Why Will Ye Die?

The Lord assured the prophet Ezekiel that He wants what is best for His children. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” As Elder D. Todd Christofferson has affirmed, “Far from being anxious to condemn, our Heavenly Father and our Savior seek our happiness and plead with us to repent, knowing full well that ‘wickedness never was [and never will be] happiness'” (“The Voice of Warning,” General Conference, April 2017).

Having established His own commitment to our success and happiness, God then pleads with us to act in our own self-interest: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11).

That question—Why will ye die?—appears two other times in the Bible. Ezekiel asked it in another passage as he urged his people to repent, and his contemporary, Jeremiah, asked the same question as he urged King Zedekiah to take the prudent course of action and not defy the Babylonians. (See Ezekiel 18:31, Jeremiah 27:13.)

The question appears twice in the Book of Mormon as well. After sharing the allegory of the olive tree, the prophet Jacob urges his readers, “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die” (Jacob 6:6; see also Psalm 95:7-8). Hundreds of years later, the prophet Nephi, seeing the unraveling of his society through corruption, asked the same question of his neighbors:

O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God.

Helaman 7:17

We are all painfully aware that we don’t always act in our own best interest, particularly over long time horizons. Why is it hard to motivate ourselves to eat healthy, to exercise, and to maintain good sleep habits? Why is it hard to maintain good habits of scripture study, prayer, and temple attendance? Because we become too focused on immediate outcomes and fail to prioritize long-term investments. Our daily schedule consumes us, and we periodically need someone like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Jacob, or Nephi to wake us up, to make us think about where our individual decisions are leading us.

Today, I will engage in activities which are conducive to my health and happiness. I will discipline myself to do the things which will help me maintain my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

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