Matthew 17:1-13 tells us of the event of the Mount of Transfiguration, when the Lord Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John (verse 1).  Moses and Elias were with the Lord during this time (verse 3).  To read more about this incredible event, please click on this link: http://answersfromthebook.net/please-explain-more-about-the-transfiguration-of-jesus/

In Matthew 17:9 we read, “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.”  This was a private event, and at this time the Lord did not want anyone else to know about it.  He instructed His disciples not to tell anyone ‘until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.’  It was after the Lord’s death and resurrection that Peter wrote of this incident in 2 Peter 1:16-18, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”  Peter related this incident to show that he did not follow or teach “cunningly devised fables’.  No, Peter faithfully ‘made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Witnessing the transfiguration of the Lord seemed to greatly impress them with the reality that the Lord Jesus was truly the Christ, the Messiah.  Yet, they were confused about this.  We read in verse 10, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?”  They were convinced that Jesus was the foretold Messiah, yet they understood that Eliah (Elijah) would return before the Messiah would come.  That is foretold in Malachi 4:5-6, “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.”  So, if Christ was truly the Messiah…where was His forerunner?

By his own admission, John the Baptist was not Elijah.  We read in John 1:21, “And they asked him, What then? ART THOU ELIAS? And he saith, I AM NOT. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.”  However, John did come in the ‘spirit and power’ of Elijah.  We read of John the Baptist in Luke 1:17, “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.”

If the Israelites would have accepted and believed that John had come in the ‘spirit and power’ of Elijah, he would have fulfilled the role of Elijah.  Matthew 11:14 says, “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.”  Of course, they did not receive the truth of who John was.  Because of their rejection of John and of Christ, we yet wait for Elijah (or another like-minded prophet) to come and prepare the Lord’s people for His return to the earth.  Whether this will actually be Elijah or another one who comes ‘in the power and spirit’ of Elias to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, the promise of Elijah’s return and ministry will be fulfilled by him during the 7-year Tribulation Period.  (219.6)