Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people.
He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand,
he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.
Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe."
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.
They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.
When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
Then the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you."
"If it pleases the king," replied Esther, "let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him."
"Bring Haman at once," the king said, "so that we may do what Esther asks." So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared.
As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, "Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted."
Esther replied, "My petition and my request is this:
If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king's question."
Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king's gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.
Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife,
Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.
"And that's not all," Haman added. "I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.
But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate."
His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy." This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built.
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.
It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
"What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked. "Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered.
The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.
His attendants answered, "Haman is standing in the court." "Bring him in," the king ordered.
When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought to himself, "Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?"
So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor,
have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.
Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!' "
"Go at once," the king commanded Haman. "Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended."
So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"
Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,
and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, "Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him--you will surely come to ruin!"
Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise.
They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the LORD.
So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the desert,
make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands.
They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them.
But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.
This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.
By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD, and trouble came to Moses because of them;
for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips.
They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.
They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.
They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.
They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
Therefore the LORD was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance.
He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power.
Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
But he took note of their distress when he heard their cry;
for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented.
He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive.
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, "Amen!" Praise the LORD.