Bible Question:

My granddaughter died at the age of 20. She took a Xanax she bought from someone. It was laced with fentanyl. Did God always plan for her to die so young?

Bible Answer:

The Old Testament gives us principles and illustrations that reveal God has determined the length of our lives. The following will present those principles and provide two illustrations that help us understand that God has determined the number of days we will live and even the number of hours a person will live.

Boy Grows Into An Adult — Then Dies!

Boy Grows Into An Adult — Then Dies!

The Principle

Job 14:5 gives us great insight into the fact that God did not determine when we would die in a general or vague sense. The verse teaches us that God has not just determined in which month we will die, but He has determined the time of our death more precisely, down to the day.

Since his days are determined,
The number of his months is with You;
And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.
Job 14:5 (NASB)

Matthew 6:27 may reveal that God has determined the hour of death.

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27 (NASB)

But ultimately, Job 14:5 says that God has “determined” and has set the “limits” on our lives. The Hebrew word for “determined” is harats. The word literally means “to cut.” That is, God cuts off a man’s life and does not allow him to continue to live forever. That is the result of Adam and Eve’s sin in Genesis 3:1-7. Genesis 2:16-17 tells us that God had warned the couple that if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die. God was referring to both physical and spiritual death. God created man so that he could live forever. But due to the curse of sin, the length of our lives is “cut” off.

The Hebrew word for “limits” is hoq. It means “a boundary.” That is, God has set a boundary on the length of lives. The length of our lives was determined by God before we were born.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:16 (NASB)

Four Illustrations

There are two illustrations in Scripture that help us see these principles in action. The first illustration is about King Hezekiah. We discover in Isaiah 38:1 that King Hezekiah was going to die, and the prophet Amoz told him that he would die.

 In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,  and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.  Isaiah 38:1-5 (NASB)

Then the king pleaded with God to allow him to live, and God added fifteen years to his life. This reveals that God can add to the length of our days. Ephesians 6:2-3 gives us example that reveals God will let us live longer lives if we show honor to our parents. That is, He will add days to our life. Therefore, it would seem that God can shorten the length of our lives too.

The second illustration is about a man who had stored treasure here on earth in preparation for retirement. He had ignored God all his life. He thought he was in control of his life, but we read in Luke 12:19-20 that he would die that “very night.” His days had come to an end.

‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ Luke 12:19-20 (NASB)

This passage reveals that God has determined when every person will die. We might die at eight years, twenty years, fifty-nine years or ninety-four years of age. But whenever we die, God is in control. We might be able to extend the length of our lives by pleading with God. Why does He let some live longer and others live shorter lives? Only God knows the answer. It could be that God has allowed the murder of babies in the womb so that they will go to heaven since Scripture teaches that babies go to heaven. He may have allowed some of us to die early to escape the pains and tragedies of this life.

The third illustration is the patriarch Enoch who was taken home early because he “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5-6). The fourth illustration is found in Numbers 20:8-13 and Deuteronomy 3:23-27 where we discover that God also terminated the life of Moses and Aaron due to sin. This means that God can shorten our life because of our close relationship to Him or shorten our life due to sin. Yet, it would seem that our sovereign and all-knowing God had already set the boundary on the lives of these men from the foundation of the world.

In summary, God determines the length of our lives. We do not understand all of His reasons, but Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for Christians.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)

We can trust the purposes of our loving God.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36 (NASB)


God has determined the number of hours, days and months in our lives here on earth, but we do not stop existing. Matthew 25:46 and many other passages teach that everyone will live for eternity. The only question is where will you live. Will you live in hell or in heaven? Notice Jesus’ promise in John 3:16,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)

Notice that Jesus tells us that whoever believes in Christ will not perish. Jesus referred to hell. Then He promised that those who believe in Christ will have eternal life. They will live in heaven forever. Jesus gave two promises. If we are in Christ, we will not go to hell; but we will go to heaven. Those who truly believe in Christ will be repentant of their sins and yield themselves to Him. Notice the message of Romans 10:9-10.

. . . that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “ WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:9-11 (NASB)

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