7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
7:2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:
7:3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
7:4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
7:5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
7:6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7:7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
7:8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
7:9 After this [transitional phrase: scene shifts from earth to God’s heavenly throne room] I looked [and saw a preview of the final state of the redeemed] and there before me was  a great multitude [people redeemed by God’s grace] that no one could count,  from every [God wants all to have opportunity to hear/respond to the Gospel] nation, tribe, people and language,  standing before the throne [the privileged place for all the redeemed] and in front of the Lamb. They [great multitude] were  wearing white robes [symbolizing purity and victory; cf. 3:4-5 regarding promise to the faithful at Sardis] and were holding palm branches [reminiscent of Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; palm branches used in royal processions] in their hands.
7:10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
7:11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
7:13 Then one of the elders [one of 24 depicted in 4:4; see sidebar note] asked me [John], “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?”
7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation [literally means “pressure” and refers to a time of great persecution and distress]; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood [Rom. 5:9-10; the only way to be cleansed from sin] of the Lamb.
Note: Various interpretations of “the great tribulation” include:
• suffering experienced by first century Christians
• suffering experienced by Christian martyrs throughout the ages
• suffering generally associated with end time events
• last half of seven-year-tribulation just prior to the rapture of the church
7:15 Therefore, “they [saints] are before the throne of God and serve [continuously] Him day and night in his temple [in His presence]; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent [make room in His eternal dwelling; protect/comfort] over them.
7:16 Never again [for eternity] will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd [see Ps. 23 and Jn. 10:11]; He will lead them to springs of living [free-flowing spring or artesian well] water [continual sustenance for victorious saints; cf. Jn. 4:10; 7:37-38]. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”