Malachi 4:5-6 ‘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 the fathers’
Elijah did some extraordinary things in his life:
· He declared a famine for 3 years
· He was fed by the ravens (bread and meat) in the morning and at night
· Did a miracle for the widow in that the oil and flour did not run dry until the famine was over
· Raises the widow’s only son from the dead
· Suddenly appeared to Obadiah
· Ran faster than Ahab’s horses
· Told Ahab that he has forsaken the commandments of the Lord
· Challenged and defeated 450 prophets of Baal
· Was taken up or raptured by whirlwind; the chariot of fire only separated them
In Matthew 17:10 Messiah’s followers asked him why the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first. Yeshua answered: ‘Indeed Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already and that they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.’
John the Baptist was the son of Zacharias the priest and Elizabeth. In 1 Chron 24:7-18 we learn that the priesthood of Israel was separated into 24 divisions with Zacharias being of the division of Abijah (8th division); let’s call it a duty roster.
One day when it was his turn to minister at the temple suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared to him. The angel announced that he will have a son and that his task will be: ‘And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children’ (Luke 1:16-17)
Zacharias had difficulty believing this. He was ‘and old man and (felt) that his wife was ‘also’ well advanced in years.’ Because of this, the angel ‘closed’ his mouth from that time onwards for the full duration of the pregnancy. It was only ‘opened’ on the 8th day when the boy was circumcised. They nearly named the boy Zacharias after his dad. His mom said: ‘No, he shall be called John.’ They felt that there was no relative with that name and then asked his father what he thought. He wrote on a tablet that his name should be ‘John.’ At that moment his ‘tongue was loosed’ and ‘and fear came upon all who dwelt around them’ and they said to themselves:’ What kind of child will this be?’
In John’s life we see a continuation of the work of Elijah as they both:
· Confronted the rulers of with fearlessness
· Dwelt in the wilderness and had a diet that cannot be described as gourmet
· Rough in appearance
· Rebuked Israel for their corruption
· Led many Israelites to repent from their wicked ways
· Were opposed by two powerful women:
o Jezebel opposed Elijah
o Herodias had John killed
At one stage people began to wonder whether John may actually be the Messiah. The Jews sent priests and Levites to him to ask him this. He made it very clear that he was not the Messiah and also not Elijah the prophet. He described himself as: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ Another time he described himself as the ‘friend of the Bridegroom’. The friend of the bridegroom goes just before the arrival of the groom and shouts: ‘Behold the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him’ which signals to the bride that her waiting is finally over.
One day when John was baptising, he saw Yeshua in the crowd. The other time they ‘met’ was when they were both still in the womb! When his mother was greeted by Mary we read that: ‘the babe leaped in her womb’ (Luke 1:41). Upon seeing Yeshua, John shouted: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’. (John 1:29)
The period between Malachi’s prophecy and John’s birth was more than 400 years! John’s challenging task was to preach repentance and a return to the Lord, the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Isaiah (40:3) prophesied more than 700 years before that John would prepare the way for Messiah.
Your ability to read has just helped you to ‘hear’ the voice of the friend of the Bridegroom again. What is this voice? It’s the collective message going out to announce that the Bridegroom’s return is imminent! There is a short space of time between the sound of this voice and the Bridegroom’s actual arrival.