2 Esdras 2 (Good News Translation w/ Apocrypha)

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1 "The Lord says: I led my people out of slavery in Egypt; I gave them commandments through my servants, the prophets, but they refused to listen and ignored my teachings. 2 Jerusalem, the mother who brought them into the world, says to them, "Go your own way, my children; I am now a widow left completely alone. 1 3 I took great delight in bringing you up, but you sinned against the Lord God and did what I knew was wrong, so I mourned in deep grief when I lost you. 4 What can I do for you, now that I am a widow and left completely alone? Go, my children, and ask the Lord for mercy.' 5 "Father Ezra, I call on you to testify against these people as their mother has done, because they have refused to keep my covenant. 6 Now bring confusion on them and ruin on their mother, so that they will have no descendants. 7 They will be scattered among the nations, and no one on earth will remember them any longer, for they have despised my covenant. 8 "How terrible will be your punishment, Assyria. You have let wicked people hide within your borders. Remember, sinful nation, what I did to Sodom and Gomorrah. 2 9 Their land now lies covered with lumps of tar and heaps of ashes. That is what I do to people who do not obey me. 10 "The Lord says to Ezra: Announce to my new people that I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I had planned to give to Israel. 11 I will take the dazzling light of my presence away from Israel and will give to my new people the eternal Temple that I had prepared for Israel. 12 The tree of life will fill the air around them with its fragrance. They will never have to work; they will never grow tired. 3 13 Ask, and you will receive. Pray that the number of the days you have to wait will be reduced. Even now the kingdom has been prepared for you, so stay alert. 4 14 Call heaven and earth to witness that I, the living God, have abolished evil and created good. 15 "Mother Jerusalem, take your children in your arms. Guide their steps in safe paths; raise them with the same delight that a dove has in raising her young. I, the Lord, have chosen you. 16 I will raise your dead from their graves because I recognize them as my people. 17 Jerusalem, mother of these people, do not be afraid; I, the Lord, have chosen you. 18 "I will send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah to help you. At their request I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees, heavy with different kinds of fruit, 5 19 twelve fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven high mountains covered with roses and lilies. I will make your children very happy there. 20 Now, Jerusalem, come to the defense of widows, take the side of the fatherless, give to the poor, protect orphans, give clothing to those who have none, 21 take care of those who are broken and weak, do not make fun of those who are crippled, protect the disabled, and help the blind to catch a vision of my dazzling splendor. 22 Keep both the old and the young safe within your walls. 23 Whenever you find a dead body, bury it and mark the grave, and I will give you a place of honor when I raise the dead. 6 24 "Be calm, my people; your time to rest will come. 25 Take care of your children like a faithful nursemaid and guide their steps in safe paths, 26 so that none of them will be lost. When the time comes, I will hold you responsible for them. 7 27 Don't worry; when the day of trouble and distress comes, others will cry and mourn, but you will be happy and rich. 28 The other nations will be jealous of you, but they will not be able to harm you. 29 "I will protect you with my power and save your children from hell. 30 Be happy, Jerusalem, you and your children, because I, the Lord, will rescue you. 31 Remember your children who are asleep in their graves; I, the Lord Almighty, am merciful, and I will bring them out from the place where they lie hidden in the earth. 32 Until I come, hold your children close and tell them about my grace and mercy, which are like a spring that never runs dry." 33 I, Ezra, was on Mount Sinai when the Lord ordered me to go to the people of Israel. But when I went to them, they rejected me and refused to listen to what the Lord commanded. 34 That is why I am speaking to you Gentiles. You are ready to listen and understand: "Wait for your shepherd who is coming very soon, at the end of the age, to give you eternal rest. 35 Be ready to receive the blessings of the kingdom, for eternal light will shine on you forever. 36 Flee from the darkness of this present age and accept the joyful splendor prepared for you. I testify publicly for my savior. 37 The Lord has appointed him, so accept him and be happy. Give thanks to God, who has called you into his heavenly kingdom. 38 Stand up and see the number of those who have received the Lord's mark and who share in his banquet. 39 They have left the darkness of this age and have received shining white robes from the Lord. 40 So now, Jerusalem, welcome these people who have kept the Law of the Lord, and this will complete the list of those whom God has assigned to you. 41 The children you longed for have returned; their number is now complete. So pray that the Lord's kingdom may come and that your people, whom God chose before he created the world, may become holy." 42 I, Ezra, saw an enormous crowd on Mount Zion, too many people to count. They were all singing and praising the Lord. 8 43 Standing in the middle of this crowd was a very tall young man, taller than any of the others. He was placing a crown on the head of each person, but he towered above them all. I was spellbound by the sight, 44 and I asked the angel, "Who are these people, sir?" 45 He replied, "These are people who have taken off their mortal robes and have put on immortal ones. They have confessed their faith in God, and now they are being given crowns and palm branches as symbols of their victory." 46 Then I asked the angel, "Who is the young man who is putting the crowns on their heads and giving them the palms?" 47 "He is the Son of God," the angel replied, "and all these people confessed their faith in him while they lived on earth." Then I began to praise those who had stood for the Lord so bravely. 48 And the angel said to me, "Go and tell my people what you have seen, the many marvelous wonders of the Lord."
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