Revelation 7

Chapter 7

An Immense Crowd before God’s Throne.[a] 1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel rising from the east, bearing the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given the power to ravage the land and the sea, 3 “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we have set the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

4 Then I heard how many had been marked with the seal—one hundred and forty-four thousand from all the tribes of Israel:

5 From the tribe of Judah,[b] twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand,

6 from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Manasseh, twelve thousand,

7 from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand.

9 After this, in my vision, I witnessed a vast throng that no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels who were standing around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures, prostrated themselves before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen. Praise and glory,
wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor and power and might,
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders spoke to me and inquired, “Who are these people, all dressed in white robes, and where have they come from?” 14 I replied, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “That is why they stand before the throne of God
and worship him day and night in his temple,
and the one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will never again experience hunger or thirst,
nor will the sun or any scorching heat cause them discomfort.
17 For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd.
He will guide them to springs of living water,[c]
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Footnotes

  1. Revelation 7:1 In 587 B.C., on the eve of the destruction of Jerusalem, the survivors were, so to speak, marked to be preserved from the catastrophe (see Ezek 9). The great fear is not for the community of the persecuted. The calamities that will overtake the world will not touch them. Thus, God gathers together his Elect. They may go through the trial of the years A.D. 66 to 70 and finally the history of the world, which is that of the sufferings of the Church. But they will not fall prey to condemnation. This people that is gathered together is first of all the Remnant of Israel. From each of the twelve tribes there will be twelve thousand survivors: this is a symbolic number meaning fullness and perfection. Then the vision is enlarged: the Remnant becomes a multitude without number, gathered together from amid all the nations of the earth. From all sides come forth the martyrs and all those who endured trials: the whole Church. This is a grandiose celebration of happiness and triumph. In a striking foreshortening, the author sketches a tableau of the Church in the grip of tribulations and persecutions, assisted by Christ, her Shepherd, and led toward her heavenly victory, which anticipates the splendid final vision of the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1—22:5).
  2. Revelation 7:5 Judah is placed first because of Christ, who is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5:5). Manasseh: one of the two halves of the tribe of Joseph that are both cited (the other being Ephraim but called “Joseph” in v. 8)—doubtless in order to make up twelve tribes. Daniel is omitted probably because of a late tradition that the Antichrist was to arise from that tribe.
  3. Revelation 7:17 Springs of living water: i.e., the grace of God, which flows from Christ (see Rev 21:6; 22:1, 17; Jn 4:10, 14).

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