It’s hard to even know where to begin to describe the most powerful, influential prophet from the Old Testament. Elijah was the first prophet to raise someone from the dead (literally), he had the ability to pray for drought, and it happened, he’s one of only 2 people in the Bible (so far) who have been Raptured (taken up to Heaven without seeing death), he was seen transfigured (glorified) with Jesus and Moses, and he is prophesied to be a major player in the end-times. And yet Jesus’ half-brother James states that Elijah is a man just like you and me! God can do amazing things with totally ordinary people!
James 5: 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
Elijah was a Prophet during the days of Ahab and Jezebel, the very evil, idolatrous king and queen of the Northern Tribes of Israel. Jezebel, in particular, was extremely evil and was absolutely determined to stop Israel’s worship of the true God, YHWH Elohim. She had many true prophets of the Lord killed.
Elijah was an Old Testament Prophet during the days of Ahab and Jezebel, but there is even more to Elijah than meets the eye! Elijah was an ordinary man, he was a prophet of God, but he also plays a very important role at the end of the age. Malachi, the final prophetic book in the Old Testament (Tanakh), assumed to be written by the Prophet Malachi (means “messenger” in Hebrew) prophesied that Elijah the Prophet will be the “fore-runner” to the “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” and will help usher in the Messianic Age.
Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
The Jewish people have been looking for “Elijah” for thousands of years. They also understand that he is the fore-runner of the Messiah, whom they still look for, since they missed the time of their visitation (they did not recognize Jesus, the Messiah). The Jewish people are still looking for their Messiah!
In Judaism, there is a universally accepted tradition to have an extra full glass of wine on the table during the Passover seder. This cup is for the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) who is believed will arrive before HaMoshiach (Messiah) does to announce His arrival and anoint Him.
In the Gospels, we are introduced to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, who was calling people to repentance prior to the beginning of Jesus’ three and a half year ministry. John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. He had a pretty big following. The Jewish “religious elite” (aka Pharisees) wanted to know more about John the Baptist. They wondered if John the Baptist could be Elijah the Prophet. Although this was literally hundreds of years AFTER Elijah the Prophet had “walked the earth” during the days of Ahab and Jezebel, the Pharisees KNEW about Malachi’s prophecy, and they were LOOKING for the return of Elijah!
Was John the Baptist Elijah the Prophet??!
John 1: 19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ (Messiah).” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
To answer the Priests and the Levites’ question as to who he was, John the Baptist quoted the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, stating that he was NOT the prophesied MESSIAH, and he was NOT Elijah the Prophet, but instead he was the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, A VOICE crying out in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord.
Isaiah 40: 3
A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
4 “Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
5Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
John the Baptist, a humble man, claimed to be A voice crying in the wilderness, MAKE SMOOTH in the DESERT the highway for our GOD!. His job was to “level the playing field” so to speak, with his message of repentance! Let every mountain be made low (people of importance, abased)..let every valley be lifted up (lowly people lifted up), all at the same level before Almighty God. It is easiest to SEE GOD when there are no mountains and no valleys in the way, when everyone is at the same level before God! Isaiah 40 says ALL FLESH will SEE TOGETHER the GLORY OF THE LORD! There are no BIG I’s and LITTLE U’s (YOU’s) in the KINGDOM OF GOD!
Although John the Baptist did NOT claim to be Elijah the Prophet, Jesus, Himself, later identifies John the Baptist as Elijah the Prophet, IF we have “ears to hear”.
Matthew 11: 7: As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
Was Jesus saying that John the Baptist was Elijah the Tishbite reincarnated? No! In-fact, we know that to be true because we later see Jesus talking to a “glorified Elijah”, and he is not the same person as John the Baptist. Elijah never died, and John the Baptist was born of a woman. The Bible is clear on the topic of reincarnation. There is no such thing. It is appointed for a man to die once, and then comes judgement (Hebrews 9:27). But, Elijah the Tishbite had never died because he was “taken up” (raptured) in a whirlwind. Jesus was NOT actually saying that John the Baptist was Elijah the Tishbite reincarnated. Instead, Jesus was really saying that John the Baptist came in the same SPIRIT AND POWER of Elijah the prophet. This is why John, himself, denied being Elijah the Prophet! John’s statement and Jesus’ statement did NOT contradict each other! Both were right. Jesus was speaking of John coming in the Spirit and power of Elijah, not that he was literally Elijah.
“The Spirit and power of Elijah” is really the HOLY SPIRIT! During the days of Ahab and Jezebel, The Prophet Elijah did NOT have power of his own, but rather, he was working under the POWER and the GUIDANCE of the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD! The true POWER comes from GOD (FATHER/SON/HOLY SPIRIT)!
A dual fulfillment to Malachi’s Prophecy
John the Baptist did PARTIALLY fulfill Malachi’s prophecy by coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Holy Spirit) to prepare the way for the Messiah’s first coming!
But there is more! Malachi specifically states that Elijah will prepare the way of the Lord before the coming of the Great and Terrible day of the Lord. John PARTIALLY fulfilled this Prophecy! The Great and Terrible day of the Lord did not start 2000 years ago. We are still waiting for this “day”. The 2nd part of Malachi’s prophecy is yet to be fulfilled, and will be fulfilled prior to Jesus’ 2nd coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
What is “the Great and Terrible day of the Lord”? This is the day that God pours out His Wrath on a defiant, unrepentant earth. This “day” includes the time of “Great Tribulation” leading to Jesus stepping His feet upon the Mt. of Olives to RECLAIM this earth for ELOHIM out of the hands of the enemy, who is currently the “Landlord”! This “day” culminates in Christ’s Millennial reign on earth.
2 Peter 3:8: But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Elijah’s Prophesied future Ministry
Elijah never died, but was “Raptured” up into Heaven in a whirlwind. When people doubt the Rapture, or think that it couldn’t be possible…We shouldn’t limit God! The Rapture is not unprecedented. Two individuals in the Bible, one before the flood and one after the flood, were TAKEN to Heaven without seeing death, Enoch and Elijah!
2 Kings 2:9: When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”
11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more.
Hebrews 11:5: By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for before he was taken up, he was attested to have been pleasing to God.
Hundreds of years AFTER Elijah’s earthly ministry that occurred during the divided Kingdom of Israel, Jesus’ Disciples Peter, James and John WITNESS a Glorified Jesus speaking to a glorified Elijah and Moses on the Mt. of Transfiguration. Although Elijah had never died, Moses most certainly DID die! And yet somehow, both were seen in glorified bodies, talking to Jesus, who was also in a glorified body!
Luke 9: 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He (Jesus) took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
- Elijah was taken in a whirlwind during the days of the Divided Kingdom of Israel,
- he was prophesied to come again by the Prophet Malachi
- John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Holy Spirit) to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming as the Lamb of God
- Jesus speaks to a “glorified” Elijah and also Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.
- And finally, there is more…
At the end of the Age (In the final 7 years of mankind’s self-rule on earth, prior to the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, there are two witnesses who are coming to “prepare the way of the Lord”.
Revelation 11: 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
Notice that one of the “powers” of the two witnesses will be to dry up the rain (drought) during the time of their Testimony. This is the exact “plague” that Elijah prayed for during the days of Ahab and Jezebel. It is commonly believed that Elijah is one of the two witnesses who will be literally returning to earth to prepare the way for the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ and the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
- Elijah was a regular man, he was NOT the Messiah.
- Elijah was a prophet who had a special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
- When people say “the spirit and power of Elijah”, they are really speaking about a special anointing of the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit.
- Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Elijah performed spectacular miracles while on the earth during the days of Ahab and Jezebel and the Divided Kingdom of Israel. The miracles were point Israel to the True God, YHWH Elohim!
- John the Baptist walked in the Spirit and power of Elijah (Holy Spirit), while turning the heart of the Israelites back to the Fathers, to repentance, to prepare the way of the Lord, Jesus the Christ’s first coming.
- The Prophet Elijah is prophesied to return just prior to the 2nd coming of Jesus the Christ, to again turn hearts to repentance, preparing the way for the Lord’s 2nd coming.
- Both Christians and Jews believe that Elijah is coming back before the Messiah appears; however, the Jews do not realize that the Messiah is Jesus. They do not recognize that the Messiah was to come twice. Sadly, many Jews will likely be deceived by the false Messiah, the antichrist, who is prophesied to come first, before Jesus the Christ.
- Most Christians believe that Elijah is one of the Two witnesses who are prophesied to appear prior to the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. These Witnesses will be performing similar miracles to those that occurred during Elijah’s Old Testament ministry.