I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, 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 from every tribe of the children of Israel.
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 in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from 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; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 (Lectionary)
The New Israel
The number 144,000 (12 × 12 × 1000) symbolizes the new Israel (12 tribes universalized) that embraces people from every nation, race, people, and tongue. Sealed by the signet ring of the king, the multitude of saints belong to God, seated on his throne, and the Lamb. As God’s messenger, the ring-bearing angel ascends from the paradisal “East” (literally, “rising of the sun”) to mark the foreheads of God’s servants. Robed in white washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the saints sing the Lord’s praises forever and ever.
144,000 before God’s throne
Stand sealed by an angel as the Lamb’s own.
Traditional Chinese Translation
New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Revelation 7:2-4.