81The angel replied, “God Most High made this world for many people, but the future world for only a few. 2Ezra, let me give you an illustration. If you ask the earth, it will tell you that it produces a large amount of clay for pots but only a small amount of gold dust. And that's how it is with the present world: 3
many have been created, but only a few will be saved.”
4I said to myself, “I must search for wisdom and try to understand. 5I was brought into this world without my consent,8.5 One ancient translation without my consent; Latin to obey. and I will leave it against my will. God has given me only a few short years as my span of life.”
6Then I prayed, “O Lord above, permit me, your humble servant, to offer this prayer: Sow a seed within us, and let it grow until it produces new hearts and minds, so that sinful humanity may have life. 7For you alone are God, and you created all of us, as the scripture says. 8You give life and provide arms and legs to the body formed in the womb, where it is kept safe in the elements of fire and water. The body which you form is carried in the womb for nine months, 9and you alone provide safety for the protecting womb and the protected body. Then when the womb delivers what was created in it, 10your command produces milk from the breasts of the human body. 11The infant you created is fed in this way for a while, and then you continue to provide your mercy. 12You bring a person up in your righteousness, teach him your Law, and discipline him with your wisdom. 13You are his Creator, and, as you wish, you can take away his life or allow him to live. 14But if you are so ready to destroy a person that was so carefully created at your command, why was he created in the first place?”
15“Now, Lord, I must say this: You may know what is best with regard to the rest of human race, but I mourn for your own people — 16I am disturbed and grieved for your own nation Israel, the descendants of Jacob. 17So I want to pray for them and for myself, because I can see how all of us who live on this earth have failed, 18and I know that judgement will soon come upon us. 19So please hear me and listen to my prayer.”
The prayer that Ezra prayed before he was taken up into heaven begins here. He prayed, 20“O Lord, you live for ever, and the highest heavens are yours. 21Your throne is more wonderful than anything we can imagine; your glory surpasses our understanding; the heavenly army of angels stands trembling before you. 22
They are ready to turn themselves into wind or fire at your command. Your word is everlastingly true. 23Your mighty commands accomplish fearful things. With one look, you dry up the deep oceans, and you can melt the mountains with your anger. Your truth lasts for ever.8.23 Some ancient translations lasts for ever; Latin testifies. 24O Lord, you created me, and I am your servant, so listen to my prayer. 25As long as I have life and understanding, I cannot keep silent.
26“Do not take account of the sins of your people; rather, consider those who have served you faithfully. 27Pay no attention to godless people and what they do, but take into account those who have kept your covenant in spite of all their sufferings. 28Do not think about those who have lived wicked lives, but remember those who have gladly confessed you as God. 29Do not destroy your people because of those who have lived like animals, but be mindful of those who have taught your Law in such a wonderful way. 30Do not be angry with those you consider worse than animals, but show your love to those who have always trusted in your glorious presence.
31“It is true that we and our ancestors have lived our lives in ways that bring death, but it is because of us who are sinners that you are called merciful. 32You will surely be called merciful if you choose to take pity on us — we are sinners without any righteous deed to our credit. 33Those who are righteous will receive their reward on the basis of the many good works that they have stored up with you.
34“What are human beings that you should be angry with them? What is this mortal race that you should be so bitter against it? 35To speak the truth, no person was ever born who did not sin; there is no one living who is not guilty. 36Therefore, Lord, your righteousness and goodness will certainly be made known when you show mercy to those who have no treasure of good deeds.”
37The Lord answered me, “Part of what you have said is correct, and things will happen as you have indicated. 38You can be sure that I will give no thought to those who have sinned, or to their creation, death, judgement, or destruction. 39Instead, I will find my joy in the creation of the righteous, their earthly journey, their salvation, and their final reward. 40Things will happen just as I have said. 41The farmer sows many seeds and puts out many plants, but not all of them take root or come up at the right time. That's how it is with this world. Not everyone who has been placed in this world will be saved.”
42Then I said, “Please let me speak. 43The farmer's seed may not come up because you did not send rain at the right time, or it may be ruined by too much rain. 44But people are different. You formed them with your own hands; you created them to be like you; and you made everything for their benefit. How can you compare them to a farmer's seed? 45It's impossible, O Lord8.45 Some ancient translations O Lord; Latin does not have these words. above! Spare the people who are your own. Have pity on them. Show your mercy to the people you have created.”
46He answered, “The present is for those who live now, and the future for those who are to come. 47You are certainly not able to love what I have created more than I do. Never again consider yourself among the unrighteous, as you have done so often. 48Yet I am very pleased 49that you have shown proper humility and not boasted by thinking of yourself as righteous. 50The people of this world who have lived their lives in pride and arrogance will suffer many things in the last days. 51But, Ezra, you should be thinking about the glory that is waiting for you and those like you. 52
For all of you, Paradise has been opened, the tree of life has been planted, the world to come has been made ready, all your needs have been provided, the heavenly city has been built, full rest from your labours has been offered, goodness and wisdom have been perfected. 53The source of evil has been sealed off, so that it cannot reach you; all sickness has been removed, death8.53 Some ancient translations death; Latin does not have this word. has been taken away, hell is gone, and corruption has disappeared. 54All suffering has been taken away, and the treasure of immortality is at last revealed.
55“So don't ask any more questions about the large number of people who are lost. 56For when they had the opportunity to choose, they despised God Most High, had contempt for his Law, and refused to follow his ways. 57In addition, they ill-treated the righteous servants of God. 58They even said to themselves that there was no God, although they knew that they must die. 59
So the joys I have described are waiting for you, while thirst and torment are in store for them. But God Most High did not want anyone to perish. 60He created everyone and prepared life for everyone, but those he created dishonoured the name of their Creator and were ungrateful to the one who offered them life. 61That is why the day on which I will judge them is near. 62I have made this known to you and a few others like you, but not to everyone.”
I answered, 63“Sir, you have shown me many signs which you will perform in the last days, but you have not told me how I can know when this will happen.”