The Day Of The Lord
“Surely the day is
coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant
and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is
coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty.
“Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
But for you who
revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with
healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like
calves released from the stall. Then you will trample
down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of
your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the
“Remember the law
of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at
Horeb for all Israel.
“See, I will send
you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful
day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the
fathers to their children, and the hearts of the
children to their fathers; or else I will come and
strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:1-6)
These are the last six verses of the Old Testament. They warn of
two coming events, the last of which is given first.
It’s the Great Tribulation, where the evil and arrogant
will perish but those who revere God’s name will
experience His healing and freedom. Elijah’s return is
the other one, foretold in Malachi’s last paragraph.
Most scholars believe the writings of Malachi were God’s final
word to the people of Israel before the birth of John
the Baptist, who came about 430 years later to announce
the coming of the Messiah. This confirms an earlier
Micah 5:2-5 that Israel would be abandoned for a
time until she who is in labor gives birth (Micah
John’s identity as the Elijah who was to come is the subject of
some controversy, but as we’ll see it’s easily proven.
More important is how this last prophecy in the Old
Testament was written. It reveals two
possibilities. One would have Elijah’s appearance
cause reconciliation among the families of Israel and
prepare them to successfully endure the coming judgment,
after which they would enter the promised Kingdom. The
other would result in the Lord striking the land with a
curse and the End of the Age being delayed.
The key to understanding this is to realize that the judgment
accompanying the Day of the Lord is a given. The
Israelites would either be prepared, in which case they
would have accepted both John and the Messiah he was
sent to prepare them for. This would have resulted
in the fulfillment of all End Times prophecies and the
establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth.
Or they would reject John and Jesus and the land would be cursed.
In that case the End Times judgments would be delayed
and the establishment of the Kingdom would be put on
hold. Therefore Malachi’s prophecy was like
several others we’ve discussed that were given with two
possible fulfillments depending on Israel’s response.
Three New Testament passages speak to this issue. The first is in
and tells of the angel Gabriel visiting Zechariah, the
man who would become John’s father.
Then an angel of
the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of
the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was
startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said
to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has
been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and
you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and
delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his
birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He
is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he
will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the
Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in
the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of
the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the
wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared
for the Lord.”
When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah outside the Holy of Holies, He
said that John was coming to minister in the spirit and
power of Elijah, and used similar language to that ofMalachi
4:5-6. According to Hebrew tradition the mantle that
Elijah had worn was stored beneath the incense altar
near where Zechariah was standing. He retrieved it and
took it home for the time when his son would need it.
The second is John 1:19-23.
Now this was John’s
testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and
Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to
confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.
They asked him,
“Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am
“Are you the
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said,
“Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those
who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John
replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the
voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the
way for the Lord.’ “
Why Did He Say That?
If Gabriel had specifically referred to Elijah in giving his
prophecy about John’s life, why did John deny being
Elijah when confronted by the priests? Of course he
wasn’t the Messiah. Nor was he the prophet promised by
Moses in Deut.
18:15, which was also a Messianic prophecy.
But why didn’t he admit to being Elijah? Or at least say
he was called to minister in the spirit and power of
Elijah? Surely Zechariah had told him of the
angel’s visit and the information he had imparted
concerning the purpose of John’s life.
The fact that he wasn’t literally Elijah (although
2 Kings 2:11
tells us that Elijah went live into heaven) is too
simple an answer. He could only have been speaking from
the understanding that he would not be accepted as
Elijah, knowing in advance that the people would reject
The Lord clarified this in the third passage,
The disciples asked
him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that
Elijah must come first?”
Jesus replied, “To
be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I
tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not
recognize him, but have done to him everything they
wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to
suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood
that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Just as the Lord would not be accepted as the Messiah, neither
would John be accepted as Elijah. Both would have to
come again. The proof of this is that the second
Malachi 4:5 ended up being fulfilled. The land was
cursed and the prophecies of a kingdom for Israel were
put on hold.
Don’t get me wrong. Many people were prepared for the Lord when
He came and were reconciled to Him at the cross. But the
nation officially rejected him and that’s what matters
in the context of the prophecy. Had they officially
accepted him, there would have been a national revival
and they would have been prepared for their coming King.
He would have judged their enemies, and ushered in the
long awaited Kingdom.
When they rejected John as Elijah and Jesus as the Messiah the
second possibility ofMalachi
4:5 came to pass. The End Times judgment
was delayed, Israel’s clock was stopped and the door was
opened to the gentiles, who would now precede Israel
into the Kingdom. Hear the Lord’s own words on the
subject at the end of the Parable of the Tenants.
Jesus said to them,
“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ” ‘The stone the
builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has
done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I tell
you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who
falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on
whom it falls will be crushed.”
When the chief
priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they
knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to
arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because
the people held that he was a prophet
I Knew That Would Happen
Of course God knew before He created Adam that He would be
rejected as Israel’s Messiah, and often spoke through
the prophets of bringing salvation to the Gentiles. But
His own promises required that Israel have a bona fide
offer of the Kingdom to accept or reject. Both John the
3:1-2) and Jesus (Matt.
4:17) presented that offer and both were rejected.
Scriptures speak clearly of Elijah’s return in
where as one of the two witnesses, he performs miracles
unique to the Old Testament Elijah right down to their
duration. And of course they also speak clearly of
Messiah’s return in ways that cannot be allegorized away
or attributed to history.
And so the stage is once again set for the return of Elijah
before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.
But before that can happen, the Church, for whom the door was
opened in part by Israel’s rejection of John the Baptist
as Elijah, must exit. Hear Paul’s words.
I do not want you
to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you
may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening
in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come
in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The deliverer will
come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from
Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take
away their sins.”(Romans
As the End of the Age approaches, three supernatural events will
combine to bring Israel officially back into God’s
forever family. First, God’s “impossible any other way”
victory over a coalition of Moslem armies will move them
to reinstate their Old Covenant relationship and build a
Temple in Israel. (Ezek.
39:28-29) Then Elijah will appear along with Moses
and with signs and wonders they’ll prepare Israel to
expect their soon Coming King. (Rev
11:3-6) And finally, the Holy Spirit will come to
remove their spiritual blinders and soften their
hardened hearts to finally receive their Messiah. (Zech
12:10) He’ll judge their enemies and usher in their
long awaited Kingdom, just like Malachi said He would.
If you listen closely you can almost hear the footsteps
of the Messiah. 12-08-12