There has been a great deal written on the mission of Elijah when he comes “before the day of the Lord”. When will he be sent? What will he be sent to do? Who will be sent? I will address these question. but let us first consider two verses that speak of Elijah’s coming, Mal. 4:4-5. “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, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”.
We will discuss the following topics concerning Elijah’s mission:
THE DAY OF THE LORD
THE LORD’S DAY
“RESTORE ALL THINGS”
WHO WILL COME BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD?
THE DAY OF THE LORD
As the reader will see as we study Elijah’s mission, the question of when he will come greatly influences the question of what he will be sent to do. We have already seen that Elijah will come “before the day of the Lord”. But unfortunately, some think of the “day of the Lord” and the “the Lord’s day” as the same event. That has led to what is, in my opinion, great error in terms of Elijah’s mission. So it is necessary to understand what the Scriptures say about the”day of the Lord” and what they say about the “Lord’s day”.
It is clear from Rev. 1:10 and 19 that everything that is recorded in the book of Revelation is what John saw while in the spirit in the “Lord’s day”. Those verses read, “I was in the spirit in the Lord’s day….”. And, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter”. In other words, John recorded in Revelation all that he had seen while he was by the spirit in the Lord’s day .
Unfortunately the note in the Companion Bible on the term “Lord’s day” in Rev. 1:10 is not helpful in dispelling the misconception that the “Lord’s day” is the same event as “the day of the Lord”. That note reads, “The Lord’s day = the day of the Lord (Is. 2:12&c.), the Heb. terms for which are equivalent to the Greek he kuriake hemera, the Lord’s day. Occ. I Thess. 5:2, II Thess. 2:2 (with texts) II Peter 3:10….”.
But the Greek term in Rev. 1:10 is not exactly the same asthe term found in I Thess. or II Thess. or in II Peter. Those verses have the Greek term that is correctly translated “the day of the Lord”. The term “the Lord’s day” is slightly different in the Greek, as it is in English, than the term “the day of the Lord”. In my opinion, where the Holy Spirit uses a different (even if only slightly different) term, that difference must be considered and accounted for. We will do that as we continue in this study.
The reason I do not agree that the day of the Lord is the same as the Lord’s day is because John wrote in Revelation of the tribulation, of the day of the Lord, of the millennium and of the new heavens and new earth. As we shall see, the day of the Lord is characterized as a day of darkness, a day of vengeance and a day of judgment. The millennium is never characterized as such. And certainly the new heavens and new earth are never characterized as such. Therefore, because the character of the new heavens and new earth is exactly opposite from the character of the day of the Lord, it cannot, in my opinion, be included in the term “day of the Lord”. But it can be, and is, included in the term “Lord’s day”.
Let us search the Scripture for a correct understanding of the character of the day of the Lord. The following are all the Old Testament passages that speak of the day of the Lord.
I will quote only the fifteen passages in which the Hebrew reads, “yom Jehovah”, i.e. the day of the Lord. There are four passages in which the Hebrew has “l” as a prefix which, according to the Companion Bible, means “for” or “to” Jehovah. Those four passages are: Is. 2:12, Ezek. 30:3, Zech. 14:1 and 17. The passages below will prove that the day of the Lord is not a time of restoration and does include the millennial reign or the new heavens and new earth, i.e. it is a time of judgment and of destruction.
Is. 13:6 and 9, “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand, it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty“.
Ezek. 13:5, “Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord”.
Joel 1:15, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come”.
Joel 2:1-2, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains…..”
Joel 2:11, “And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned unto darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come”.
Joel 3:14-16, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake….”.
Amos 5:18, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light”.
Amos 5:20, “Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light, even very dark, and no brightness in it”
Obadiah 15, “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head”.
Zeph. 1:7-8, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel”.
Zeph. 1:14-15, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, and day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness”.
Mal. 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”.
The New Testament does not contradict the picture of the day of the Lord given in the Old Testament. The phrase is used four times in the New Testament.
Acts 2:20 is a quote from Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come”.
I Thess. 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night”
II Thess. 2:2, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, not by a letter, as from us, as that the day of the (texts read) Lord is at hand”.
II Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up“.
We have learned that the day of the Lord will be a day of destruction and a day of the Lord’s wrath and vengeance. And that it will come as a thief in the night. Another truth we have learned about the day of the Lord is that it is never spoken of as a time of restoration or as a time of peace.
John includes the millennium and new heavens and new earth in the record of what he saw in the Lord’s day. The millennium is a time of restoration. The new heavens and new earth is a time of peace and tranquility, a time when God will dwell with man on earth. The day of the Lord has no such characterizations. In fact, it is characterized in the exact opposite terms. We cannot assume with no Scriptural evidence that the day of the Lord will be a day of peace, when, as we have seen, all the scriptures that speak of the day of the Lord are described in opposite terms. But because the day of the Lord is included in what John saw while in the “Lord’s day” we may conclude that, the day of the Lord is included in the term “Lord’s day” but that they are not one and the same event.
THE LORD’S DAY
As mentioned above, the “Lord’s day” of Rev. 1:10 refers to everything that John recorded in the book of Revelation. Those visions include the tribulation, the day of the Lord, the millennial reign, the revolt that follows the millennium, and the new heavens and new earth. Elijah will come before the day of the Lord which we have seen is a day of destruction and does not include the millennium. Why is this important in our study of Elijah? As we continue in our study, it will have a great impact on the question of what Elijah’s mission will be. We have read in Mal. 4:4-5 that Elijah will come before the destruction of the day of the Lord. Now that we have seen when he will come, we must address the question of what he will be sent to do.
Elijah’s mission is clearly stated in Mal. 4:5, “……. he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers……..”.
Note the very limited ministry assigned to Elijah. He will be sent to turn the children to their fathers and fathers to their children. In Mark 13:12 we read of the terrible relationships between fathers and children brought on by the “beginning of sorrows”, “Now the brother shall betray brother to death, and the father the son; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death”. I suggest that Elijah will be sent to Israel to reverse the tragic relationships between fathers and their children that will exist “before the day of the Lord”.
RESTORE ALL THINGS.
But how are we to understand Mark 9:12 where we read, “.. He answered and told them, ‘Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things…..”? Let us first consider what is meant specifically by the phrase “restoreth all things”.
We read in Acts 1:6, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ ” The same Greek word that is translated “restoreth” in Mark 9:12 is used in Acts 1:6. The Lord’s disciples were asking about restoring the kingdom to Israel. We know that Christ, not Elijah, will restore the kingdom to Israelat His second coming.
There is one more very important thing to consider when we sp
eak of the restoration of all things. The millennial temple will be built by Christafter He returns. We read in Zech. 6:12, “And speak unto him, saying, ‘…….Behold the Man Whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne…….”. This is an obvious reference to the millennial temple as Christ has not built any other temple This passage says that the millennial temple will be built by the Lord. He certainly won’t build it before He returns because that would mean that it would be built before the tribulation and then destroyed by the anitchrist (see Dan. 9:26). Therefore, I believe our Lord will build the millennial temple after He returns. Since Mal. 4:4-5 is a prophecy of the time before Christ returns, (before the day of the Lord) Mal. 4:4-5 cannot refer to Christ. This tells us that Elijahwill not restore the temple, Christ will.
In short, neither the kingdom or the temple will be restored when Elijah comes before the day of the Lord. Both will be restored by Jesus Christ at His coming. We cannot attribute to Elijah those things that will be accomplished by our Lord. If however, we understand the phrase “restoreth all things” in the context of what Elijah will actually be sent to restore, there is no confusion about who will do what. We are specifically told what Elijah will be sent to restore, i.e. to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”. He will restore all the things that he will be sent to restore.
WHO WILL COME BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD?
Mal. 4 tells us that it will be Elijah who will come before the day of the Lord. But Elijah will come before the return of Christ and therefore, before the resurrection. Many believe that Elijah will be resurrected before the second coming of Christ. I believe that the more plausible scenario is that one will come in the power of Elijah.
We read in Matt. 11:14 of Christ’s words concerning John the Baptist, “If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come”. In other words, if Israel had received Christ, John the Baptist would have fulfilled the office of Elijah. John the Baptist would not, of course, suddenly turn into a different person, i.e. Elijah, he would have fulfilled the office of the prophet Elijah. I believe that because Mal. 4:4-5 could have been fulfilled by John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah, that the one who will fulfill it will not be the resurrected Elijah, but someone who will come in the spirit of Elijah, i.e. someone who will fulfill the office of prophet, of which Elijah is the representative.
But one may ask, “Who will that person be that will fulfill the office of Elijah?” As far as I can tell, we are not told. When Scripture is silent, I believe that we too should be silent. It is, in my opinion, better to be not-knowing than to assign the role to a person unnamed in God’s Word.
I have tried to present the Scriptural evidence to show that Mal. 4:4-5 will be fulfilled before the day of the Lord. Because the day of the Lord is a day of destruction, it makes no sense to conclude that Elijah will restore the temple or the kingdom to Israel only to have it destroyed. Therefore, I believe that when we read that Elijah will “restore all things” we must consider the actual prophecy of Mal. 4 and see the “all things” in the limited sense of what Elijah will be sent to do.
I believe that it will be one who will come as a representative of the prophets, i.e. in the spirit of Elijah, who will fulfill that mission.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond to it, please e-mail me at: email@example.com