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Elijah Is Coming

Malachi 4:5-6 says, “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.”

Jewish scribes took this prophecy as a reference to Elijah personally. Therefore, Elijah’s appearance on the mountain of transfiguration prompted the disciples to ask about Malachi’s prediction. Jesus answered that “Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished” (Matthew 17:12). He was referring to John the Baptist (v. 13), who came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). In another place, Jesus said of John, “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:14).

As was the case with Elijah of old, John’s work was restoration. He preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The reference to fathers and children is not to domestic relations. John did not preach about building better families. The Jews often referred to the patriarchs and ancestors of the nation as their fathers (Luke 1:55; Acts 3:13; etc.). John’s effort was to get the Jews of Jesus’ day to have the same faith and devotion to God that these “fathers” had. Being biological “sons of Abraham” was not enough (Matthew 3:8-9); they needed his faith and deeds. Only in that way could they be true sons of Abraham and enjoy the blessings of that status (John 8:39; cf. Galatians 3:9, 29). Sadly, most did not get the point. Are you a son of Abraham?

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