Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dying Before Their Time Ecclesiastes 7 verse 17

For decades I’ve heard people use expressions like, “It was his time to die,” or, “He died before his time.” Both expressions imply there is a designated time for us to die. Perhaps some are thinking of Psalm 90:10 which indicates that our lifespan is somewhere between 70 to 80 years. However, I have also heard these expressions in the context that God has predetermined each of our individual lifespans. This latter idea is not supported by scripture, but may be based on a misunderstanding of at least one particular scripture.

Ecclesiastes 7:17 advises not to become excessively wicked, concluding “why should you die before your time.” However, the context reveals the intended meaning. First, consider how illogical it would be to use this scripture to prove that God has a designated time for each of us. The context says that being excessively wicked may result in our dying prematurely. Why? Because we are receiving the death penalty, as a judgement set by God's law. So since the death penalty is sanctioned by God for incorrigible conduct, then it was indeed that person’s “time” to die because of breaking the law. 

What then would make the most contextual sense in understanding Ecclesiastes 7:17? If lawbreakers justly receiving the death penalty are dying “before their time,” it can only be that they are dying before the end of the lifespan mentioned in Psalm 90:10.

This is not to imply that someone who dies early in their life is/was excessively wicked. The Bible also says that “time and unforeseen circumstances” befall all people. Bottom line, though, God should not be blamed for a premature death.

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