THE PROPHECY OF ZECHARIAH AND THE MERCY OF GOD (Part 14)
The third part of humanity will survive the great tribulation
“And in all the land,” declares Jehovah, “Two parts in it will be cut off and perish; And the third part will be left remaining in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire; And I will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people,’ And they will say, ‘Jehovah is our God’” (Zechariah 13:8,9)
The word translated from Hebrew “haarèts”, translated as “land”, depending on the context can take the meaning of “earth” or planet earth, and this is the case in the context of this prophecy of the great world tribulation ( Zechariah 1:10,11; 5:3; 6:7; 12:3; 14:9,17). In this statement, God divides mankind into three “parts” (H6310 Strong’s Concordance: “פֶּה” (peh) “part”). At first, one might think that it would be “three parts” equal, or three “thirds” (H7992 Strong’s Concordance “שְׁלִישִׁי” (sheliyshiy) “a third”). In the Hebrew text, it is a question of the first two parts (peh) and the third (sheliyshiy), according to the context of this sentence, third “part”. So, these three parts of humanity are not necessarily the same number of humans (That is “Three Third”). To know what represent these three “parts” of mankind regarding the biblical context, we must take attention to the dramatic celebration of the Day of Atonement, Ethanim,10 (Tishri).
Even though Zechariah’s prophecy does not directly make the connection between the “Day of Jehovah” and the “Day of Atonement”, it does so in an enigmatic or cryptic way. The prophecy of the Sprout shows that Jehovah will take out the sin of the land in one day (Zechariah 3:8,9; 14:7). When did Jehovah remove the fault in the land of Israel? In the Day of Atonement, Ethanim (Tishri), 10 (Leviticus 16). That day was a celebration of Jehovah’s Holiness: “In that day the words ‘Holiness belongs to Jehovah!’ will be written on the bells of the horses. And the cooking pots in the house of Jehovah will be like the bowls before the altar’” (Zechariah 14:20 compare with Exodus 28:36,37 and Leviticus 16:4 “The turban” it was written “Holiness belongs to Jehovah”). Therefore, the “three parts” are the three animals used in the first phase of the atonement sacrifices in this Day, which are to the three “parts of mankind”.
Regarding the atonement sacrifices (and not the burnt offerings), there were three animals: a bull and two young goats (Read Leviticus 16). Two among the three animals were to be sacrificed, in an atonement way (the bull and the first young goat), while the third was spared (the goat for Azazel). Now it is important to know who these three animals correspond to (two sacrificed and one spared):
The bull that died made atonement for Aaron and his house, or for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:6,11). The priesthood class that will die, to be instantly resurrected in heaven, just before the great tribulation, is the death of the 7000, mentioned in Revelation: “In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; and 7,000 persons were killed by the earthquake, and the rest became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). The falling of the “tenth of the city”, represents the group of 144,000 kings and priests, supplemented by the instantaneous death and resurrection, of the 7,000 Heavenly Holy Ones, at the beginning of Jehovah’s Day, the great tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
The second animal, the young goat sacrificed on the day of atonement, represents the second part of mankind who will die during the great tribulation (Leviticus 16:5,15). The sacrifice of this second animal is represented in a rather terrifying way in Revelation 14:18–20 and 19:11–21 (in this biblical passage glorified Jesus Christ is represented as a king and high priest, as the “Sprout” (Zechariah 6:11–13)).
The third animal, the goat designated by lot for A·zaʹzel should be brought alive to stand before Jehovah in order to perform the atonement upon it, so that it may be sent away for A·zaʹzel into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:8–10). Obviously, this “goat for Azazel” represents the great crowd that will survive the great tribulation, or the “rest” of the “city” which gives glory to God after the death of the 7000 heavenly holy ones: “And the rest became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 7:9–17; 11:13). This understanding, gives a glimpse of the joyful possibility that more than a “third part” of humanity could survive the great tribulation, probably several billions of people who would represent the “great crowd”, only God and Jesus Christ know for sure because it is written that it cannot be counted (Zechariah 14:10,11).
For such many people to survive the great tribulation, it seems obvious, that a significant number of non-Christian people will survive the great tribulation, is this observation consistent with the context of Zechariah’s prophecy (as well as Ezekiel’s prophecy)? Yes it is.
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