1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind would blow on the earth, on the ocean or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel coming up from the east; he held the seal of the living God. [Note: This "seal" was a mark of identification or ownership]. And he called out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given [the power] to harm the land and the ocean, 3 saying, "Do not harm the land, or the ocean, or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God [with a mark] on their foreheads." 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed. [It was] one hundred forty-four thousand [in all] from every tribe of the Israelites [Note: This could refer to Christians of Jewish descent]. 5 There were twelve thousand sealed from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand from Reuben, twelve thousand from Gad, 6 twelve thousand from Asher, twelve thousand from Naphtali, twelve thousand from Manasseh, 7 twelve thousand from Simeon, twelve thousand from Levi, twelve thousand from Issachar, 8 twelve thousand from Zebulun, twelve thousand from Joseph and twelve thousand from Benjamin.
9 After seeing [all] these things, I looked and there [I saw] a huge crowd, which no one could count, from every nation, and tribe, and race, and language group standing in front of the throne [of God] and in front of the Lamb. They were dressed in white robes and had palm tree branches in their hands. 10 And they called out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation comes from [or, "belongs to"] our God, who sits on His throne, and from [or, "to"] the Lamb."
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the [twenty-four] elders and the four living beings. And they fell down on their faces in front of the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying [See Note at 4:8], "May it be so; May there be praise and splendor and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever. May it be so."
13 Then one of the [twenty-four] elders asked me, "Who are these ones dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?"
14 And I answered him, "Sir, [surely] you know." And he said to me, "These are the people who have come through the terrible persecution, and they have washed their robes and made them white with the blood of the Lamb. 15 So, [now] they are in front of God's throne and they are serving Him day and night in His Temple. And He who sits on His throne will spread His tent over them [i.e., He will protect them]. 16 They will not be hungry anymore, nor will they get thirsty anymore. The sun will not beat down on them, nor will they become scorched by the heat. 17 For the Lamb, who is at the center of the throne, will be their Shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."