|4 Esdras 5 |
1 Nevertheless as analogies of prediction, behold, the days shall come, that those who dwell upon earth shall be taken in a great number, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.
2 But iniquity shall have increased above what you now see, or that you have heard of in the time of long ago.
3 And the land, that you see now to have root, shall you see wasted suddenly.
4 But if the most High grants you to live, you shall see after the third trumpet that the sun shall suddenly shine again in the night, and the moon three times in the day.
5 And blood shall drop out of wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be troubled.
6 And even he shall rule, whom they look not for that dwell upon the earth, and the fowls shall take their flight away together.
7 And the Sodomitish sea shall cast out fish, and a voice shall be heard in the night [time of darkness and evil], which many have not known, but they shall all hear the voice of it [Voice of the Lord].1
8 There shall be a confusion also in many places, and the fire shall be often sent out again, and the wild beasts shall change their places, and menstrual women shall bring forth monsters.
9 And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall destroy one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom withdraw itself into his secret chamber,
10 And it shall be sought of many, and yet not be found; then shall unrighteousness and sexual immorality be multiplied upon earth.
11 One land also shall ask another, and say, 'Is righteousness that makes a man righteous gone [available] through you?' And it shall say, 'No.'
12 At the same time shall men hope, but obtain nothing; they shall labor, but their ways shall not prosper.
13 To show you such tokens I have, leave; and if you will pray again, and weep as now, and fast even days, you shall hear yet greater things."
14 Then I awaked, and an extreme fearfulness went through all my body, and my mind was troubled, so that it fainted.
15 So the angel that had come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet.
16 And in the second night it came to pass, that Salathiel the captain of the people came unto me, saying, "Where have you been? And why is your countenance so heavy?
17 Do you not know that Israel is committed unto you in the land of their captivity?
18 Get up then, and eat bread, and do not forsake us, as the shepherd that leaves his flock in the hands of cruel wolves."
19 Then said I unto him, "Go your ways from me, and come not near me." And he heard what I said, and went from me.
20 And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like Uriel the angel commanded me.
21 And after seven days so it was, that the thoughts of my heart were very grievous unto me again,
22 And my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began to talk with the most High again,
23 And said, "O Lord who bears rule, of every wood of the earth, and of all the trees thereof, you have chosen for yourself one only vine;
24 And of all lands of the whole world you have chosen your one; and of all the flowers thereof one lily;
25 And of all the depths of the sea you have filled your one river; and of all the built cities you have hallowed Zion unto yourself;
26 And of all the fowls that are created you have named your one dove; and of all the cattle [grazing animals] that are made you have provided your one sheep;
27 And among all the multitudes of people you have gotten your one people; and unto this people, whom you loved, you gave a law that is approved of all.
28 And now, O Lord, why have you given this one people over unto many? And upon the one root have you prepared others, and why have you scattered your only one people among many?
29 And those who opposed your promises and did not believe your covenants have trodden them down.
30 If you did so much hate your people, yet should you punish them with your own hands."
31 Now when I had spoken these words, the angel that came to me the night before was sent unto me,
32 And said unto me, "Hear me, and I will instruct you; hearken to the thing that I say, and I shall tell you more."
33 And I said, "Speak on, my Lord." Then said he unto me, "You are sorely troubled in your mind for Israel's sake. Are you one who loves people better than he who made them?"
34 And I said, "No, Lord; but of very grief have I spoken for my heart's concerns pain me every hour, while I labor to comprehend the way of the most High, and to seek out part of his judgment."
35 And he said unto me, "You cannot." And I said, "Why, Lord? For what purpose was I born then? Or why was not my mother's womb then my grave, that I might not have seen the travail of Jacob, and the wearisome toil of the stock of Israel?"
36 And he said unto me, "Number me the things that are not yet come, gather me together the dross that are scattered abroad, make me the flowers green again that are withered,
37 Open me the places that are closed, and bring me forth the winds that in them are shut up, show me the image of a voice; and then I will declare to you the thing that you labor to know."
38 And I said, "O Lord who bears rule, who may know these things, but he that has not his dwelling with men?
39 As for me, I am unwise; how may I then speak of these things that you ask of me?"
40 Then said he unto me, "Like as you can do none of these things that I have spoken of, even so you cannot find out [understand] my judgment, or in the end the love that I have promised unto my people."2
41 And I said, "Behold, O Lord, yet are you near to them that are reserved till the end; and what shall they do who have been before me, or we who are now, or those who shall come after us?"
42 And he said unto me, "I will liken my judgment unto a ring: like as there is no slackness of the last, even so there is no swiftness of the first."
43 So I answered and said, "Could you not make those that have been made, and are now, and that are for to come, at once; that you might show your judgment the sooner?"
44 Then answered he me, and said, "The creature may not hasten above the maker; neither may the world hold them at once that shall be created in it.
45 And I said, "As you have said unto your servant, that you, who gives life to all, have given life at once to the creature that you have created, and the creation bore it; even so it might now also bear them that now are present at once."
46 And he said unto me, "Ask the womb of a woman, and say unto her, 'If you bring forth children, why do you not do them together, but one after another?' Pray her therefore to bring forth ten children at once."
47 And I said, "She cannot, but must do it by distance of time."
48 Then said he unto me, "Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those that are sown in it in their times.
49 For like as a young child may not bring forth the things that belong to the aged, even so have I disposed the world which I created."
50 And I asked, and said, "Seeing you have now given me the way, I will proceed to speak before you for our mother, of whom you have told me that she is young, draws now near unto age."
51 He answered me, and said, "Ask a woman that bears children, and she shall tell you.
52 Say unto her, 'Why are those whom you have now brought forth not like those that were before, but less of stature?'
53 And she shall answer you, 'those who be born in the strength of youth are of one fashion, and those who are born in the time of age, when the womb fails, are otherwise.'
54 Consider you therefore also, how that you are less of stature than those that were before you.
55 And so are those who come after you less than you, as the creatures which now begin to be old, and have passed over the strength of youth."
56 Then said I, "Lord, I beseech you, if I have found favor in your sight, show your servant by whom you visit your creature.
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1 And the Sodomitish sea shall cast out fish, The sea is the world. The world shall cast out those who live like the Sodomites: sexual immorality, pride, overabundance of food, and much idleness.
and a voice shall be heard in the night [time of darkness and evil], which many have not known, but they shall all hear the voice of it [Voice of the Lord]. Before the troubles are too grievous to be borne by man, every man will hear the Voice of the Lord. From the Word of God within my heart:
"There has never been a time like now; all men will twist in the earth.
There is a time coming when everyone will hear the voice of the Lord; heed and obey."
In the time of Noah, just before everyone in the world was destroyed by the great flood, Noah warned people; but we have no record of the Lord himself speaking to every man and warning him. However, we do know that the Lord quietly and anonymously pleads with every man to avoid evil and do the right thing. It is very probable that most of the people destroyed by the flood thought they were living a "good" life, just like today billions of follower of the world's religions think they are living in a pleasing manner to God, following their rituals and ceremonies; but still sinning, and so still slaves to sin. Most religious people are even without an understanding of what sin really is, or how everyone who sins is excluded from the Kingdom of God or Christ.
This time, before the great destruction, everyone will hear; they can chose to ignore him — as the vast majority will — or they can be seized with alarm and begin to seek peace with God by following his guidance and seeking more earnestly; which guidance, if repeatedly sought and obeyed, will cause them to be sealed with the Holy Spirit, and thus protected by His angels from death and destruction.
2 you cannot find out [understand] my judgment, or in the end the love that I have promised unto my people. The below quote from Romans describes how all men in the next life will be reconciled to God.
And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
For this is my covenant with them when I will take away their sins.
As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your benefit; but in regard to the election, they are beloved for their forefather's sake.
For the gifts and calling of God are without him changing his mind and taking them back.
For as you were previously disobedient to God, yet you have now obtained mercy through their disobedience.
Even now these have been disobedient, so that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God has sealed them all [men] in disobedience, that he may show mercy on all [men].
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and his ways are beyond discovery by man!
Therefore because the disobedience of one man led all men to condemnation; even so one man's act of righteousness exculpates (pronounces not guilty of offences) all men to right standing with God and eternal life. Romans 5:18
All is well that ends well; and God has a plan for all to end well for all. For further detail, see Is There Hope For All.
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