I have heard it said that true Christians may die because of time and chance. Is this your understanding, too?
It is not! Nowhere is this concept taught in Scripture. Those who have this understanding and preach it, do so against the clear teaching of the Bible. Actually, the Biblical proof that true Christians do NOT die because of time and chance is overwhelming. For a thorough discussion of this important question, please listen to our sermon on “Time and Chance,” which is posted on our Webpage.
Briefly, those who claim and teach this erroneous concept quote as proof a passage in Ecclesiastes 9:11, which states: “I returned and saw under the sun that — The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.”
According to the Jewish Tanakh Bible, the last phrase is an euphemism, simply pointing out that all will die. But the question still remains, HOW will they die?
Please note that Solomon said: “Time and chance happen to THEM all.” He did NOT say — “to all men,” or “to all of us.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon was mainly addressing and writing about people in this world — people who only live and work for material possessions (Eccl. 5:13-17); or who don’t understand God’s plan (Eccl.8:17). When he addressed true Christians, however, he referred to them as “you” (compare Eccl. 9:10: “Whatever YOUR hand finds to do, do it with YOUR might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where YOU are going.”).
The Hebrew word for “chance,” in Ecclesiastes 9:11, is “pega.” It is only used one additional time in the entire Old Testament, namely in 1 Kings 5:4. There, Solomon (the author of the book of Ecclesiastes!) said: “But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence (in Hebrew, “pega”).
Again, we see that Solomon is making a distinction between the people living in this world, being cut off from God, and those whom God has called to His way of life, including himself. Solomon said that “evil occurrence” or “chance” did not govern his own life, because God was controlling his life and had given him rest. Christ made the same distinction, in Luke 13:1-5:
“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will ALL LIKEWISE perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will all LIKEWISE perish.'”
Christ’s teaching is unmistakable: If we don’t repent, we might very well die as those did, on whom the tower of Siloam fell; that is, through an accident, apart from, or being cut off from God — by time and chance. If we repent, however, according to Christ, we will NOT likewise perish or die in that way. Rather, even if we were to die in an “accident,” God would have specifically DECIDED not to intervene and to LET US die. God is always in control over our lives — nothing happens to us which God is not aware of (compare Job 1:21-22; 2:10).
True Christians are NOT in the “hand” of time and chance. Rather, Solomon tells US: “… the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God” (Eccl. 9:1). David understood, too, that he was in God’s hands. He wrote, in Psalm 31:15: “My times are in Your hand.” He knew that he, as well as all true Christians, are always, constantly and completely, under God’s observation, His protection and in His loving care (compare, Psalm 4:7-8; 9:9-10; 17:8; 23:1-6; 33:18-19; 34: 7, 15, 19-20, etc. etc.). God promises that nothing too difficult for us to bear, will happen to us (compare 1 Corinthians 10:13). This means, then, that God must be watching us every second to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise.
The concept that we might be “overtaken” by a trial, because God was not aware of it, or because it happened “too quickly,” so that He could not have prevented it, is ludicrous. Isaiah 40:27-31 and Isaiah 43:2 prove the opposite. Psalm 56:8; 139:1-6 and Matthew 6:8 show, too, how MUCH God is aware of everything pertaining to us. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God. The only way that EVERYTHING can work for our good is that GOD will work it out for our good — and not “time and chance.”
The very idea that a true Christian could die because of time and chance limits God and weakens our faith. It is a diabolical and patently unbiblical concept. When a Christian dies, it is because GOD has DECIDED that it was time for His son or daughter to die. Notice God’s involvement, when it comes to the death of a true Christian, as clearly revealed in Scripture. There is simply NO ROOM for “time and chance”:
Isaiah 57:1-2 states: “The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.”
Psalm 116:15 teaches: “Precious in the SIGHT OF the LORD Is the death of His saints.” (Compare, too, Psalm 72:14).
Revelation 14:13 points out: “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”‘ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.'”
Let us hear, then, the conclusion of the matter, as expressed by Paul in Romans 14:8. Did Paul teach that we are hopeless and helpless victims of time and chance? Quite the opposite is true: “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, WE ARE THE LORD’S.”