“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elijah 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 spoke unto them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:11-13).
The event He is referring to when He said: “Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things” is recorded in the last prophecy of the Old Testament:
“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)
One of the major events on God’s prophetic agenda is the sending of this last Elijah-like prophet. He will be given a two-fold ministry. First of all, he will be an integral part of the Lord’s preparation of His people, turning hearts of both Jew and Gentile.
The second facet of his ministry will be to “restore all things” pertaining to the “holy covenant” (Daniel 11:28-32) because the first (69) weeks of Daniel were under the Old Covenant. Therefore, Elijah will be responsible to not only revive the hearts of God’s people but also to restore those necessary Old Covenant “things” prior to the 70th Week of Daniel as spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will be sent before the climactic and unparalleled time of judgment of the earth and its population called the 'Day of the Lord' which begins during the last half of the 70th Week of Daniel. Therefore, his ministry must begin some time prior to the mid-point of the 70th Week when the “abomination of desolation” occurs stopping the regular sacrifice. This regular sacrifice will have begun earlier (Daniel 8:14) through the “restore all things” ministry of this last Elijah-like prophet.
Indeed, the Lord will, once again, be sending prophets to His people the Jews. However, these prophets will not just be affecting the land of Israel as in Old Testament days for, like “the two prophets” of Revelation 11:3-14, this last Elijah, who eventually becomes one of those two prophets, will have a worldwide ministry during his end times tenure as he ministers to the hearts of God’s people.
It would not have been necessary for the Lord to send this last Elijah-like prophet had the Jews received John the Baptist, as the Lord Jesus Christ indicated: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John [the Baptist]. And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.” (Matthew 11:13, 14)
But they did not receive him. If they had, the Lord would have continued with His day of the Lord program as already spelled out in the Old Testament. Instead their rejection of him, and the Christ he was heralding, has brought Jew and Gentile alike to this very time in the plan of God!
During the end of this age and before the beginning of the day of the Lord, God will surely send this last Elijah to “restore” those things that He requires, which “restitution” Peter also spoke of in his second sermon:
“And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:20, 21)
Here, Peter indicates the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will not occur “until the times of restitution of all things” confirming that the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming will not occur until this last Elijah-like prophet restores those necessary things and is ministering to the hearts of men!
This word “restitution”, a noun only used this one time in the New Testament, contains the Greek root of the verb “restore” the Lord Jesus used in Matthew 17:11 meaning “To restore to its former state”, indicating the restoration of certain things.
This same Greek root is found in the word translated “shall turn again” of Malachi 4:5: “And behold I will send to you Elias the Thesbite, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes; who shall turn again the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his neighbor, lest I come and smite the earth grievously.”
This verse is found in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, a translation of the Hebrew which was the people’s Bible before and during New Testament times and is still actively used by certain orthodox Christians in eastern Europe.
Over 90% of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testament find their source in this translation which the Lord Jesus Himself utilized when He spoke of Elijah’s future ministry of restoration in Matthew 17:11 which will occur:
He, like the first and second Elijah, will be directed by the Holy Spirit of God, knowing and announcing Gods plan as it unfolds. The first Elijah knew with absolute certainty exactly what, when and where God was planning in order to accomplish His will for His people as he gave the now famous ultimatum to king Ahab concerning the 3-1/2 year drought (I Kings 17:1).
His preparation for this notable day caused him to have earth shaking faith as he immersed himself in the Word of God thereby receiving the Holy Spirit’s understanding that the Lord was about to bring a period of drought upon the earth in response to the idolatrous conduct of His people. (Deuteronomy 11:16,17)
He later made another great ultimatum to Gods people, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (I Kings 18:21) followed by the contest between God and Baal (I Kings 18:22-40).
His mighty prayer is recorded near the end of this great contest:
“Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.” (I Kings 18:36, 37)
This brought down the all consuming fire of God from heaven eliciting the submission and worship of the people. This Holy Spirit filled prayer by God’s servant was what it took for God to turn their hearts which in like manner is what it will take at the end of the age when the last Elijah will accomplish his service to God.
John the Baptist, the second Elijah, after preaching repentance preparing the hearts of God’s people, announced the arrival of God’s Lamb when Jesus approached on the banks of Jordan the day He was made known publicly at His baptism: “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In the three days recorded in John 1:19-36, John the Baptist would experience the culmination of his ministry when the first day he was asked by the unbelieving Jews: “Art thou Elijah?” and the second day saw “Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” and the third day “And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God!”
John knew who Jesus was and exactly what He came to do for all of mankind long before the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for our sins. He was completely accurate in his proclamations concerning the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, Who came to save His people, and the rest of the world (I John 2:2) from their sin!
It was John, like Elijah before him, who preached repentance to God’s people, turning their hearts, preparing them for the coming of the Lord. In like manner, this last Elijah-like prophet will follow the example of the two Elijahs before him preaching repentance to the people of God!
So, with two Elijahs now past, some conclusions can be drawn from the Biblical record concerning the third and last Elijah. This powerful Hebrew prophet will come during the end of the age, before the coming of Christ/Day of the Lord to “restore all things” in the spirit and power of his two predecessors.
And, if God continues to be “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) this prophet’s ministry will multiply in a progressive manner. The scope of his ministry will increase from being strictly to the Jews in the land of Israel to include all the saints of the existing Church worldwide.
In addition, these (12) Characteristics of John the Baptist’s ministry in Matthew 3:1-12 provide valuable insight into the future ministry of this last Elijah:
Therefore, we can look to the Scripture with strong confidence and great expectation concerning this mighty prophet of God, for he, too, will:
And, restoration/revival of the nation of Israel will be the focus, like the day when they said, “The LORD, He is the God; The LORD HE is the God.” (I Kings 18:39) in response to God’s all consuming fire! The revival of God’s people which was the result of the first and second Elijah’s ministry will also be one of the primary goals of this last Elijah.
The Lord’s sending of the third Elijah spoken of in Malachi 4:5,6; Mathew 17:11; Mark 9:12 appears to be on the very doorstep of His prophetic plan which must occur during the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-8) and prior to the great tribulation (Matthew 24:9-28) when the faithful of the nation of Israel will be scattered (Matthew 24:15-28) during the Antichrist’s global war with the saints (Daniel 7:21-25; Revelation 13:1-18) while Satan’s primary focus will be centered upon the faithful Jews in the nation of Israel (Daniel 11:21-12:1; Revelation 12:1-17).
Like the successful evangelists of old and his two forerunners [Elijah, John the Baptist] whom the Lord sent to His people, his emphasis will be upon repentance providing the Lord with the opportunity to “turn the hearts” of His people, the Jews and Gentiles, within the church, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, exactly when the restoration of the “holy covenant” (Daniel 11:28-32) takes place is not clearly specified. However, it will be part of the ministry of this prophet to “restore all things” which will have to take place prior to the last 3-1/2 years of the 70th Week of Daniel and is likely to be in effect before the beginning of the 70th Week as the Antichrist’s involvement with the “daily sacrifice” begins after he makes a covenant with the Jews at the beginning of the 70th Week and continues 2300 days or “evenings and mornings” (Daniel 8:14).
Therefore, the time leading up to the 70th Week of Daniel will be occupied by Elijah’s ministry of restoration including:
Then, the Antichrist reveals his true identity at the mid-point of the 70th Week of Daniel. His forces will stop the regular sacrifice and pollute the sanctuary by setting up his image in the holy place for the remaining 1260 days of the 70th Week which is the renowned “abomination of desolation” indicated by the Lord (Daniel 11:28-30; Matthew 24:15).
The sending of Elijah to “restore all things” (Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12) will include:
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23)
”For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:12-14)
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24, 25)
Although the above verses are filled with exhortations for God’s people to live holy lives in the present day, they also imply the condition of God’s people when He returns, for, in like manner, this last Elijah will preach repentance/revival as the two Elijah’s before him and thereby make ready a people prepared for the return of the Lord!
God’s sending of this mighty Elijah-like Hebrew prophet is on the Lord’s prophetic horizon and will take place in due course as a necessary prerequisite for the unfolding of His plan during the 70th Week of Daniel.
In addition to his ministry of restoration/revival, this mighty Hebrew prophet will turn his message to judgment after the abomination of desolation [Antichrist’s image] is set up in the holy place of the 70th Week Temple in Jerusalem at the mid-point of the 70th Week of Daniel.
As one of God’s two mighty prophets (Revelation 11:10) his service to the Lord will continue throughout the 70th Week until he and his companion are killed by the beast, the Antichrist. But, this is not the end of the story for the Lord will resurrect His two prophets:
“And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither, And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand, and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:11-13)
Their death at the hands of the political leader parallels the death of John the Baptist while their exit from earth is similar to Elijah’s rapture into glory! Although the parallels to Elijah and John the Baptist are manifold, the ministry of these two prophets takes on a much greater Biblical significance when the following parallels to the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry are considered:
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