TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th
Thank you for reading our tenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.
Thank you for reading this article today; this is part of an advent series where we examine prophetic claims that Jesus Christ was the messiah. Today we look at a claim that is not actually about Jesus himself but that he would be preceded by a forerunner. Let us look at the prophecy in the book of Malachi…
Malachi 4:5 (ESV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
It is no mistake or error that the closing words of the Old Testament proclaim that one will be sent to redeem Israel and you will know that it is him because he has a forerunner. (In comparison the New Testament finishes by speaking of the grace of Christ Jesus.)
This prophecy has two fulfillments, the first of which was fulfilled in the book of Matthew chapter eleven, Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 1. This fulfillment was in the body of the person we know in history as John the Baptist.
No one greater than John the Baptist
Let’s look at the text in the gospel of Matthew…
Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus was the one saying these words. He advised that “no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” he said these words because although Jesus was born of a woman, he was not conceived in the natural sense. (We will see what happened here in Luke 1 later in the article)
Jesus gives confirmation that he is Elijah to come (v14) this is an answer in a way to the question that was posed to John the Baptist at the beginning of the chapter when his disciples asked “are you the one?”
John was great in the eyes of the LORD but to give him his place in the kingdom of heaven, the least were greater than he. In verse 13 we get a vital piece of information into who Jesus is. Up until that point, all the prophets had stated “The messiah is coming” but John could say “The messiah is here”. Does this tell you who the messiah is? it is of course Jesus Christ.
Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must suffer?
Let’s look at the gospel of Mark
Mark 9:11 (ESV) And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Peter James and John had just had the mountain top experience to beat all mountain top experiences. They got a face to face audience with Jesus in all of his glory, with Elijah and Moses. God spoke to them, told them who Jesus was and that he was well pleased in his son’s mission.
Now they have questions, they know they are talking to the messiah and they quote the earlier verse in Malachi so they asked “where is Elijah?” So Jesus answers in the same way this article did, he advises of the two comings, that Elijah does come first to restore all things (prior to the second coming) that the Son of Man must suffer, which he was heading to do so on the cross at Calvary and concludes by stating that Elijah had come as John the Baptist, and he was killed by Herod. John came and ministered in the spirit of Elijah.
Who was John the Baptist?
Let’s look at the back story of John the Baptist in the book of Luke.
Luke 1:8 (ESV) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
We meet Johns father and mother, Elizabeth was barren and God was about to bless them in a way far beyond anything they would have prayed for. John’s father was of the correct lineage and served in the priesthood and we read that he was a faithful man. We read that because of the amount of priests it was done by division and by lot and it fell to him to be given the task to burn incense unto the LORD.
Can you imagine what a day this was for him, he had been waiting so long to serve in this way. Dependent on the amount of worthy priests, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I know that when I get to serve in certain ways for the LORD I do get pumped about it, I enjoy conveying God’s word and I always look forward to sharing. I am inspired when I read of this man’s life and see how faithful he was.
You can wonder about a lot of things in this situation, you wonder if he had been asking other priests what it was like back there, wondered if the LORD had a word for him in his life, wondered if he was worthy enough, you can imagine all sorts of things.
To offer the incense was seen as the most privileged position, he would be in the face of God whilst everyone else gathered and prayed from before dawn. He was in there alone in front but on the other side of the holy of holies (I mean that he hadn’t entered this) He was in the inner sanctum of the temple, about as close as a man would get to the altar.
Whilst the nation was in prayer (Could we learn something from this?) An Angel of the LORD came and spoke to him. We know he would have been praying for the nation, for himself, for a coming Messiah, to rid the land of the Romans, who knows? What we do know is that in his heart was the yearning to be a father. We read that “your prayer had been heard” and then he proceeded to advise that he would be a father and his son would be called John.
I love that the Bible is so honest, if I was face to face with an angel in that situation I think I would be scared also, something tells me he was freaking out. I am learning from this that despite how “veteran” we think our Christianity is, we can sometimes be surprised when God shows up. We shouldn’t be, but sometimes we are.
Here is a list of what he was told:
1) He would father a son called John
2) He will be great before the LORD
3) He would not drink wine or strong drink
4) He would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
5) He would turn many back to the LORD
6) He would have the spirit and power of Elijah
7) He would prepare the way of the LORD
Future prophetic meaning
We have to realize that it is one messiah and he will come twice, once to be the “suffering servant and the second time when he comes back to judge the world. It is truly one messiah and two comings. Let’s look at the book of Revelation chapter eleven.
Revelation 11:1 (ESV) Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
Elijah will return as part of the “two witnesses” who will prophesy for 1260 days prior to the second coming of the messiah. This is some feat as the world will at that point be so anti-God and the witnesses will be attacked, mocked and ridiculed. This will be why they are given tools to defend themselves. They will have power and protection from God until that time is elapsed.
Once that time is elapsed, there will be no time wasted in killing them; this will bring great rejoicing amongst those who are following the beast. They will not be buried, they will lay there for 3 and a half days and then God will raise them up. Can you imagine the stir that would cause?
This has been a long article and I apologize for the length, however it was on my heart that I needed to cover this in this way, my hope is that you find something in this article that strengthens your faith, renews your faith or sparks an interest in investigating whether Christ was indeed the messiah. Should you have any questions then please contact me or comment below.
God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.