December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, 2 holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on land or sea or against any tree.
- Then I saw another angel come up from the East, 3 holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
- "Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
- I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked 4 from every tribe of the Israelites:
- twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Judah, 5 twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad,
- twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand from the tribe of Manasseh,
- twelve thousand from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand from the tribe of Issachar,
- twelve thousand from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand from the tribe of Joseph, and twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Benjamin.
- After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches 6 in their hands.
- They cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation comes from 7 our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb."
- All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God,
- and exclaimed: "Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
- Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, "Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
- I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows." He said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; 8 they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
- "For this reason they stand before God's throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
- They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
- For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, 9 and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
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1 [1-17] An interlude of two visions precedes the breaking of the seventh seal, just as two more will separate the sixth and seventh trumpets (Rev 10). In the first vision (Rev 7:1-8), the elect receive the seal of the living God as protection against the coming cataclysm; cf Rev 14:1; Ezekiel 9:4-6; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30. The second vision (Rev 7:9-17) portrays the faithful Christians before God's throne to encourage those on earth to persevere to the end, even to death.
2  The four corners of the earth: the earth is seen as a table or rectangular surface.
3  East: literally, "rising of the sun." The east was considered the source of light and the place of paradise (Genesis 2:8). Seal: whatever was marked by the impression of one's signet ring belonged to that person and was under his protection.
4 [4-9] One hundred and forty-four thousand: the square of twelve (the number of Israel's tribes) multiplied by a thousand, symbolic of the new Israel (cf Rev 14:1-5; Gal 6:16; James 1:1) that embraces people from every nation, race, people, and tongue (Rev 7:9).
5 [5-8] Judah is placed first because of Christ; cf "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Rev 5:5). Dan is omitted because of a later tradition that the antichrist would arise from it.
6  White robes . . . palm branches: symbols of joy and victory; see the note on Rev 3:5.
7  Salvation comes from: literally, "(let) salvation (be ascribed) to." A similar hymn of praise is found at the fall of the dragon (Rev 12:10) and of Babylon (Rev 19:1).
8  Time of great distress: fierce persecution by the Romans; cf Introduction.
9  Life-giving water: literally, "the water of life," God's grace, which flows from Christ; cf Rev 21:6; 22:1, 17; John 4:10, 14.
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