CHAPTER 16-1: The
Coming Of Elijah
We have frequently commented
in the earlier studies upon the major role of the latter-day Elijah.
There is every reason to think from the typology studied so far, that
we are intended to connect Elijah's 3.5-year ministry (James 5:17) with
the 1260 days/42 months (i.e. 3.5 years) of the tribulation of God's people
spoken of in Daniel and Revelation. The description of the whore of Babylon
in Revelation is based upon Jezebel as a prototype. As she ruled over
Israel through her puppet Ahab during Elijah's ministry, so latter day
Babylon (through a puppet Israeli leader?) will dominate Israel
during Elijah's future ministry. Whilst it is quite possible that
Israel's holocaust will last for a literal 3.5 years, during which time
'Elijah' will be among them, it may be that the similarity of the time
periods is just to indicate that the work of the latter-day Elijah will
coincide with the holocaust period.
There can be no doubt
that 'Elijah' will come in some form: " I will send you Elijah
the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of
the Lord...lest I come and smite the earth" (Malachi 4:5,6).
The coming of the Lord must therefore be preceded by Elijah's work. His
mission will be to direct Israel's
attention to God's Word, " lest I come and smite the earth with a
curse" (Malachi 4:4,6). This was evidently not fulfilled
by John the baptist, seeing that the land was smitten after A.D. 70 due
to Israel's failure to repent.
" Lest I come..." is clearly referring to God's manifestation
in Christ's second coming - it is associated with the arising of "
the sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2,6). Whilst John
fulfilled the role of the Elijah prophet to those who truly repented (Matt.
11:14), he emphatically denied that he was 'Elijah' (John 1:21,23).
This can only mean that the Elijah prophet is yet to come.
Our Lord silences all doubt about this: " Elias truly shall
first come, and restore all things" (Matt. 17:11). Elijah's
work will be to turn the hearts of Israel
back to the patriarchs in repentance (Malachi 4:6 cp. 1 Kings 18:37),
so that Christ comes to an Israel
who have turned away from unGodliness (Isa. 59:20).
The prophecy of Israel's
latter day repentance in Zech. 13:8,9 is based around the events in Elijah's
time. As he destroyed two thirds of the apostate Israelites sent to take
him by fire (2 Kings 1:10), so " in all the land" there will
be a similar proportion of destruction. The third who come through the
fire will say " Yahweh is my God" - i.e. they will exclaim the
name 'Elijah', as they did after Elijah had induced their rejection of
Baal in 1 Kings 18:39. Yet the destruction of two thirds of Israel
in Zech. 13 sounds as if this is the result of their latter day invasion.
It may be that the latter day Elijah works through this in order to bring
about their repentance.
John being a mini-Elijah
prophet, it is to be expected that the broad features of his ministry
will be repeated in the work of the final Elijah prophet. John was called
" the baptist" , so evident was his emphasis on water baptism.
Indeed, the name 'John' and the image of water baptism are hard to separate.
There is fair reason to think that 'Elijah' will also literally baptize.
to call upon themselves the Name of the Lord when they repent, it is fitting
that Elijah baptizes them into His Name. Zech. 13:1 may hint at latter
day baptisms among repentant Jewry: " In that day thre shall be a
fountain opened to the house of David...for sin and for uncleanness"
. Israel will call upon themselves
the Name of Yahweh our righteousness by being baptized into the Name of
the Father and Son (Jer. 33:16). " That (Christ) should be made manifest
to Israel, therefore am I come
baptizing with water" (Jn.1:31) seems to make baptism a pre-requisite
for accepting Christ. Indeed, Jewish theology expects baptism to be associated
with the coming of Messiah and the Elijah prophet. Therefore the Jews
asked John: " Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ,
nor Elias?" (Jn.1:25).
If literal Elijah is
to fulfil Malachi's prophecy, then presumably he must be resurrected before
the second coming. Whilst one exception to the doctrine of
resurrection after Christ's return can be countenanced, it seems likely
that an Elijah-like prophet is a more reasonable possibility.
John the baptist was 'Elijah' in some ways (Matt. 11:14), although his
was only a primary fulfilment of the prophecy (John 1:21; Matt.
17:11). He was also an initial fulfilment of Malachi 3:1:
" I will send my messenger (John/Elijah), and he shall prepare the
way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his
temple" . This had an even earlier fulfilment in Malachi
as the messenger ('Malachi' = 'messenger'), preparing the way for Nehemiah's
coming to the temple. In similar manner, Isa. 40:3-5 is applied
to the Elijah prophet in the form of John, although it has an initial
application to Isaiah speaking words of comfort to Jerusalem in his time.
Mk.1:3 implies that the message of the Elijah prophet was the coming
of Elijah; it does not therefore have to be delivered by Elijah himself.
Previous 'Elijah' prophets have had his characteristics but not been him
personally. The ultimate fulfilment of the 'Elijah' prophecy
may therefore be along similar lines.
No dew, no rain
An examination of the
record of Elijah can now be undertaken with the conviction that there
must be many details which have relevance to the latter-day Elijah.
The dramatic entrance
of Elijah upon the scene with his decree that " there shall not be
dew nor rain these years, but according to my word" (1 Kings 17:1),
may suggest a similar sudden revelation of the Elijah prophet in the last
days. As Jeremiah typified the Elijah prophet's relationship
with the Jewish leadership of the last days, represented by flexi-minded
Zedekiah, so Elijah appealed to an equally vacillating Ahab.
of dew and rain resulted in a chronic lack of pasture for the cattle,
so that they desperately sought some in vain (1 Kings 18:5).
This must connect with the identical scene prophesied in Joel 1:18,20,
concerning the dire physical state of the land and animals during the
final Arab holocaust. We have previously shown how the climatic
and agricultural problems within latter-day Israel
will bring the country to its knees. Presumably this will
be ultimately due to the words of the Elijah prophet. "
There shall not be dew...but according to my word" hints that if
Israel repented, Elijah would
pray for rain and be heard, which is what eventually happened.
It would therefore appear that 'Elijah' will make an appeal to Israel
at the beginning of the tribulation period, to which they will refuse
to respond. Due to this, the dew and rain will be withheld.
Lev. 26:19 and 1 Kings 8:35, both previously considered, mention this
as a curse which will come upon latter-day Israel.
Remnant of a remnant
We have earlier demonstrated
that the Jews who returned from Babylon are typical of those under Arab
persecution in the last days. To encourage this group to more
completely dedicate themselves to God, Haggai called for the dew and rain
to be stopped, clearly alluding to Elijah having done this earlier (Hag.
1:10,11). As a result, " the remnant of the people obeyed
the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet...the
Lord's messenger" (Hag. 1:12,13). We see in this another
hint that only a remnant of the remnant who returned from Babylon were
truly pleasing to God, as only a remnant of the latter-day Jewish "
remnant" will be. Haggai being " the Lord's messenger"
connects him with the Elijah prophet, who fills the same role (Malachi
3:1; 4:5). It should be noted that David connects a lack of
dew with apostate Israel being slain by their Arab enemies (2 Sam. 1:21).
As Haggai achieved only limited success, only achieving anything with
a tiny remnant, so it may be with the latter day Elijah prophet. Ultimately,
" he shall smite the earth (land) with the rod of his mouth, and
with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (Is. 11:4)-
although Elijah will plead with Israel to repent lest this happen (Malachi
4:6). Presumably, the majority will not respond, and therefore the threatened
judgment will not be averted.
Jeremiah and his school
of prophets witnessed to Israel before and during the Babylonian invasion
(2 Chron.36:15), as Elijah and his helpers will do at the time of the
invasion by latter-day Babylon. Joel prophesies how Israel will be exhorted
to howl in their prayers, clothing themselves with sackcloth (Joel 1:13);
exactly as Jeremiah had pleaded with Israel in the last moments before
the Babylonian onslaught: " Gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl"
Rain and repentance
The giving of dew being
a sign of God's blessing (Gen. 27:28; Deut. 33:13), this can only
occur upon Israel's repentance. Thus after the time of the
Arab holocaust, when there was no " peace to him that went out or
came in because of the affliction" , God " will not be unto
the residue (remnant) of this people as in the former days...the heavens
shall (now) give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this
people to possess all these things" (Zech. 8:10-12).
The dew will come upon the whole land, because only this righteous remnant
of Israel will be left alive.
Deut. 33:26-29 speaks
of God's dramatic intervention to permanently save Israel from their enemies
in the last days, and associates this with the heavens dropping dew upon
the land. Seeing this is a normal thing to happen, the implication
must be that during the time of their enemies' domination the dew had
not come. This may be one of the reasons why the Arabs will
be content to plunder the land rather than settle in it.
Hos. 14:4-8 speaks of
the latter-day repentance of Jewry, resulting in God being " as the
dew unto Israel" . There follows an eloquent description
of how this will enable Israel to grow and blossom in spiritual beauty.
This spiritual growth of Israel during the early years of the Millennium
will truly be a wondrous sight. Dew being symbolic of doctrine
(Deut. 33:2), this may be a direct result of our teaching them.
Israel will then be as the dew to other nations (Mic. 5:7), insofar as
they spread this doctrine to them.
Several times during
his ministry Elijah did spectacular miracles to confirm the validity of
his message. The fact that " John did no miracle"
(John 10:41) is perhaps recorded in order to show that he was not the
supreme fulfilment of the prophet who would come " in the spirit
and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17), i.e. doing similar miracles to those
of Elijah. Elijah's miracles resulted in the poor widow
woman (perhaps typical of the latter-day remnant) accepting him and his
message (1 Kings 17:24).
Elijah being sent "
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mat.
4:5) seems to consciously connect with Joel's prophecy that some among
latter-day Israel will possess the Spirit gifts " before the great
and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31). It would therefore
appear certain that Elijah and his group of prophets will possess the
Spirit gifts in the last days. The two witnesses of Rev. 11:5,6
have power to shut heaven and bring fire upon their enemies - clearly
alluding to Elijah. His bringing down fire was against people
of his own Jewish race who were persecuting him (2 Kings 1:9-12), confirming
our previous suggestion that the Elijah ministry will be bitterly opposed
by many Jews, after the pattern of Jeremiah's persecution during the Babylonian
invasion. The beast " maketh fire come down from heaven" (Rev.13:13),
just as Elijah did. The inference is that the latter day miracles of the
Elijah ministry will be matched, to some degree, by the false claims of
the beast. The miracles performed at Israel's deliverance from Egypt were
likewise mimicked by the persecutors of God's people. Our Lord ascended
to Heaven so that opportunity of repentance might be given to Israel
(Acts 5:31), and so that He might give the Holy Spirit gifts to
men (Eph.4:8-13 cp. John 14-16 explaining how Jesus departed in order
to receive the Comforter). It follows that the gifts of the Holy Spirit
were given largely in order to convince Israel of the Gospel; and so too
around the period of the second coming?
of Elijah as " he that troubleth Israel" (1 Kings 18:17) effectively
accuses Elijah of being like Achan, the troubler of Israel (Josh. 6:18).
As Achan brought about Israel's defeat at the hand of her Arab enemies,
so latter-day Israel will blame their similar defeats and the strange
drought which will afflict them, upon Elijah. Elijah's response
to Ahab's accusation is typical of his theme of the need to throw off
the worship of Baal and the other local gods, for that of Yahweh:
" I have not troubled Israel, but thou...in that ye have...followed
Baalim" (1 Kings 18:18). The stress upon this may indicate
that the latter-day Elijah will seek to turn Israel away from a devotion
to Islam - the idol of the surrounding nations.