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2 Esdras 6 (Good News Translation w/ Apocrypha)

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1 He said to me, "I made this decision before I created the world: before the gates of the world were standing; before the winds were brought together to blow, 2 or the lightning flashed, or the thunder rolled; before the foundations of Paradise were laid, 3 or the beautiful flowers appeared; before the powers that move the stars were established, or the armies of angels assembled; 4 before the air was piled up high, or the divisions of the heavens given their names; before I chose Mount Zion as my footstool; 5 before the present age was planned, or the scheming of its sinners was rejected, or my seal was placed on those who obeyed the Law and laid up a treasure of faithfulness. 6 Even then, I decided that since I, and I alone, had created the world, I, and I alone, would bring it to an end." 7 Then I asked, "How long a period of time will divide the ages? When will the first age end and the next age begin?" 8 He answered, "The interval will be no longer than that between Abraham and Abraham. a He was the grandfather of both Jacob and Esau, and when they were born, Jacob was holding Esau's heel. 9 Esau represents the end of this age, and Jacob represents the beginning of the new age. 10 So, if Jacob's hand is the beginning and Esau's heel is the end, b do not try to find a space in between." 11 "Lord and Master," I said, "please hear my request. 12 On that earlier night you showed me some of the signs of the end; now please show me the rest." 13 "Stand up," he said, "and you will hear a very loud voice. 14 If the place where you are standing is violently shaken 15 while the voice is speaking, don't be afraid. The message will be about the end of the world, and the foundations of the world will understand 16 that the voice is speaking about them. They will tremble and quake because they know that they will undergo a change when the end comes." 17 When he said this, I stood up and listened. I heard a voice that sounded like a roaring river. 1 18 It said, "The time is near when I will come to judge the people living on the earth. 19 I will punish those who have hurt others with their injustice. Jerusalem's humiliation will come to an end, 20 and this age which is about to pass away will have the final seal put on it. Then I will give the following signs: the books will be opened across the sky for all to see. 2 21 Children only a year old will speak. Pregnant women will give birth after only three or four months, and their premature babies will live and run about. 22 Planted fields will suddenly become bare, and full barns will suddenly become empty. 23 Then the trumpet will sound, and sudden terror will grip the heart of everyone when they hear it. 3 24 Friends will fight like enemies, and the earth and its people will be terrified. Rivers will stop flowing and stand still for three hours. 25 "Those who survive all these things that I have predicted will be rescued when I bring to an end this world that I created. 26 They will see those who never died but were taken up alive into heaven. The hearts and minds of people on earth will be changed. 4 27 Evil will be destroyed and deceit eliminated. 28 Faith will grow strong, corruption will be overcome, and truth, which has not produced fruit for so long, will make itself felt again." 29 While the voice was speaking, the ground beneath me began to rock back and forth. c 30 Then the angel said to me, "These are the things that I have come to show you tonight. d 31 Now if you will pray and fast for seven more days, I will come back and tell you even greater things, e 32 because God Most High has heard your prayer; the Mighty God has seen the pure and righteous life that you have lived since your youth. 33 That is why he has sent me to show you all these things and to tell you not to be afraid but to trust him. 34 Do not be so quick to raise useless questions in the present age; then you will not be so quick to do so in the final age." 35 After that, I mourned and fasted for seven more days, as I had done before, and so I completed the three weeks of fasting that I had been commanded to observe. 36 On the eighth night I was again deeply troubled, and I began to speak to God Most High. 37 I was very tense and my heart was uneasy, 38 but I said, "O Lord, at the beginning of creation you spoke the word. On the first day you commanded, "Let the universe be made,' and your word carried out that command. 5 39 At that time the spirit was moving, darkness and silence were everywhere, and no human voice was yet heard. f 40 Then you commanded that a ray of light shine out of the room where it was stored, so that your works could be seen. 41 On the second day you created the angel of the sky and commanded him to separate the water, so that part of it would move up above the dome of the sky and part remain below. 42 On the third day you commanded the water that covered the earth to come together in one place and cover one-seventh of the earth's surface. Then you dried out the rest of the earth's surface to make dry land, so that it might be cultivated and planted and used in your service. 43 Your word went out and completed the work immediately. 44 In an instant all kinds of fruits and vegetables appeared, enough kinds to satisfy every taste. There were flowers of indescribable fragrances and of the most magnificent colors. These things were made on the third day. 45 On the fourth day the bright-shining sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars were created by your command. 46 You commanded them to serve the human race, which would soon be created. 47 On the fifth day you commanded the part of the earth covered by water to produce birds and fish; and it was done. 48 At your command, the still and lifeless water brought forth living creatures, so that the nations might proclaim your wonderful works. 49 Then you singled out two of the living creatures; you named one of them Behemoth and the other Leviathan. 6 50 You separated them from each other because the sea wasn't big enough to hold them both. 51 You let Behemoth live on a part of the land that you dried up on the third day of creation; it is a land of a thousand mountains. 52 You let Leviathan live in the sea. You kept them both alive, so that your chosen people may feast on them at the time you choose. 53 On the sixth day you commanded the earth to produce the animals, domestic and wild, large and small. 54 More important than all of these, you created Adam and put him in charge of everything that you had made. And all of us, the people you have chosen, are descended from him. 55 "O Lord, I have told you all this because you said that you created this first world for the sake of your people. 56 You said that, in spite of their great numbers, all the other nations which descended from Adam are nothing, worth no more than a drop of water, no more than spit. 57 But now, Lord, those nations that are considered as nothing are ruling over us and destroying us. 58 We are your people, and you have called us your first-born, your only child, your witness, your loved one, but we have been handed over to the power of these other nations. 59 If this world was really created for the sake of your people, why don't we have possession of it? How much longer must we wait?"
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