"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Are These the Days of Elijah?
The book of Malachi ends with these words: "Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." This promise makes him a harbinger of the Messiah. This also ends the Hebrew Scriptures in Christian Bibles. We want to see if we are in the days of Elijah or if they are yet to come; but first let's look at the prophet Elijah to see who is this Elijah that is coming back.
Elijah the Prophet
The Prophet Elijah spans the globe of religious denominations including Christianity, Judaism, and Muslim religions. He is not only mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, but also the Talmud, the Mishnah, and the Qur'an. In Hebrew Elijah (Eliyahu) means, "My God is Yahweh." This is significant because this was his life mission--to defend the worship of Yahweh against the worship of the false god Baal.
We see in the book of Kings that Elijah calls for a drought, and for three and a half years it does not rain. We see in James 5:17-18 that James calls Elijah "A man with a nature like ours, and he earnestly prayed, and it did not rain; and he prayed again, and it rained and the earth produced fruit." So the Bible tells us that even though Elijah was a great prophet, he was just like anyone else who would earnestly seek the Lord. But by calling for this drought, Elijah was putting the god Baal to shame, for he was the god of rain, lightning and thunder, and dew.
This led to the final battle on Mt. Carmel when 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah gathered along with Elijah to prove to the people whose god was the greatest. Elijah tells the people, "If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." The priests of Baal built an altar and danced wildly, calling on their god and even cutting themselves hoping their god would send fire down upon the altar. From morning to night their god was silent, and Elijah, mocking their god, asks that four large jars of water be poured out on his sacrifice--not once, but three times until the water flowed all around the altar; and then Elijah prayed, and God heard him and sent fire down on the altar to consume the sacrifice along with all the water. Elijah then called for the death of all of the prophets of Baal.
A great and mighty miracle of God! But Queen Jezebel was enraged and out to kill Elijah. Elijah runs for his life and travels forty days and nights to Mount Horeb, where Moses had received the Ten Commandments. He seeks shelter in a cave, and God speaks to Him. "Elijah, why are you here?" asks God. Elijah tells God that everyone has left truth, and only he is left, and even at that, his own life was in danger. Elijah stands outside the cave and a mighty wind passes, but God was not in the wind. A great earthquake shook the mountain, but God was not in the earthquake. Then a fire breaks out, but God was not in the fire. All of these things took place at the giving of the Torah, and God was present in it all, but not this time. Then with a silent voice (versus the blaring sound at the time of Moses) God once again asks Elijah, "Why are you here, Elijah?" Elijah, still taken back by all of this, still complains to God. God sends him to Damascus to anoint Hazael king of Syria and Jehu king of Israel and Elisha to replace him as prophet. Now people may say that God punished Elijah for fearing for his life and running from his position, but this was not the case, for God had other plans for Elijah; those plans would take place later in history.
Elijah is full of legends and stories from Christianity to Judaism to even Islam. There is something about Elijah that is mystical and mysterious. He was taken up in a chariot of fire into the clouds. How mysterious is that? And he is coming back; who has ever done that, except Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah? Elijah, the man who stood for true worship, who fought against false gods and is the reconciler, will come before the awesome day of the Lord. We want to look at Elijah in the Apostolic Scriptures as we continue to find the answer to our question: Are these the days of Elijah? We know that Elijah is to return before the coming of Messiah. Yeshua (Jesus) tells His disciples that if they accept it, John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:14). So what did John do that caused Yeshua to say that He was Elijah?
John the Baptist
The angel prophesied about John to his mother Elizabeth and said in Luke 1:16-17, "And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and it is he who will go as a forerunner before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the Fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
When John was born, his father prophesied and in Luke 1:76-79, he says this: "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Elijah brought the people back to the true worship of God. He battled the false gods and won and brought reconciliation. Let's look to see if we see this spirit of Elijah in John.
Matthew records in Matthew 3:1-2 that John came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand": the sign of reconciliation with God. Matthew bears witness in chapter 3:3-4 that John was the voice in the wilderness, and that he made ready a people for the Lord's coming. He also tells us that John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt, the same image of Elijah. He dealt with true worship and took on the Pharisees and Sadducees: "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (verses 8-10).
John preached with authority like Elijah, and John had Yeshua to back up what he said; for Yeshua tells us in John 15:6, "One who does not remain in Me will be cast outside like a branch and wither. People will gather them and cast them into the midst of the fire, and it will be consumed."
So the question is, if John was the Elijah to come, then should we not expect Elijah to come again? Let's take another look at 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."
The Terrible Day of the Lord
Malachi 3:1 tells us about a messenger who would come and clear the way before the Lord. Matthew and Luke both use this verse to apply to John the Baptist; but have we seen the terrible day of the Lord? Zephaniah 1:14-15 says, "Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly; listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness." The prophet goes on to describe this terrible time that will come upon the world. The Apostles spoke of this time, and as there are so many reference to this time, we can only look at these two.
Paul tells the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, "While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they will not escape." Now, you may say that this describes many times in history, but let's look at what the book of Revelation tells us. It starts off with judgements that will come and a false religion and a false Messiah who will rule a one world order. It speaks of famines and wars and destruction: like no other time in history. It speaks of martyrs and persecution and terror. It speaks of a great battle against Israel: "All the kings of the world gathered together for the war of the great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 19:11).
So is this time coming soon, and should we be looking for the return of Elijah? Yeshua tells His disciples in Matthew 24 what to look for in the days leading up to His return, many of which we just mentioned in the book of Revelation; but then He tells a parable starting in verse 32-33, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree; when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near, even so you too, when you see these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." Yeshua had used the fig tree to symbolize the Nation of Israel in Luke 13:3-9, Mark 11:11-21 and Jeremiah 24:10. Simply what Yeshua was saying was that when you see the nation of Israel green and bearing fruit again, you will know that He is at the door. Israel became a nation once again on May 14, 1948. The fig tree and its branch has become tender and puts forth leaves and once again bears fruit. This was the sign, and we have seen it. We also have seen that the one world has become, and we now have a global everything, from a world banking system to a global army, and we just wait for the one world leader to come forth.
Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 speaks about the coming of Yeshua and the coming of the man of Lawlessness, the antichrist who will come to rule this one world. He says, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." We have seen over the years a falling away of the faithful from God. Church attendance is down, and people have fallen from keeping the commandments of God; families are broken and prayer has been banned from the public square. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, "But realize this, that in the last days (which is now, because of the new state of Israel), difficult times will come. for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these." Paul is describing today.
Yes, these are days that the spirit of Elijah is needed. We need restoration, we need a revival, we need God to bring us back to truth and light. We need the words of John the Baptist, "REPENT!" For just like Yeshua who cursed the fig tree because it did not bear fruit, which symbolized the coming destruction of the temple, so too we must heed Messiah's warnings that when you see these things, know that He is coming. But before He comes, the book of Revelation will play out; and we are already into that book with the return of the nation of Israel and with the age of the globalization of the world. God will, and God has already, raised up people like an army of Elijahs to go forth and prepare the way of the Lord by preaching the message of the kingdom, to "Repent!"
Are you ready? Yeshua tells us in Matthew 24:42, 44, "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming… For this reason you be ready too, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." Yeshua tells His sceptics in Matthew 16:2-3, "When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?"
Have the spirit of Elijah and repent; rid yourself of false gods and return to the truth of God's Word.