The last Book of the Old Testament promises the destruction of the world. But before the end, Elijah the prophet is predicted to return and introduce the Messiah. Some say that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy.
Two thousand years ago, the Jews were expecting the Messiah to come. They knew that Malachi prophesied a man with the spirit of Elijah would introduce the Messiah to them. But when John the Baptist came, he wasn’t what they expected Elijah to be. When they questioned Jesus about why Elijah had not come first, He clearly told them that John was the fulfillment of that prophecy: “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Elijah.) It was only a small group of people that received this revelation. To most of the religious leaders, John was no more than an overzealous critic of their organizations. Not only did they not recognize the spirit of Elijah, but worse, they also missed the Coming of Christ. So did John the Baptist fulfill Malachi’s prophecy? Not completely. First of all, the world has not “burned as an oven” yet, so we know that at least part of Malachi 4 is yet to happen. Another part of the Scripture that was not fulfilled by John was, “turn the heart of the children to their fathers.” And, Jesus, Himself, prophesied that Elijah shall (future) come and restore all things. (Matt 17:11) Therefore we should be looking for Elijah before the Second Coming of Christ! Now, in this modern day, it is time for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Again, we are promised that the spirit of Elijah will introduce Him to us according to Malachi 4. But what group of people will recognize Elijah when he comes? Only those who are looking for him. These Words of our Lord and Saviour come to mind when we think of Malachi’s prophecy for these closing hours of time: But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not... Matthew 17:12 What if we miss this coming of Elijah? Will we then miss the Second Coming of Christ, like the scribes and Pharisees missed His First Coming because they did not recognize John the Baptist? References II Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. Isaiah 40:3-4 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: [John the Baptist] Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger [John the Baptist], and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 4:1-6 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven [hasn’t happened yet]; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children [John the Baptist], and the heart of the children to their fathers [modern Elijah], lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Matthew 11:10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. [Malachi 3:1, John the Baptist] Matthew 11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. [John the Baptist] Matthew 17:11-12 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. [Modern Elijah] But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. [John the Baptist] Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. [John the Baptist]