Our Readers Ask
Are We Predestined?
Some say that fate has decreed the day of our death. Others insist that God personally decides when it is our time to die. In addition, such people regard the key events of life as inevitable. Is that how you view matters?
You might ask yourself the following questions: ‘If, in fact, there is nothing we can do to change our destiny, if God or fate has already determined the outcome of a matter, what is the point of praying? And if our destiny is already determined, why take measures to protect our safety? Why wear a seat belt when traveling in a car? For that matter, why refrain from drinking and driving?’
The Bible in no way condones such reckless behavior. Rather than leave matters in the hands of fate, the Bible commanded that the Israelites be safety conscious. For example, they were ordered to build a low wall around the flat roofs of their houses. The purpose was to prevent someone from accidentally falling from the roof. Why, though, would God give such a command if a person were destined to fall from a roof and die?—Deuteronomy 22:8.
What about those who die because of natural disasters or other tragic events beyond their control? Do they have a predetermined “date with death”? No, the Bible writer King Solomon assures us that “time and unforeseen occurrence befall [us] all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) So no matter how bizarre or unlikely the circumstances, tragic events are not predestined.
Some feel, however, that this statement contradicts Solomon’s earlier observation: “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens: a time for birth and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2) But was Solomon really endorsing a fatalistic view? Let us look closely at those words.
Solomon was not saying that births and deaths are predestined. Rather, his point is that births and deaths, like many things in life, come in endless cycles. Certainly, life will have its ups and downs. “There is . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh,” says Solomon. Such repeated patterns and unforeseen calamities, Solomon shows, are common to life, to “every affair under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; 9:11, 12) His conclusion, therefore, is not to get so swept up in our daily affairs that we overlook our Creator.—Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13.
Though our Creator understands life and death completely, he does not force a destiny on us. The Bible teaches that God offers all of us the prospect of living forever. But God does not compel us to accept his offer. Instead, his Word says: “Let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Revelation 22:17.
Yes, we must want to “take life’s water.” Thus, our future is not determined by fate. Our own decisions, attitudes, and actions have a real impact on our future.