91He answered, “Consider all these things very carefully. When you see that some of the signs I have told you about have appeared, 2you will know that the time has come when God Most High will bring judgement on the world he has created. 3There will be earthquakes, national rebellions, international intrigues, unstable leaders, and confused rulers. When you see these things happening, 4you will know that they are what God Most High has spoken about since the beginning of creation. 5The beginning and the end9.5 One ancient translation The beginning and the end; Latin unclear. of everything that happens in this world are clear. 6The same is true in the world above:9.6 The same… above; Latin unclear. wonders and miracles show the beginning of events, and mighty signs show when they end.
7“Some people will escape destruction and be saved by their good works or by their faith. All of them 8will survive the dangers I have described and will enjoy the salvation provided in the land that I have set apart from eternity as my own. 9Then those who have ignored my ways and held them in contempt will be surprised when they find themselves in continual torment. 10This will include all those who ignored me while they were alive, even though they accepted the blessings I gave them. 11
It will include all those who scorned my Law during the time they were free to do so and all those who refused to repent while they still had the chance. 12The torment they will have to suffer after death will force them to recognize the truth. 13Therefore, Ezra, you should stop asking questions about how the wicked will be punished. Instead, be concerned about how and when the righteous will be saved. The world was created for them and belongs to them.”
14I said, 15“I must repeat what I said before. The lost far outnumber those who are saved — 16it is like a wave compared with a drop of water.”
17He answered, “The seed to be sown depends on the soil; the colour of the flower depends on the kind of flower; the quality of a product depends on the skill of the worker; and the size of the harvest depends on how hard the farmer has worked. 18Before I created this world or the people who would live in it, no one opposed me, because no one existed. 19When I had created the world, I supplied it with an abundance of food and a Law of profound wisdom, but the people I created lived corrupt lives. 20I looked at my world and saw that it was ruined. I saw that my earth was in danger of being destroyed by the wicked plans of the people who had come into it. 21When I saw this, I found it very difficult to spare them, but I saved a few for myself, one grape out of a bunch and one tree out of a great forest.9.21 Some ancient translations a great forest; Latin great tribes. 22So let them perish — all those people who were born only to be lost. But let my chosen people be kept safe — those for whom I worked so hard to bring them to perfection.
23“And now, Ezra, you must wait seven more days, but do not fast this time. 24Go to a field of wild flowers where no one has ever lived and eat nothing but the flowers — do not eat any meat or drink any wine. 25Pray the whole time to God Most High. Then I will come and talk with you again.”
26I obeyed the angel's command and went to a field called Ardat. I sat there among the flowers and ate the wild plants, and that was enough food for me. 27After seven days I was lying on the grass, and once again my thoughts began to trouble me. 28Then I began to speak and said to God Most High, 29
“O Lord, you revealed yourself to your ancestors when they were travelling through the trackless, barren desert after they had left Egypt. You said to them, 30‘Listen to me, people of Israel. 31I am giving you my Law. It will be like a seed sown among you that produces fruit, and it will be your crowning glory for ever.’ 32Our ancestors received the Law, but they disobeyed its commands. Yet the fruit of the Law was not destroyed — it could not be destroyed because it was yours. 33Those who had received the Law were destroyed because they did not guard the good seed that was sown in them. 34-35The usual thing is that the container remains after its contents have been destroyed, for example, seed in the ground, a ship on the sea, or food in a bowl. But this is not the case with us sinners. 36The Law was placed in our hearts, and we are the ones who will be destroyed because we have sinned. 37The Law will not be destroyed; it will remain in all its glory.”
38While I was saying these things to myself, I looked round and saw a woman on my right. She was weeping and wailing, terribly upset; her clothes were torn, and there were ashes on her head. 39I immediately put my own troubles out of my mind, turned to the woman, 40and asked, “Why are you crying? Why are you so upset?”
41“Please, sir,” she answered, “leave me alone and let me go on crying and mourning; I am bitter and depressed.”
42“Tell me what's wrong,” I said.
43She answered, “Sir, I was married for thirty years, but I was never able to have a child. 44During those thirty years I prayed every day and every hour, day and night, to God Most High for a child. 45After thirty years God answered my prayer; he saw my suffering, took away my distress, and gave me a son. What great joy this brought to my husband and me and to all our neighbours! We sang the praises of the Almighty. 46I brought our son up with the greatest care, 47and when he was grown, I chose a wife for him and prepared for the wedding.