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Is Elijah coming back?
Query for the Month
Next up-date: September 1st 2007 (God willing).
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Some perpetual questions ....
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Is Elijah coming back from heaven?
Remember you the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb [Mt. 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 [Elijah, through his experiences] shall turn the heart of the fathers [the Old Testament faithful Jewsl] to the children [the New Testament faithful Christians], and the heart of the children [of the New Testament] to their [spiritual] fathers [of the Old Testament], lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Is Elijah coming back from heaven?
Here the LORD tells us to REMEMBER the ceremonial law of the Old Testament in connection with a promise to send Elijah in the last days to avert one of the consequences of the curse of sin. The query concerns that person, and whether it is to be the literal Elijah who was translated to heaven ages ago, or will it be someone else who operates in his power and spirit.
We’ll look into that later, but first we need to consider another point.
There is obviously something in the law of ceremonies of the Old Testament which will help us in our quest to lift the pain of our Saviour caused today by our continual sinning. That’s why we need to study those rituals with the aid of the spiritual eyesight promised to those who “buy of Him”, gold (which is tested faith), and the white raiment of imparted righteousness. Revelation 3:18. We should be able to see that this message is to those who have become Christians by His gift, and who have exercised their faith until it has the pureness of the gold of Ophir, the purest in the world. 2 Chronicles 8:18. But then God says, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir”. Isaiah 13:12.
That last text shows that there is an even greater pureness than normal to be obtained, while the very next verse mentions that this will occur just before the Father makes His pronouncement from heaven. “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger”.
What all this means is that the last-day Christians will combine the light of the New Testament with the double portion of the Old Testament (39 bigger books against 27 smaller), and through this will grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ, “speaking the truth in love”. (See Ephesians 4:13-15.) This is long overdue.
It is written:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature [all of creation] waits for the manifestation of the sons of God . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” Romans 8:18-22.
“22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” Romans 8:22 (NKJV)
Another translation puts it this way:
“18 That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. 19 The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. 20 Everything in creation is being more or less held back . . . 22 All around us we observe a pregnant creation.” Romans 8:18-22 (MSG)
“In my opinion whatever we may go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own . . . It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail.” J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1960.
However, let’s answer the query. It will be someone in the “spirit and power”, not the original Elijah, for it has to be an earthly human to activate earthly humans, not a redeemed one.
Will we recognise him? I don’t think so at first; we’re more likely to be like the disciples who had to be told that John the Baptist was an Elijah.
11 Verily I say to you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent [enthusiastic] take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John [He brought a new perspective on the Old Testament].
14 And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.
15 He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
But we will respond to the new Elijah’s message because it will be a truthful one. Then an Elijah GROUP will form and spread the word. That’s how it has always been. John the Baptist had his disciples who joined the Son of man when John was executed. Martin Luther was an Elijah for his time for a short while; William Miller another; for the promise of Elijah is not relegated only to the very last days, but has had an opportunity for fulfilment in every generation since it was given.
However, in the last days there will be those who will try and muzzle him and quieten him down. “And Ahab [the government] told Jezebel [the religion] all that Elijah [the man of God] had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the [spiritual] sword [of the word of truth]. Then Jezebel [the religion] sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time’ [a death decree]. 1 Kings 19:1-2.
He’ll be full of enthusiasm to start with, as Elijah was on Mt. Carmel, and like him he may want to die when he hears Jezebel’s message (although he won’t, of course)! Nor will his companions die, for they are the group who are to welcome Christ at His return.
Let’s look at his story:
1 Kings 19:
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness [running from Jezebel], and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers”. [He was discouraged because of his course of action towards the prophets of Baal.]
[What did the LORD do for him?]
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat”. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake [a loaf of bread] baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. [One feed of truth was not enough to get him moving.]
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you”. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and [then] went in the strength of that meat [food] forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God”.
What did he learn there?
He learnt that the power of the Holy Spirit is much greater than any earthly manifestation. Why?
Because when one comes in the spirit and power of Elijah religious men are sure to say, “That’s just your opinion” or “You’re too earnest, even fanatical, you don’t interpret the Scriptures in the proper way”, and, “Let me tell you how to teach your message”.
But he will have been taught of God and will not change.
1 Kings 19:
9 And he came there to a cave [at Mount Sinai], and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What do you here, Elijah?”
10 And he said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” [But now I’m scared because I have done it man’s way].
11 And He said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD”. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What do you here, Elijah? [How do you feel now?]”
14 And he said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away”. [It’s the same answer as before, but now his faith reached out and he accepted his duty in the power of the Spirit, God’s way.]
15 And [then] the LORD said to him, “ [As you] go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when you come [there], anoint Hazael to be king over Syria [as the king of the north, or, the active beast; Revelation 19:19-20]:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shall you anoint to be king over Israel [as the apostate religion, or, the false prophet; Revelation 19:19-20]:
and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shall you anoint to be prophet in your room [representing the followers of God who will be resurrected].
[There is no king of the south in this typical picture,
because all the world will be following the beast in a counterfeit religion.]
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapes the sword [control] of Hazael [the mark in the hand] shall Jehu slay [the mark in the head]: and him that escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay [those who want to die as martyrs for Christ]. 18 Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him [the sons of God whom the creation is waiting for].
19 So he departed thence . . . [and was soon translated]
The hatred that the first Elijah met came from the professing followers of God which is why he had to go to Sarepta, a foreign country, for safety. (See Luke 4:26.) And so it will be in the future, although there will be no comforting widow then. God will look after His own personally.
Amongst the professed Christians of today there is still the same pride, formalism and selfishness, the same spirit of oppression, that held so large a place in the Jewish heart. Men and women claiming to be Christ’s representatives will take a course similar to that followed by the Jewish priests and rulers in their treatment of Christ. Those who run with the Elijah message will need courage, firmness, and a thorough knowledge of God and His word. They will be persecuted, maligned, their motives misunderstood, their characters spoken against. Satan will not give up without a fight, and there will be “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”. Matthew 24:21.
God desires us to be ready for the soon-coming crisis. Prepared or unprepared, we must all meet it; and only those who have brought their lives into conformity to the divine standard beforehand, will stand firm at that time of test and trial. When secular rulers unite with ministers of religion in every country of the world to dictate in matters of conscience, then it will be seen who really fear and serve God. When the darkness is deepest, the light of a godlike character will shine the brightest. When every other trust fails, then it will be seen who have an abiding trust in the Son of God. However, while the enemies of truth are on every side, watching over us for evil, He will watch over us for good. He will be to us as “the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land”. Isaiah 32:2.
When Ahab met Elijah, he said, “Are you he that troubles Israel?” because in his mind, all the problems were brought about by Elijah’s message. 1 Kings 18:17. This was not new, for always, when one brings a truth to his family or church, a division takes place and the unbelieving ones feel that a great injury has been done to them because their harmony has been broken. Jesus [He was also an Elijah] knowing this, said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household [and church]”. Matthew 10:34-36; 24:10.
The messengers sent by God to deliver His warnings have always been hated by those whom they warn. The people charge upon them the calamities which are the result of their own departures from righteousness. Those who thus place themselves in Satan's power do not see things as God sees them, for they are blinded by Satan. When God's mirror [the Ten Commandments] is held up before them, instead of repenting and turning from sin, they become indignant to think that they should be reproved. They think that an uncalled-for attack is being made upon them, and that the messengers of God are their enemies.
How will the Elijah people feel at this? The words of Peter may help. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy”. 1 Peter 4:12-13.
Elijah did not attempt to excuse himself or to flatter the king. He did not smooth down his message in order to save himself. He did not seek to evade the king's anger by the good news that the drought was almost over. “I have not troubled Israel,” he answered; “but you, and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and you have followed Baalim [many false gods]”. 1 Kings 18:18. The prophet told the king plainly that his sins and the sins of his father's house had brought upon Israel the terrible calamity from which the land was suffering. And this is how the Elijah men and women of the future will react too.
So why hasn’t an Elijah showed up recently?
Many of those who profess to believe the truth would say, if they expressed their real sentiments, “What need is there of speaking so plainly?” They might as well ask, “Why need John have said to the Pharisees, ‘O generation of vipers [poisonous snakes, devils], who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’” Matthew 3:7. Why need he have provoked the anger of Herodias by telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to live with his brother's wife? Matthew 14:3-4. Maybe he could have said it in a more loving way, but he had to say it.
He lost his life by speaking so plainly. Why could he not have moved along without incurring the wrath of Herodias? So men have argued, till policy has taken the place of faithfulness. PUBLIC sin is allowed to go unrebuked, (private sin is a matter for God only).
When will the voice of faithful rebuke be heard once more in the church?
“You are the man”, Nathan said to David – and David changed. 2 Samuel 12:7. These words are almost unheard among us today. If they were not so rare, we should see more of the power of God. But we are more concerned to call the daughters of Babylon “fellow Christians” than tell them the truth!
Therefore, we should not complain of our efforts being without fruit until we repent of our own love for approval, our desire to please men, which leads us to suppress the truth, and to cry, “Peace and safety”, when God has not spoken peace. An Elijah will speak plainly, yet in love, and leave the consequences with God.
Someone will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. He will faithfully and lovingly tell it as it is, for he wants his hearers to repent and be saved, not lost. At the beginning he may be too harsh as the manner of men can be, but he does not have the spirit of the accuser, and as he learns from God he will show more and more of the spirit of a saviour.
“And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's”. Obadiah 1:21.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from September 1st, 2007.
There was a break for two months, so the next query is dated November 2007.
And the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go [from now on], and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
Does Christ crush the serpent’s head? Does God kill Satan?
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