IV. Why Do Some Good Christians Die Young?
Like the Bible promises, the average life-span in America today is about 70 or 80 years of age. The Bible says: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalms 90:10)
There is a time to be born and a time to die: “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;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) Yet it seems that some times a good Christian dies well before the normal life expectancy. Why might this be?
A. Martyrdom – Millions of God’s people have been killed for the faith. Men and women, adults and children. Here are some examples:
1. Abel – “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)
2. Zechariah – “ And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 24:20-21); “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:51)
3. John the Baptist – “And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,” (Mark 6:27)
4. Stephen – “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. (Acts 7:57-58)
5. James – “ And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” (Acts 12:2)
Also remember – God watched His own Son die at the age of 33.
B. To save them from them evil to come - “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” (Isaiah 57:1-2) God knows the future. We do not. Some times, to save someone fro something evil, God – in His love – relocated them to Heaven. This great act of love on God’s part is often hard to understand for humans looking at the situation from this side. I have seen instances where innocent babies were born to sick, addicted, abusive parents and were murdered by them or taken by SIDS. I believe that God rescues those babies from a horrendous life of pain and heartache, that He knew they would not be strong enough to endure.
C. To be closer to God - “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:22-24). It appears that the birth of his son, Methuselah, caused Enoch to draw close to God. The birth of a child often “jolts” an adults from lethargy into reality. Enoch was about 65 years old when his son was born. This caused Enoch to grow close to God and walk with Him for the next 300 years.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6) Enoch had a testimony! He pleased God and God took him. Enoch did not die, but he is an example to us that God sometimes takes younger people to Himself. Death is not a penalty for the one walking righteously. It is a reward!
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21); “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:23) “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8); “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15)
Most people in Enoch’s day lived to be 900 years old. Enoch was translated to Heaven at the age of 365. He only lived about 40% of his life. That would be like a man today living to the age of 30. Missionary David Brainerd only lived to be 29, but his life still influences missionaries today, 200 years later. The closer to God on earth, the closer to God in Heaven. Sometimes God loves fellowship with someone so much that the only way it can be closer is for God to take that person to Heaven. Such is the example of Enoch.