The Hermas Series Part II
The Building Of Yahweh's Assembly
Brethren, a revelation was made unto me in my sleep by a very goodly young man, who said to me, "What thinkest thou of that aged woman, from whom thou receivedst the book?" I answered, "A Sibyl". "Thou art mistaken," said he, "she is not." I replied, "Who then is she?" "The Assembly," saith he. I said unto him, "Wherefore then is she aged?" "Because," saith he, "she was created before all things; therefore is she aged; and for her sake the world was framed."
The third vision, which I saw, brethren, was this. After fasting often, and entreating Yahweh to declare unto me the revelation which He promised to show me by the mouth of the aged woman, that very night the aged woman was seen of me, and she said to me, "Seeing that thou art so importunate and eager to know all things, come into the country where thou abidest, and about the fifth hour I will appear, and will show thee what thou oughtest to see."
I asked her, saying, "Lady, to what part of the country?" "Where thou wilt," saith she. I selected a beautiful and retired spot; but before I spoke to her and named the spot, she saith to me, "I will come, whither thou willest."
I went then, brethren, into the country, and I counted up the hours, and came to the place where I appointed her to come, and I see an ivory couch placed there, and on the couch there lay a linen cushion, and on the cushion was spread a coverlet of fine linen of flax.
When I saw these things so ordered, and no one in the place, I was amazed, and a fit of trembling seized me, and my hair stood on end; and a fit of shuddering came upon me, because I was alone. When then I recovered myself, and remembered the glory of Yahweh, and took courage, I knelt down and confessed my sins to Yahweh once more, as I had done on the former occasion.
Then she came with six young men, the same whom I had seen before, and she stood by me, and listened attentively to me, as I prayed and confessed my sins to Yahweh. And she touched me, and said: "Hermas, make an end of constantly entreating for thy sins; entreat also for righteousness, that thou mayest take some part forthwith to thy family."
Then she raiseth me by the hand, and leadeth me to the couch, and saith to the young men, "Go ye, and build."
And after the young men had retired and we were left alone, she saith to me, "Sit down here." I say to her, "Lady, let the elders sit down first." "Do as I bid thee," saith she, "sit down."
When then I wanted to sit down on the right side, she would not allow me, but beckoned me with her hand that I should sit on the left side. As then I was musing thereon, and was sad because she would not permit me to sit on the right side, she saith to me, "Art thou sad, Hermas? The place on the right side is for others, even for those who have already been well-pleasing to Yahweh, and have suffered for His name's sake. But thou lackest much that thou shouldest sit with them; but as thou abidest in thy simplicity, even so, and thou shalt sit with them, thou and as many as shall have done their deeds, and have suffered what they suffered."
"What did they suffer?" say I. "Listen," saith she. "Stripes, imprisonments, great tribulations, crosses, wild beasts, for His name's sake. Therefore to them belongs the right hand of Holiness--to them, and to all who shall suffer for his name. But for the rest is the left side. Howbeit, to both, to them that sit on the right, and to them that sit on the left, are the same gifts, and the same promises, only they sit on the right and have a certain glory.
Thou indeed art very desirous to sit on the right with them, but thy shortcomings are many; yet thou shalt be purified from thy shortcomings; yea, and all that are not double-minded shall be purified from all their sins unto this day."
When she had said this, she wished to depart; but, falling at her feet, I entreated her by Yahweh that she would show me the vision which she promised.
Then she again took me by the hand, and raiseth me, and seateth me on the couch at the left hand, while she herself sat on the right. And lifting up a certain glistening rod, she saith to me, "Seest thou a great thing?" I say to her, "Lady, I see nothing." She saith to me, "Look thou; dost thou not see in front of thee a great tower being built upon the waters, of glistening square stones?"
Now the tower was being built foursquare by the six young men that came with her. And countless other men were bringing stones, some of them from the deep, and others from the land, and were handing them to the six young men. And they took them and built.
The stones that were dragged from the deep they placed in every case, just as they were, into the building, for they had been shaped, and they fitted in their joining with the other stones; and they adhered so closely one with another that their joining could not possibly be detected; and the building of the tower appeared as if it were built of one stone.
But of the other stones which were brought from the dry land, some they threw away, and some they put into the building; and others they broke in pieces, and threw to a distance from the tower.
Now many other stones were lying round the tower, and they did not use them for the building; for some of them were mildewed, and others had cracks in them, and others were too short, and others were white and round, and did not fit into the building.
And I saw other stones thrown to a distance from the tower, and coming to the way, and yet not staying in the way, but rolling to where there was no way; and others falling into the fire and burning there; and others falling near the waters, and yet not able to roll into the water, although they desired to roll and to come to the water.
When she had shown me these things, she wished to hurry away. I say to her, "Lady, what advantage is it to me to have seen these things, and yet not to know what the things mean? "She answered and said unto me, "Thou art an over-curious fellow, in desiring to know all that concerns the tower." "Yea, lady," I said, "that I may declare it to the brethren, and they may rejoice, and hearing these things may glorify Yahweh in great glory." Then said she,
"Many shall hear; but when they hear, some of them shall be glad, and others shall weep. Yet even these latter, if they hear and repent, shall likewise be glad. Hear thou therefore the parables of the tower; for I will reveal all things unto thee. And trouble me no more about revelation; for these revelations have an end, seeing that they have been completed. Nevertheless thou wilt not cease asking for revelations; for thou art very urgent."
The tower, which thou seest building, is myself, the Assembly, which was seen of thee both now and afore time. Ask, therefore, what thou willest concerning the tower, and I will reveal it unto thee, that thou mayest rejoice with the saints."
I say unto her, "Lady, since thou didst hold me worthy once for all, that thou shouldest reveal all things to me, reveal them." Then she saith to me, "Whatsoever is possible to be revealed to thee, shall be revealed. Only let thy heart be with Yahweh, and doubt not in thy mind about that which thou seest."
I asked her, "Wherefore is the tower built upon waters, lady?" "I told thee so before," said she, "and indeed thou dost enquire diligently. So by thy enquiry thou discoverest the truth. Hear then why the tower is built upon waters; it is because your life is saved and shall be saved by water. But the tower has been founded by the word of the Almighty and Glorious Name, and is strengthened by the invisible power and virtue of Yahweh."
I answered and said unto her, "Lady, this thing is great and marvelous. But the six young men that build, who are they, lady?" "These are the holy angels of Yahweh, that were created first of all, unto whom Yahweh delivered all His creation to increase and to build it, and to be masters of all creation. By their hands therefore the building of the tower will be accomplished."
"And who are the others who are bringing the stones in?" "They also are holy angels of Yahweh; but these six are superior to them. The building of the tower then shall be accomplished, and all alike shall rejoice in the completed structure of the tower, and shall glorify Yahweh that the building of the tower was accomplished."
I enquired of her, saying, "Lady, I could wish to know concerning the end of the stones, and their power, of what kind it is." She answered and said unto me, "It is not that thou of all men art especially worthy that it should be revealed to thee; for there are others before thee, and better than thou art, unto whom these visions ought to have been revealed. But that the name of Yahweh may be glorified, it hath been revealed to thee, all shall be revealed, for the sake of the doubtful-minded, who question in their hearts whether these things are so or not. Tell them that all these things are true, and that there is nothing beside the truth, but that all are steadfast, and valid, and established on a firm foundation.
"Hear now concerning the stones that go to the building The stones that are squared and white, and that fit together in their joints, these are the apostles and bishops and teachers and deacons, who walked after the holiness of Yahweh, and exercised their office of bishop and teacher and deacon in purity and sanctity for the elect of Yahweh, some of them already fallen asleep, and others still living. And because they always agreed with one another, they both had peace among themselves and listened one to another. Therefore their joinings fit together in the building of the tower."
"But they that are dragged from the deep, and placed in the building, and that fit together in their joinings with the other stones that are already built in, who are they?" "These are they that suffered for the name of Yahweh."
"But the other stones that are brought from the dry land, I would fain know who these are, lady." She said, "Those that go to the building, and yet are not hewn, these Yahweh hath approved because they walked in the uprightness of Yahweh, and rightly performed His commandments."
"But they that are brought and placed in the building, who are they?" "They are young in the faith, and faithful; but they are warned by the angels to do good, because wickedness was found in them."
"But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they?" "These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent. They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building. But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways. This privilege only they have, that they lie near the tower.
But wouldst thou know about them that are broken in pieces, and cast away far from the tower? These are the sons of lawlessness. They received the faith in hypocrisy, and no wickedness was absent from them. Therefore they have not salvation, for they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses. Therefore they were broken up and thrown far away by reason of the wrath of Yahweh, for they excited Him to wrath.
But the rest whom thou hast seen lying in great numbers, not going to the building, of these they that are mildewed are they that knew the truth, but did not abide in it, nor cleave to the saints. Therefore they are useless."
"But they that have the cracks, who are they?" "These are they that have discord in their hearts against one another, and are not at peace among themselves; who have an appearance of peace, but when they depart from one another, their wickednesses abide in their hearts. These are the cracks which the stones have.
But they that are broken off short, these have believed, and have their greater part in righteousness, but have some parts of lawlessness; therefore they are too short, and are not perfect."
"But the white and round stones, which did not fit into the building, who are they, lady?" She answered and said to me, "How long art thou foolish and stupid, and enquirest everything, and understandest nothing? These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation cometh, they deny their Master by reason of their riches and their business affairs."
And I answered and said unto her, "When then, lady, will they be useful for the building?" "When," she replied, "their wealth, which leadeth their souls astray, shall be cut away, then will they be useful for Yahweh. For just as the round stone, unless it be cut away, and lose some portion of itself, cannot become square, so also they that are rich in this world, unless their riches be cut away, cannot become useful to Yahweh.
Learn first from thyself When thou hadst riches, thou wast useless; but now thou art useful and profitable unto life. Be ye useful unto Yahweh, for thou thyself also art taken from the same stones.
"But the other stones which thou sawest cast far away from the tower and falling into the way and rolling out of the way into the regions where there is no way, these are they that have believed, but by reason of their double heart they abandon their true way. Thus thinking that they can find a better way, they go astray and are sore distressed, as they walk about in the regions where there is no way.
But they that fall into the fire and are burned, these are they that finally rebelled from the living Elohim, and it no more entered into their hearts to repent by reason of the lusts of their wantonness and of the wickednesses which they wrought.
But the others, which are near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, wouldest thou know who are they? These are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of Yahshua. Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires."
So she finished the explanation of the tower.
Still importunate, I asked her further, whether for all these stones that were rejected and would not fit into the building of the tower that was repentance, and they had a place in this tower. "They can repent," she said, "but they cannot be fitted into this tower.
Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins. And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated in the Righteous Word; and then shall it befall them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart; but if these come not into their heart, they are not saved by reason of the hardness of their hearts."
When then I ceased asking her concerning all these things, she saith to me; "Wouldest thou see something else?" Being very desirous of beholding, I was greatly rejoiced that I should see it.
She looked upon me, and smiled, and she saith to me, "Seest thou seven women round the tower?" "I see them, lady," say I. "This tower is supported by them by commandment of Yahweh.
Hear now their employments. The first of them, the woman with the strong hands, is called Faith; through her are saved the elect of Yahweh.
And the second, that is girded about and looketh like a man, is called Continence; she is the daughter of Faith. Whosoever then shall follow her, becometh happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life."
"And the others, lady, who be they?" "They are daughters one of the other. The name of the one is Simplicity, of the next, Knowledge, of the next, Guilelessness, of the next, Reverence, of the next, Love. When then thou shalt do all the works of their mother, thou canst live."
"I would fain know, lady," I say, "what power each of them possesseth." "Listen then," saith she, "to the powers which they have.
Their powers are mastered each by the other, and they follow each other, in the order in which they were born. From Faith is born Continence, from Continence Simplicity, from Simplicity Guilelessness, from Guilelessness Reverence, from Reverence Knowledge, from Knowledge Love. Their works then are pure and reverent and divine.
Whosoever therefore shall serve these women, and shall have strength to master their works, shall have his dwelling in the tower with the saints of Yahweh."
Then I asked her concerning the seasons, whether the consummation is even now. But she cried aloud, saying, "Foolish man, seest thou not that the tower is still a-building? Whensoever therefore the tower shall be finished building, the end cometh; but it shall be built up quickly. Ask me no more questions: this reminder is sufficient for you and for the saints, and is the renewal of your spirits.
But it was not revealed to thyself alone, but in order that thou mightest show these things unto all. For therefore, O Hermas, after three days thou must understand these words which I begin to speak unto thee, that thou mayest speak them in the ears of the saints, that hearing them and doing them they may be purified from their wickednesses, and thyself also with them."
"Hear me, my children. I brought you up in much simplicity and guilelessness and reverence, through the mercy of the Yahweh, Who instilled righteousness into you, that ye might be justified and sanctified from all wickedness and all crookedness. But ye will not to cease from your wickedness.
Now then hear me and be at peace among yourselves, and have regard one to another, and assist one another, and do not partake of the creatures of Yahweh alone in abundance, but share them also with those that are in want.
For some men through their much eating bring weakness on the flesh, and injure their flesh: whereas the flesh of those who have nought to eat is injured by their not having sufficient nourishment, and their body is ruined.
This exclusiveness therefore is hurtful to you that have and do not share with them that are in want.
Look ye to the judgment that cometh. Ye then that have more than enough, seek out them that are hungry, while the tower is still unfinished; for after the tower is finished, ye will desire to do good, and will find no place for it.
Look ye therefore, ye that exult in your wealth, lest they that are in want shall moan, and their moaning shall go up unto Yahweh, and ye with your abundance of good things be shut outside the door of the tower.
Now therefore I say unto you that are rulers of the Assembly, and that occupy the chief seats; be not ye like unto the sorcerers. The sorcerers indeed carry their drugs in boxes, but ye carry your drug and your poison in your heart.
Ye are case-hardened, and ye will not cleanse your hearts and mix your wisdom together in a clean heart, that ye may obtain mercy from the Great King.
Look ye therefore, children, lest these divisions of yours deprive you of your life.
How is it that ye wish to instruct the elect of Yahweh, while ye yourselves have no instruction? Instruct one another therefore, and have peace among yourselves, that I also may stand gladsome before the Father, and give an account concerning you all unto your Master."
When then she ceased speaking with me, the six young men, who were building, came, and took her away to the tower, and other four lifted the couch, and took it also away to the tower. I saw not the face of these, for they were turned away.
And, as she went, I asked her to reveal to me concerning the three forms, in which she had appeared to me. She answered and said to me; "As concerning these things thou must ask another, that they may be revealed to thee."
Now she was seen of me, brethren, in my first vision of last year, as a very aged woman and seated on a chair.
In the second vision her face was youthful, but her flesh and her hair were aged, and she spake to me standing; and she was more gladsome than before.
But in the third vision she was altogether youthful and of exceeding great beauty, and her hair alone was aged; and she was gladsome exceedingly and seated on a couch. Touching these things I was very greatly anxious to learn this revelation.
And I see the aged woman in a vision of the night, saying to me, "Every enquiry needs humility. Fast therefore, and thou shalt receive what thou askest from Yahweh."
So I fasted one day; and that very night there appeared unto me a young man, and he saith to me, "Seeing that thou askest me revelations offhand with entreaty, take heed lest by thy much asking thou injure thy flesh.
Sufficient for thee are these revelations. Canst thou see mightier revelations than those thou hast seen?"
I say unto him in reply, "Sir, this one thing alone I ask, concerning the three forms of the aged woman, that a complete revelation may be granted me." He saith to me in answer, How long are ye without understanding? It is your double-mindedness that maketh you of no understanding, and because your heart is not set towards Yahweh."
I answered and said unto him again, "From thee, Sir, we shall learn the matters more accurately."
Listen," saith he, "concerning the three forms, of which thou enquirest.
In the first vision wherefore did she appear to thee an aged woman and seated on a chair? Because your spirit was aged, and already decayed, and had no power by reason of your infirmities and acts of double-mindedness.
For as aged people, having no longer hope of renewing their youth, expect nothing else but to fall asleep, so ye also, being weakened with the affairs of this world gave yourselves over to repining, and cast not your cares on Yahweh; but your spirit was broken, and ye were aged by your sorrows."
"Wherefore then she was seated on a chair, I would fain know, Sir." "Because every weak person sits on a chair by reason of his weakness, that the weakness of his body may be supported. So thou hast the symbolism of the first vision."
"But in the second vision thou sawest her standing, and with her countenance more youthful and more gladsome than before; but her flesh and her hair aged. Listen to this parable also," saith he.
"Imagine an old man, who has now lost all hope of himself by reason of his weakness and his poverty, and expecteth nothing else save the last day of his life. Suddenly an inheritance is left him. He heareth the news, riseth up and full of joy clothes himself with strength, and no longer lieth down, but standeth up, and his spirit, which was now broken by reason of his former circumstances, is renewed again, and he no longer sitteth, but taketh courage; so also was it with you, when you heard the revelation which the Yahweh revealed unto you.
For He had compassion on you, and renewed your spirits, and ye laid aside your maladies, and strength came to you, and ye were made powerful in the faith, and Yahweh rejoiced to see you put on your strength. And therefore He showed you the building of the tower; yea, and other things also shall He show you, if with your whole heart ye be at peace among yourselves.
But in the third vision ye saw her younger and fair and gladsome, and her form fair.
For just as when to some mourner cometh some piece of good tidings, immediately he forgetteth his former sorrows, and admitteth nothing but the tidings which he hath heard, and is strengthened thenceforth unto that which is good, and his spirit is renewed by reason of the joy which he hath received; so also ye have received a renewal of your spirits by seeing these good things.
And whereas thou sawest her seated on a couch, the position is a firm on; for the couch has four feet and standeth firmly; for the world too Is upheld by means of four elements.
They then that have fully repented shall be young again, and founded firmly, seeing that they have repented with their whole heart. There thou hast the revelation entire and complete. Thou shalt ask nothing more as touching revelation-- but if anything be lacking still, it shall be revealed unto thee."