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:






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 great tribulation 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 the tribulation.

In order to understand the differences between the tribulation and the day of the Lord we must understand that the day of His wrath is the beginning of “the day of the Lord”. How do we know that? Rev. 6:16-17 tells us that the kings of the earth said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come.…”. How will they know that the day of His wrath had come? We read in Rev. 6:12-13, “and I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a might wind”. In other words, the kings of the earth will know that the day of God’s wrath had come because they will see the cosmic signs spoken of in this passage. I am not suggesting that they will necessarily  know the scriptures, but they obviously will know that these signs were from God, which is proved by their statement “the great day of His wrath is come”.

Let us consider the cosmic disturbances of the sun becoming black and the moon as blood and the stars falling to the earth. We read of these same cosmic events in Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come“. So these cosmic signs will appear before the day of the Lord and those of Rev. 6:18-17 will understand that they were the signs from God of the day of His wrath. Obviously, these signs will occur only once. That means that the day of God’s wrath begins the day of the Lord.

Now let us add one more passage to this study and we will see that the cosmic events will occur after the tribulation. We read in Matt. 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken“.

So we have the following sequence of events.

1) The tribulation, followed by

2) The cosmic events that will occur “before”

3) The day of the Lord which is. the day of God’s wrath

For a more complete study of the differences between the day of the Lord and the tribulation please see the paper on that topic

I suggest therefore that Elijah will come before the day of the Lord, but not before the great tribulation.


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”.


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 Israel at His second coming.

There is one more very important thing to consider when we speak of the restoration of all things. The millennial temple will be built by Christ after 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.  This tells us that Elijah will not restore the templeChrist 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.


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 within a very short time. 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: janjoyce@aol.com