The study of the Holy Spirit really cannot be done properly without at least a brief examination of the promise of Elijah, and John the Immerser. This connection will become clearer in the upcoming articles. For now, let’s take a brief look at the promise of Elijah. Be sure to go back and read the previous articles in this series to get up to speed: #1, #2.
Behold, I Send Elijah Before My Face
“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.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
From what we have seen earlier, it seems the people of Israel knew that no other prophet would appear until the last days and the time of the birth of Messiah. However, the prediction that Elijah would come before the Great Day of the Lord had to be, in and of itself, both an exciting and frightening thing to contemplate. The appearance of Elijah would mean that the time of restoration had arrived, but, of course, it meant that the awesome Day of the Lord was near as well. (In my formal debate with Joel McDurmon, July 2012, I noted at least twice that John was Elijah, to restore all things, and that he said the Day of the Lord, the consummation of the restoration, was near. This demands that the resurrection was in the first century. McDurmon totally ignored the argument, but, it is totally devastating to all futurist paradigms. Get your copy of the debate in book form, Kindle, or DVDs).
Following Malachi, the knowledge that no other prophets had come became dominant. Thus, there came to be the sense of anticipation, the expectation that one day YHVH would once again send His prophets, and, He would send Elijah, to usher in the last days, the glorious kingdom and the resurrection! In the meantime, Israel waiting, wondering, longing.
The rabbis knew that Daniel had foretold the establishment of the kingdom during the days of the “fourth kingdom” (Daniel 2; 7), and that the critical seventy week countdown of Daniel 9 would therefore consummate within the confines of that fourth empire. They knew that Jerusalem had been rebuilt, as Daniel 9 foretold, and they knew they were in the days of the fourth empire. Thus, it is in the context of the “fulness of time” that there was a strong sense of expectation among the people. They knew that they were living at the critical time foretold by the prophets. This is one of the reasons why Jesus’ statement: The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven has drawn near” was so tremendously important. The last days had arrived!
But, where were the prophets? Where was the prophet like unto Moses? Where was Elijah? Where was Messiah? And then, along came John! And the appearance of John the Baptizer, as Elijah, is one of the most escahtologically significant events in the entire NT. Yet, he appearance barely causes a ripple among most futurist eschatologies. We will examine John and his message in the next installment. Stay tuned!