The Signs of the Times (23): Two Thirds

editor - 25 November 2018

“In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Zechariah 13:8-9 (NIV)

In our work at ‘Christians for Israel’, when we make an effort to raise funds particularly for the ‘Bring the Jews Home (to Israel)’ project, it sometimes happens that we are being told: “Don’t do that! Israel will one day become like one big Auschwitz, when two thirds will be annihilated in the Great Tribulation. Let the Jews stay where they are now in the world, they will be much safer than in Israel!”

They say, that because in the Great Tribulation that the Bible mentions, there will be a terrible slaughter of the Jewish people in the land of Israel – Auschwitz was apparently not bad enough – but because of that finally in the end the remnant of Israel will come believers in Jesus. I don’t think that this is true. How much more suffering must the Jewish people endure in order to bring them to faith in Christ? Was the Holocaust not enough? And did that bring them to faith in Christ? No, one does not come to faith in Christ by suffering and tribulation but by the love of God and by the grace of God.

But how then should we read Zechariah 13:7-9?

If we read the passage in Zechariah 14:9, it says: “…The Lord will be king over the whole EARTH. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name…”

A wonderful perspective of the future! And no one will dispute that the Kingship of the Lord will one day cover the whole earth, the whole world. But in the Hebrew the same expression is used in both Zechariah 13:8 as Zechariah 14:9. So why translate it in 13:8 by ‘land’ and in 14:9 by ‘earth’?

If you have a Portuguese (or a Spanish, or a Russian) Bible, you do not have this problem. In both cases it’s translated in the same way, namely by: ‘earth’, meaning: in the whole world. And this is perfectly correct in my opinion.

Zechariah says in these three verses in chapter 13:7- 9 that first a shepherd is killed, who is the Companion of the LORD (NKJV), or My shepherd who is close to Me (NIV). For Christians this clearly speaks about the suffering and death of Christ. After this, the sheep are scattered. After the death of Jesus, in the year 70 (and again in the year 135), the Romans scattered the Jewish people across the earth, and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Next, the Prophet says that two thirds will be annihilated throughout the whole world. If one adds up the numbers of Jews massacred and slaughtered in the last 2,000 years, one will discover that two thirds of the Jewish people have been wiped out in the past centuries, and that at this moment only a remnant of one third of the Jewish people are left.

There are currently only about 15 million Jews left in the world. In Israel approx. 6 million, in the USA approx. 5 million, in the former Soviet Union approx. 1 to 2 million, and the rest is still scattered around the world. That is all that is left of the Jewish people after the slaughter of the ages.

That one third that is left will then be purified – not destroyed! – says Zechariah. In the way that one purifies gold by fire. And that purifying process will cause Israel to… call on My name and I will answer them … says verse 9. Then finally everything will be well between the Lord and His firstborn son Israel. Will there be a great tribulation? Yes! But will that lead to the destruction of the one third of Israel that is left? No! Purification: Yes! Destruction: No!


The Signs of the Times
Many people are afraid of the future. Will the turmoil in the world lead to World War III? Or is there still hope? What do the ancient prophecies of the Bible teach us? Are we at the beginning of the end of this world? Or are we approaching a new beginning? Could Israel be a sign of hope? In this new series Rev. Willem Glashouwer looks at 52 of the many signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible. The English edition of ‘The Signs of the Times’ will be published by Christians for Israel International in the coming months.

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