The 144,000 Sealed. 1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,* holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on land or sea or against any tree.a 2Then I saw another angel come up from the East,* holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, 3“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”b 4I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked* from every tribe of the Israelites:c 5twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Judah,* twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad, 6twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand from the tribe of Manasseh, 7twelve thousand from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand from the tribe of Issachar, 8twelve thousand from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand from the tribe of Joseph, and twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Benjamin.
Triumph of the Elect. 9After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches* in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from* our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”
11All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, 12and exclaimed:
“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” 14I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;* they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.d
15“For this reason they stand before God’s throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
16They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.e
17For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,*
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”f
* [7:1–17] An interlude of two visions precedes the breaking of the seventh seal, just as two more will separate the sixth and seventh trumpets (Rev 10). In the first vision (Rev 7:1–8), the elect receive the seal of the living God as protection against the coming cataclysm; cf. Rev 14:1; Ez 9:4–6; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30. The second vision (Rev 7:9–17) portrays the faithful Christians before God’s throne to encourage those on earth to persevere to the end, even to death.
* [7:1] The four corners of the earth: the earth is seen as a table or rectangular surface.
* [7:2] East: literally, “rising of the sun.” The east was considered the source of light and the place of paradise (Gn 2:8). Seal: whatever was marked by the impression of one’s signet ring belonged to that person and was under his protection.
* [7:4–9] One hundred and forty-four thousand: the square of twelve (the number of Israel’s tribes) multiplied by a thousand, symbolic of the new Israel (cf. Rev 14:1–5; Gal 6:16; Jas 1:1) that embraces people from every nation, race, people, and tongue (Rev 7:9).
* [7:5–8] Judah is placed first because of Christ; cf. “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5:5). Dan is omitted because of a later tradition that the antichrist would arise from it.
* [7:9] White robes,palm branches: symbols of joy and victory; see note on Rev 3:5.
* [7:10] Salvation comes from: literally, “(let) salvation (be ascribed) to.” A similar hymn of praise is found at the fall of the dragon (Rev 12:10) and of Babylon (Rev 19:1).
* [7:14] Time of great distress: fierce persecution by the Romans; cf. Introduction.
* [7:17] Life-giving water: literally, “the water of life,” God’s grace, which flows from Christ; cf. Rev 21:6; 22:1, 17; Jn 4:10, 14.
b. [7:3] Ex 12:7–14; Ez 9:4; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30.