Ecclesiastes.3:1,2. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;"
There was a time not so many years ago that anyone who bore the name Old School or Primitive Baptist was understood to be a believer in the doctrine of the universal sovereignty of God and the absolute predestination of all things. It stood further without question that they held that there was a time to be born and a time to die; and that without apology! Amazingly enough, in these dark days the little flock of predestinarians, the remnant according to the election of grace, stands outnumbered in defense of this sweet and precious truth. Our forefathers thundered forth from the pulpit the doctrine of God's decrees and most wise plan to eternally fix our time, place and way of birth, and also that of our death. Now, throughout this land hoards of men professing to be elders of the Primitive order will ridicule, despise, reject, and cast out as unfit the notion that a man has a time to die.
We do not say they have renounced the time of one's birth, for in fairness to these false prophets we have personally never heard that contradiction from them, though it probably has been promoted at one time or another. Let it be stated forthrightly, however, that if Solomon was speaking under the influence of the Spirit of God when he said there was a time to die then that can have no less validity than when he said there was a time to be born. Both points must, and do, stand or fall together! The wise man said there was a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven, and so it is. The vastness and staggering immensity of that text defies description. Allowing our minds to survey the great work of God, past and present, we see the minute particles of this earth, the dust kicked up by the thundering herd of Bison in the last century. In our heart the Holy Spirit shows us that when the dust would settle every gram settled in its appointed place. We see the marching of the legions, the Roman armies as they conquered the known earth. Every step they took was ordered of the Lord. Every move they made was under the wise decree of Him who cannot err. Even the evil dictums of their Caesar fell under the purview of that which is stated in Prov. 21:21, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord."
The little children of the Heavenly King have no question that they, and all other mankind, and even lesser forms of existence, were given life at the appointed time. They live an appointed life, and they die an appointed death. What comfort could there be, what security, or what assurance, if at any moment a villain or murderous rogue might rise up to seize us and destroy our life? Nay, we find that in all things the Lord's decrees restrict devils, evil men, inert matter, and whatever else may stand in the way of our allotted course. He keeps us even through the valley of the shadow of death to that appointed hour.
Examples innumerable might be given of this. Think, for instance, of Noah, that one righteous man who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. During the many centuries between Adam and Noah, had but one of His line fallen prey to a sudden death, or what the world calls an untimely departure, what would become of the world on the other side of the flood? It must be admitted by all fair and honest people that if God had a purpose for Noah and the world after the flood that Noah certainly could not die before that time, and for that matter, neither could he have been born at some other time, for it would have rendered the plan of God as nothing. Think, too, of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samson, Samuel, David, and a whole host of others who fit into the plan and scheme of things which God has purposed. Had any of them under any circumstances fallen victim to death, or had any of their parents, or for that matter their grandparents, what would become of the plan of God for all of those lives, many of which were figures and types of Christ; instruments in the hand of God for His people? Would the Lord have been compelled to resort to other means or measures, or alter and tailor His plan to suit circumstances which arose beyond His control? We think not.
It is objected by many that for some innocent or upright person to be slain, or killed by a drunken driver, or whatever, that they could not possibly have been appointed to such a death; that only a cruel God would suffer the death of the righteous. There can be little doubt in the minds of believers, however, that this objection cannot stand. We think of the first murder in the Bible. Cain, that wicked one, slew his brother Abel, and yet, even now the blood of righteous Abel cries from the ground; but beyond that we see that it was necessary that the line through which the Christ Child would be born would not be of righteous Abel, but through the son to be born after his death, and Cain's departure; and that was Seth. How amazing then to see all things - including the death of Abel working together for good to them that love God. We see also the infant Moses in the ark placed in the water. What a jeopardy his life was in; yet he was preserved. Death seemed to stalk him, as with all the male children at that time, but he was preserved because it was not appointed for him to die, but to live to deliver his people. And yet on the other hand, centuries later, we see Elimelech and Naomi going into the land of the Moabites; their two sons with them. Their sons marry, and shortly die. Elimelech dies also, leaving Naomi with two daughters in law, one named Ruth. Had it not been for the death of the two sons, Ruth, the daughter in law that accompanied Naomi back the Bethlehem, would not, and could not, have been eligible to be wedded to Boaz and be in the royal line of David, and the Son of David, Christ Jesus the Lord. None but fools could fail to see the hand of God in both the lives and the deaths of these individuals; bringing to pass the determinate counsel and the will of God. So it was with the foul sin of David when he took Bathsheba to him, and had her husband murdered. Their illegitimate child shortly died. In his death he made room for Solomon to be born, the wisest man who ever lived except our Saviour. Solomon was a royal figure of the King of Kings, and was numbered in the line of the Christ child.
When the servant came to Job with the horrible, distressing news that his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their elder brother's house and a great wind from the wilderness smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they were dead; Job's reaction was not as the Conditionalists of this day. He did not lament and groan, saying, "What an untimely death, they were too young to die." Rather he rose and rent his mantle, shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshiped! What a beautiful disposition; one that could only be given of God. What he said was even more profound. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord." Job did not see the hand of Satan, or the hand of chance, fate, or uncertainties, but rather he saw the hand of the Lord. May it please the Lord to ever open the eyes of His little ones that they be not deceived by those who would promote the pitiful and God dishonoring notion that death and hell yet have dominion, and can escape the will of an all wise God.
In Luke 2:25 there was a man at Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, just and devout and waiting for the consolation of Israel; the scripture saying the Holy Ghost was upon him. It has been revealed to him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. We would ask the Conditionalists and the duty-preachers, and all of those who deny that there is a time to die; Could Simeon have done anything to die before he had seen the Lord's Christ? Could he have killed him-sell? Could someone else have destroyed his life? Could he have lived in such a wicked manner (as has been taught) that God would have been compelled to strike him and take him from this earth? We believe not, and know better. Nay, he had an appointed time upon the earth and that time was that he would see the Lord's Christ. As well we might make reference to that statement of our Saviour Himself in John 21:18,19, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and waikedst wither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God." Not only did the Saviour tell Peter that when he was old he would die, but He told him what kind of a death he would die and why he would die that death. He would not die as a young man. He would die when he was girded by another, and it would be to glorify God. Rev. 1:18 informs us that Jesus has the keys of hell and of death. We believe that was true in the time of Peter, Simeon, David, Job, Cain and Abel, Naomi ,and all of those we have named and mentioned. We believe and rejoice in proclaiming in no uncertain terms a God of holy redemption, Who before the foundation of the world chose His people in Christ and determined He would save them here in time. Is it not a fair question to ask, where is the certainty of election if God has determined a man's election, and yet somehow some unfortunate event occurs, and he dies before his election can secure his new birth? If a man is appointed to be born of the Spirit, can he possibly die before that? If it is assured that he cannot die before he be born for Heaven then we know then at least he has a time in which he cannot die. What of the predestination of God, what of redemption, what of all the sweet doctrines if things are left to chance, fate, illusions, and shadows, and the whim of man, the caprice of fickle hearts, or Adam's depravity. There can be no certainty in living except in the surety of God's holy wisdom in securing our life, our living, and our dying.
The false doctrine of dying before your time is a direct result of denying the absolute predestination of all things; putting in its place a "yea and nay," conditionalist "mish-mash" of strained, and outright ridiculous interpretation of scriptures. If there is a shred of comfort in such a departure from truth, we know not where it is. God's little Remnant yet seeks rest in His sure promises, not the least of them being found in our text - "A time to be born, and a time to die"!
October - November, 1987