there is an appointed time for man upon earth. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Holy Bible, Hebrews 9:27) As we have already seen, because of man’s sin, his time upon earth may be shortened. But on the other hand, do not try to be the judge and figure out why everyone dies when they do. If everyone who dies before 70 or 80 is considered to “die young,” and out of God’s will, then what will you do with Jesus dying at 33 years old? Or John the Baptist in his early thirties, too?
God knows the “why’s,” and the “when’s” of death, and often we do not. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” (Holy Bible, II Kings 20:1) The problem was that Hezekiah was not really ready to die. “Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.” (Holy Bible, II Kings 20:2,3) So God heard his prayer, and extended his life by 15 years. “And I will add unto thy days fifteen years…” (Holy Bible, II Kings 20:6) But during that extension of life, Hezekiah had a son. And that son was very, very wicked. “Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.” (Holy Bible, II Kings 21:9) Hezekiah would have been better off quietly going home to be with the Lord when it was His time.
We will never understand all of the “why’s” of many deaths. Why they happen “like” they do. Why they happen “when” they do. We must look by faith to our Savior, that He knows the “why’s,” and we must trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Holy Bible, Proverbs 3:5,6)
God is not always sad when a person dies. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Holy Bible, Psalm 116:15) God loves to have one of His children come home to be with Him.
Sometimes, the Lord may be taking a righteous person home to spare that one from future hardships. “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” (Holy Bible, Isaiah 57:1) God may take someone home before he/she would have to suffer terrible pain, or a paralyzing stroke, or a number of things that he/she had no idea was coming his/her way. The bottom line, is that a person must be prepared for death at any moment.
No one can kill the Christian before it is his time to go. In Job 2:6, God said to Satan concerning Job, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”
I have some questions for you now. Are you trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Are you living for Him every day? Are you reading the King James Bible each day for growth and guidance? That is the way to be truly prepared to die.