Malachi 4:5-6 says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” The real question is, “Will God actually send Elijah, the prophet who was carried alive into heaven in a chariot, to earth again to prepare the hearts of the children of Israel for the Day of the Lord, or will he send someone who resembles Elijah?

Let’s read what an angel told Zacharias the priest in Luke 1:13-17, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John….many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither strong wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And HE WILL TURN MANY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD THEIR GOD. He will also go before Him IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH, ‘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.” It seems obvious that John the Baptist is being compared to the “future Elijah” predicted in Malachi 4:5-6. But did he actually fulfill Malachi’s great prophecy? It is true that John was used mightily of God to bring many people to repentance (see Matthew 3:1-6). But eventually John and his message of repentance was rejected and he was martyred for his faith, so he did NOT fulfill the prophecy of Malachi. Had John’s message been accepted, he would indeed have fulfilled the scriptures. This is confirmed in Matthew 11:14 where Jesus said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Later, in Matthew 17:10-13 we read, “And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”

The fulfillment of this marvelous prophecy is yet future, but we have seen already that one may come “in the spirit and power of Elijah”; in other words, it may not be Elijah himself who comes. Having said that, many believe it may indeed be the mighty prophet Elijah who comes. They base this on two passages in Scripture. The first one is Matthew 17:1-3, “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and Her was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, MOSES AND ELIJAH appeared to them, talking with Him.” The transfiguration was a foreshadowing of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on the earth and Moses and Elijah, who were literally with Him on the mountain, will be with Him in that Day of the Lord when He sets up His kingdom. Before Jesus does return there will be two men testifying to the people of Israel and seeking to prepare their hearts for His coming. We read of them in Revelation 11:3-6, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth…..and if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.” If you compare this passage with 1st Kings 17:1; 18:41-45; 2nd Kings 1:9-12 and Exodus 7:14-20 it is clear that these two men sound a lot like the actual Moses and Elijah. Will God send these two men to Jerusalem to bear witness to the coming of Christ? Or will he send two other men who will carry on a ministry similar to these two Old Testament prophets? We can’t be sure, but we can be sure of this; the Lord will indeed fulfill the words of Malachi. Either Elijah himself or someone who comes “in the spirit and power of Elijah will testify to Israel and prepare their hearts for the coming of their Messiah. (331.5) (DO)