Second Esdras Chapter – 7 – World English Bible British Edition

Second Esdras Chapters

1 And when I had made an end of speaking these words, there was sent to me the angel which had been sent to me the nights before:

2 and he said to me, Up, Esdras, and hear the words that I am come to tell you.

3 And I said, Speak on, my Lord. Then he said to me, There is a sea set in a wide place, that it might be broad and vast.

4 But the entrance thereof shall be set in a narrow place so as to be like a river;

5 whoso then should desire to go into the sea to look upon it, or to rule it, if he went not through the narrow, how could he come into the broad?

6 Another thing also: There is a city built and set in a plain country, and full of all good things;

7 but the entrance thereof is narrow, and is set in a dangerous place to fall, having a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water:

8 and there is one only path between them both, even between the fire and the water, so small that there could but one man go there at once.

9 If this city now be given to a man for an inheritance, if the heir pass not the danger before him, how shall he receive his inheritance?

10 And I said, It is so, Lord. Then said he to me, Even so also is Israel’s portion.

11 Because for their sakes I made the world: and when Adam transgressed my statutes, then was decreed that now is done.

12 Then were the entrances of this world made narrow, and sorrowful and toilsome: they are but few and evil, full of perils, and charged with great toils.

13 For the entrances of the greater world are wide and sure, and bring forth fruit of immortality.

14 If then those who live enter not these strait and vain things, they can never receive those that are laid up for them.

15 Now therefore why you disquiet yourself, seeing you are but a corruptible man? and why are you moved, whereas you are but mortal?

16 and why have you not considered in your mind that which is to come, rather than that which is present?

17 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bear rule, behold, you have ordained in your law, that the righteous should inherit these things, but that the ungodly should perish.

18 The righteous therefore shall suffer strait things, and hope for wide: but those who have done wickedly have suffered the strait things, and yet shall not see the wide.

19 And he said to me, You are not a judge above God, neither have you understanding above the Most High.

20 Yes, rather let many that now be perish, than that the law of God which is set before them be despised.

21 For God straitly commanded such as came, even as they came, what they should do to live, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.

22 Nevertheless they were not obedient to him; but spoke against him, and imagined for themselves vain things;

23 and framed cunning plans of wickedness; and said moreover of the Most High, that he is not; and knew not his ways:

24 but they despised his law, and denied his covenants; they have not been faithful to his statutes, and have not performed his works.

25 Therefore, Esdras, for the empty are empty things, and for the full are the full things.

26 For behold, the time shall come, and it shall be, when these tokens, of which I told you before, shall come to pass, that the bride shall appear, even the city coming forth, and she shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the earth.

27 And whoever is delivered from the aforesaid evils shall see my wonders.

28 For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and shall rejoice those who remain four hundred years.

29 After these years shall my son Christ die of those who, and all that have the breath of life.

30 And the world shall be turned into the old silence seven days, like as in the first beginning: so that no man shall remain.

31 And after seven days the world, that yet awakens not, shall be raised up, and that shall die that is corruptible.

32 And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell therein in silence, and the secret places shall deliver those souls that were committed to them.

33 And the Most High shall be revealed upon the seat of judgement, and compassion shall pass away, and patience shall be withdrawn:

34 but judgement only shall remain, truth shall stand, and faith shall wax strong:

35 and the work shall follow, and the reward shall be showed, and good deeds shall awake, and wicked deeds shall not sleep.

36 And the pit of torment shall appear, and near it shall be the place of rest: and the furnace of shall be showed, and near it the paradise of delight.

37 And then shall the Most High say to the nations that are raised from the dead, See you° and understand whom you° have denied, or whom you° have not served, or whose commandments you° have despised.

38 Look on this side and on that: here is delight and rest, and there fire and torments. Thus shall he speak to them in the day of judgement:

39 This is a day that has neither sun, nor moon, nor stars,

40 neither cloud, nor thunder, nor lightning, neither wind, nor water, nor air, neither darkness, nor evening, nor morning,

41 neither summer, nor spring, nor heat, nor winter, neither frost, nor cold, nor hail, nor rain, nor dew,

42 neither noon, nor night, nor dawn, neither shining, nor brightness, nor light, save only the splendour of the glory of the Most High, whereby all shall see the things that are set before them:

43 for it shall endure as it were a week of years.

44 This is my judgement and the ordinance thereof; but to you only have I showed these things.

45 And I answered, I said even then, O Lord, and I say now: blessed are those who are now alive and keep the statutes ordained of you.

46 But as touching them for whom my prayer was made, what shall I say? for who is there of those who are alive that has not sinned, and who of the sons of men that has not transgressed your covenant?

47 And now I see, that the world to come shall bring delight to few, but torments to many.

48 For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has led us astray from these statutes, and has brought us into corruption and into the ways of death, has showed us the paths of perdition and removed us far from life; and that, not a few only, but well near all that have been created.

49 And he answered me, and said, Listen to me, and I will instruct you; and I will admonish you yet again:

50 for this cause the Most High has not made one world, but two.

51 For whereas you have said that the just are not many, but few, and the ungodly abound, hear the answer thereto.

52 If you have exceedingly few choice stones, will you set for you near them according to their number things of lead and clay?

53 And I said, Lord, how shall this be?

54 And he said to me, Not only this, but ask the earth, and she shall tell you; entreat her, and she shall declare to you.

55 For you shall say to her, You bring forth gold and silver and brass, and iron also and lead and clay:

56 but silver is more abundant than gold, and brass than silver, and iron than brass, lead than iron, and clay than lead.

57 Judge you therefore which things are precious and to be desired, what is abundant or what is rare.

58 And I said, O Lord that bear rule, that which is plentiful is of less worth, for that which is more rare is more precious.

59 And he answered me, and said, Weigh within yourself the things that you have thought, for he that has what is hard to get rejoices over him that has what is plentiful.

60 So also is the judgement which I have promised: for I will rejoice over the few that shall be saved, inasmuch as these are those who have made my glory now to prevail, and of whom my name is now named.

61 And I will not grieve over the multitude of those who perish; for these are those who are now like to vapour, and are become as flame and smoke; they are set on fire and burn hotly, and are quenched.

62 And I answered and said, O you earth, wherefore have you brought forth, if the mind is made out of dust, like as all other created things?

63 For it were better that the dust itself had been unborn, so that the mind might not have been made therefrom.

64 But now the mind grows with us, and by reason of this we are tormented, because we perish and know it.

65 Let the race of men lament and the beasts of the field be glad; let all that are born lament, but let the four-footed beasts and the cattle rejoice.

66 For it is far better with them than with us; for they look not for judgement, neither do they know of torments or of salvation promised to them after death.

67 For what does it profit us, that we shall be preserved alive, but yet be afflicted with torment?

68 For all that are born are defiled with iniquities, and are full of sins and laden with offences:

69 and if after death we were not to come into judgement, perhaps it had been better for us.

70 And he answered me, and said, When the Most High made the world, and Adam and all those who came of him, he first prepared the Judgement and the things that pertain to the judgement.

71 And now understand from your own words, for you have said that the mind grows with us.

72 They therefore that dwell upon the earth shall be tormented for this reason, that having understanding they have done iniquity, and receiving commandments have not kept them, and having obtained a law they dealt unfaithfully with that which they received.

73 What then will they have to say in the judgement, or how will they answer in the last times?

74 For how great a time has the Most High been patient with those who inhabit the world, and not for their sakes, but because of the times which he has foreordained!

75 And I answered and said, if I have found grace in your sight, O Lord, show this also to your servant, whether after death, even now when every one of us gives up his soul, we shall be kept in rest until those times come, in which you shall renew the creation, or whether we shall be tormented forthwith.

76 And he answered me, and said, I will show you this also; but join not yourself with those who are scorners, nor count yourself with those who are tormented.

77 For you have a treasure of good works laid up with the Most High, but it shall not be showed you until the last times.

78 For concerning death the teaching is: When the determinate sentence has gone forth from the Most High that a man should die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, it adores the glory of the Most High first of all.

79 And if it be one of those that have been scorners and have not kept the way of the Most High, and that have despised his law, and that hate those who fear God,

80 these spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall wander and be in torments forthwith, ever grieving and sad, in seven ways.

81 The first way, because they have despised the law of the Most High.

82 The second way, because they can’t now make a good returning that they may live.

83 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have believed the covenants of the Most High.

84 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.

85 The fifth way, they shall see the dwelling places of the others guarded by angels, with great quietness.

86 The sixth way, they shall see how forthwith some of them shall pass into torment.

87 The seventh way, which is more grievous than all the aforesaid ways, because they shall pine away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall be withered up by fears, seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they have sinned while living, and before whom they shall be judged in the last times.

88 Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from the corruptible vessel.

89 In the time that they lived therein they painfully served the Most High, and were in jeopardy every hour, that they might keep the law of the lawgiver perfectly.

90 Wherefore this is the teaching concerning them:

91 First of all they shall see with great joy the glory of him who takes them up, for they shall have rest in seven orders.

92 The first order, because they have laboured with great effort to overcome the evil thought which was fashioned together with them, that it might not lead them astray from life into death.

93 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander, and the punishment that awaits them.

94 The third order, they see the witness which he that fashioned them bears concerning them, that while they lived they kept the law which was given them in trust.

95 The fourth order, they understand the rest which, being gathered in their chambers, they now enjoy with great quietness, guarded by angels, and the glory that awaits them in the last days.

96 The fifth order, they rejoice, seeing how they have now escaped from that which is corruptible, and how they shall inherit that which is to come, while they see moreover the straitness and the painfulness from which they have been delivered, and the large room which they shall receive with joy and immortality.

97 The sixth order, when it is showed to them how their face shall shine as the sun, and how they shall be made like to the light of the stars, being henceforth incorruptible.

98 The seventh order, which is greater than all the aforesaid orders, because they shall rejoice with confidence, and because they shall be bold without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they hasten to behold the face of him whom in their lifetime they served, and from whom they shall receive their reward in glory.

99 This is the order of the souls of the just, as from henceforth is announcer to them, and aforesaid are the ways of torture which those who would not give heed shall suffer from henceforth.

100 And I answered and said, shall time therefore be given to the souls after they are separated from the bodies, that they may see that whereof you have spoken to me?

101 And he said, Their freedom shall be for seven days, that for seven days they may see the things whereof you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered together in their habitations.

102 And I answered and said, if I have found favour in your sight, show further to me your servant whether in the day of judgement the just will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them,

103 whether fathers for children, or children for parents, or kindred for kindred, or kinsfolk for their next of kin, or friends for those who are most dear.

104 And he answered me, and said, Since you have found favour in my sight, I will show you this also: The day of judgement is a day of decision, and displays to all the seal of truth; even as now a father sends not his son, or a son his father, or a master his slave, or a friend him that is most dear, that in his stead he may be sick, or sleep, or eat, or be healed:

105 so never shall anyone pray for another in that day, neither shall one lay a burden on another, for then shall everyone will each bear his own righteousness or unrighteousness.

106 And I answered and said, How do we now find that first Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom, and Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness:

107 and Joshua after him for Israel in the days of Achar:

108 and Samuel in the days of Saul; and David for the plague: and Solomon for those who should worship in the sanctuary:

109 and Elijah for those that received rain; and for the dead, that he might live:

110 and Hezekiah for the people in the days of Sennacherib: and many for many?

111 If therefore now, when corruption is grown up, and unrighteousness increased, the righteous have prayed for the ungodly, wherefore shall it not be so then also?

112 He answered me, and said, This present world is not the end; the full glory remains not therein: therefore have they who were able prayed for the weak.

113 But the day of judgement shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is passed away,

114 intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, but righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up.

115 Then shall no man be able to have mercy on him that is cast in judgement, nor to thrust down him that has gotten the victory.

116 I answered then and said, this is my first and last saying, that it had been better that the earth had not given you Adam: or else, when it had given him, to have restrained him from sinning.

117 For what profit is it for all that are in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment?

118 O you Adam, what have you done? For though it was you that sinned, the evil is not fallen on you alone, but upon all of us that come of you.

119 For what profit is it to us, if there be promised us an immortal time, whereas we have done the works that bring death?

120 And that there is promised us an everlasting hope, whereas ourselves most miserably are become vain?

121 And that there are reserved habitations of health and safety, whereas we have lived wickedly?

122 And that the glory of the Most High shall defend them which have led a pure life, whereas we have walked in the most wicked ways of all?

123 And that there shall be showed a paradise, whose fruit endures without decay, wherein is abundance and healing, but we shall not enter into it,

124 for we have walked in unpleasant places?

125 And that the faces of them which have used abstinence shall shine above the stars, whereas our faces shall be blacker than darkness?

126 For while we lived and committed iniquity, we considered not what we should have to suffer after death.

127 Then he answered and said, This is the condition of the battle, which man that is born upon the earth shall fight;

128 that, if he be overcome, he shall suffer as you have said: but if he get the victory, he shall receive the thing that I say.

129 For this is the way whereof Moses spoke to the people while he lived, saying, Choose you life, that you may live.

130 Nevertheless they believed not him, nor yet the prophets after him, no, nor me which have spoken to them;

131 so that there shall not be such heaviness in their destruction, as there shall be joy over those who are persuaded to salvation.

132 I answered then and said, I know, Lord, that the Most High is now called merciful, in that he has mercy upon them which are not yet come into the world;

133 and compassionate, in that he has compassion upon those that turn to his law;

134 and patient, for that he long suffers those that have sinned, as his creatures;

135 and bountiful, for that he is ready to give rather than to exact;

136 and of great mercy, for that he multiplies more and more mercies to those who are present, and that are past, and also to them which are to come;

137 (for if he multiplied not his mercies, the world would not continue with those who dwell therein;)

138 and one that forgives, for if he didn’t forgive of his goodness, that they which have committed iniquities might be eased of them, the ten thousandth part of men would not remain living;

139 and a judge, for if he didn’t pardon those who were created by his word, and blot out the multitude of offences,

140 there would perhaps be very few left in an innumerable multitude.

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