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Eschatology – Signs of the End
The coming of Elijah
While some are content to get their signs of the end times from newspaper headlines, others struggle to understand the signs given in the Bible. Six signs of the end are mentioned in Scripture.
One of these signs is the coming of the prophet Elijah. Elijah was a 9th century BC prophet who lived during the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah. He significantly influenced the moral climate of his time with a legacy that has endured for centuries.
The great and terrible day of the Lord
Elijah’s “second coming” precedes the day of the Lord. God promised that Elijah would appear in the last days. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5)
Elijah’s mission is to assist in his proper identification. When he arrives, he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This is a message of repentance. It was so important that God threatened the land of Israel with a curse if they failed.
Elijah’s identity revealed
In Matthew 11:7-13, Jesus addresses the crowds and asks questions about John the Baptist. Interestingly, in his comments about John, there is a connection with Malachi’s prophecy about the coming messenger. Compare Matthew 11:10 with Malachi 3:1.
Even more striking is the emphatic statement: “And if ye are willing to receive it, he is Elijah that is to come.” (Matthew 11:14) The mystery evaporates. John the Baptist is the subject of Malachi’s prophecy. He is the Elijah prophesied in the prophets.
Elijah’s apparition with Moses
In the transfiguration scene of Matthew chapter 17, Elijah, the ancient prophet, appears with Jesus, Moses, and the disciples. But when he and Moses disappear from the scene, Jesus takes up again the subject of Malachi’s prophecy and carefully explains the details of Elijah.
To the disciples’ question, they answered, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? Jesus answered them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.” But I say to you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but they did to him, what they wanted. Likewise, the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.
The disciples were well aware of the details of the recent violent event and understood that Jesus was speaking to them about John the Baptist. John, the uncompromising moral reformer characterized Elijah in spirit, therefore he is styled as the second Elijah. (Matthew 17:10-13)
John’s mission fulfills prophecy
Priest Zacharias, John’s father, receives a message from the angel Gabriel regarding the child to be born to Elizabeth. Gabriel emphasized the moral character of John. He would be great in the eyes of God, he would abstain from wine and intoxicating drinks, and he would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord, their God.
Specifically, Gabriel quotes the prophecy of Malachi. “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons” and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to prepare a people prepared for the Lord.
There can be no doubt that John is the messenger, Elijah, of whom the prophet spoke. Jesus and the angels testify that he fulfilled the prophecy.
The meaning of the sign
Elijah’s message to Israel in the first century defined and defined the nearness of the end. John’s presence as Elijah confirmed the near and soon coming of the kingdom of God and the time of the end. He preached a message that says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matt. 3:2)
This message always ended with God’s wrath upon Israel, in which He burned them with fire. (Matthew 3:8-12).
In short, John as Elijah fulfills one of the six signs of the end. John’s arrival in the first century shows how close the end was. The coming of the terrible day of God, i.e. the return of Christ to judgment, was near in the first century. The marks are there to prove it. That is why Jesus said that his generation would not pass away until all those things were fulfilled. (Matthew 24:34)
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