An interesting thought came to me recently regarding Elijah and The False Prophet. This consideration would rarely come into the minds of most in the prophetic community because of the popular interpretation that Elijah will be one of the Two Witnesses.
In my article, Can We Know the Identity of the Two Witnesses? I lay out why the Elijah prophecy found in Malachi 4:5-6 has already been fulfilled in John the Baptist. The reader can access that article for more details on who these mysterious Two Witnesses could very well be, but I did want to cite a portion of the article regarding Elijah below.
The Passage Without Refute?
The following passage is considered the go-to portion of Scripture identifying Elijah as one of the Two Witnesses:
“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” (Malachi 4:5-6). (Emphasis mine)
Notice that God states that He “will send you Elijah… before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” This is very important: The Two Witnesses have their ministry “during” the day of the Lord, not “before.”
Now, let’s examine what this prophecy in Malachi is actually referring to.
What Did Jesus Say?
Jesus, answering his disciples’ questions regarding just this topic, paves the way for us to know how Malachi’s prophecy was to actually be fulfilled:
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias 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. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13). (Emphasis mine)
Is there other Scriptural support for what the Lord had revealed to His disciples?
What Did the Angel of the Lord Say to Zecharias the Priest and Father of John the Baptist?
The answer to this question shows the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy:
“And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 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. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 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. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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” (Luke 1:11-17). (Emphasis mine)
Some similarities to note between Elijah and John the Baptist:
Both preached repentance from sins (1 Kings chapter 18 & Mark 1:4).
As we can plainly see, Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist. Therefore, Elijah – based on Malachi’s prophecy alone – is not one of the Two Witnesses.
Additional Thoughts on Elijah
When Jesus and the disciples came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples asked Jesus a question:
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:10-11).
Jesus confirmed the scribes’ assertion that Elijah must come first and restore all things. But He did not say that Elijah must come later in relation to their time or in regard to His Second Coming.
Thus, when Jesus replied to the disciple’s question concerning Elijah, Jesus only confirmed that the scribes were right in saying that “Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things,” and that he did come in John the Baptist when He stated:
“But I say unto you, That Elias 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. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:12-13). (Emphasis mine)
Additionally, some may point out that John the Baptist, himself, denied that he was Elijah in John 1:21. John, obviously, knew who he was and didn’t consider himself a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. But Jesus did!
“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:11-15). (Emphasis mine)
And, as I stated, John fulfilled the prophecy in full (compare Malachi 4:6) when the angel prophesied of John to his father:
“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. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 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. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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” (Luke 1:13-17). (Emphasis mine)
Finally, the Hebrew word for “before” in Malachi 4:5 is 6440 פָנִים “panim” and means “at the face” or “in front of.” We see this same word in Joel 2:31, with Christ giving His testimony to when this event will happen in Matthew 24:29-30, and how these signs will be “at the face or in front of” Christ’s Second Coming:
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before [panim] the great and terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31). (Emphasis mine)
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30). (Emphasis mine)
In the above context, these signs in the heavens will be present “before” or “at the face of” or “in front of” Christ’s Second Coming when the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and those who have taken The Mark of The Beast will be fearful at “the great and terrible day of the Lord come” as He personally comes back to earth to destroy His enemies and then sets up His Millennial Kingdom. Always keep in mind that the day of the Lord’s main focus (other than God’s wrath during the seven-year Tribulation) is Christ’s 1,000-year reign in Jerusalem with Israel reigning over the earth and God fulfilling His numerous promises to His chosen people.
Christ’s First Coming was, in fact, the initial stage of the day of the Lord, but was cut off by His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven – just as Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy (or 70 7’s) was cut off for the church age to commence – and the rest of the day of the Lord will resume with the rapture of the church, go into Daniel’s last 7 years of the Tribulation, and proceed on into the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth.
[Simply put, Daniel’s 70 weeks – or 70 7’s – prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) was initially fulfilled in the first 69 weeks – or 7’s – (69 x 7 = 483) by the 483 years between the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus was crucified. The remaining seven years – the 70th week – or last 7 – will be completed during the seven-year Tribulation period, beginning with the covenant signed by Antichrist, Israel, and “the many.” Antichrist will break the covenant in the middle of the seven years and reign with absolute authority for the last three and one-half years until Christ comes back to earth (Daniel 9:27).]
Therefore – with everything we have learned – John clearly was “at the face of” or “in front of” Christ at His First Coming and confirms Malachi 3:1,
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me …”
Thus, John fulfilled the Malachi prophecies completely. John the Baptist came in the form – or “in the spirit and power” – of Elijah, as he turned the hearts of the people and prepared the way for the Messiah as the Lord’s messenger!
The 400 ‘Silent Years’ Between the Old and New Testaments
It should come as no surprise that the very last book of the Tanakh (Old Testament) is Malachi, and the very last chapter of Malachi is chapter 4.
It is widely acknowledged that there were approximately 400 ‘silent years’ in between the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah (The New Testament), where there was silence in relation to God’s revealed Word.
Therefore, it should also come as no surprise that the very last prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6, concerning “Elijah” coming before the face of the Lord, is immediately followed by John the Baptist preaching the Word of God in the power and spirit of Elijah in Matthew chapter 1 – with Malachi’s 4:5-6 prophecy being fully realized according to Luke 1:16-17 and Christ confirming twice that this prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist – after the 400 years of a famine of God’s Word!
Thus, there is a three-fold confirmation of John fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah; once by the angel of the Lord to John’s father Zacharias, and on two different occasions by the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, in the gospels.
Elijah and The False Prophet
Beings the Jews expect that Elijah will come back to herald the coming of the Messiah, should we expect that the False Prophet will claim to be Elijah? I believe he very well could, and this would explain a lot!
Remember, Yeshua said that Elijah had already come in John the Baptist, yet here we are with Israel waiting for Elijah to come back and introduce the ‘Messiah’ to Israel and the world. The chair is empty, the cup is full, and the table seems to be set for ‘Elijah’ when it comes to the deception of the Antichrist and his right-hand man.
This reminds me of when Jesus said:
“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
Israel is waiting for ‘Elijah’ and the ‘Messiah’ – an expectation they think will be fulfilled when The False Prophet and Antichrist come on the scene. Both of these deceitful men will claim to be fulfilling prophecy – and indeed they will be! Just not the prophecies they will declare to be fulfilling.
Speaking of prophecies concerning the False Prophet, consider what we read about him in Revelation 13:
“And he [The False Prophet] exerciseth all the power of the first beast [Antichrist] before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men“ (Revelation 13:12-13). (Emphasis mine)
Does this remind the Bible Student of something the prophet Elijah did in the past?
“And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty” (2 Kings 1:10 and 2 Kings 1:12). (Emphasis mine)
Coincidence? I think not.
Just like Jesus said that He and the Father are one, so, too, will the Antichrist and Satan be one.
And just as John the Baptist introduced Messiah to Israel, so, too, will the False Prophet (masquerading as Elijah) introduce Antichrist (masquerading as Messiah) to Israel and the world.
Satan’s counterfeit trinity will be alive and well during the Tribulation!
As always, when it comes to future prophecy, let the reader be the judge.
But in light of how John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6, and the Jews recognized him not; and how Yeshua came as Israel’s Messiah, and the Jews recognized Him not; and how Israel expects ‘Elijah’ to come back to introduce the ‘Messiah’ at the end of the age, deliver them from their enemies, and usher in Israel’s kingdom on earth — well, at least for me, it sure seems like the prophetic scenario is lining up.
Please pray for Israel and her people; for one day soon, she will be all alone on the world stage… But God!
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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