God marks his people from Israel
1 After this, I saw four angels. They were standing at the four corners of the earth. They were stopping the four winds of the earth. As a result, no wind could blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel who was coming up from the east. He was carrying the seal of the God who lives for ever. He shouted loudly to the four other angels. They had received authority to destroy the land and the sea. 3 But he shouted to them, ‘Do not destroy the land or the sea or the trees yet. Wait until we put a seal on the heads of God's servants. God's seal on the front of their heads will keep them safe.’
4 Then I heard how many people received God's seal. The number of people was 144,000. They came from all the family groups of Israel's people. 5 There were 12,000 from each family group:12,000 from Judah's family group,12,000 from Reuben's family group,12,000 from Gad's family group, 6 12,000 from Asher's family group,12,000 from Naphtali's family group,12,000 from Manasseh's family group, 7 12,000 from Simeon's family group,12,000 from Levi's family group,12,000 from Issachar's family group, 8 12,000 from Zebulun's family group,12,000 from Joseph's family group,12,000 from Benjamin's family group.
7:8The 12 names in this list were all sons of Jacob, except Manasseh, who was Joseph's son. Jacob's other name was Israel. He was the ancestor of Israel's people. The angel did not include the name of Jacob's other son, Dan, in the list.
The large crowd who were wearing white clothes
9 After this, I looked again. I saw a very big crowd of people. There were so many people that nobody could count them. They came from every country, from every family group and from every language. They were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing long white clothes and they held branches of palm trees in their hands.
7:9The branches of a palm tree have big leaves. At the time when Jesus lived on this earth, people used palm branches at special events. They thought that the palm tree was a special tree. The people held palm branches when Jesus rode into Jerusalem city. This was because they were so happy to see him. They were showing that he was a great king. They were showing that he would beat all his enemies. See John 12:13. In verse 9 the people in the big crowd are also holding palm branches and worshipping Jesus.
10 They shouted loudly:
‘We worship our God who sits on the throne.
And we worship the Lamb.
They have saved us from Satan's power.’
11 All the angels were standing round the throne, and round the leaders, and round the four beings. The angels all bent down so that their faces touched the ground. They worshipped God who was on the throne in front of them. 12 They said:
‘This is true!
We worship our God and we say that he is great.
He is completely wise.
We thank him and we praise him.
He has all power and authority.
Amen! This is true!’
13 Then one of the leaders asked me, ‘Who are these people in white clothes? Where did they come from?’
14 ‘Only you know who they are, sir,’ I replied.
He said to me, ‘They are the people who have had a time of very bad trouble. Now they have come out of that. They have washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb. Now their clothes are white and clean. 15 Because of that, they are now standing in front of God's throne. They serve God in his house all the time, day and night. And God will keep them safe because he is with them. 16 They will never again be hungry. They will never be thirsty. The sun will not burn them, nor will any other strong heat burn them. 17 The Lamb is there with them, near to God's throne. He will take care of them, like a shepherd with his sheep. He will take them to drink fresh water that gives people life. They will no longer be sad. God will take away the all the tears from their eyes.’
7:14This verse is not telling us about clothes that we wear on our bodies. See Revelation 3:4, 18. The ‘clothes’ mean what we are really like in our spirits. Jesus' blood poured out when he died for us. He can make our spirits as clean as white clothes if we believe in him.