THE PROPHECY THAT ELIJAH WILL COME
Malachi 4:1-6 was God's last words to the Old Testament church. The closing of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi is unspeakably solemn. On the last leaf of the Old Testament, we find the blessing and curse, life and death set before us. God will not speak another word to Israel for some 400 years. With the close of the Old Testament revelation, under which the nation of Israel had lived for over a thousand years, and the law by which God would judge them at the end of the world, it was fitting to remind them of the coming day of judgment and the end of the world. All Israelite who lived on earth from the time of Moses to the beginning of the Christian religion will be judged by the 39 books of the Old Testament. Among God's last words to Israel were, “Remember the law of Moses, My servant(v. 4).
In verses l, 2 Malachi informs them that th e day wil l come when Jehovah will make a final separation of the evil and the good, and that will be at the day of judgment. It will be a day of burning like an oven, and the proud and wicked will be like stubble. The ungodly are compared to a tree which is given up to be burned, so that nothing is left of it. John the Baptist who is mentioned in this chapter by prophecy used the same metaphor of the coming Judgment. In Matthew 3:10 John said to the nation of Israel, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. That is exactly what Malachi said to Israel in the last page of the Old Testament. Malachi in the first two verses informs Israel of the end of the world and the judgment to come.
However before the end of the world and the day of judment, God is going to do two things for the nation of Israel. He is going to send them their Messiah who was , predicted and described many times by the Jewish prophets. The coming of Christ is predicted in highly figurative language in veses 2, 3: “But to you who fear my name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” When He comes the nation of Israel, after centuries of oppression, insignificance and unimportance in the world, will be recognized once more as a great nation among the nations of the world. The nations of the world will come to Israel to receive blessings from the God of Israel. The words, “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings,” refers to the coming of Jesus and the blessings He would bring to mankind. He is
compared to the Sun arising in the morning, driving away the darkness, and its light is compared to wings flying and speeding in all directions to bless the earth. The coming of Christ is figuratively compared to the sun rising in the morning and chasing away the darkness with its beams of light. Scripture speaks of Jesus as the light of the world. The rising sun is a fitting symbol of Jesus, for He is to the moral and religious world what the sun is to the natural world. What a beautiful prediction and comparison!. This figure speaks of Jesus bringing healing, forgiveness, justification, righteousness and peace to the world. He offered His services freely to all as far as the east is from the west, even as the sun shines on the good and bad. from one end of the earth to the other.
In addition to sending the Messiah, God promised to send another very important person to Israel. before the dreadful day of judgment. He promised to send to Israel the prophet Elijah, one of their most famous prophets. . But there is a problem with this. Elijah had been dead for 500 years. To do this God would have to raise him from dead and put him back in the body he had in the days Ahab and Jezebel about 900 B.C.. We are told in verse 6 why it was urgently necessary that Elijah come. Without the effects Elijah would have on the unfaithful nation in preparing it to receive and enter into the Messianic kingdom which would begin in a few short years, the entire earth would have suffered some terrible judgment by an outraged God. Jehovah expressed it like this, “Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Fortunately, the angel Gabriel gave us the first hint as to the meaning of this prophecy. Turn with me to Luke 1:17 where Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. Gabriel said about John, “He will go before God in t he s pirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”(the Messiah). Gabriel did not say that John the Baptist was Elijah, but he said John was a man of like spirit and power of Elijah.. Gabriel, in effect, said, “In John the Baptist we have another Elijah on the earth.”
Additionally, Jesus cleared the prophecy up completely and told Israel and the whole world exactly what Malachi meant. Turn with me to Matthew 11:11-14 which record these words of Jesus: “Assuredly I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are to receive it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Elijah was not to 3
return personally from the dead, but God was going to raise up a man from among them just as loyal, spiritual and powerful as Elijah was in his day and time, and he was to get the nation of Israel ready to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah. And that is exactly what John the Baptist did. .
Unfortunately, most of the nation of Israel refused to receive John the Baptist as the Elijah of prophecy. However, thousands and thousands of Jews in Palestine and from all over the world received John the Baptist as the Elijah who was to come, and the first tens of thousands of people who became Christians were all Jews. Moreover, it was Christian Jews who caused the religion of Christ to spread throughout the Roman Empire and finally wiped it out of existence. The first three centuries of Christian history has proven present day Israel wrong for rejecting Christianity. Present day Israel needs to make a sincere study of their descendants in the first three centuries and learn why so many Jews became Christians from A.D. 1 to A.D. 3. of this era
Some orthodox Jews maintain that Elijah will return from the grave and bring great blessings to Israel and redeem all humanity. However, 2,000 years have gone by, and Elijah the prophet of old has never come. Israel's misunderstanding of Malachi's prophecy has led them to give Elijah a special place of honor in every observance of the Passover. Jews have a longstanding custom of leaving a chair empty and the door open in their homes when they observe the Passover. They do this in the hope that Elijah might appear any time. The Jews have a book called the Haggadah. which is a book of instructions for the observance of the Jewish Passover in the home. .Elijah has a very important part in every Passover observance of the Jews. They refer to the Passover as the Seder, a word that means service. The Seder is the feast of commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and is , observed on the eve of the first day of Passover. The Haggadah opens with the words, “Let us who are hungry come and eat.” Among the awaited guests is the prophet Elijah who, according to tradition never died but was carried up to the heavens. Elijah is the champion of the oppressed; he brings hope, cheer and relief to the down trodden. When Elijah comes they believe he will settle all difficult passages in the Law of Moses and will settle all future controversies. A special cup filled to the brim is set in the center of the table, and all at the table have wine cups. There is a legend that Elijah appears at every Seder and sips some wine from the cup reserved for him. The Jews observe the Passover in this way very sincerely, but according to Jesus Christ, the Elijah of Malachi 4,5,6 was fulfilled in the coming of John the Baptist. .