Infants, Old Men, And Sinners

Isaiah 65:20

            One of the greatest causes of frustration and disappointment in this world is a sense that there is a lack of fulfillment in our lives. Our dreams are shattered. Our plans are frustrated. Our work is disappointing. We often sink in despair because we feel a terrible sense of worthlessness. We sense that we have done nothing, are doing nothing, and can do nothing meaningful and useful.

            To a very great extent, that is true; and we must recognize it. We are sinners. As such, we are in ourselves worthless and useless. Painful and humbling as that fact is, it is nonetheless a fact. But our God is so overwhelmingly gracious that when having made us new creatures in Christ, he made us a people with a specific mission to accomplish in his kingdom for his glory. And when he is finished with us, we shall have exactly fulfilled his purpose. This is God’s promise, not to a few special super saints, but to all his people. Isaiah 65:20 speaks of both the satisfaction and fulfillment of the believer’s life and of the lack of fulfillment and satisfaction the unbeliever shall experience.

            In so far as God’s elect are concerned, it does not matter whether they die as infants or as old men. They shall all fill their days and their purpose on this earth. The text reads, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old.” In other words, Isaiah is telling us that God’s elect who die as infants shall lose nothing by what appears to us to be their untimely deaths. They shall die as one a hundred years old, having perfectly filled their days on this earth according to the purpose of God. And the wicked who die in old age shall gain nothing by their long lives on this earth. “But the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” All who are in Christ shall find complete fulfillment and satisfaction with their lives in him.



            I am fully convinced that all who die as infants or imbeciles are chosen of God, redeemed by Christ, and shall be sovereignly regenerated by the Holy Spirit. David’s attitude toward his son’s death (2 Sam. 12:20-23) ought to be sufficient to satisfy any question in that regard. His confidence regarding the salvation of the son of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba is recorded in Scripture to teach us that all dying as this child did in infancy are chosen, redeemed, and regenerated by the grace of God. This was not a child of an imaginary “family covenant,” but a child of adultery. Yet, David knew that he would meet him again around the throne of grace. In this text, Isaiah tells us that those blessed souls who do die in infancy will not have any less satisfaction with Christ or with their lives in Christ than the oldest and, in our opinions, most useful of God’s saints.

            Matthew Henry wrote, “If an infant end its days quickly, yet it shall not be reckoned to die untimely; for the shorter its life is the longer will its rest be. They dying in the arms of Christ, and belonging to his kingdom, are not to be called infants of days, but even the child shall be reckoned to die an hundred years old, for he shall rise again at full age, shall rise to eternal life.”



            The old believer also, dying in his old age, though he has lived long enough to have many regrets, when his life on this earth is ended and he has entered into his rest in Christ, shall have none, but only a sense of having “filled his days” by the grace of God and for the glory of God.

            This is God’s promise to his saints who live to be old men and women in this world: "Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him" (Ps. 92:13-15).



            Yet, it must never be assumed that the aged unbeliever is under the blessing of God, simply because he reaches old age. “The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”. The unbeliever shall be unsatisfied and unhappy, though he may live to be a hundred years old. His long life is not a token of God’s blessing or favor. Old age does not shelter people from the wrath of God, but only intensifies it. The longer the sinner lives upon the earth the greater his sins and the greater his condemnation shall be.

            It is really insignificant whether we live to be old men and women or die young. The only thing that matters is whether we live and die in Christ.

Don Fortner