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4 Esdras 4

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 1 And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer,

 2 And said, "Your heart has gone to far in this world, and do you think you can comprehend the way of the most High?"

 3 Then said I, "Yes, my lord." And he answered me, and said, "I am sent to show you three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before you;

 4 Whereof if you can declare me one, I will show you also the way that you desire to see, and I shall show you from where the wicked heart comes."

 5 And I said, "Tell on, my lord." Then said he unto me, "Go your way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or bring back to me again the day that is past."

 6 Then I answered and said, "What man is able to do that, that you should ask such things of me?"

 7 And he said unto me, "If I should ask you how many great dwellings are in the midst of the sea, or how many springs are in the beginning of the deep, or how many springs are above the firmament, or where are the exits of Hell and entrances of paradise;

 8 Perhaps you would say unto me, 'I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever climb up into heaven.'

 9 Nevertheless now have I asked you but only of the fire and wind, and of the day which you have passed through, and of things from which you can not be separated, and yet cannot you give me an answer of them."

 10 He said moreover unto me, "Your own things, and such as you have grown up with you, can you not know;

 11 How should your heart [and mind] then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, when you with the world have been already outwardly corrupted, to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight?"

 12 Then said I unto him, "It were better that we were not at all, than that we should live still in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know why."

 13 He answered me, and said, "I went into a forest into a plain, and the trees took counsel,

 14 And said, 'Come, let us go and make war against the sea that it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more woods.'

 15 The floods of the sea also in like manner took counsel, and said, 'Come, let us go up and subdue the woods of the plain, that there also we may make us another country.'

 16 The thought of the wood was in vain for the fire came and consumed it.

 17 The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to nothing for the sand stood up and stopped them.

 18 If you were judge now between these two, whom would you begin to justify? Or whom would you condemn?"

 19 I answered and said, "Verily it is a foolish thought that they both have devised, for the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also has his place to bear his floods."

 20 Then answered he me and said, "You have given a right judgment, but why do you not judge yourself also?

 21 For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his floods, even so those who dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but what is upon the earth; and he that dwells above the heavens can understand the things that are above the height of the heavens."

 22 Then answered I and said, "I beseech you, O Lord, let me have understanding;

 23 For it was not my mind to be curious of the high things, but of such as pass by us daily, namely: why Israel is given up as a reproach to the heathen, and for what cause the people whom you have loved is given over unto ungodly nations, and why the law of our forefathers is brought to nothing, and the written covenants come to none effect,

 24 And we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, our life is astonishment and fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy.

 25 What will he then do unto his name by which we are called? Of these things have I asked."

 26 Then answered he me, and said, "The more you search, the more you shall marvel for the world hastens fast to pass away,

 27 And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come for this world is full of unrighteousness and sickness [of the mind].

 28 But as concerning the things whereof you ask me, I will tell you ; for the evil is sown, but the destruction of it has not yet come.

 29 If therefore what is sown is not turned upside down, and if the place where the evil is sown does not pass away, then what is sown with good cannot come forth.

 30 For the grain of evil seed has been sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much ungodliness has it brought up unto this time? And how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing comes?

 31 Ponder now by yourself, how great fruit of wickedness that the grain of evil seed has brought forth.

 32 And when the ears shall be cut down, which are without number, how great a floor shall they fill?"

 33 Then I answered and said, "How, and when shall these things come to pass? Why are our years few and evil?"

 34 And he answered me, saying, "Do not strive above [second guess] the most Highest [in your conclusions] for your rush to judgment is in vain to be above him, for you have greatly exceeded [your ability to judge correctly].

 35 Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their chambers, saying, 'How long shall I hope on this fashion? When does the fruit of the floor of our reward come?'"

 36 And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, "Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he has weighed the world in the balance.

 37 By measure has he measured the times; and by number has he numbered the times; and he does not move nor stir them, until the said measure is fulfilled."

 38 Then answered I and said, "O Lord who bears rule, even we all are full of impiety.

 39 And for our sakes perhaps it is that the floors of the righteous are not filled because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth."

 40 So he answered me, and said, "Go your way to a woman with child, and ask of her when she has fulfilled her nine months, if her womb may keep the birth any longer within her."

 41 Then said I," No, Lord, that she cannot." And he said unto me, "In the grave the chambers of souls are like the womb of a woman.

 42 For like as a woman that travails makes haste to escape the necessity of the travail, even so do these places hasten to deliver those things that are committed unto them.

 43 From the beginning, look, what you desire to see, it shall be shown to you."

 44 Then answered I and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, and if it is possible, and if I am fit therefore,

 45 Show me then whether there is more to come than is past, or more past than is to come.

 46 What is past I know, but what is to come I know not."

 47 And he said unto me, "Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound an analogy to you."

 48 So I stood, and, behold, a hot burning oven passed by before me; and it happened that when the flame was gone by, I looked, and saw that the smoke still remained.

 49 After this there passed by before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm; and when the stormy rain was past, the drops remained still.1

 50 Then said he unto me, "Consider with yourself: as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire is greater than the smoke, but the drops and the smoke remain behind; so the quantity which has passed did greatly exceed them."

 51 Then I prayed, and said, "Do you think I may live I live until that time? Or what shall happen in those days?"

 52 He answered me, and said, "As for the analogies that you ask of me, I may tell you of them in part; but as to how they relate to your life, I am not sent to show you for I do not know it."

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1 So I stood, and, behold, a hot burning oven passed by before me; and it happened that when the flame was gone by, I looked, and saw that the smoke still remained. After this there passed by before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm; and when the stormy rain was past, the drops remained still.
The oven is the burning that every man must go through: either the unquenchable fire of the Holy Spirit's baptism that burns up all the remaining sin in a man, or man must take his part in the lake of fire, that never goes out, after death.

For no other foundation can any man lay than what has been already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man builds upon this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw;
That man's work will be exposed. For the day [of the Lord] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire;1 and the fire will try and test every man's work, of what sort it is.
If any man's work survives, which he has built upon the foundation, he will receive a reward.
If any man's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.1 Cor 3:11-15

Faith must be demonstrated by works of love, which is obedience to the promptings of the Spirit of God's direction; such is the love of God. But he who practices truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced (effected, formed, prompted, energized) through God." John 3:21; such works are the only works that survive passing through the fire, which every man must go through.

The fire is not forever — it passes eventually; but the smoke (the memory of the trouble) lasts forever. "Hallelujah. Her smoke goes up forever and ever." Rev 19:3. Likewise the storm passes, but the evidence of the storm remains.


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