After this I saw four angels. They were standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds of the earth. This kept the winds from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
Then I saw another angel coming up from the east. He had the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been allowed to harm the land and the sea.
"Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees," he said. "Wait until we mark with a seal the foreheads of those who serve our God."
Then I heard how many people were sealed. There were 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah, 12,000 were sealed. From the tribe of Reuben, 12,000. From the tribe of Gad, 12,000.
From the tribe of Asher, 12,000. From the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000. From the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000.
From the tribe of Simeon, 12,000. From the tribe of Levi, 12,000. From the tribe of Issachar, 12,000.
From the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000. From the tribe of Joseph, 12,000. From the tribe of Benjamin, 12,000.
After this I looked, and there in front of me was a huge crowd of people. They stood in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb. There were so many that no one could count them. They came from every nation, tribe, people and language. They were wearing white robes. In their hands they were holding palm branches.
They cried out in a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne. Salvation also belongs to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne. They were standing around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces in front of the throne and worshiped God.
They said, "Amen! May praise and glory and wisdom be given to our God for ever and ever. Give him thanks and honor and power and strength. Amen!"
Then one of the elders spoke to me. "Who are these people dressed in white robes?" he asked. "Where did they come from?"
I answered, "Sir, you know." He said, "They are the ones who have come out of the time of terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
So "they are in front of the throne of God. They serve him day and night in his temple. The One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they be hungry. Never again will they be thirsty. The sun will not beat down on them. The heat of the desert will not harm them.
The Lamb, who is at the center of the area around 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."