The Elijah To Come?
Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the
coming of the great and dreadful day of the Eternal.  Moreover, he shall
turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the
children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth (land) with utter
destruction.

There is much controversy over these two verses of Scripture.  
Some believe that “Elijah the prophet” refers to Elijah the
Tishbite who lived during the time of Ahab.  In other words, they
believe that Elijah the Tishbite will return from heaven or that
God will resurrect him to do a work in the last days.  Others
believe that this title is given to some prophet at the threshold of
the “Day of the Lord” the time spoken of in the Book of
Revelation and elsewhere in the bible, as the time when the
Messiah will return and fight against the earthly kingdoms and
set up the Kingdom of God.  Still others claim that this is a
fulfilled prophecy, in the person of John the Baptist.  

Some interpret “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” as the
first coming of the Messiah and others interpret it as the second
coming of the Messiah.  Those who understand the Elijah
prophecy as fulfilled tend to accept the first theory.  Those who
believe that “an Elijah” or “the Elijah” is yet to come, accept
the second theory.  Of course, the Jews would say that there has
been no first coming of the Messiah and would assign this Elijah
prophecy to what they call the one and only coming of the
Messiah.

There is little doubt that John the Baptist was the Elijah to
come.  The prophecy given to John’s father, Zacharias, plainly
tells us that John would go before the Messiah in the spirit and
power of Elijah.  He would also 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 “Elijah” of
Malachi was to perform this exact commission.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him (Zacharias) an angel of the Lord
standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is
heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call
his name John.

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither
wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even
from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he (John) shall go before him (the Messiah) in the spirit and
power of Elias (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.

When we add the language of the Messiah to this New
Testament prophecy – given to Zacharias – we understand that
the Christ established John the Baptist as the Elijah prophesied
in the Book of Malachi.  

Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes
that Elias (Elijah) must first come?
11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias (Elijah) truly shall first
come, and restore all things.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias (Elijah) is come already, and they knew
him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall
also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the
Baptist.

Nevertheless, some argue that John the Baptist was only a
forerunner of a final Elijah that is yet to come.  In other words,
they claim that the prophecy in Malachi is dual and has a future
fulfillment.  Is this true?

The above New Testament scriptures prove that Malachi’s
Elijah was indeed John the Baptist, from two infallible witnesses:
1) an angel of the Lord speaking to Zacharias and 2) the Messiah
Himself.  Both accounts agree that John the Baptist fulfilled the
mission of Malachi’s Elijah.  The disciples understood that the
Messiah spoke to them of John the Baptist.  John got the
attention of the people and caused them to focus on the Messiah.

However, some difficult New Testament scriptures lead a few
students of the bible to believe another “Elijah” is yet to come.  
As there is nothing specific in the bible that says this prophecy is
dual, we must resolve these difficult scriptures to know whether
a duality of this prophecy is possible.  We will present two
perspectives: 1) the destruction of the earth and its
consequences, and 2) the destruction of the land of Judah and its
implications.  

Generally, the destruction of the earth has an all-encompassing
consequence – the end of God’s plan for humanity.  On the other
hand, the destruction of the land of Judah would be somewhat
limited in its scope to the monumental structures, the culture and
government of the people who suffer its devastation.  We should
understand that much of the information presented in the first
perspective, overlaps with the second view.  Therefore, we need
not cast out everything said in the first perspective, if we
embrace the alternate view.  Similarly, some statements from
each view will be contradictory.  After all, that is the nature of
two points of view.  We leave each reader to determine what to
accept and what to reject.  The goal is to prove whether there is
an Elijah yet to come.


  Utter Destruction of the Earth View

As for turning the hearts of the people, the sacrifice of the
Messiah accomplished that.  In other words, John prepared the
way of the Messiah, and the Messiah was the messenger who
made possible the turning of the hearts of the people through His
sacrifice.  No man would have had the capability to turn the
hearts of the people as far as repentance is concerned.  That is
something only God can do, from within the person.  The Elijah
to come would do this merely because he would be the
instrument of God, or the one who would prepare the people for
the entrance of the Messiah into the world as the Savior of all
humanity.  The Messiah’s sacrifice made possible the saving of
the earth from utter destruction.  For without a means of
justification for our sins, God would scrap the entire earth
project.

The “great and dreadful day of the Lord” could refer to either
the first coming of the Messiah or the Second Coming of the
Messiah.  Let us look at both perspectives.  Malachi gives us no
time element between the coming of the Messiah and the work
of his “Elijah” and the possible destruction to follow.  If we
consider a thousand years being one day from God’s perspective,
then it is clear that John the Baptist came two days before the
“Day of the Lord” – the time of the Second Coming of the
Messiah.  Therefore, John the Baptist came before or “in the
face of” the “Day of the Lord” – whether we want to consider
the day of the Lord as the first or second coming of the Messiah.  
John came before the time ahead known as the Great
Tribulations and fulfilled this time element.  One must show a
Biblical reason why another Elijah is yet to come than the time
element – if there is indeed another Elijah to come.

2 Peter 3:8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day
[is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The great and dreadful day of the Lord could be a reference to
the time when God allowed the Romans to take the Jews'
country from them for having rejected the Messiah – in 70 AD.  
It was a great and dreadful day of the Lord, for the Jews, of that
time.  The word <day> could then be used for the whole 40 year
period from the time of the crucifixion until 70 AD.  Following
the Messiah came the destruction of the temple, the destruction
of Jerusalem, the death of thousands of the Jews, with the rest
cast out of the land, within another century.  It was a most
dreadful day for them because of their rejection of the Messiah.  
In fact, the dread happenings started on the day they killed the
Messiah.  For the earthquake that came that day, tore the
curtain that hung between the holy and most holy place.  This
was the beginning of a forty-year period of testing for the Jews,
which ended in 70 AD in total destruction for their way of life.

Gill has the following to say about this verse:
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Before the coming of the great and, dreadful day of the Lord;
that is, before the coming of Christ the son of David, as the Jews
{r} themselves own; and which is to be understood, not of the
second coming of Christ to judgment, though that is sometimes
called the great day, and will be dreadful to Christless sinners;
but of the first coming of Christ, reaching to the destruction of
Jerusalem: John the Baptist, his forerunner, the Elijah here
spoken of, came proclaiming wrath and terror to impenitent
sinners; Christ foretold and denounced ruin and destruction to
the Jewish nation,  city,  and temple; and the time of Jerusalem's
destruction was a dreadful day indeed, such a time of affliction
as had not been from the creation, #Mt 24:21 and the Talmud
interprets {s} this of the sorrows of the Messiah,  or which shall
be in the days of the Messiah.
*************************************************************

However, Gill’s perspective, while plausible in part, is not
absolute.  “The great and terrible day of the Lord” could be a
reference to the Second Coming of the Messiah.  It was essential
for John the Baptist to do his work in preparation for the
Messiah’s work of salvation so there would be a reason to
continue the human project that God began with Adam and Eve.  
There is nothing given in the last two verses of Malachi that
would keep John the Baptist from fulfilling the prophecy
necessary for an Elijah – as far as the time element is
concerned.  There is no indication of how long before the great
and dreadful day of the Lord that Malachi’s “Elijah” would come.

The “Elijah” of Malachi was to come before the “Day of the
Lord”.  Whether we want to believe this to be the first or Second
Coming of the Messiah, John fulfilled both.  John did not come
after the first or after the Second Coming of the Messiah, so he
did come before them both.  

The word “day” as used in the Bible many times refers to a stage
or span of time.  We should not understand “before the day of
the Lord” to mean 24 hours before the appearing of the
Messiah.  The defining word is <before> and the prophecy does
not attach a length of time to this term.  If this phrase refers to
the first coming of the Messiah, then it is speaking of a 40-100
year period depending on whether we count it as being from the
birth of the Messiah or from His crucifixion and end the time at
70 AD or when the Romans finally drove the Jews entirely from
the land of Judah.  In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the temple,
killed many of the Jews, and within a century drove the rest
from their land, for almost 1900 years.  It was a total destruction
of their way of life and their nation.  The day of the Lord, as
used in Malachi, could refer to this period.  The book of Malachi
is to the Jewish people.  The first coming of Christ was a
visitation of the Jews.  He came to His own and they did not
receive Him.

If we prefer to believe that Malachi indicates the Second
Coming, then we must keep in mind that he does not mention the
length of time before the Second Coming.  The point that
Malachi makes is that something had to happen in order to offset
utter destruction of the earth.  That something did happen
because of John’s ministry.  He restored all things, according to
the Messiah, and prepared the way for the Messiah’s ministry.  
The Messiah died by crucifixion, and became the justifying
sacrifice for the sins of man.  Moreover, herein, as we will see,
lies the answer to whether there is yet another Elijah to come!

Let us assume that the period of this “Elijah’s” ministry is
synonymous with the period just before the Second Coming of
the Messiah.  The Messiah does not need an introduction into the
world for His Second Coming.  There is no prophecy in the New
Testament that speaks of any such ministry of introduction, for
the second coming of the Messiah.  When the Messiah returns
the second time, He will come to fight the nations.  His
introduction will be by way of the two witnesses for three and
one-half years and finally with a blast of a trumpet.

Notice the two parts of this prophecy:

#1) Elijah would do his work so that the Messiah could become
the sacrifice for sin to complete the turning of the hearts –
making possible justification for man’s sin.

#2) If the first part did not take place, God would destroy the
earth.  If the first part took place, then God would not destroy
the earth.

The second part tells us that unless a particular thing happens
God is going to come and smite the earth with utter destruction.  
This is now in contrast with the prophecy of Matthew 24.  In the
22nd verse of that prophecy, Satan is destroying the earth and
God has to intervene or there would be no flesh left alive.

From the perspective of the Malachi prophecy, God would bring
utter destruction on the earth if no means of justification were in
place, for man would be of no value to Him.  However, by the
time of the fulfillment of Matthew 24:22, the sacrifice of the
Messiah has already taken place and God will not bring utter
destruction on the earth because there is a reason to keep
humanity alive.  Justification is now possible and God has locked
many sons for glory into His plan.

God was the one who would bring utter destruction according to
Malachi – if a certain something did not happen.  If the Elijah
who was to come prepared the way for the coming of the
Messiah, who through His sacrifice would make a way for the
changing of man’s heart – through the indwelling of the holy
spirit – then God would not bring utter destruction to the earth
and His plan for man would continue.  The fulfillment of this
prophecy shows that the Elijah figure was only making a way so
that the Messiah could do His work of being a redeeming
sacrifice and be the means of a New Covenant that would change
the hearts of those Covenanted.

Hebrews 10:16 This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after
those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in
their minds will I write them;

With the Messiah’s statement, that John the Baptist was the
Elijah to come and knowing that God is the one who promised
the potential destruction, we can easily resolve the riddle.  God
cannot scrap His plan for man, at this point, because the sacrifice
to ensure justification and the indwelling of the holy spirit has
taken place and God has made promises that cannot be broken.  
It is impossible for God to lie.

Mat 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no
flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.

Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which [it was]
impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have
fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:  

If we insist that there is another Elijah yet to come, one whose
message must turn hearts to God to keep Him from destroying
the earth, then we are saying that it is yet possible for God to
destroy the earth.  God’s word refuses such an idea – the very
reason for the second coming of the Messiah is to prevent the
destruction of the earth.

Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come,
and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou
shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints,
and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy
them which destroy the earth.

Before the sacrifice of the Messiah, God had not locked in even
the salvation of Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which looked
forward to instead of backward to that sacrifice.  The entire
earth-project would have evaporated into thin air, if the Messiah
had not died for the sins of the people.  This all changed with the
mission of John the Baptist and the Messiah at His first coming,
as a sacrifice for the sins of the people.  This seems to be the
intent of what Malachi is prophesying – and it happened before
the great and terrible day of the Lord, whether we want to
accept that as His first or second coming.  

Yahweh is saying, in Malachi, that unless this “Elijah” comes to
prepare the way for Him, so that He could die for the sins of the
people, making possible the closing of the gap (through the holy
spirit) that had destroyed human relationships with God and
man, God would scrap the entire earth-project.  Had the Rock of
our salvation failed, He would have become another Satan for
He had already made promises to the patriarchs of old that
required such a sacrifice.  However, in this poignant statement,
God, in a most powerful way, presented the seriousness of His
first coming, as the Redeemer of all humanity.

“Lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction” is a
conceptual statement.  The Son of God had made promises and
He would keep His promises – however, there was a cautionary
note in this statement with the use of the word <lest>.  It brought
to the forefront of the mind that God had not yet locked in the
earth-project with the sacrifice of the Messiah up to that point.

We should mention that the term <I smite> comes from the
Hiphil stem of the Hebrew verb <to smite>.  The Hiphil stem
includes the connotation of “causing” something to happen.  If
the Messiah had not come to the earth and become the sacrifice
to cover the sins of the world, this would have caused the earth
to be smitten with utter destruction.  The Father would have had
to reject the Messiah, and this would have resulted in His utter
destruction of the earth project.  The implication of the entire
bible is that the earth and its population is a project under the
direction and execution of the Christ.  The Father was unknown
by the general populace of the Old Testament period.  
Therefore, part of the mission of the Messiah was to make
known the Father, to those called by Him.  Even the Son was
unknown in His earthly capacity as a human being.

Luke 10:22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man
knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the
Son, and [he] to whom the Son will reveal [him].

The implication is that if the Messiah failed in His earthly
mission, He would have repeated Satan’s failure, although their
missions were not the same.  God hurled Satan back to the earth
resulting in its utter destruction.  Perhaps now we can see why
the Messiah sweated drops of blood in the Garden.  

Luke 22:44 And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his
sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

To turn back was to fail in His mission, destroy the plan of
salvation, and bring utter destruction to the earth.  To go
forward was to die an agonizing death that only He could
visualize with its staggering perception.  The decisive moment
came in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The Father sent an angel to
strengthen Him.  From that moment forward the Messiah’s
resolve was firmly set, although He did let His captors know that
He could still call for twelve legions of angels to rescue Him –
but how would the prophecy concerning Him be fulfilled, if He
resorted to that approach?

                 The Two Witnesses

In the last days before the Second Coming of the Messiah, there
will be two witnesses.  We cannot construe the work of these
two men as one that turns the hearts of the people.  They tend to
punish, through plagues, the evil government of the beast power.  
If anything, these two witnesses harden the hearts of the people
rather than turn them to God.  Their message does not turn the
hearts of the people, for God comes and destroys those who are
destroying the earth and fights them to the very last.  Few
people survive that time.  Therefore, while the work of the two
witnesses is typical of Elijah in the preparatory destruction of
the religion of Satan, it is not typical of Elijah from the aspect of
Malachi’s message – preparing a people for the Lord – closing
the gap that sin had created, which only God can do.

At this point, God will not bring utter destruction on the earth –
even because of the hardness of their hearts – for the plan of
redemption was begun almost 2000 years earlier.  Therefore, the
last two verses of Malachi cannot have a future fulfillment!

If God came now and destroyed the earth with utter destruction,
that could mean only one thing.  He would have decided to scrap
His plan for humanity.  If destruction of the earth became a
reality, after the Messiah has died, then He would have died in
vain and the promises made to those whom He gave the holy
spirit would be lost.

Furthermore, in the face of this scenario, the promise of
shortening the destructive days of the end time, Matthew 24:22,
would be contradictory.  The Messiah says in Matthew 24:22,
"but for the elect's sake those days (of destroying the earth)
shall be shortened" in order to keep human beings from being
totally swept off the earth.  Moreover, He promised that for the
elect’s sake He would shorten those days.

Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should
no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.

The same Being says, in Malachi 4:6 that something must take
place, “lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction”.  
In other words, He would sweep all of the people off the earth
and destroy it.  These two ideas oppose one another.  It is
obvious that by the time of the fulfillment of the second
statement, John had accomplished his work and the Messiah’s
sacrifice was complete.

Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the
earth with a curse <02764>.

Strong’s word <02764> for “with a curse” has more than one
meaning.  The word indicates something accursed – not worth
keeping.  It could be translated as, "lest I come and strike the
earth with a net" indicating some sort of trap.  It could probably
mean a curse less than utter destruction.  However, if that is the
meaning, then why wait until just before the return of the
Messiah to send some "Elijah" to "turn" the hearts when it is
time for the world tomorrow to dawn upon us?  Furthermore, it
flies in the face of the Messiah returning to destroy those who
are destroying the earth.

*************************************************************
02764 Mrx cherem khay’-rem or (# Zec 14:11) Mrx cherem
kheh’-rem

from 02763; TWOT-744a, 745a; n m

AV-net 9, accursed thing 9, accursed 4, curse 4, cursed thing 3,
devoted 3, destruction 2, devoted thing 2, dedicated thing 1,
destroyed 1; 38

1) a thing devoted, thing dedicated, ban, devotion
2) a net, thing perforated
3) have been utterly destroyed, (appointed to) utter destruction

*************************************************************

God put a plan into place for a core of people to be prepared
during the 6000 years of man.  Those who lived during the first
4000 years looked forward to the sacrifice of the Messiah.  
Those who have lived during the last 2000 years look back on the
sacrifice of the Messiah.  Nevertheless, unless the sacrifice of
the Messiah took place, which came after the preparatory work
of John the Baptist, all would be lost.

We know that the curse upon the earth before the Second
Coming of the Messiah is because of the wrath of Satan, not
God.  When the Messiah returns, He is going to destroy those
who are destroying the earth (Revelation 11:18).  This is the
reverse of the prediction of Malachi.  In Malachi God says that
He will destroy the earth unless a certain thing takes place.  
Soon after the statement of Matthew 24:22, the requirements
for salvation were met, and the Messiah’s promise to save
humanity from total destruction can be fulfilled without any
contradiction to Malachi’s warning.

The two witnesses will not turn the hearts of the people.  These
two men give a witness to the earth.  They send plagues on the
earth, and fire goes out of their mouth to devour their enemies.  
The people of the earth rejoice when the beast kills them, after
3.5 years of prophesying.  The two witnesses do not fulfill the
prophecy of Malachi’s “Elijah”.

If some "future Elijah" turned the hearts of the end time people,
there should be no need for the two witnesses.  However, if the
message of such an Elijah did not accomplish that turning, then
God will destroy the earth and Satan would have no need to do
so.  There is no time between the two witnesses and the Second
Coming of the Messiah for an end-time Elijah.

Rev 11:3  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall
prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in
sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before
the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth,
and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in
this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their
prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to
smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that
ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and
shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which
spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was
crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see
their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead
bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make
merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets
tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

The turning of the hearts in Malachi is of necessity a reference
to the sacrifice of the Messiah who made justification possible so
that such a thing could happen.  The salvation of all the people in
the past before His sacrifice depended on it and the salvation of
all future people depends on it.  The lack of the sacrifice of the
Messiah would be the only thing that would cause God to destroy
the earth.  Now that the Messiah has gone through with the
sacrifice, it would render His sacrifice useless, if God destroyed
the earth at this point.  Yet this would be required if some future
“Elijah” came and did not accomplish his mission.  However, God
has already turned the hearts of His people to Him!  The last
2000 years are a farce if some future Elijah could come and fail
in his mission and bring utter destruction on the earth.  This
would mean that God has failed in His promise to keep such a
thing from happening.  Furthermore, if there has been any
“Elijah” since the sacrifice of the Messiah the farce would be
just as great!  With the sacrifice of the Messiah, God has locked
in the earth as part of His plan.  Therefore, God has not, nor will
He, sent any “Elijah” as a façade to something that will never be.

Malachi referred to a time before the sacrifice of the Messiah.  
After the Messiah's sacrifice, God could begin to turn our hearts
with His holy spirit; He can change the human heart from one of
stone to one of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).  The indwelling of the holy
spirit does the turning.  That is the work of the Messiah.  God
gives the holy spirit only after justification takes place.  John the
Baptist’s work occurred before the Messiah’s work and God tied
the two works together, in a package, as something required so
that the earth-project of turning sons into glory could continue.  
John’s work would have been useless unless the Messiah had
come and made it possible for the justification from one’s sins.    

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit
within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will
give them an heart of flesh:

The answer to this dilemma comes in whether the Messiah would
finish His first mission or to the contrary!  Even in the garden of
Gethsemane, there was the possibility that the Messiah could
have made a decision to not go through with dying for the
people.  However, had He done so, there would have been no
sacrifice for atonement.  Moreover, if there were no sacrifice for
our justification there would be no reason to continue the human
process.

Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto
thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but
what thou wilt.  

Matthew 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and
he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

Therefore, the entire plan of God depended on the sacrifice of
the Messiah.  Furthermore, the Father did not push the Messiah
into doing something against His will.  Christ wanted to do the
Father's will, but He did so voluntarily, not because the Father
forced Him into it.  

Malachi shows this possibility when he states that “If the hearts
of the people were not turned” God would come and smite the
earth with utter destruction.  God would have scrapped the plan
that was determined from the foundation of the world.

In the time of the Messiah, there were some 3 million people
living in Judea and about 12,000 of them were fervent in their
religion.  Religion was a turn-off for the people.  A city of 15,000
might have one Synagogue that could hold about 500 people.  
Nevertheless, they turned out to hear John by the droves.  They
came to hear the Messiah by the thousands.  


               An Alternate View

Another way to translate this last phrase is, “Lest I come and
smite the land with utter destruction”.  This view is more in
keeping with the context of the Book of Malachi.  The book
speaks to the Jews.  If we look at the Jewish nation as a whole
or at the seat of religious worship, we must conclude that the
people did not turn to righteousness.  They rejected the Messiah
and John the Baptist called them a generation of vipers.  After
forty years – the time of trial and testing – the Romans
destroyed the land including the Jews’ civil and worship-
systems.  The people no longer lived in the land after about 100
years, and it remained desolate for almost 1900 years before the
Jews returned for the final prophecies before the second coming
of the Messiah.  If we take this narrower view, everything is
simplified.  This would tie revival based on John the Baptist and
the Messiah to the Jewish people and their land.  They did not
repent; their destruction was sure including their land.  This is
probably the more correct view in the final analysis.

John 1:11 He (Christ) came unto his own, and his own received him
not.

There is one small difficulty with the perspective that the entire
earth is the view of this prophecy.  The one who became the
Messiah spoke the phrase, “Lest I come”.  This statement puts
the speaker in charge whether the hearts of the people were
turned or to the contrary.  Had the Messiah failed in His mission
this could not be true.  A failed mission would have rendered Him
powerless – if we accept the utter destruction of the earth view.  
The Father would not have resurrected the Son, if His mission
had failed.  This second concept also lends itself to the land of
Judah being this prophecy’s view.  

This alternate view eliminates every contradiction that comes to
mind.  It is presented second only because it became clear after
the work done in the first view.  The work of the first view is
profitable to show that much consideration has gone into finding
the answer to this enigmatic prophecy.  Furthermore, the
prophecy is mystifying only because we have made it so.  

Neither John the Baptist nor the Messiah was able to turn the
hearts of the Jews as a whole.  The Romans destroyed the nation
of Judah.  Perhaps more importantly, they destroyed the temple,
thereby altering the culture of the Jews, as nothing else could
have done.  The temple worship could have continued had the
Jews understood the sacrifice of the Messiah.  The original is
still in heaven!  The golden altar of incense still stands before the
throne of God in heaven.  The earthly tabernacle was a
representation of that in heaven.  It is no less important to point
back to the sacrifice of the Messiah than it was to point forward
to it.  However, because the temple worship did not make the
transition, God brought total destruction to it and the nation of
Judah.

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a
golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he
should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar
which was before the throne.

We retain both perspectives of these last two verses of Malachi,
in this work, to give the reader a broader appreciation of the
difficulty involved.  In addition, the earth view seems to be the
most popular position today.  Regardless of which view the
reader chooses it becomes abundantly clear that John the
Baptist fulfilled the role of Elijah and there is no duality of this
prophecy – past or future.


               A "Difficult" Passage

Some bible students point to the following New Testament
passage as proof that John the Baptist is not the prophesied
Elijah of Malachi – from his own lips – or at least that he was
only a forerunner of a future Elijah.  Let us explore this passage.

John 1:19  And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests
and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then?  Art thou Elias (Elijah)?  And he
saith, I am not.  Art thou that prophet?  And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou?  that we may give an
answer to them that sent us.  What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make
straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias (Isaiah).

The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John
the Baptist who he was.  After all, he was baptizing the people –
performing the office of a holy man – and it was their job to
investigate such matters to make sure that people of self-
promotion were not teaching error in the land.

John told them plainly that he was not the Christ – the Messiah.  
Then they asked him, “Are you Elijah?” and he said, “I am not.”  
How do we reconcile John’s answer to the statement of the
Messiah that John was indeed the “Elijah”?

Matthew 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias (Elijah) is come already,
and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  
Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the
Baptist.

The answer becomes clear when we realize that the Jews
understood the prophecy of Malachi to refer to “The Elijah”.  
Their understanding was that Elijah would be resurrected or that
he never had died and therefore would be sent to them before
the coming of the true Messiah.  The angel Gabriel and the
Messiah substantiate that John came in the “spirit of Elijah”.  
Therefore, Malachi’s Elijah had to be symbolic.  

A major problem in understanding prophecy is how to make the
determination whether it is literal or symbolic.  The nature of
prophecy is to use a concrete idea for an abstract one or
sometimes the other way around.  A wise man understands that
prophecy is not to predict the future in an easily understood
manner.  Prophecy lets us know that God is in charge and that
we can have hope in the future.  In addition, fulfilled prophecy
proves God’s existence.  

John the Baptist could truthfully tell them that he was not Elijah,
for he knew their doctrine on the matter.  John came in the spirit
of Elijah and fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy; nevertheless, he was
not Elijah in person.  He had not lived in the past in the
personage of Elijah.  Therefore, the Messiah was correct when
He said that John the Baptist was the “Elijah” to come; and
John the Baptist was correct when he said that he was not
Elijah.  These two statements give us two different perspectives
and some have erroneously thrown them into one perspective,
thereby creating either an imaginary contradiction or the need
for duality of Malachi’s prophecy.  As we have shown, a duality
of the prophecy is impossible and we cannot accept a
contradiction of the scriptures.

The Jews then asked John the Baptist, “Are you that prophet?”  
John the Baptist said, “No.”  Many have assumed that the
phrase “that prophet” refers to the Elijah of Malachi’s
prophecy, as a type of Elijah rather than Elijah the Tishbite
raised from the grave.  However, the Jews had no reason to
expect that there was a problem with their view of Elijah.  
Furthermore, such reasoning results in contradiction of the
scriptures.

What the priests and Levites had in mind was the prophet that
God would raise up from among the Israelites like Moses.   
Although we know that this Prophet was the same as the
Messiah – and perhaps so did they – the priests and Levites were
thoroughly questioning John the Baptist.  Although God did blind
them enough so that John could finish his mission.  Had John told
them that he was the Elijah, the Messiah, or that prophet, the
priests and Levites would have picked up stones and stoned him.  
However, John was correct in his answer that he was not “that
prophet”, the Messiah, or Elijah.

Deuteronomy 18:15  The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a
Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him
ye shall hearken;
16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in
the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the
LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they
have spoken.
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto
thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them
all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my
words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Thus, we see that neither an impossible-duality of this prophecy
nor a contradiction of the scriptures is necessary.  Most
misunderstandings of the scriptures stem from assumptions,
wrong perspectives or the belief that two perspectives are one.  
The biblical student should always consider perspective in depth
before attaching to a given theory.

                      Summary

Now, what is the summation?  If there is yet another Elijah to
come, what is his mission?  If his mission fails, will God destroy
the earth?  That cannot happen because the Messiah says that
the days of tribulation and earth’s destruction have been limited,
for the elect's sake.  Revelation says that God is going to come
and destroy those who are destroying the earth.  In other words,
What God would do according to Malachi, according to one
possible perspective, is the opposite to what the Messiah said
God would do in the end just before the great and dreadful day
of the return of the Messiah in the end of this age.

There is no need for another Elijah to come.  Neither the Book
of Revelation nor any part of the New Testament gives such a
mission for some future Elijah.  However, the Messiah when
asked of His disciples said that Elijah does come first and make a
restoration.  Nevertheless, I tell you that Elijah has come
already!  There is no revealed restoration just before the return
of the Messiah.  Destruction is everywhere!

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Prophecy
THE PROPHESIED ELIJAH