Immediately I saw Four Angels standing at the four corners of earth, standing steady with a firm grip on the four winds so no wind would blow on earth or sea, not even rustle a tree.
Then I saw another Angel rising from where the sun rose, carrying the seal of the Living God. He thundered to the Four Angels assigned the task of hurting earth and sea,
"Don't hurt the earth! Don't hurt the sea! Don't so much as hurt a tree until I've sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!"
I heard the count of those who were sealed: 144,000! They were sealed out of every Tribe of Israel:
12,000 sealed from Judah, 12,000 from Reuben, 12,000 from Gad,
12,000 from Asher, 12,000 from Naphtali, 12,000 from Manasseh,
12,000 from Simeon, 12,000 from Levi, 12,000 from Issachar,
12,000 from Zebulun, 12,000 from Joseph, 12,000 sealed from Benjamin.
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there - all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb
and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!
All who were standing around the Throne - Angels, Elders, Animals - fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God,
singing: Oh, Yes! The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, The honor and power and strength, To our God forever and ever and ever! Oh, Yes!
Just then one of the Elders addressed me: "Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?"
Taken aback, I said, "O Sir, I have no idea - but you must know."
That's why they're standing before God's Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them:
no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat.
The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)