Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Millennial Promise of a Long Life

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;
but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
(Isaiah 65:20)
This scripture points out that in the Millennium no one will die young anymore. There won’t be stillborn babies, or children who die, or teens, or even middle aged people who die. Anyone who dies will die of old age. This seems to suggest to me that no one will die of disease or accident, which is simply astonishing.

[B]ut the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed – This is a warning to anyone who thinks that a long life is synonymous to a happy life. Isaiah says here that if a sinner has a long life, it will feel like a curse to them instead of a blessing. He leaves the reason for this left unsaid—that only a righteous life is a happy life.

Why is this? The older you get, the more memories you have to look back on. Wicked actions, though they may give us momentary pleasure, will taste very bitter to a memory wizened over the space of years. We want to remember our past actions with satisfaction, and that will only happen if our actions were righteous. I suspect that many people feel such great nostalgia for their childhood and remember it as a happy time, because it was before they started making wrong choices. Many return missionaries consider their mission to be the best two years of their life, and I suspect it is because during those two years they were most committed to keeping the commandments and did the most righteous things worth remembering.

I suspect that this was behind the three Nephites’ desire to remain on the earth beyond the normal span of mortality. Certainly if they made better and better choices as time went on, they would become more happy. Part of the foundation for their happiness was teaching the gospel—a very righteous choice—and they wanted more time to do this . Christ knew what they felt, which was why he told them their joy would be full just like His joy was full. (3 Nephi 28:9-10)

I have found out that as I keep becoming a better person doing more good things and serving a little more each year than I did before, my life is getting better and happier! Each year seems happier than the last and I feel more nostalgic about the more recent past than I do about my childhood. Yes, my childhood was great, but my choices as a whole have gotten better since then.

I know that as you make better and better choices, you will find that your life similarly gets happier and happier.