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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Chapter 4

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1Then the angel that had been sent to me, whose name was Uriel, answered 2and said to me, “Your understanding has utterly failed regarding this world, and do you think you can comprehend the way of the Most High?” 3Then I said, “Yes, my lord.” And he replied to me, “I have been sent to show you three ways, and to put before you three problems. 4If you can solve one of them for me, then I will show you the way you desire to see, and will teach you why the heart is evil.”

5I said, “Speak, my lord.”

And he said to me, “Go, weigh for me the weight of fire, or measure for me a blast a Syr Ethiop Arab 1 Arab 2 Georg a measure of wind, or call back for me the day that is past.”

6I answered and said, “Who of those that have been born can do that, that you should ask me about such things?”

7And he said to me, “If I had asked you, ‘How many dwellings are in the heart of the sea, or how many streams are at the source of the deep, or how many streams are above the firmament, or which are the exits of Hades, or which are the entrances b Syr Compare Ethiop Arab 2 Arm: Lat lacks of Hades, or which are the entrances of paradise?’ 8perhaps you would have said to me, ‘I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into Hades, neither did I ever ascend into heaven.’ 9But now I have asked you only about fire and wind and the day—things that you have experienced and from which you cannot be separated, and you have given me no answer about them.” 10He said to me, “You cannot understand the things with which you have grown up; 11how then can your mind comprehend the way of the Most High? And how can one who is already worn out c Meaning of Lat uncertain by the corrupt world understand incorruption?” d Syr Ethiop the way of the incorruptible? When I heard this, I fell on my face e Syr Ethiop Arab 1 : Meaning of Lat uncertain 12and said to him, “It would have been better for us not to be here than to come here and live in ungodliness, and to suffer and not understand why.”

13He answered me and said, “I went into a forest of trees of the plain, and they made a plan 14and said, ‘Come, let us go and make war against the sea, so that it may recede before us and so that we may make for ourselves more forests.’ 15In like manner the waves of the sea also made a plan and said, ‘Come, let us go up and subdue the forest of the plain so that there also we may gain more territory for ourselves.’ 16But the plan of the forest was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it; 17likewise also the plan of the waves of the sea was in vain, f Lat lacks was in vain for the sand stood firm and blocked it. 18If now you were a judge between them, which would you undertake to justify, and which to condemn?”

19I answered and said, “Each made a foolish plan, for the land has been assigned to the forest, and the locale of the sea a place to carry its waves.”

20He answered me and said, “You have judged rightly, but why have you not judged so in your own case? 21For as the land has been assigned to the forest and the sea to its waves, so also those who inhabit the earth can understand only what is on the earth, and he who is g Or those who are above the heavens can understand what is above the height of the heavens.”

22Then I answered and said, “I implore you, my lord, why h Syr Ethiop Arm: Meaning of Lat uncertain have I been endowed with the power of understanding? 23For I did not wish to inquire about the ways above, but about those things that we daily experience: why Israel has been given over to the Gentiles in disgrace; why the people whom you loved has been given over to godless tribes, and the law of our ancestors has been brought to destruction and the written covenants no longer exist. 24We pass from the world like locusts, and our life is like a mist, i Syr Ethiop Arab Georg: Lat a trembling and we are not worthy to obtain mercy. 25But what will he do for his j Ethiop adds holy name that is invoked over us? It is about these things that I have asked.”

26He answered me and said, “If you are alive, you will see, and if you live long, a Syr: Lat live you will often marvel, because the age is hurrying swiftly to its end. 27It will not be able to bring the things that have been promised to the righteous in their appointed times, because this age is full of sadness and infirmities. 28For the evil about which b Syr Ethiop: Meaning of Lat uncertain you ask me has been sown, but the harvest of it has not yet come. 29If therefore that which has been sown is not reaped, and if the place where the evil has been sown does not pass away, the field where the good has been sown will not come. 30For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam's heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced until now—and will produce until the time of threshing comes! 31Consider now for yourself how much fruit of ungodliness a grain of evil seed has produced. 32When heads of grain without number are sown, how great a threshing floor they will fill!”

33Then I answered and said, “How long? b Syr Ethiop: Meaning of Lat uncertain When will these things be? Why are our years few and evil?” 34He answered me and said, “Do not be in a greater hurry than the Most High. You, indeed, are in a hurry for yourself, c Syr Ethiop Arab Arm: Meaning of Lat uncertain but the Highest is in a hurry on behalf of many. 35Did not the souls of the righteous in their chambers ask about these matters, saying, ‘How long are we to remain here? d Syr Ethiop Arab 2 Georg: Lat How long do I hope thus? And when will the harvest of our reward come?’ 36And the archangel Jeremiel answered and said, ‘When the number of those like yourselves is completed; e Syr Ethiop Arab 2 : Lat number of seeds is completed for you for he has weighed the age in the balance, 37and measured the times by measure, and numbered the times by number; and he will not move or arouse them until that measure is fulfilled.’”

38Then I answered and said, “But, O sovereign Lord, all of us also are full of ungodliness. 39It is perhaps on account of us that the time of threshing is delayed for the righteous—on account of the sins of those who inhabit the earth.”

40He answered me and said, “Go and ask a pregnant woman whether, when her nine months have been completed, her womb can keep the fetus within her any longer.”

41And I said, “No, lord, it cannot.”

He said to me, “In Hades the chambers of the souls are like the womb. 42For just as a woman who is in labor makes haste to escape the pangs of birth, so also do these places hasten to give back those things that were committed to them from the beginning. 43Then the things that you desire to see will be disclosed to you.”

44I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, and if it is possible, and if I am worthy, 45show me this also: whether more time is to come than has passed, or whether for us the greater part has gone by. 46For I know what has gone by, but I do not know what is to come.”

47And he said to me, “Stand at my right side, and I will show you the interpretation of a parable.”

48So I stood and looked, and lo, a flaming furnace passed by before me, and when the flame had gone by I looked, and lo, the smoke remained. 49And after this a cloud full of water passed before me and poured down a heavy and violent rain, and when the violent rainstorm had passed, drops still remained in the cloud. f Lat in it

50He said to me, “Consider it for yourself; for just as the rain is more than the drops, and the fire is greater than the smoke, so the quantity that passed was far greater; but drops and smoke remained.”

51Then I prayed and said, “Do you think that I shall live until those days? Or who will be alive in those days?”

52He answered me and said, “Concerning the signs about which you ask me, I can tell you in part; but I was not sent to tell you concerning your life, for I do not know.

Notes:

a Syr Ethiop Arab 1 Arab 2 Georg a measure

b Syr Compare Ethiop Arab 2 Arm: Lat lacks of Hades, or which are the entrances

c Meaning of Lat uncertain

d Syr Ethiop the way of the incorruptible?

e Syr Ethiop Arab 1 : Meaning of Lat uncertain

f Lat lacks was in vain

g Or those who are

h Syr Ethiop Arm: Meaning of Lat uncertain

i Syr Ethiop Arab Georg: Lat a trembling

j Ethiop adds holy

a Syr: Lat live

b Syr Ethiop: Meaning of Lat uncertain

c Syr Ethiop Arab Arm: Meaning of Lat uncertain

d Syr Ethiop Arab 2 Georg: Lat How long do I hope thus?

e Syr Ethiop Arab 2 : Lat number of seeds is completed for you

f Lat in it

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