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Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
– Malachi 4:5
Scofield, Larkin, LaHaye, Van Impe, and other prophetic speculators love to talk about the second coming of Elijah the prophet. They run to the last verses of the Old Testament and get so excited with their discovery.
But they make two big errors in this passage. They think Elijah actually means the wild prophet of Israel, and they think the day of the LORD is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Both of these assumptions are dead wrong.
First, let us consider Elijah. Jesus taught plainly that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy totally, as he came in the spirit and power of Elijah.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. (Matthew 11:13-14)
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:11-13)
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. (Luke 1:17)
John the Baptist was the “Elijah” that would come before the day of the LORD. But He came 2000 years ago, just as Jesus declared.
Second, let us consider the day of the LORD. Jesus taught plainly that He would judge Israel with unspeakable wrath for crucifying Him, and He did this in 70 A.D., just a few years after John the Baptist warned of it.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:43-44)
But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. (Matthew 22:7)
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. (Acts 2:40)
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. (I Thessalonians 2:16)
The great and dreadful day of the LORD was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, which Jesus Christ sent against the Jews in vengeance for rejecting Him and the gospel.
Don’t be misled by prophetic speculators. Elijah has already come in the person of John the Baptist. He warned Israel of the wrath that was coming if they did not repent, and it surely came upon that evil generation.