Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: Mal 4:5
The verse quoted above should be a very important part of our end time prophetic vision. The obvious reason, pointed out by many, is that it gives a sign to look for, that must precede the Day of the Lord. Many have written that they expect to see a movement or ministry that would function like Elijah did. Men and women moving in the spirit and power or Elijah. Some are even expecting Elijah himself to come in the flesh!
The second reason is that this verse links the ministry of Elijah with the End Times. I find that there is something very special about the story of Elijah as related in the Books of the Kings.
King Solomon takes up 11 chapters of 1 Kings. Jereboam has chapters 12, 13 and half of 14. Chapter 15 and 16 take us through a group of succeeding kings taking us up to Ahab.
Elijah comes along in chapter 17 and continues to the end of 1 Kings in chapter 22 and takes up again in 2 Kings. Elijah's ministry is carried on by Elisha who finally dies at the end of chapter 13. That makes 19 chapters in all. In these 19 chapters we find a great wealth of types and allegories of the End Times.
Our opening quote from Malachi 4:5 is referred to in the Gospel of Mathew.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias 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 spake unto them of John the Baptist. Mat 17:10-13
Note here that in verse 11 Jesus says Elias [Elijah] shall come, and in verse 12 He says Elias has already come! And they understood that He meant that John the Baptist was Elijah! This is a multiple fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. John the Baptist fulfilled it and it will be fulfilled again in the future.
This indicates that John the Baptist carried out the role or tasks of Elijah in Jesus time. And we can expect this to occur again in our time. It also means that God is operating according to a certain pattern in the way he works things out. This pattern was set forth in the ministry of Elijah. The pattern was repeated in the ministry of John the Baptist and will be repeated again.
What this pattern is can be found by looking at the three tasks of Elijah.
The major points in Elijah's ministry are these:
1. He has a first confrontation with Ahab,
2. He is secluded for 3 and a half years,
3. He returns and holds a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel,
4. He flees from Jezebel to Mt. Horeb,
5. He returns from Mt. Horeb to carry out his three fold commission,
6. He meets with Ahab in Naboth's vineyard,
Item 3 here is especially important. It gives us a great picture of confrontation with evil and triumphing over it. It is also a foreshadow of end time revival and harvest. But we are going to take a look at item 5, the three fold commission of Elijah.
What exactly was it?
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 1 Kings 19:15-17
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