33 Theatrical Prophetic Sign Acts in the Bible
Definition of a Sign Act:
1. Sign Acts are non-verbal tools of prophecy.
2. A “sign act” is where a prophet engages in a non-verbal theatrical display in order to visualize in advance, the outcome of a prophecy.
3. “Sign acts are nonverbal actions and objects intentionally employed by the prophets so that message content was communicated through them to the audiences” (Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets, K. G. Friebel, Sign Acts, p707, 2012 AD)
Catalogue of 33 Sign Acts in the Bible
A. Sign Acts in Exodus:
1. 1446 BC (Exodus 7:8–13)
2. When Aaron’s staff swallowed up staffs of the pagan Egyptian priests, it was predictive and prophetic of defeat.
3. "Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ” So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said." (Exodus 7:8–13)
B. Sign Acts in Kings/Chronicles:
1. 933 BC (1 Kings 11:29-37)
a. Solomon’s persistent idolatry caused the prophet Ahajah to tear his new coat up into 12 pieces and give 10 to Jeroboam, Solomon’s army commander, as a symbol of the ten northern tribes.
b. This is two years
before Solomon died. Jeroboam fled to Egypt. Solomon came to repentance (2 Sam
7:14f) and wrote Ecclesiastes and Song
of Solomon as “self rebuke books”.
c. "It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. He said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. ‘Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. ‘But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name. ‘I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel." (1 Kings 11:29-37)
2. 853 BC: (2 Chron 18:10; 1 Kings 22:11)
a. False prophet Zedekiah predicts victory, but Micaiah correctly predicted the death of Ahab.
b. “Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire first for the word of the LORD.” Then the king of Israel assembled the [false] prophets, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?” The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me but always evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imla.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah, Imla’s son.” Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, and they were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are consumed.’ ” All the prophets were prophesying thus, saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and succeed, for the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.” Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, “Behold, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. So please let your word be like one of them and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what my God says, that I will speak.” When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?” He said, “Go up and succeed, for they will be given into your hand.” Then the king said to him, “How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” So he said, “I saw all Israel Scattered on the mountains, Like sheep which have no shepherd; And the LORD said, ‘These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace.’ ” Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. “The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘How?’ “He said, ‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.’ “Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.” Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD pass from me to speak to you?” Micaiah said, “Behold, you will see on that day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself.” Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely.” ’ ” Micaiah said, “If you indeed return safely, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Listen, all you people.”" (2 Chronicles 18:4–27; 1 Kings 22:11)
3. 810 BC: (2 Ki 13:14-19)
a. Jehoahaz shooting the arrow and hitting the arrows on the ground to defeat Aram (under his son Joash in 697 BC).
b. This is the period where Adad-nirari II, Ben-hadad III and his son of Hazael oppressed Israel. But Ben-hadad III delivered Israel from the hand of Adad-nirair III as per 2 Ki 13:5.
III the deliverer of 2 Kings 13:5
king of Aram (841-800 BC) Tel Dan "House of David" Inscription
Tel Dan "House of David" Inscription, Victory Stele of Hazael: 841 BC
c. "So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael. Then Jehoahaz entreated the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them. The Lord gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Arameans; and the sons of Israel lived in their tents as formerly." (2 Kings 13:3–5)
d. "When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” And he put his hand on it, then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. He said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.”" (2 Kings 13:14-19)
C. Sign Acts in Hosea: 750 BC
1. 750 BC: (Hosea 1:2-9)
a. Hosea takes a wife of harlotry, symbolizing God’s relationship to his people.
b. "When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. “On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.” When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”" (Hosea 1:2–9)
2. 750 BC: (Hosea 3)
a. Hosea buys back his wife to symbolize God’s taking back and restoring his wayward people.
b. "Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.” For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days." (Hosea 3:1-5)
D. Sign Acts in Isaiah:
1. 740 BC: (Isa 20:1-4)
a. Isaiah goes naked for three years to represent the people of Cush and Egypt being led away naked as captives by the Assyrians.
b. "In the year that the commander came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him and he fought against Ashdod and captured it, at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go and loosen the sackcloth from your hips and take your shoes off your feet.” And he did so, going naked and barefoot. And the Lord said, “Even as My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and token against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt." (Isaiah 20:1–4)
C. Sign Acts in Jeremiah:
1. 605 BC (Jer 35)
a. Jeremiah offers wine to the Rechabites, who refuse to drink it out of commitment to their ancestral oath. Their faithfulness is then verbally contrasted with the Judahites’ failure to keep their covenant with God.
b. "“Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”" (Jeremiah 35:2)
c. "Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine!” But they said, “We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever." (Jeremiah 35:5–6)
d. "Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands and done according to all that he commanded you;" (Jeremiah 35:18)
2. 597 BC (Jer 13:1-11)
a. Jeremiah buys, wears and buries, by the River Perat, a waist sash to illustrate the people’s initial closeness to God and their subsequent deterioration.
b. "Thus the LORD said to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” So I bought the waistband in accordance with the word of the LORD and put it around my waist. Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “Take the waistband that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD had commanded me. After many days the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates and take from there the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it; and lo, the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Just so will I destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. ‘This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts and have gone after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them, let them be just like this waistband which is totally worthless. ‘For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’" (Jeremiah 13:1–11)
3. 597 BC (Jer 16:1-9)
a. Jeremiah does not marry or attend funerals or feasts, representing the people’s future decimation, such that they would be devoid of family members and occasions of ritual mourning and festivity.
b. "The word of the Lord also came to me saying, “You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.” For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bear them, and their fathers who beget them in this land: “They will die of deadly diseases, they will not be lamented or buried; they will be as dung on the surface of the ground and come to an end by sword and famine, and their carcasses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth.” For thus says the Lord, “Do not enter a house of mourning, or go to lament or to console them; for I have withdrawn My peace from this people,” declares the Lord, “My lovingkindness and compassion. “Both great men and small will die in this land; they will not be buried, they will not be lamented, nor will anyone gash himself or shave his head for them. “Men will not break bread in mourning for them, to comfort anyone for the dead, nor give them a cup of consolation to drink for anyone’s father or mother. “Moreover you shall not go into a house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink.” For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I am going to eliminate from this place, before your eyes and in your time, the voice of rejoicing and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride." (Jeremiah 16:1–9)
a. Jeremiah shatters an earthenware jar, demonstrating that God will shatter Jerusalem.
b. "Thus says the LORD, “Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. “Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. “Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter. “I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life; and I will give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. “I will also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters. “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.” ’ “Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. “This is how I will treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the LORD, “so as to make this city like Topheth. “The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out drink offerings to other gods.” ’ ”" (Jeremiah 19:1–13)
a. Jeremiah wears a yoke to advise Judah to continue its submission to Babylon. In response, Hananiah the false prophet breaks the yoke to symbolize the divine breaking of the Babylonians’ rule.
b. "In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying— thus says the Lord to me—“Make for yourself bonds and yokes and put them on your neck, and send word to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the sons of Ammon, to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah." (Jeremiah 27:1–3)
c. "I spoke words like all these to Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live!" (Jeremiah 27:12)
d. "Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke it. Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Even so will I break within two full years the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations.’ ” Then the prophet Jeremiah went his way. The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Go and speak to Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.” ‘For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they will serve him. And I have also given him the beasts of the field.” ’ ” Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. “Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the Lord.’ ” So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month." (Jeremiah 28:10-17)
6. 588 BC (Jer 32:6-15)
a. See also: Creation
of legal documents sealed with string and bulla. Notice two copies were
made, one that was sealed and placed in a vault and the second was located in
room outside the vault for anyone to look inside. If anyone disputed the
outside copy differed from the copy in the vault, they would unseal the copy in
b. Jeremiah purchases a parcel of land to signify that, in the future, fields would once again be bought and sold by the Judahites.
c. "And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, “Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it.” ’ “Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the Lord and said to me, ‘Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. “I bought the field which was at Anathoth from Hanamel my uncle’s son, and I weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver. “I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales. “Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the sight of Hanamel my uncle’s son and in the sight of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, before all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard. “And I commanded Baruch in their presence, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time.” ‘For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” ’" (Jeremiah 32:6–15)
7. 587 BC (Jer 43:8-13)
a. In Tahpanes, Egypt, Jeremiah buries a stone to indicate that the king of Babylon would invade Egypt and construct a throne on that very location.
b. "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, “Take some large stones in your hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of some of the Jews; and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them. “He will also come and strike the land of Egypt; those who are meant for death will be given over to death, and those for captivity to captivity, and those for the sword to the sword. “And I shall set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he will burn them and take them captive. So he will wrap himself with the land of Egypt as a shepherd wraps himself with his garment, and he will depart from there safely. “He will also shatter the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he will burn with fire.” ’ ”" (Jeremiah 43:8–13)
8. 561 BC (Jer 51:59-64)
a. Jeremiah sends with Seraiah a scroll to Babylon, which is thrown into the Euphrates to signify the demise of Babylon.
b. “The nonverbal action consisted of Seraiah binding a stone to the scroll, then casting it into the Euphrates. The purpose of the stone being attached to the scroll was to facilitate the nonverbal demonstration by producing the desired illustrative effect needed to communicate the message: the communicative analogy was with the scroll sinking. So as to prevent the scroll from floating on the surface, and thus obviating the communicative analogy, the stone ensured its sunken status. Since the stone functioned to facilitate the communicative message about the sunken scroll, to attribute other noncommunicative reasons to the use of the stone, such as to prevent the scroll from being found by the Babylonians,191 is unnecessary. And if the stone bore a simile function, it was not as a figure of the nation (unlike the simile of Exod. 15:5) or of the divine will which would destroy Babylon, but as the calamity (v. 64a) which God brought upon Babylon which caused that city to sink.” (Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's Sign-Acts, Kelvin G. Friebel, p160, 1999 AD)
c. "The message which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the grandson of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. (Now Seraiah was quartermaster.) So Jeremiah wrote in a single scroll all the calamity which would come upon Babylon, that is, all these words which have been written concerning Babylon. Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “As soon as you come to Babylon, then see that you read all these words aloud, and say, ‘You, O LORD, have promised concerning this place to cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.’ “And as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates, and say, ‘Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.’ ” Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." (Jeremiah 51:59–64)
D. Sign Acts in Ezekiel:
a. “At least seven clearly identified sign acts appear in Ezekiel, the first four of which occur in Ezek. 4-5. In the very first instance, Ezek. 4:1-3, the prophet is told by Yahweh that his divinely dictated actions are to be a “sign” (אות /ʾôṯ) for the house of Israel (Ezek. 4:3). After the appearance of the term אות in 4:3, the word that is used to identify the sign act is מופת (môp̄ēṯ; cf. Ezek. 12:6, 11; 24:24, 27), which is a synonym for אות. This explains why the LXX translates both אות and מופת with the term σημεῖον (sēmeion). At the same time, in some cases such as Ezek. 5:1-4, neither of these two terms appear even though a sign act is clearly in view. In this case, the use of אות in Ezek. 4:3 appears to govern the four signs appearing in close canonical proximity (i.e., 4:1-3, 4-6, 9-17; 5:1-4). As for the remaining three sign acts, the use of מופת identifies them as such (Ezek. 12:6, 11; 24:24, 27). The double appearance of the term מופת in Ezek. 12:6 and 12:11 is clearly dealing with the same sign act and thus we can group the entire section under one event (Ezek. 12:1-20). There is one other debated sign act in Ezekiel: the unification of the two sticks in Ezek. 37:15-28. In this case, the account does not have a specific designation as a sign act, but it could be argued that it is utilized as one.” (John’s Use of Ezekiel, Brian Peterson, p72, 2015 AD)
b. “The audience’s evaluation of what Ezekiel was doing must have been, as is typical of any audience, interpreted through their own belief system and their perception of Ezekiel as a prophet. Since this complex of nonverbal behaviors must be attributed to the initial phase of Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry,345 the audience may not have had any preconceived notions as to the type of prophet Ezekiel was going to be. Due to the lack of any repertoire of his previous messages, they would not have known whether Ezekiel was going to be a prophet like those who were proclaiming an imminent return from exile and exhorting the people to rally around those advocating Judah’s rebellion against Babylon (cf. Jer. 27–29), or whether he would be a prophet similar to Jeremiah who spoke about God’s judgment against Jerusalem. The lack of Ezekiel’s previous public proclamation coupled with the influence of the popular theology may have led the people to anticipate that Ezekiel would proclaim messages which favorably corresponded to their own beliefs about the future of Jerusalem. Their anticipation, coupled with the ambiguous aspects in the nonverbal behaviors, could have led the audience to some initial misconceptions of the message. But the misconceptions of understanding the actions as being favorable, would have meant the lack of producing counterarguments against Ezekiel’s message, and thus resulting in a more receptive audience attitude.” (Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's Sign-Acts, Kelvin G. Friebel, p228, 1999 AD)
2. Ezekiel remains speechless from the time of his calling as a prophet until he receives the news that Jerusalem has fallen.
a. 593 BC (Ezek 3:24-27) "The Spirit then entered me and made me stand on my feet, and He spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself up in your house. “As for you, son of man, they will put ropes on you and bind you with them so that you cannot go out among them. “Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house. “But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house." (Ezekiel 3:24–27)
b. 589 BC (Ezek 24:25-27) "‘As for you, son of man, will it not be on the day when I take from them their stronghold, the joy of their pride, the desire of their eyes and their heart’s delight, their sons and their daughters, that on that day he who escapes will come to you with information for your ears? ‘On that day your mouth will be opened to him who escaped, and you will speak and be mute no longer. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.’ ”" (Ezekiel 24:25–27)
c. 586 BC (Ezek 33:21-22) "Now in the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, the refugees from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been taken.” Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me in the evening, before the refugees came. And He opened my mouth at the time they came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless." (Ezekiel 33:21–22)
3. 593 BC: (Ezek 4:1-3)
a. Ezekiel drawing Jerusalem on a brick and mimicking laying siege to the city. He inscribes “Jerusalem” on the brick. He lays siege to the city, sets an iron griddle next to it, and sets his face against the griddle.
b. “In the representation of the model siege (4:1–2), there was no ambiguity as to what the nonverbal artifacts represented—they illustrated the siege of a city. But there was probably ambiguity over specifics of the representation, such as what city it was and who the attackers were. Since the inscribed city may have been like that of a victory depiction showing the siege from the ground level with primarily only the outer city walls being depicted, distinctive internal characteristics of the city, such as the Temple, the royal palace, significant streets, would not have been represented. Due to the schematized nature of the drawing, regardless of whether it was a side view of the city walls or an overhead, map-type drawing, the specific identification of the city may well have been very difficult to ascertain immediately. Because of the popular theology, the audience may have thought or hoped that Ezekiel was representing the siege of Babylon itself, and thus declaring a message like other prophets (cf. Jer. 27–29) who were proclaiming Babylon’s imminent demise. This ambiguity was not clarified until the verbal proclamation was given by Ezekiel (4:7). If the nonverbal displays by the prophet were thus erroneously misconstrued by the audience because of their being filtered through the popular theological beliefs, the impact of Ezekiel’s words ‘This is Jerusalem’ (5:5) must have been immensely shocking. It was a message the audience would not have anticipated hearing nor desired to hear.” (Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's Sign-Acts, Kelvin G. Friebel, p229, 1999 AD)
c. "“Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. “Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. “Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel." (Ezekiel 4:1–3)
4. 593 BC: (Ezek 4:4-6)
a. Ezekiel lying on his side for 390 days and then on his right side for forty days to symbolize the him bearing of the people’s sins.
b. "“As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. “For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. “When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year." (Ezekiel 4:4–6)
5. 593 BC: (Ezek 4:9-17)
a. Ezekiel eats rationed portions of food and water to represent the scarcity of food during the siege; he bakes his bread on dung to symbolize the unclean food of the exile.
b. "“But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days. “Your food which you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; you shall eat it from time to time. “The water you drink shall be the sixth part of a hin by measure; you shall drink it from time to time. “You shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” Then the LORD said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.” But I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I have never been defiled; for from my youth until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.” Then He said to me, “See, I will give you cow’s dung in place of human dung over which you will prepare your bread.” Moreover, He said to me, “Son of man, behold, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror, because bread and water will be scarce; and they will be appalled with one another and waste away in their iniquity." (Ezekiel 4:9–17)
6. 593 BC: (Ezek 5:1-4)
a. Ezekiel cuts his hair, divides it into three portions, and then, to show the threefold fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, burns one third upon the model siege, chops up another third with his sword, and scatters the last third to the wind and chases after it with the sword.
b. "“As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword; take and use it as a barber’s razor on your head and beard. Then take scales for weighing and divide the hair. “One third you shall burn in the fire at the center of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. Then you shall take one third and strike it with the sword all around the city, and one third you shall scatter to the wind; and I will unsheathe a sword behind them. “Take also a few in number from them and bind them in the edges of your robes. “Take again some of them and throw them into the fire and burn them in the fire; from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel." (Ezekiel 5:1–4)
7. 592 BC: (Ezek 6:11-12)
a. Ezekiel claps his hands and cries “Ah!” to display God’s indignation over the people’s wicked practices.
b. "“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Clap your hand, stamp your foot and say, “Alas, because of all the evil abominations of the house of Israel, which will fall by sword, famine and plague! “He who is far off will die by the plague, and he who is near will fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged will die by the famine. Thus will I spend My wrath on them." (Ezekiel 6:11–12)
8. 592 BC: (Ezek 12:1-16)
a. Ezekiel mimicking going into exile. Ezekiel prepares a bag, digs a hole in the wall of his house, places the bag upon his shoulder, exits through the hole with his eyes covered, and departs from the city to represent the people of Jerusalem going off into exile.
b. "Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house. “Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; even go into exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand though they are a rebellious house. “Bring your baggage out by day in their sight, as baggage for exile. Then you will go out at evening in their sight, as those going into exile. “Dig a hole through the wall in their sight and go out through it. “Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark. You shall cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have set you as a sign to the house of Israel.” I did so, as I had been commanded. By day I brought out my baggage like the baggage of an exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands; I went out in the dark and carried the baggage on my shoulder in their sight. In the morning the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem as well as all the house of Israel who are in it.” ’ “Say, ‘I am a sign to you. As I have done, so it will be done to them; they will go into exile, into captivity.’ “The prince who is among them will load his baggage on his shoulder in the dark and go out. They will dig a hole through the wall to bring it out. He will cover his face so that he can not see the land with his eyes. “I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there. “I will scatter to every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will draw out a sword after them. “So they will know that I am the Lord when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries. “But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the Lord.”" (Ezekiel 12:1–16)
9. 592 BC: (Ezek 12:17-20)
a. Ezekiel eats and drinks with trembling to show the Jerusalemites’ emotional distress during the Babylonian invasion.
b. "Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, eat your bread with trembling and drink your water with quivering and anxiety. “Then say to the people of the land, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel, “They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water with horror, because their land will be stripped of its fullness on account of the violence of all who live in it. “The inhabited cities will be laid waste and the land will be a desolation. So you will know that I am the LORD.” ’ ”" (Ezekiel 12:17–20)
10. 591 BC: (Ezek 21:6-7)
a. Ezekiel groans to demonstrate the people’s response to the news of God’s impending judgment.
b. "“As for you, son of man, groan with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan in their sight. “And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming; and every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it comes and it will happen,’ declares the Lord GOD.”" (Ezekiel 21:6–7)
11. 591 BC: (Ezek 21:8-17)
a. Ezekiel cries out and strikes his thigh to depict the people’s gestures of grief. Later, he claps his hands to show the divine indignation toward the people.
b. "Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ Say, ‘A sword, a sword sharpened And also polished! ‘Sharpened to make a slaughter, Polished to flash like lightning!’ Or shall we rejoice, the rod of My son despising every tree? “It is given to be polished, that it may be handled; the sword is sharpened and polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. “Cry out and wail, son of man; for it is against My people, it is against all the officials of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with My people, therefore strike your thigh. “For there is a testing; and what if even the rod which despises will be no more?” declares the Lord God. “You therefore, son of man, prophesy and clap your hands together; and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword for the slain. It is the sword for the great one slain, which surrounds them, that their hearts may melt, and many fall at all their gates. I have given the glittering sword. Ah! It is made for striking like lightning, it is wrapped up in readiness for slaughter. “Show yourself sharp, go to the right; set yourself; go to the left, wherever your edge is appointed. “I will also clap My hands together, and I will appease My wrath; I, the Lord, have spoken.”" (Ezekiel 21:8–17)
12. 591 BC: (Ezek 21:18-23)
a. Ezekiel sets up a signpost to show the ways the king of Babylon might take in his march against the west.
b. "The word of the Lord came to me saying, “As for you, son of man, make two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them will go out of one land. And make a signpost; make it at the head of the way to the city. “You shall mark a way for the sword to come to Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem. “For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver. “Into his right hand came the divination, ‘Jerusalem,’ to set battering rams, to open the mouth for slaughter, to lift up the voice with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up ramps, to build a siege wall. “And it will be to them like a false divination in their eyes; they have sworn solemn oaths. But he brings iniquity to remembrance, that they may be seized." (Ezekiel 21:18–23)
13. 589 BC: (Ezek 24:15-18, 24)
a. Ezekiel not mourning his wife’s death. Ezekiel refrains from weeping or performing the normal mourning rituals at his wife’s death to illustrate how the people should respond to the news of the fall of Jerusalem.
b. "And the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. “Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded." (Ezekiel 24:15–18)
c. "‘Thus Ezekiel will be a sign to you; according to all that he has done you will do; when it comes, then you will know that I am the Lord God.’ ”" (Ezekiel 24:24)
14. 589 BC: (Ezek 24:27)
a. See above.
b. The opening of Ezekiel’s mouth
c. "‘On that day your mouth will be opened to him who escaped, and you will speak and be mute no longer. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.’ ”" (Ezekiel 24:27)
15. 586 BC: (Ezek 37:15-28)
a. The unifying of the two sticks after Ezekiel learns Jerusalem has fallen. Ezekiel joins two pieces of wood to signify the reunification of Israel and Judah in the church.
b. "The word of the Lord came again to me saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ “Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. “When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’ say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.” ’ “The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. “And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.” ’ ”" (Ezekiel 37:15–28)
E. Sign Acts in Zechariah: 519 BC
1. 519 BC: (Zechariah 6:9-15)
a. Zechariah makes a crown and places it on the high priest Joshua to show God’s crowning of Jesus Christ who will rebuild the temple.
b. "The word of the Lord also came to me, saying, “Take an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah; and you go the same day and enter the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, where they have arrived from Babylon. “Take silver and gold, make an ornate crown and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” ’ “Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the Lord to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah. “Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the Lord.” Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take place if you completely obey the Lord your God." (Zechariah 6:9-15)
G. Sign Acts in the New Testament:
1. 2BC: Zecharias was struck with muteness after being chosen by lot to offer the incense for the temple worship until John the Baptist was born and he named him!
a. "And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute." (Luke 1:11–22)
2. 55 AD: "As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’" (Acts 21:10-11)
a. Ababus made two prophecies in the book of Acts:
i. Famine: "One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius." (Acts 11:28)
ii. Paul would be captured as a prophetic sign act using Paul’s own belt.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.