Is our time of death predetermined? Many Christians say God has set our death date but if that is true, why do we pray for physical healing? I understand He knows when we will die, but other than “it is appointed unto man once to die” (which doesn’t necessarily answer this question for me), are there specific passages that confirm a fixed date no matter what?
Thank you for your intriguing question. Yes, God in His omniscience knows when each individual will die, but omniscience does not demand pre-determination (fatalism). There may be a portion of days given to each individual as inferred from verses like Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” but the time of death is not “fixed.” It is not a fatalistic matter.
Several Scriptures indicate life can be extended or cut short. Ephesians 6:2-3 states, “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.” The obvious takeaway is that keeping the commandment allows one to live long, whereas disobedience (dishonoring parents) can shorten life. None of us knows our original intended number of days, but this passage shows that the number may change because of our actions.
An amazing example of a life being cut short is detailed in the historical account of the kings of Judah. Second Chronicles 34:27-28 says of Josiah, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place…Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace.” Yet the next chapter reports he died in a campaign against the king of Egypt—in a war he was not supposed to enter (see 2 Chron. 35:20-24). Josiah died early by getting out of the will of God.
An incidence of suicide provides more proof that the date of death is not prescribed by God. We know a life cut short in this way has ended prematurely because it is never His will for a child of God to commit suicide. Because of His omniscience, the act would not have taken God by surprise, but God does not ordain self-murder for any of us. The enemy is the murderer and destroyer (John 8:44; 10:10).
Other examples could be cited, but what we’ve seen here is enough to reveal that one’s death date is flexible, not fixed.
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