Zechariah 13 Summary Handout

Zechariah 13 Judgment of false prophets and restoration the remnant

Theme of Judgment for the false prophets and unbelieving Israel, restoration for the remnant.


This oracle or burden began in Zechariah 12.1 continues through chapter 13. In the future there will be spiritual blessing for the nation of Israel—national cleansing of sin, the removal of idols, and judgment of false prophets, but before that God’s Shepherd will be killed and the Jewish people scattered. The people of Israel will be persecuted throughout history. In the future There will be even worse persecution, but the LORD will return and refine and rescue a remnant who will serve Yahweh God.

Zechariah 13 outline

  1. Zechariah 13.1. The fountain for cleansing.
  2. Zechariah 13.2-6. The Lord will cut off idols, false prophets, and unclean spirits from Israel.
  3. Zechariah 13.7-9. Between Zechariah and the great battle of the future the Shepherd will be killed, his people will be scattered and persecuted. The LORD will return to refine and rescue the remnant who call on the LORD.

Zechariah Summary explanation of each section

  1. Zechariah 13.1. The fountain for cleansing. Zechariah again marks the time with “in that day.” In the entire book of Zechariah “in that day” refers to the time when the LORD gathers Israel, defeats Israel’s enemies, cleanses from sin, and blesses Israel at his second coming at the end of the Tribulation. The fountain refers to the place of cleansing from sin, probably figurative for complete forgiveness and cleansing. Cleansing is, of course, for everyone who believes in Jesus Messiah, but the context specifies Israel because up until this time most of Israel has rejected Messiah and his offer of cleansing. This is a national cleansing when 1. Israel believes in Jesus as Messiah as noted in Zechariah 12.10 and 2. predicted in the New Covenant stated in Jeremiah 31.31-37 and Ezekiel 36.25-28. Jesus seems to have referred to this Ezekiel passage when he talked with Nicodemus in John 3. See also Titus 3.5. This cleansing is available because Messiah Jesus took the punishment himself and offers cleansing to all who will trust him. He is the Lamb of God (John 1.29,36). God is righteous to do this because the penalty is paid by Messiah Jesus (Romans 1.17).
  2. Zechariah 13.2-6. The Lord will cut off idols, false prophets, and unclean spirits from Israel.
    1. Zechariah 13.2. This is the plan for cleaning out sources of sin. The LORD will remove idols and the memory of them, false prophets, and unclean spirits from Israel. There will be a new start for Israel. The past is put away. Idols and their memory go. False prophets have been a curse to Israel through her history, and they go (e.g. Deuteronomy 18.20; Jeremiah 14.14-15; 23; 27.9-10; Ezekiel 13; Micah 3). Unclean spirits, demons, will be removed. Revelation 20.1-3 says that Satan will be bound in the abyss at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. His demons who are active on earth will probably be bound with him.
    2. Zechariah 13.3. Now the details about false prophets. If anyone continues to give false prophecy, his mother and father will carry out capital punishment on the son. The sin of the son was to give a false prophecy and say the LORD told me this (Deuteronomy 13.6-9)
    3. Zechariah 13.4-6. The remaining people who have attempted false prophecy will now deny they prophesied. They will not wear the clothes symbolizing a prophet (2 Kings 1.8). They will claim to be slaves of farmers. They will claim that the self-inflicted pagan wounds were from a fight with friends (1 Kings 18.28, the story of Elijah, Ahab, and the prophets of Baal, shows that pagan prophets cut themselves as part of their ritual).
  3. Zechariah 13.7-9. Zechariah now resumes with the LORD’S Shepherd whom Israel pierced (Zechariah 12.10). Between Zechariah’s time and the future, the Shepherd will be killed, his people will be scattered and persecuted. Later, there will be severe suffering, persecution, and warfare in Israel. Many will be killed. The LORD will return to refine and rescue the remnant who call on the LORD.
    1. Zechariah 13.7. The LORD of Host speaks through Zechariah. He calls for the sword against “My Shepherd,” and “My Associate.” Awake (עוּר `or stir up, awake, set in motion) is a qal imperative to arise for action. The sword speaks of execution (Exodus 5.21; Psalm 17.13). “Strike the Shepherd” emphasizes the judgment of the cross (Matthew 27.46 and Mark 15.34). The wording of My shepherd, My Associate, and Shepherd all indicate the same person. “My Associate” is a comrade, a close companion. He is the same person as in Zechariah 12.10, and illustrated by the rejected Shepherd in Zechariah 11.12-13, Jesus the Son of God. He is the one spoken of in Isaiah 53 and Acts 2.22-36.  See also Matthew 26.31 where Jesus applies this to himself. Once the Shepherd is killed the sheep, or those whom the Shepherd cares for will scatter. These are the Jewish people. They did scatter, especially when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70.
    2. Zechariah 13.8. As an aftermath of the sheep scattering, but now many centuries after, great destruction will come upon the people of the land. Remember the flow of the context.  We have time compressed. Zechariah is speaking about “in that day” events that have to do with Israel. This verse is after the Shepherd and the sheep scatter. Two thirds of the people will be killed. One third will survive. When will this happen? It has not happened yet in history. It must happen in Israel as the context indicates. The only time that fits is the Tribulation period.
    3. Zechariah 13.9. This third who survive the terrible persecution are those the LORD protects (“I will bring through the fire”). The persecution will refine and test them to see if they will believe the LORD. Yes, they do. They will call on My Name—pray to the LORD. The whom they call is the pierced one of Zechariah 12.10. Messiah Jesus will answer them. He will say “they are my people.” They will answer “the LORD is my God.” This fulfills Zechariah 12.10. Romans 11.25-29 is the statement by the LORD through Paul. See Daniel 12.1 and Matthew 24.29-31. The remnant of Israel is now saved physically and spiritually. We could say much more about this from the rest of the Bible. Zechariah 14 will fill in details of the persecution in the Tribulation followed by the LORD’s deliverance of the believing remnant, and then Messiah Jesus will reign as King over all the earth.
So what? Application
  1. Question: if Zechariah were the only prophetic book in the Bible, what are the expectations for the future?
  2. Both physical and spiritual salvation will come to Israel in the future, but only through the LORD Yahweh, Jesus Messiah.
  3. Before salvation of either kind, Israel and the Gentiles will kill the Messiah Jesus, who is LORD Yahweh. This was the crucifixion of Jesus in AD 33.
  4. Zechariah teaches that Messiah will return to life, appear to Israel as he descends to earth at his second coming, rescue the believing remnant, and reign as King over all the earth.
  5. The LORD has his plan for history—redemption of mankind, restoring authority to himself, and receiving all glory.
  6. Zechariah 13 indicates many Bible doctrines. Among those are the doctrine of the New Covenant to Israel, reconciliation or the removal of the sin barrier, the death and resurrection of Messiah Jesus Christ, Old Testament prophecy, and the regathering and restoration of Israel.