The Elijah to Come
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1974, 1976 1
Transcribed and edited by David Sielaff, February 2006
Read the accompanying Newsletter for February 2006
The Bible speaks of a time in the future when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will come on this earth and establish His world kingdom. Before that time a number of events must take place. We are aware of them generally, but we should all be aware of them specifically as well. If there ever was a time that God’s people needed to know the outlines of future occurrences, it is now. Prophecy has been grossly misunderstood. The prophecy I will focus on concerns the Elijah to come. I guarantee one thing, if this prophecy can be understood the way that the New Testament people understood it, it will open up whole sections of Bible. Those sections have been hidden, in a sense, for so long that we do not really know this principle of what the Elijah is to do before Christ’s Second Advent.
The prophecy about the Elijah to come in the future in the Messianic period is found at the end of the Book of Malachi 2:
“Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb [Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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.”
This is where we all will see the role of this Elijah when he comes into prominence in the next few years ahead of us. “Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb…” Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. “… for all Israel, with the statues and the judgments.” I emphasize verse 4 because it is important. Prophetically Malachi said concerning Elijah that people ought to remember the Law of Moses delivered at Mount Sinai from which we have statutes and judgments. It was a law designed “for all Israel.” This Elijah will be coming to “all Israel,” not to all Gentiles, but to all Israel.
Read verse 5: Because you [Israel] will remember these things, then “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” We have a time period mentioned here. It is not a precise time period as far as chronology is concerned, but it is a time period as far as events are concerned. The major event is the “day of the Lord,” which is about the Second Coming of Christ and the millennium. That one thing is certain, and there is no argument on this: before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” shall occur, Elijah the prophet must be sent. He has a mission.
In verse 6 we are told what that mission is from the Old Testament point of view. We will look in a moment how that was interpreted by the apostles and by the Jews in the time of Christ. As far as Malachi is concerned the only thing he says about this Elijah the prophet is this:
“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.”
If I were to interpret what he means by turning “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,” only from this verse alone, you would know no more than what you just read. You might ask, who are “the fathers” here? Are they in fact Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Would they be Moses or Joshua? Would they be David? Who would they be? You would not know exactly unless you were there to ask Malachi. On the other hand would you know who “the children” are just from this verse alone? The children may be the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the descendants of David. The descendants of somebody because obviously there are children coming into it.
Then we have the phrase reversed, how the children will be turning to the fathers. If you just took verse 6 alone you would not know who the fathers are or who the children are. It is very difficult. One thing is for certain, it is in the context of remembering “the law of Moses” which was given at Mount Sinai (Horeb) to “all Israel with the statutes and the judgments.” It is within that context that there will be a turning — turning what? Verse 6: “And he shall turn the heart” of these enigmatic fathers or these enigmatic children, whoever they are. The context again is to “the Law of Moses my servant.”
This “turning” means a turning of the heart, repentance, from a state of evil to a state of righteousness with God. In these verses of Malachi 4:4–6, the context is to “Remember you the law of Moses” and Malachi himself was a prophet living in the Mosaic dispensation. He did not know about the New Covenant. I do not say that the Elijah will not preach the New Covenant, but looking at it from Malachi’s view alone, you would think that this means a turning back to the Law of Moses for Israel, or a turning back to the law that God gave to Israel, “the statutes and the judgments.” It will be a restoration of something connected with Moses.
If you would have asked Malachi, who wrote this prophecy under the inspiration of God, that is what he would have said. I realize we have New Testament teaching on these things as well, and sometimes you have to increase the knowledge and reach out spiritually into other fields, but from Malachi’s own view that would be the case, especially when you read the last part of verse 6. It says that if there is not a turning of these fathers to the children and the children to the fathers within the context of the Mosaic Law, then “I come and smite the earth with a curse.” The only curse we have mentioned in the book of Malachi is the one in chapter 3 where it speaks:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, ‘Wherein have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.”
What nation is it? It is the nation of Judah back then. All of this has to do with tithing, within the statutes and the judgments of the Old Testament. The tithes were only to go to the Levites who in turn gave it to the priests. 3 The curse that Malachi had in mind, as we look at the context, would be if the people disobeyed against the Law of Moses. Indeed, what do we find in Deuteronomy 28:15 and all verses following? It says that if all these commandments of Moses are kept I will not curse you. I am summarizing it. If they are not kept God says, I will curse you. 4
In Leviticus chapter 26 “seven times” (verse 18), “seven times” (verse 21), “seven times” (verse 24), and “seven times” (verse 28) of punishment are discussed. Those are intensified curses coming upon Israel if they do not keep the Law that God gave to Moses. One of those laws was tithing (Malachi 3:8–9). But there were many other laws that Moses gave as well. They are told in Malachi 4:4 to remember the Law of Moses which was given at Sinai to all Israel with statutes and judgments because then “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Elijah shall turn the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, “lest I come” and send a curse. A curse is always given in the Old Testament if Israel does not obey the Law of Moses. 5
I do not know if that exhausts the interpretation of the prophecy but it is getting pretty close to the understanding Malachi would have had. But we have to go farther than this. We know that this Elijah, to do all of these things, was certainly to come. In the time of Christ the Jews knew Elijah had not come yet. They were expecting him around the 1st century. The reason was not from a chronology of Elijah, but because they had the chronology of Daniel chapter 9 that said that the Messiah would come after a 490 year period, the 70 weeks, from a given time for a decree to go forth to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25).
The Jews had difficulty knowing when that decree was made in the past, but they knew approximately. 6 They could know within 100 years easily, and probably less than that. They also had a difficult time in knowing how long the interval, what kind of years, was the 490 years: lunar years, solar years, prophetic years? There is another problem regarding the arrival of the Messiah: was it with his birth, when the Messiah would come on this earth? Would it be when He was proclaimed Messiah? Would it be when He would become King as they anticipated that He would be? Or, was it to be when someone puts the crown on His head?
They were uncertain regarding the exact time period when the Christ was to come. But they knew one thing, He was coming. From the Daniel chapter 9 prophecy it looked like He was going to come in the 1st century. Indeed, He did come the first time exactly on time in the 1st century.
In association with that time prophecy relative to Messiah they knew one other thing for certain. They could more or less date when the Elijah would come. The Elijah had to come just before Messiah in order for the Elijah to prepare a people for Him. He was to prepare a people for God, and to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, lest God sends a curse, and all of that. From understanding that the Christ was soon to appear on the earth, they were able then to put Elijah just a little bit before. Look at John chapter 1:
“And this is the record of John [the Baptist], when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ [John made that quite clear] And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elias [Elijah]?’ And he says, ‘I am not.’”
Notice that these were priests and Levites who asked John who he was. These were officials of the Jewish religion. They fully expected the Messiah to come. They fully expected the Elijah to come to precede the Messiah. That was their second question. Then they asked: “Are thou that prophet?” This was a reference to the Prophet to come mentioned in Deuteronomy chapter 18. They were looking for three different people to come: (1) the Christ, (2) the Elijah, and (3) the Prophet.
“‘Are you that prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then said they unto him, ‘Who are you? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say you of yourself?’ 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].’ And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, ‘Why baptize you then, if you be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?’”
They were expecting those three to come. Elijah would precede Christ, the Messiah, and, in their understanding, the Prophet as well. They did not understand who that prophet would be, whether the Christ or some other person. (Most times they took it as some other person.) John the Baptist stated directly that he was coming to “make strait the way of the Lord,” which is a direct reference to Isaiah in chapter 40, as we are all aware.
“The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord [YHWH], make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
So John recognized one thing about himself. He was coming to prepare the way for the Eternal, or I suppose you might say, to prepare a people for the Eternal. This is very, very close to the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy which is to turn the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.
Christ Himself said that John the Baptist in spirit was fulfilling the Elijah prophecy, though John himself here at this moment said he was not doing so. But John was preparing a people, and that certainly was what the Elijah was to do. Look at Matthew chapter 16:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi [up north near Mount Hermon], he asked his disciples, saying, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?’”
He does not ask, who do the prophets say that I am, or who does anybody else say I am? He wants to know the opinion of the people of Judea and Galilee. Just who are people saying that I am?
“And they said, ‘Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’”
Some felt He was John the Baptist, who was killed by that time, who was such a forceful prophet that some thought he would come back to life. But notice the next one here: “some, Elias.” They were expecting Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. 7 The reason the common people were saying this about Jesus was because they saw the miracles He was doing. They knew He was a man come from God, but they did not know who He was.
“He says unto them, ‘But whom say you that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Here Jesus admits to His disciples He is the Messiah (unlike John the Baptist, John 1:20). He was not Elijah, or John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets of old.
In Matthew chapter 27 we again see how the common people were looking for an Elijah to come. It was important to them that Elijah would come. I wish we all could transport back to the 1st century to see what those people expected in association with the appearance of the Christ. We would understand the prophecy for the future much better. The things which they expected back then in many cases did not take place, or if they did, only in type. In our time today, in the next few years in advance of us, they will take place. This is the prophecy that I want to bring to your attention. In Matthew chapter 27 at the time of the crucifixion:
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is to say, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, ‘This man calls for Elias [Elijah].’”
Notice the words “Eli, Eli” which means “My God, my God.” An abbreviation for Elijah would have been “El.” So some of them thought, what is He doing? Some thought that in His distress He was asking for Elijah, but that is not what He was asking for. They misinterpreted Him, but this again shows that the common people expected the Elijah was soon to come.
“Straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, ‘Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.’”
It was not a matter of “do you think Elijah will come?” No, they knew he “will come,” but let us see if he will come and help this dying man. The answer was that Jesus died there a few moments later. I am giving these verses to show that all the people, and not just the common people, but the religious authorities themselves thought Elijah was to come. They were teaching it in the synagogues all over.
Matthew chapter 17. After the transfiguration we find Christ going to a mountain with Peter, James, and John. In vision they see Moses and Elijah talking with Him. Remember that Peter wanted to make three tabernacles: for the Lord, for Moses, and for Elijah.
“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.’ And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?’”
They had just seen Elijah with Moses and Christ in vision, in this glorious circumstance of Christ’s glory. They had just witnessed it with their eyes and it brought a question to their minds:
“And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?’ [They wanted an answer.] And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.’” 8
Notice that Jesus said this after John the Baptist had died. John the Baptist was in type Elijah, as I will show shortly, but Christ is saying truly Elijah “shall first come.”
This Elijah is going to come, and this whole vision of the transfiguration has to do with the Second Coming of the Messiah back to this earth and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. No wonder they asked that question about Elijah coming first. Why do the scribes say so? Jesus said the scribes are correct in this case. Elijah shall first come. He must first come to do something. To do what? To “restore all things.” When it says “first come” it means Elijah will come before the emergence of the Kingdom of God on earth, or come first before I (Jesus is speaking) will come back to this earth. When Elijah comes, he is coming to restore all things.
Recall from the Malachi prophecy that Elijah is coming in the context of remembering the Law of Moses and the statutes and the judgments. He is coming before the Day of the Lord to turn the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers lest God bring a curse upon the earth. But that is about all that we are told in that passage.
In the New Testament period that teaching is developed further and we begin to understand quite a number of other things that Elijah was to do. John the Baptist did come in the spirit and power of Elijah. Though he did not believe he was Elijah, and he was correct, he was not Elijah, yet he was Elijah in the sense of coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. John the Baptist introduced Christ before His first coming to prepare a people for the Lord.
Jesus’ statement that the Elijah “shall first come” is future to the event in Matthew chapter 17 (before the Second Coming of Christ) to restore all things. 9 That event is still future to us today. People might say, well, that means the Holy Days will be brought back into existence in our future. They are right, for Israel, because Elijah’s ministry is to Israel. It also means that the Sabbath will be brought back into existence for them to keep. That is correct, because Moses said it.
The restoring of all things is not just to get the Sabbath, the Holy Days, and tithing back into effect. That is part of the restoring. It also means to get that Temple built, to establish an altar in that Temple, to get the priests in that Temple, and to start all of the sacrificial services over again. I mean the burnt offering, the peace offering, the meal offering, the trespass offering, and the sin offering — to get them all in existence and to get them going in Jerusalem. When that is going and you have Moses completely in operation in Israel (not in Gentile lands), then you will be in good shape. You will have the restoring of all things.
Go to Luke’s Gospel, the first chapter. Before John the Baptist was born, his father Zecharias was given a vision and teaching about his son John. Zecharias was a priest. He received the vision in the Temple during the 8th course of Abijah while performing the priest’s office (Luke 1:9). He received a message in his old age that his wife Elizabeth, in her old age, would give birth to a son. Zecharias was told that his son would be a mighty prophet. Since John was the son of a priest, and Elizabeth was also of priestly descent, it meant that John himself would be a priest.
There is every reason to believe that Elijah himself was a priest. Here is John the Baptist being described and he also was a priest. If anybody wishes to be or thinks they are an Elijah, they must prove themselves, first of all, to be a priest, because the Elijah to come will be a priest. I know all types of people who want to be Elijah, but they must be able to demonstrate that they are of Aaronic descent. Not of David, but of Aaron, or else they will be disqualified from the very beginning. Though the genealogy of Elijah is not given, there is every reason to believe he was a priest. Certainly John the Baptist was a priest, and he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. 10
Since John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, we should look at John the Baptist’s career and life to see what he did, and we can understand then what the Elijah of the future will be doing. In the message that the angel gave to Zecharias while he was in the Temple, here is what was said about this John the Baptist:
“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. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”
If a person will be like this “Elijah” named John the Baptist, he would also not drink wine or strong drink and eat locusts. He would have to live in the wilderness for a long time too. Is it not interesting that Elijah in the Old Testament is introduced abruptly without any genealogy or growth or background (1 Kings 17:1). He must have had it but it is not revealed in the Scripture. All of a sudden he just appears. As soon as he is on the scene he is powerful. He is meeting with all types dignitaries. He challenges great kings. He performs amazing miracles.
John the Baptist is interesting. After he was born and finally weaned and his childhood was over he went into the wilderness of Judea. He stayed there living almost like a hermit, eating locusts and wild honey, drinking no wine. He had no comforts of life in any way. He lived out in the wilderness until his time of appearing to Judea.
Then all of a sudden here he was as a priest, preaching and baptizing with lots of people flocking to him because he was in a sense like Elijah. To the people he appeared out of nowhere. Where was he before? We know nothing about him except his miraculous birth announcement. He was in the wilderness of Judea never coming in contact with civilization or anything like that. All of a sudden, there he is, boom, and he is preaching. That is very similar to Elijah. You would think that the next Elijah to come would be that way too. You would think so.
“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16). That is what Malachi said, he shall turn the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers in the context of remembering the Law of Moses. And remember John’s father, Zecharias, “according to the custom of the priest's office” (Luke 1:9) was performing a service of the Law of Moses in the Holy Place of the Temple. He was burning incense at the moment he received the visitation by an “Angel of the Lord” by the name of Gabriel (Luke 1:11, 19). Those “fathers to the children and children to the fathers” must be the children, the people, of Israel. The fathers are Israel who had regard for Moses; the children are Israel. We know that John the Baptist when he came, came to Israel, to Judah. He began to preach. He preached repentance.
“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and [turn] the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
John the Baptist admitted that he was that prophesied man in Isaiah to come and “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23). That is an Elijah role, though John said he was not Elijah. However, the prophecy in Isaiah shows that he is coming in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the children to the Lord (Luke 1:17, citing Malachi 4:6).
When he started his ministry, did John go throughout the wilderness of Judea and around Jordan preaching repentance? The answer is yes. Did he turn the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers? Yes. What he did was to get a people prepared so that Jesus Christ would have a people who had their minds in tune with God and the Law before He began to preach.
Did John the Baptist preach Moses? Yes, he did. We do not find for a moment that he was preaching any New Covenant teaching. He looked at Jesus when he saw Him and said “There is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Do you find John the Baptist ever saying that you must have faith and faith alone? No. What was John doing? He was never accused of violating the Sabbath like Christ was accused of later. He was never accused of saying anything against circumcision, was he? No. Nor was He accused of things that the apostle Paul was accused of much later.
John the Baptist was going around the land of Judea and Galilee and all over Perea and Jordan saying:
“O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
He was baptizing people. He was baptizing almost everybody. 11 He did not baptize many of the Pharisees or the scribes because they did not feel they needed it. But they did need it. That was what John the Baptist was doing, he was preparing a people in “the way of the Lord,” in the context of Moses.
In a manner of speaking, John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament. There was no prophet greater than he, in any time (Luke 7:28). But as far as we know he did not preach or teach any major New Covenant teaching. I think that is important. What he did was to prepare the people of Israel or Judah at the time for the Messiah to come. It was then up to Christ, the Messiah, in the role of the Prophet, to change Moses. Circumcision was changed and so were many other things during the apostolic period.
This was what John the Baptist was to teach: repentance, going back to the Law of Moses, looking forward to the Christ who was to come. He fulfilled Malachi very well indeed. Now remember that an Elijah is still to come in our future. I wonder if he will be like John the Baptist was in the past.
The Elijah was to restore all things. The future Elijah certainly will do that also. Will he be doing it something like John the Baptist? I think we have a good example for the future.
Now look after the crucifixion of Christ. John the Baptist was killed, of course. Christ Himself was killed. Then on Pentecost day the Holy Spirit came in power (Acts 1:8) down into the apostles. They began to preach, and they preached Christ crucified, and resurrected, definitely. In Acts chapter 3 in a sermon Peter gave, he makes some statements that are very important. These are statements many people have overlooked. They have to do with the restoring of all things that the Elijah will do:
“Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.”
Look at the next verse carefully. Pay attention to what it really says, because it is very important. It was in Peter’s mind, it was in the minds of the other apostles, and believe me it was in the mind of almost all Jewish people living at the time. They knew this was going to occur, without the slightest doubt. They knew it was going to happen with an Elijah being the main agent to accomplish this.
Here is Peter speaking to a Jewish audience in Jerusalem right after the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. They were all excited about the soon return of Christ back to this earth. (They did not imagine that Christ’s return was going to be some 2,000 years away.) They thought he might come back very shortly. That is why he was saying “repent therefore and be converted now” in this context.
If we understand this one verse it will open up whole sections of the Book of Revelation and whole sections of the Old Testament, if we can just comprehend what this really means.
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began [from the age].”
That is quite a statement there because Peter is saying that almost all of the teaching of the holy prophets — all of them — is summarized here. They are actually concerned with the times that he is talking about. It has to do with the restoration. It says “restitution” but in the Greek it simply means “restoration” or restitution “of all things.” 12
This is the same thing Christ said in Matthew 17 that the Elijah would do. Elijah would “restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). We must be careful of this verse in Acts because we do not have a chronology based upon exact time. However, we do have a chronology based upon an event. What is the event here? The event is the Second Coming of Christ. Before Christ can come back from heaven, something must occur. This is what Peter is saying: “Whom [Christ] the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things” (Acts 3:21).
Note also what it does not say. It does not say that when Christ comes back there will be a restoring of all things. It does not say that. It says that Christ will remain in heaven until there is a restoration of all things, and then He will come back. That is exactly the way it is in the Greek, and that is the way it really is if you carry it through, even in the King James Version. There must first come a restoration of all things.
Remember back in Matthew chapter 17; that is what Jesus says after the transfiguration in the context of the Second Coming. They asked him, what about the Elijah to come? Jesus said he [the Elijah] must first come before the Second Coming and “restore all things.” What is Peter saying? You Jews had better start repenting; “therefore, be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
Notice verse 19. This word “when” in the middle of the verse is most important because here we have a mistranslation in the King James Version. Here is what it says in the Greek, reading verse 19 again:
“Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
It is not “when”; it is “so that” in Greek. If there are a people who are repentant and are converted and their sins have been blotted out, if that people had been prepared already, then, it is “so that the times of refreshing shall come.” The times of refreshing will not come until there is a repentance, until there is a conversion, until there is a blotting out of sin, until there is a turning to the Lord first. There has got to be a people prepared for the Lord. Now verse 20: “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.” Jesus Christ cannot be sent in the refreshing until there is a genuine repentance and conversion going throughout the land of Israel. Then Peter goes on to say in verse 21 that Jesus:
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began [from the age].”
In the King James Version this is somewhat obscure, but quite clearly the restoration must occur first, just as Christ said in the 17th chapter of Matthew. The apostles themselves were expecting this restoration, just as they were expecting the Elijah to come.
Go to the first chapter of Acts. On Jesus’ last day on earth, having been with the disciples 40 days after His resurrection, teaching them, preaching to them, telling them about the prophecies that were fulfilled and what to expect in the future. Notice the very last thing that the apostles asked Christ before He went back to heaven, the very last thing in the eleven apostles’ consciousness (Judas being dead by this time):
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’”
Restore what? 13 The kingdom. Who was to rule as king as far as Israel is concerned? Whose kingdom? David’s. Only the House of David can be king over Israel in a legitimate sense. They were asking, is it “at this time” you will restore the kingdom to Israel? He answered and said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).
The apostles in Acts chapter 3 believed what the Elijah was going to do. Not only was Elijah coming to cause repentance and turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to the fathers, and preparing a people for the Lord, but he was also going to restore “all things.” 14 The apostles are talking about a particular restoration here, a restoration of all the things that the holy prophets said would occur.
What were some of the things that the prophets said would occur at the end of the age? I will tell you one: the setting up again of the Davidic kingdom. This was very much in the apostles’ minds. That was the last question they asked Christ before He went back to heaven. He told them you do not know the times for this, but they expected that surely He was going to come very soon and set up the Davidic kingdom once more. That was what the emergence of Christ (the Messiah) on earth was supposed to be all about.
In Acts chapter 15 we have circumcision being discussed by the apostles and they finally decide that it is not necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised. They say nothing about Jews not being circumcised; they simply say that the Gentiles do not have to be circumcised. Then James gets up to speak. Here is what he says in verse 13. Let us see if James had the restoration of the kingdom in his mind. He certainly did.
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, ‘Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon [Peter] has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,’ …”
James is going to quote Amos chapter 9. Continuing with verse 16:
“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David [that means the kingdom] which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
One of the things that James had in his mind, concerning the Gentiles, was that around the time the Gentiles are to be converted, He “will return and build again the tabernacle of David.” All the prophets were supposed to have prophesied that (Acts 3:21). Go back to Amos chapter 9, where the prophecy that James quotes was first given. It is virtually the same thing, but I think it is worth quoting from Amos.
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.”
It means that the Davidic kingdom has ceased or come to an end, but in the last days it will be built back up again. There will be a restoring of the Davidic kingdom. Most people believe the restoration could only occur after Jesus Christ comes a second time. No doubt there will be a legitimate restoration with Christ on the throne at that time. In actual fact, Elijah is prophesied to come back and to cause repentance in the world first, to prepare a people for the Lord and also to restore all things. This goes beyond just simple repentance.
There is a restoration of all things talked about in Matthew chapter 17, a restoration of all things before Jesus can come back in Acts chapter 3. They were looking for the restoring of the kingdom because the tabernacle of David had fallen down. It will be built up again (Amos 9:11 cited in Acts 15:13–18).
Since these Jews in the time of Christ were all looking for the Elijah to come to do all these things, we have all types of Jewish writings showing what those Jews actually believed. It is most interesting, not only did the common Jews believe them, and the scribes and the Pharisees, but the disciples themselves were caught up in this. The Jews looked on the prophecy of Elijah as one of the most important prophecies in the whole Bible because this Elijah was to introduce, the Messiah. Christ, of course, will be the one to build up the throne of David, for the final restoration of it. The only thing is, Elijah must first come before Christ comes. He must do a restoration before Christ comes to this earth in His glory at the second time. That is clearly what Scripture says.
Let us look further at the beliefs of the Jews relative to Elijah coming in the time of Christ and a little bit after. I have a work by George F. Moore on Judaism. 15 He has several pages on what the Jews believed concerning Elijah and the Messiah. I think it is good just to read what was in their minds, to see what they thought was a restoring of all things, and what must take place before the coming of Messiah, because there was to be a people prepared for the Lord first. That is the key.
“It was the universal belief that shortly before the appearance of the Messiah Elijah would return [Then he quotes Malachi chapter 4.]…
There is no more dramatic figure in all biblical story than Elijah [That is true.], from the moment when he appears abruptly upon the scene announcing to Ahab in short, stunning words the coming years of drought and famine to the last act when he is rapt away into the heavens in a chariot of fire with horses of fire. The prophet was the incarnation of zeal [for Yahweh], for the God of Israel on Mount Carmel, against the intruder Baal, against all his priests and devotees, against his royal patrons, the king and queen [of Israel].”
George F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries, p. 357
This is the spirit of Elijah. He was against every form of Baalism. He was holding up for Yahweh, the Lord God, above all else. That was his role in life. Moore goes on to say:
“No God but Jehovah should be worshipped in Israel’s land. For the Lord as the vindicator of the rights of the Israelite freeman, against Ahaz and Jezebel in the crime of Naboth’s vineyard. It was in the same zeal for the Lord [Yahweh] that he was [prophesied] to come to earth again, precursor of the great and terrible day of the Lord, if by bringing the people to a better mind the impending ban [curse of Malachi chapter 4] might be averted.”
Moore, Judaism, p. 358
This is what they were looking for when they expected another Elijah. They looked for him to come in the power of the former Elijah. He comes abruptly. He is a man who stays with the Eternal God and no other. He is against all forms of evil and all forms of Baalism. He is standing up for Yahweh with all the gusto that he could bring to the fore. Going on with what they expected from this Elijah to come:
“Elijah’s historical mission was to bring Israel back to wholehearted allegiance to its own God and to his righteous will, and the prophecy of his return spoke only of the work to be done in Israel [not outside, but only in Israel]. His part was the preparation of the people for the imminent crisis [the crisis concerning the end of the age]. which in the centuries we are dealing with was understood to be the appearance of the Messiah.”
Moore, Judaism, p. 358
He was coming as a precursor to the Messiah to prepare a people for the Lord like the Elijah of old and he would do it as Elijah did. It is time for all of us to start looking. If we look for the Elijah to come in the future (and he is coming in the spirit and power of Elijah), then he will do what Elijah did. There will be miracle after miracle associated with him. 16
There will be little doubt who this man is (although some will doubt). Just as Elijah had opposition in the time of Ahab and Jezebel, the Elijah to come will have opposition at the end of the age. No question about it. But he will come to restore things, to prepare a people for the Lord, and he will do so before the Second Coming of Christ because Christ cannot come until there is a people prepared for Him first. That is clear and plain. Going on:
“What more precisely he was to do is made plain in Malachi, and various opinions are reported on what Malachi meant. Sirach 17 interprets Elijah’s mission as to ‘set to rights of the tribes of Jacob,’ [some translators of Sirach have “the bringing back of the tribes of Israel to Palestine.”] Some thought that Elijah’s business would be to settle questions of clean and unclean.”
Moore, Judaism, p. 358
“Clean and unclean” refer to the Temple service. Many dissensions in the Jewish schools were over various laws, and Elijah would straighten out these laws to show which school was correct. They expected him to:
“straighten out questions of ancestry — for which undoubtedly inspiration was necessary — in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. Was such and such a family of pure Israelitish stock and entitled to be registered as genuine Jews, was it contaminated with alien blood? Who was going to settle the issue? Elijah. Elijah would see that the former [the rightful heirs] got their rights, and exclude the latter [those who would not get their rights].”
Moore, Judaism, p. 358
Moore cites one of the great rabbis saying:
“Unless Israel repents they will not be delivered; and Israel never repents except out of tribulations and oppression and exile and want of a living. Israel will not make the great repentance until Elijah comes (Mal. 3,23).”
Moore, Judaism, p. 357
This was believed because Elijah was coming to restore all things and to cause a supposedly genuine repentance that would spread throughout Israel, leading to a gathering of the tribes of Israel.
Elijah was expected to restore worship in Israel. He will do so in the future. At present  in Israel Moses is not preached very much. I would say, conservatively, 75% of the people in modern Israel, those who are Jews there, do not believe in Moses. The Sabbath day comes and out they go to the beaches. They do all types of things not in conformity with Moses.
The only way to get Jews at the present time to go back to Moses is by miracles, and that is exactly what will occur. There will be a restoration of all things. It does not mean every Israelite will turn to Yahweh, not exactly, but there will be a turning back. It will be by miracles of some kind. Before Jesus Christ can come back to this earth, there will be a turning back by means of an Elijah to Moses, like John the Baptist brought them back to Moses, but at the same time he pointed to Jesus and saying that He was the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Some of these things may sound a little odd, but on the other hand, not really. Whole sections of the Bible can begin to make sense if we can see a type of conversion of the Jewish or Israelitish nation before the Second Coming of Christ, the only way to do it is by miracles of some kind.
Moses will be remembered again in Israel. An Elijah will come again, and the curses will cease. Elijah will draw the children of Israel to the fathers through Moses. Repentance and conversion will take place throughout the land of Israel. There will be a Temple again. There will be sacrifices once more. There will be a restoration of the kingship; I have not the slightest doubt. The house of David will be there. The Elijah will prepare the way for the Lord. We must look for more things to happen in Israel. They will still be powerful. The Day of the Lord will come.
We will see an Elijah coming with miracle-working powers to turn the fathers to the children. Israel will turn back to Moses in one way, but at the same time Elijah will point to Jesus as the Messiah like John the Baptist did, and he will say, “Christ is the lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.” Many (but not all) in Israel will accept that message before Christ returns a second time.
This sounds revolutionary. But all I am trying to point out is that prophecy is just beginning to be understood. If all of us could go back to Jerusalem at the time of the apostles and see what they were expecting; what they expected to happen was all that I have been saying to you here. However, their expectations did not all happen then. What happened at that time was only fulfilled in type.
It is time that we look at this Bible that has been given to us. Open it up. Read it! Take some of these cardinal scriptures which are very important, put them in their proper perspective, and I tell you, this good old book will be a good new book, a book in which we can learn the truth of almighty God. Let us open up our minds and see what is going to happen. It is time that prophecy is understood because the spirit of prophecy is marching on.
L. Martin, 1974, 1976
Edited by David Sielaff, February 2006
This chain of events is general in nature but it is supported by the verses discussed in this article. Some events will take place concurrently over a period of time.
· Israel “remembers” the Law of Moses
– Lest God send a curse
· Elijah sent by God
– He will have many traits of the original Elijah and John the
· Elijah restores all things
– Elijah turns the hearts of Israel to repentance (the hearts of the
fathers to the children and the children to the fathers)
– Elijah instructs Israel on the statutes and judgments of Moses
· Elijah prepares the way of the Lord, the Messiah, Christ Jesus
– This necessitates that Elijah must come before the Lord
· Repentance and conversion comes to Israel and Jerusalem
“so that” the times of refreshing will come
· Davidic kingdom restored
· Day of the Lord arrives
– The Day is great and dreadful
– Return of Christ Jesus, the Messiah
– Kingdom of God begins
– The millennium, a 1,000 year period, begins
One must wonder, what will “start” this sequence of events? What will cause Israel to “remember” the Law of Moses? How will Israel “remember” the Law of Moses? 18 Will it be a significant event or series of events? Or, will God simply cause the minds of Israelites to change so that they take the Law of Moses seriously in their lives? Contrary to what some may suppose, this change does not require Israelites to become part of the Jewish orthodox religious tradition. The coming Elijah will sort out these issues when he appears on the scene and “restores” things. He will be opposed fiercely by those who put religious tradition above the Word of God. Prophecy indicates that the “Elijah to come” will be successful in his commission.
I do not know who this Elijah is or will be. Dr. Martin did not know. Who that person will be shall become obvious at the proper time. He will be identifiable by his deeds, not by his reputation or words alone.
The truths of God are available to everyone. ASK is dedicated to provide a proper biblical understanding that all Jews and Israelites (and all people around the world) can respond to readily. This is because ASK focuses on biblical truth and ignores the traditions of men. There is more information to give on this topic that will be presented in a future article. The important information in the Book of Zechariah, chapters 12–14 and relevant verses in the Book of Revelation shall be dealt with in detail.
David Sielaff, Director
1 The material in this article comes chiefly from a 1974 audiotape lecture with the above title. I also interposed material from a 1976 audiotape lecture titled “Elijah and the Restoration of All Things.” DWS
2 Little is known about Malachi except that he was a priest and he may very well have been Ezra the priest. This Malachi lived about 400 years before the birth of Christ. This is one of the major prophecies that made the Jews in the time of Christ, when they were expecting the soon-coming of the Kingdom of God on earth, to look for an Elijah. ELM
3 Originally an article, this is pointed out in Dr. Martin’s book The Tithing Dilemma (Portland, OR: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1997) is online complete at http://www.askelm.com/tithing/index.asp. DWS
4 The Law of Moses was strictly conditional. If Israel obeys the covenant with God, God will bless Israel. If Israel disobeys the provisions of the covenant, God will curse Israel. An increase in punishment ensues with the degree of disobedience. DWS
5 If Israel remembers the Law of Moses, Elijah will be sent. He will reestablish and explain the Law of the fathers to the children. If Israel does not remember the Law, no Elijah will be sent and Israel will be cursed — again. DWS
6 See chapter 14 from Dr. Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible (Portland, OR: ASK, 1994), “Chronology: The Key to Prophetic Understanding, Part 1 at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p900901.htm. DWS
7 Why did they include Jeremiah? There is no prophecy that Jeremiah would come back. However, historically Jeremiah just disappears from the scene, and people were superstitious. They had some ideas that Jeremiah had been taken to heaven like they thought Elijah had been. The people superstitiously thought that because Jeremiah has no burial place (that could be pointed out) in Judea or in Israel, maybe he was taken to heaven as well. The common people were saying, well, this Jesus is John the Baptist, or maybe he is Elijah, or maybe he is Jeremiah, or maybe he is one of the prophets. ELM
8 The Greek root verb of “restore” is apokathestemi. Moses, the lawgiver, is associated with Elijah, the defender of the law. Note also that the disciples asked about Elijah. The three apostles did not ask about Moses. They asked only about Elijah. DWS
9 Even though John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and was dead, Jesus still said the restoration was future to that time of the transfiguration. This alone is sufficient to show that another individual other than John the Baptist is being referred to by Jesus. The restoration and arrival of the Elijah is still future to us today. This cannot be emphasized enough. DWS
10 The Elijah to come will also be a priest. He will make decisions regarding the Temple, its operations, and services. DWS
11 The difference between John the Baptist here and Peter in Acts 2:38 is that Peter said “Repent and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” John the Baptist called for repentance and baptism, but he did not baptize in Jesus’ name. He did, however, acknowledge Jesus as the “Lamb of God [John 1:29, 36] who takes away the sins of the world [John 1:29].” DWS
12 The Greek noun root is apokatastasis, the noun form of the verb in Matthew 17:11. See note 6 above. See also my article “The Restitution of All Things” at http://www.askelm.com/news/n030621.htm. DWS
13 Here also the word “restore” in Acts 1:6 is translated from the Greek root verb apokathestemi, just as in Matthew 17:11. See Dr. Martin’s article “Is David’s Throne in Existence Today?” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d020802.htm. DWS
14 When it says “all things” here, some people have imagined that in Acts chapter 3 that means the restoration of all people, universal reconciliation. That is not the case in this context. ELM
15 George F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927, 1962).
16 John the Baptist did no miracles, not one. Jesus’ miracles may have led some people to think that He was the Elijah, but the next Elijah to come will do miracles like the original Elijah. DWS
17 Sirach wrote the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus. While it is a fine book in many ways, it is not part of Scripture. Sirach describes what many Jews believed about 200 years before the birth of Christ. While there is no mention of Messiah in Sirach, there is mention of Elijah in Ecclesiasticus 48:1–12. This belief was perpetuated on down to the time of Christ without any doubt. ELM
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