Are Our Days Numbered Before We Are Born?
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Are Our Days Numbered Before We Are Born?

We’ve all wondered at some point – is our life span predetermined? Do we have a set number of days on this earth before we’re even born? As Christians, what does the Bible tell us about this?

Key Takeaways:

  • God knows and determines the number of our days before we are born
  • Our days are written in God’s book before one of them comes to be
  • God has allotted a span of life for each person
  • The length of our life is in God’s hands and determined by His wisdom
  • We should number our days and live wisely in light of the brevity of life

Life – it’s a precious gift from God, but none of us know how long our life will be. Our days seem to fly by quickly, like a breath or passing shadow. The older we get, the more we realize how fleeting our time here on earth really is. This can stir up all kinds of questions and emotionsfear, anxiety, urgency, regret. But for the Christian, there are truths from God’s Word that can give us wisdom, comfort and perspective. Let’s look at what the Bible says about whether our days are numbered and predetermined before we take our first breath.

Are our days numbered before we are born?

Our Days Were Written Before We Were Born

Several verses in Scripture indicate that God knows and determines the number of our days before we are even born:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

Here, David is praising God for His omniscience and amazing work in creating human life. He declares that God saw his unformed body and wrote out his days in advance, before he was even conceived.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;” (Jeremiah 1:5)

God is speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, explaining that before he was even born, God knew him and had already set him apart for his prophetic calling. This indicates God’s predetermined plan for Jeremiah’s life.

So according to the Psalms and Jeremiah, the fact is – our days were known and numbered by God before they even came into being. The length of our lives on earth is not random or left to chance. God is sovereign over the span of our lives.

God Allots the Number of Our Days

Not only does God know the number of our days ahead of time, but multiple verses say that God allots and ordains our life span:

“You have allotted me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5)

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Moses describes how God allots a portion of days for each person, and knowing this should motivate us to live wisely and number our days.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

Solomon explains there are appointed times set by God for the events in our life, including birth and death. The boundaries of our life are under His control.

In the New Testament, Paul declares:

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” (Acts 17:26)

Just as God marked out appointed times and boundaries for nations, He also ordains the length of our lives on earth. The number of our days is allotted by His purposes.

The Length of Our Days is in God’s Hands

If all this is true, that means the length of our life is not random or left up to our own control. It is predetermined and kept in the hands of God Himself:

“My times are in your hands;” (Psalm 31:15)

David acknowledges his life span rests in God’s sovereign hands. Our times are not our own – they belong to God.

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” (Psalm 39:4)

Here, David knows only the Lord can show him how long his life will be. No one knows the number of their days unless God reveals it to them. The length of our life is fully known and determined only by the Lord.

Even in the womb, it is God who forms us and gives us life:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

And it is God who keeps us breathing each day:

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10)

From beginning to end, our lives are in the hands of the Lord. He holds our fleeting breath and determines our days under heaven.

God Determines Our Days With Wisdom

Some may ask – if God numbers our days before we’re born, does that mean He already decided the length of our life in an arbitrary way? Is it all just fatalistic predestination?

That’s not the case – rather than being arbitrary, the Bible shows God’s sovereignty is always coupled with His wisdom. He knows and determines the span of each life with perfect purpose:

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. My flesh may waste away, but it will be renewed in the morning. You have decided the length of my life. You know how many months I will live, and I cannot go beyond what you have set.” (Job 14:20-21, 22)

Though in immense suffering, Job expressed faith that God had decided the length of his life according to divine wisdom and purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 further explains:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Though we may make many plans for our future, it is the Lord’s purpose for our life that will prevail. The fulfillment of His purpose determines the span of our days.

God promises:

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

The God who numbers our days is the same loving God who plans a good future for us. We can trust the number of our days is set wisely and for our blessing.

Living Wisely in Light of the Brevity of Life

Since life is short and the number of our days is preset, what difference should this make in how we live?

First, we should number our days as Moses exhorted:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

By keeping the brevity of life in mind, our hearts gain wisdom. We remember life is a fleeting gift and not try to cling to worldly things. We gain perspective on what really matters and what’s worth investing our limited time into.

Knowing our days are numbered should make us slow down, re-evaluate priorities, and live with purpose and intentionality. We should make the most of every stage the Lord gives us on this earth.

The brevity of life reminds us to focus on loving God and people well. We know our time is short, so we want to use it in eternally rewarding ways.

Numbering our days keeps us mindful to live by wisdom, not folly – being obedient to God’s word, walking in righteousness, and avoiding sinful missteps that can bring pain and regret. As the writer of Ecclesiastes reflected:

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

Finally, the knowledge that our life will end at God’s appointed time frees us from fear of death. We can have assurance in God’s sovereignty rather than anxious striving. We can trust God to fulfill His purposes in the length of days He grants us under the sun.

Final Thoughts on God’s Numbering of Our Days

In closing, may this biblical perspective on the brevity and numbering of our days lead us to live with godly wisdom. Let’s thank God for the gift of life itself. May we steward it well for as long as He gives us breath, finding joy in each season. And may the reality that our days are numbered drive us to pour our lives out for what has eternal value.

Our days here are so quickly gone – but praise God, His loving purposes for us will endure forever. Our life on earth is merely a shadow. But for the Christian, the best is yet to come – an eternity with Christ when our numbered days here are finally done. Let’s live with joy and hope in that glorious promise!

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.