Recently I received a question about Heb 9:27: “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” The questioner said, “Would it not follow from that that it is also appointed for men once to live?” I had said in a blog that I thought that children who died before the age of accountability would definitely be in the Millennium, either in glorified bodies (if God simply gave them everlasting life) or in natural bodies (if God was going to let them live out their natural life during Jesus’ millennial reign).
Hebrews 9:27 is proverbially true. That is, it is true in nearly all cases. But not all.
In His earthly ministry, Jesus raised at least three people that we know of from the dead: Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:49-56), and the son of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17). All those people died twice.
At the time of Jesus’ resurrection, many believers were raised from the dead (Matt 27:51-52). These people all died twice.
Jesus’ Apostles also raised people from the dead, including Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43) and Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12). They died twice.
Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead as well (1 Kgs 17:17-24; 2 Kgs 4:18-37; 13:20-21). Those people eventually died a second time.
While some of those raised from the dead were already born again—for example, Lazarus, Dorcas, Eutychus, Jairus’ daughter (see Luke 8:52, “she is sleeping”), and the raised saints of Matthew 27—some might not have been, for example, the son of the widow of Nain, the man who fell on Elisha’s bones, the widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17), and the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4).
Of course, many people have been brought back to life by doctors in the last fifty years. While we may not think of that as being raised from the dead, it may well be that. When someone’s heart stops and his spirit is hovering over the body and watching doctors trying to restart the heart, it is possible, if not likely, that death had already occurred. While we call these incidents near death experiences (NDEs), they may be actual death experiences (ADEs).
But whatever we call what doctors sometimes do today in terms of NDEs, we know from the Bible that there have been a few dozen or more people who have been raised from the dead and who died twice.
God in His mercy and grace may bring a believer or even an unbeliever back from the dead, allowing them additional time in this life. That is certainly a rare thing. But it does happen.
That does not mean, of course, that I’m right in my suspicion that God will give a second opportunity at this life to millions and millions of children who’ve died before the age of accountability. The Bible does not say. We know from Scripture that God does not hold people accountable for that which they are unable to do. So children who died will either be in the Millennium in glorified bodies (and hence eternally secure apart from faith in Christ) or in natural bodies (and hence they will have up to 1,000 years to come to faith in Christ in His kingdom, with people in natural bodies and glorified saints witnessing to them, and with them seeing and hearing Jesus on mass media and maybe even in person). But it does mean that my hunch is at least possible.