[The following article is from an associate writer and may or may not reflect the opinions of RG Stair .com. The editorial notes are also from the writer, Jobe Lee]
God told the children of Israel that Ezekiel would be a sign to them for “according to all that he hath done shall ye do…” “…[A]ccording to all that he hath done…” Throughout the book of Ezekiel, we see the priest/prophet showing the people representations of events that were soon to transpire, according to the word of the Lord. Examples include portraying Jerusalem on the ground and laying siege against it or not mourning over the death of his own (Ezekiel’s) wife. These were mini-examples to the children of Israel of what would shortly come to pass upon them. In essence, Ezekiel ‘puts on a play’ with prophetic significance.
Hosea 12:10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
Hosea, on the other hand, had a real-life similitude as he married a prostitute who represented Israel.
(By the way, off the point.. while we’re using the word ‘similitude’ so often in this article, remember: Moses BEHELD the similitude of the Lord. It does NOT say he WAS the similitude of the Lord. Numbers 12:8) Anyway…
Hosea 12:10 “I have also spoken by the prophets,…”
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,…
‘Divers manners’ might include prophecy (the word of the Lord), visions, dreams, and similitudes (or likenesses to a real situation). The prophets were spokesmen for God who, by definition, delivered a message. But the prophets were not an end in themselves; they were a focal point only to the degree that the word of the Lord could be delivered. They themselves were not the message!
The Sign of Jonas
Mt 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Mt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
That is so simple! As Jonas was three days… so shall the Son of man (Jesus Christ) be three days… in the heart of the earth. Read it again, Matthew 12:40. That is the sign of Jonas!
The Sign of the Son of man
Mt 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Throughout Matthew 24, many signs are given to indicate what time we are in. Some signs indicate the ‘beginning of sorrows’. The preaching of the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ immediately precedes ‘the end.’ The abomination of desolation is a sign for those in Judaea to flee for “then shall be great tribulation…” As soon as the tribulation has ended, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light etc, (Matthew 24:29) Then, after that series of events, the ‘sign of the Son of man’ shall appear in heaven. This is what we’ve built up to: What is the ‘sign of the Son of man’?
The disciples asked in Matthew 24:3 What shall be the sign of thy coming? They were given a series of events leading up to the climax of Christ’s coming. But there is a sign that comes after the shaking of the heavens.
Matthew is the Only One who mentions a ‘Sign.’
Mk 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. (Read previous verses too)
Lk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
John MacArthur says, “That is a subjective genitive in the Greek text, indicating that the sign is the Son of Man Himself. In the midst of the blackness will appear in blazing, unveiled glory the Son of Man.” [Signs of Christ’s Return, The Sign of the Son of Man by John MacArthur]
I don’t know what a subjective genitive is, but this answer lines up with Scripture, according to Mark and Luke. The term Son of man (see our Son of man article) indicates that Jesus is returning in the flesh, not just a spiritual return.
In conclusion, we have touched on the topic of God’s use of prophets and signs, and put them in their proper, scriptural perspective. Signs are guideposts and prophets are spokesmen but as we said, they are not an end in themselves. Look unto Jesus Who has given us His Holy Spirit Who shall “show us things to come.”