Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
This passage of scripture tells us with certainty that the prophet Elijah is scheduled to make an appearance on the earth just prior to the second coming of Jesus in the clouds of heaven. It is worthy of note that the distinctive prophecy is preceded by by an exhortation from The Lord Himself for us to remember the law given to Moses in Horeb. That law has as it's main component the Ten Commandments, written with the finger of God, and thus as we look to the third coming of Elijah the prophet, it's necessary that his message be commensurate with the promulgation of that sacred law.
It's important however for us to examine the historical settings that we may better understand what has begun to transpire before our very eyes. In the days of king Ahab, the people had turned their backs on God by trampling underfoot His commandments and statutes. The prophet Elijah was consequently sent by God with a message of reproof, calling the people's attention to His downtrodden law, and encouraging them, by means of judgements and entreaties to return to Him in sincerity and truth. Let's read:
1st Kings 18:17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. 21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
The people could not answer because they were without excuse, having had a clear revelation of God's will. However it is worthy of note that their response to the corrective measures sent from God, was confession of their sins and deep-seated reformation and change, which always accompanies true repentance. Let's read:
1st Kings 18:30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
This experience was again duplicated just prior to Christ's first coming at His incarnation, when God sent John the baptist to turn the hearts of the people back to the commandments of God which were also being trampled upon in John's day. Let's read:
Luke 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. ... ["Thou shalt not steal" 14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man. ... [ "Thou shalt not kill" ], ........ neither accuse any falsely; ... [ Thou salt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"] and be content with your wages. .....[ "Thou shalt not covet" ].
It is worthy of note that John's preaching of the law of God also resulted in a radical reformation and change amongst many of the backsliding Jews, as was the case when Elijah first presented the same message under similar circumstances. Let's read:
Matthew 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
John here represented Elijah because he did the same work that Elijah was called to do, that's why the scripture says that he came in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah, meaning that John was motivated by the same Holy Spirit as his predecessor. Jesus also confirmed this truth to the wondering multitudes after being questioned by the disciples of John, and thus by his words Christ certified that John indeed represented the second coming of Elijah the prophet. Let's read:
Matthew 11:7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 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. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
Thus we must expect a third appearance of "Elijah" before Christ comes again, according to the prophecy in Malachi. What we are to look for therefore is not merely a singular person, but rather the same message that was presented by both Elijah and John, and the same Holy Spirit which motivated them. The preaching and magnifying of the law of God in these last days of earth's history will subsequently trigger a worldwide revival that will result in many sons and daughters of God taking their stand for obedience to all ten commandments, including the the fourth which says "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy".
Question: Why is it important for us to know and understand these things?
Answer: It's necessary because a deadly counterfeit of the Gospel is now being paraded throughout modern Christendom, that teaches its adherents that God's law has been abolished or abrogated. Thus millions of sincere seekers for truth are currently being misled into thinking that it does not matter what you do, once you just "Love the Lord" and do good deeds. Hence the reason why the focal point of the gospel in our day is the commandments of God, for all of Christendom has already accepted and understood the doctrine of Christ as it pertains to our salvation.
Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
We observe with amazement that the very first message emanating from the Angel's mouth includes a call back to the fourth commandment, the one that starts with the word "Remember", for it is the one that most Christians seem to have forgotten. The words of verse 7 that say "Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea" are taken directly from the fourth commandment, and thus the Lord is reminding all of the inhabitants that His sacred law is still valid. We are therefore to be wary of any "Gospel" presented in our day that promotes "Love" without obedience, and eternal life without submission to Christ, for one's love to God is always measured in the context of obedience to all of His commandments. Let's read:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
1st John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1st John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
It is the will of God that we be able by His grace to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil, that we may not put darkness for light and vice versa. We therefore end with a promise for all sincere seekers for truth. Let's read:
Revelation 22:2 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
May this promise and experience be ours for the rest of our lives. God bless!