Q. Is it true that 2/3 of earth’s human population will die during the Tribulation? Other prophecy teachers have said this many will die, but I cannot find it in the Bible. Could you please tell me if this is an accurate number, and where it can be found in the Bible?
A. Estimates of end times deaths are based on the assumption that 1/4 of the world’s population will die during the seal judgments. This comes from an interpretation of Rev. 6:8 where Death and Hades are given power over 1/4th of the earth to kill by the sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts. If 1/4th of the Earth refers to the population count, that leaves 3/4ths of the population still alive at the end of the Seal Judgments.
Then come the Trumpet judgments. In Rev. 9:15 the four angels of the Euphrates are released to kill 1/3rd of the remaining population. If you know your fractions, you know that 1/3 of 3/4ths is 1/4th. 1/4th (Seals) plus 1/4th (Trumpets) equals 1/2. Therefore between the Seal and Trumpet judgments 1/2 of the population alive at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week will have died before the Great Tribulation even begins. We’re not told how many die during the Bowl judgments, but certainly there will be many more.
That said, I think the 2/3rds reference comes from Zechariah 13:8-9 where the Lord says in the whole land 2/3rds will be struck down and perish, and the 1/3 who are left will be brought into the fire. This refers to Israel. The phrase “the fire” is thought to be the refiner’s fire, a name sometimes given to the Great Tribulation. That means 2/3rds of the Jewish people will die sometime before the Great Tribulation begins.
A careful reading of Zechariah 13:8-9 shows that this 2/3rds will perish sometime between the scattering that took place after the crucifixion and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. One interpretation of this has the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust representing the 2/3rds. But it’s also possible that this many Jews could die during the Seal and Trumpet judgments of Daniel’s 70th Week.
No matter how you calculate it, the fact remains that Daniel’s 70th Week will be the bloodiest time the people of Earth have ever experienced.