7 After this vision, I saw four heavenly messengers standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds so that the earth would not be overcome by violent, rushing winds blowing over the land or over the sea or blowing down any tree. 2 Then I saw a fifth messenger, coming up with the sun as it was rising in the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called with a great and loud voice to the four messengers who had authority to harm the earth and its seas.
Fifth Messenger: 3 Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God with a mark of ownership on their foreheads.
4-8 Then I heard that 144,000 would receive the seal, that is 12,000 from every tribe of Israel: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
9 After I heard about these who would be sealed, I looked and saw a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and waving palm branches. 10 They cried out with one loud voice.
Crowd: Salvation comes only from our God, who sits upon the throne, and from the Lamb.
John hears that 144,000 people out of Israel are destined to be sealed, but then he turns to see an innumerable multitude from every people group in the world. What he sees reveals the truth of what he hears: the number “144,000” is not an exact count of who will be saved but is a symbolic number (12 x 12 x 1000). “Twelve” is a number that signifies all the people of God, from both the Old and New Testaments. In reality, between the sixth and seventh seal, there is an interlude, an opportunity for people from every nation to enter into the people of God, to receive God’s mark, and to take their places among the redeemed.
11 All the heavenly messengers stood up, encircling the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell prostrate before the throne and worshiped God.
12 Heavenly Messengers, Elders, and Living Creatures: Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom
And thanksgiving and honor
And power and might
Be to our God on and on throughout all the ages. Amen.
One of the Elders (to me): 13 Who are these people clothed in white robes, and where have they come from?
John: 14 Sir, surely you know the answer to your own questions.
One of the Elders: These are coming from the time of great suffering and affliction. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, cleansing them pure white.
15 Responding out of a heart filled with praise, they congregate before the throne of God
and constantly worship Him day and night in His temple.
The One seated on the throne will always live among them.
16 They will never be hungry or thirsty again.
The sun or blazing heat will never scorch them,
17 Because the Lamb who stands at the center of the throne is their shepherd and they are His sheep,
and He will lead them to the water of life.
And God will dry every tear from their eyes.