One of God’s attributes is OMNISCIENCE, which means “He knows all things.” This would surely include knowing when each person will die. Here are some verses (from the New King James Version) that teach us that God knows all things:

* 1st John 3:20: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and KNOWS ALL THINGS.”

* Acts 15:18: “Known to God from eternity are all His works.”

* Isaiah 46:9-10: “I am God, l and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning.”

* Psalm 139:13 & 16: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, THE DAYS FASHIONED FOR ME, when as yet there were none of them.”

I could cite many more passages but these are enough to convince the humble believer in God’s Word that God truly “knows all things.” He has known them “from eternity” (before time began) and thus He can “declare the end from the beginning.” In the last reference I quoted we see His perfect knowledge of each human being, from the time they were formed in their mother’s womb. I capitalized the words “the days fashioned for me” to show us that God indeed KNOWS and RECORDS every day of our life, from “the womb to the tomb,” as we often say. So, yes, we can say with absolute assurance that “God knows the exact moment one’s life on earth will end.”

Your next question, “Why does He allow for some people to die in such tragic and gruesome ways?” is one that has been asked by millions of people through the ages of time.  Why do some people die relatively painless and peaceful deaths and others go through tremendous pain and suffering as they approach death? To begin with, let’s think about GODLY BELIEVERS who suffered greatly in their death. In Hebrews chapter 11:36-37 we read, “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were STONED, they were SAWN IN TWO, were tempted, were SLAIN WITH THE SWORD. They wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted tormented.” This chapter has been called the “FAITH chapter,” for throughout its 40 verses God describes men and women of faith that lived in Old Testament times who “lived by faith” and who were willing to “suffer and die terrible deaths by faith.” They believed that God had called them to be a testimony to the world of His holiness, love and grace and they were willing, if it was God’s will, to “seal their testimony with their blood” at the hands of cruel and vicious unbelievers. In verse 39 we read that they “obtained a good testimony through faith.” We can conclude from this that God allowed them to die tragic deaths in order to be a testimony to the world. We believe they died honorably and glorified God by witnessing to the very end of God’s holiness and grace. And it should be said that in each of those cases God does not view their death as “tragic” or “gruesome,” but as “precious.” We see this in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”

A blessed New Testament example of this is seen in Acts 7:58-60 where we read of Stephen’s martyrdom, “And they cast him out of the city and STONED HIM…and they STONED STEPHEN as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” We might be thinking, “How could Stephen suffer these things and yet show love and forgiveness to his persecutors?” Verses 55-56 tell us that “he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God…and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” We learn from this that God gave him this vision to enable him to suffer this tragic death and instead of cursing his enemies he prayed for their forgiveness (as His Master had done…see Luke 23:34) as he drew his final breath. So, even though God allowed him to die a terrible death, God also gave him the grace to endure it. I believe He will do the same for all believers in Christ if they but LOOK TO HIM IN FAITH as they approach death. I would encourage you to read the Apostle Paul’s words on this subject in 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 1:20-21; and 2nd Timothy 2:6-8.

Regarding unbelievers who die in tragic and gruesome ways, we must remember that even though “God allows this to happen,” SIN is the root cause of every death. The Bible says, “The wages of SIN is DEATH.” God does not desire to see men die but He knows men will “reap what they sow” because of sin. This is confirmed in Ezekiel 33:11, “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” Many people that suffer a tragic death do so because of a sinful lifestyle. Drug addicts and drunkards usually die tragic deaths. Those who engage in illicit sex may contract painful diseases that lead to a painful and premature death. People who live violent lives often end up dying a violent death. And the list goes on and on. This is NOT God’s fault; it is man’s fault because of SIN. Perhaps you’re thinking, “But not all who die tragic deaths are living wicked lives.” True, but all were “born in sin” (see Psalm 51:5) and “have sinned” (see Romans 3:23) and thus death, in whatever form it takes, will eventually claim their lives.  (408.1)  (DO)