Is God’s Hand Behind EVERY Death? LIVE Q&A from April 11, 2024

Is God's Hand Behind EVERY Death? LIVE Q&A from April 11, 2024

Is God’s Hand Behind Every Death?

From Pam via email….

I have a question. A friend of mine who was a missionary in Africa for years recently died of cancer.

Another friend says that God killed her based on Deuteronomy 32:39 where He says “I kill and I make alive.” This person says when someone dies then God killed him.

I think it is a misinterpretation of this scripture, taken out of context.

Can you help me?

Pam, I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s death. I pray her family will be comforted and that God will continue to bring fruit from her missionary service.

I’m also sorry to hear what your other friend said, because I don’t think it is helpful or true.

God is behind death in at least three ways:

  • By what He allows because God can do all things. It is within God’s power to stop any death.
  • By the world He has created, a world of cause and effect. If a person jumps off of a tall bridge and dies from the impact, we wouldn’t normally say “God killed them.” We would say, “gravity killed them.” Yet, God created the world with gravity and cause and effect – and cancer.
  • By specific acts of judgment, which God may do (directly or indirectly) in His righteousness.

Yet, there is an important difference between what God actually performs and what He allows. I think it would be completely wrong to say “God killed your missionary friend in Africa” simply because they died of cancer.

It is absolutely true that God has the right to take human life, and sometimes does according to His judgments. The problem is that we can be far too quick to assume we know what is a judgment of God and what isn’t. Remember what it says: who has known the mind of the Lord? (Romans 11:34, 1 Corinthians 2:16)

Now, as for the verse your friend referred to – let’s take a look at that.

Deuteronomy 32:39

‘Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.

Don’t stop there – take a look at the context. Just read the two verses following:

[40] For I raise My hand to heaven,
And say, “As I live forever,

[41] If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.

Clearly, when God says in verse 39, I kill and I make alive, it is in the context of His work of judgment. It’s not speaking of God’s direct work in each and every death that happens.

Yet please be careful here. We aren’t trying to say, “God had nothing to do with your friend’s death by cancer.” Not at all! As I said before, God clearly allowed it, and God created a world where it is possible for people to die by cancer.

What is more – and I can say this confidently because your friend was a missionary, a believer – God’s promise holds true:

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

I would not say that God killed your friend. Yet He allowed it, and created a world where people die from disease, and God has promised to work all these things together for good. It didn’t catch God by surprise, and God isn’t wishing He could have prevented it. God’s hand is at work, even through this.

One more thing: everyone dies.