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Revelation chapter 7

New International Version

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.' 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'
13 Then one of the elders asked me, 'These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?'
14 I answered, 'Sir, you know.' And he said, 'These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore, 'they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,' nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.''
English Standard Version

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
King James Version

1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
New American Standard Bible

1 After 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 would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.'
4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 5 from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying, 'Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.'
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?' 14 I said to him, 'My lord, you know.' And he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 'For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 'They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.'
New Living Translation

1 Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, 3 'Wait! Don't harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.'
4 And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God--144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:
5 from Judah 12,000 from Reuben 12,000 from Gad 12,000 6 from Asher 12,000 from Naphtali 12,000 from Manasseh 12,000 7 from Simeon 12,000 from Levi 12,000 from Issachar 12,000 8 from Zebulun 12,000 from Joseph 12,000 from Benjamin 12,000
9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
10 And they were shouting with a great roar, 'Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!'
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God.
12 They sang, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.'
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, 'Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?'
14 And I said to him, 'Sir, you are the one who knows.' Then he said to me, 'These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
15 'That is why they stand in front of God's throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. 16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. 17 For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.'
Christian Standard Bible

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, restraining the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel rising up from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were allowed to harm the earth and the sea: 3 "Don't harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God on their foreheads."
4 And I heard the number of the sealed: 144,000 sealed from every tribe of the Israelites:
5 12,000 sealed from the tribe of Judah, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 sealed from the tribe of Benjamin.
9 After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!
11 All the angels stood around the throne, and along with the elders and the four living creatures they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, "Who are these people in white robes, and where did they come from?"
14 I said to him, "Sir, you know." Then he told me: These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple. The one seated on the throne will shelter them: 16 They will no longer hunger; they will no longer thirst; the sun will no longer strike them, nor will any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them; he will guide them to springs of the waters of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

What does Revelation chapter 7 mean?

The scene described in this passage seems to occur between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals, seen on the scroll John observed in chapter 5.

The first vision includes angels being commanded to hold back the winds at every point on earth. Symbolically, this refers to God suspending His judgment on the earth. Scriptures such as Jeremiah 49:36 describe the judgment of God by referring to wind. The purpose of this delay, it seems, is to allow for a "sealing" of 144,000 servants of God. The meaning and purpose of this seal stands in stark contrast to the "mark of the beast," as seen later in Revelation (Revelation 7:1–3).

These 144,000 are specifically named by their respective tribes of Israel. Twelve thousand from each tribe are indicated. Jacob had twelve sons from whom the twelve tribes of Israel originated. In the Promised Land, each of the tribes received an inheritance except for the tribe of Levi, whose inheritance was the Lord. Joseph's tribe was split into two, one for each of his sons (Manasseh and Ephraim), and each received an inheritance. In the list of those sealed in Revelation, the tribe of Levi is listed. The tribe of Manasseh and that of Joseph (which is what the tribe of Ephraim was also referred to) are also listed. The tribe of Dan is excluded. Theories about this absence are varied. Some suggest that the false prophet of Revelation may be from the tribe of Dan. Others see Dan's role in leading Israel into idolatry as a cause for being left out of the 144,000 (Judges 18:30–31). While the tribe might not be blessed through inclusion in this particular seal, other prophetic books indicate members of the tribe of Dan will be saved and receive land in the millennial kingdom (Ezekiel 48:2). Though mankind has lost track of which people are members of which tribes, God has no such memory loss (Revelation 7:4–8).

John's next vision is of a staggering number of people, from every race, ethnicity and language, dressed in white and shouting out praise to God. This is a poignant reminder of God's love for all people, and the essential unity of mankind. Despite efforts to divide humanity based on appearance or heritage, Scripture is clear that all people, of all tribes and languages, will be represented in God's eternal plan of salvation. An unnamed elder defines these white-robed saints as those who have come out of the great tribulation—the second half of the seven-year period which closes out history prior to the millennial kingdom (Revelation 7:9–17).

After this interlude, John's vision will continue with the opening of the seventh seal, introducing the next phase of God's plan: the "trumpet" judgments.