The meaning of Elijah, according to Strong's Concordance, is "God
of Jehovah", and no one of the men of faith in the Old Testament
was more worthy, because of his life of faith and service, than the man
who could stand before the priests of Baal, and the King, than Elijah
the man. Surely he was the foremost of the prophets, in the strict sense
of the word, for prophet means "speaking forth for God". He
showed no fear when he challenged and taunted the priests of Baal, and
yet he was caring in the raising of the widow's son. In contrast, he was
fearful when threatened by Jezebel, fleeing to Horeb, forty days and
nights without food, where God spoke to him, telling him that He had
seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. He could rebuke
Israel for her sins and, for punishment, shut up the heavens for three
and a half years, "that it rained not"! In narrating this
James tells us (5:17) that "he was a man and subject to like
passions as we are".
Yet he was the personification and representative of the prophets, as
Moses was of the Law. "The law and the prophets" is also
identified as "church and state", and it was Moses and Elias
who appeared with our Lord at the Mount of Transfiguration, representing
the "Kingdom of God with Power" as they were all with Holy
Spirit power before the eyes of the three disciples.
So highly esteemed was he that the scribes and people generally,
based on the prophecy of Malachi, anticipated his return and asked John
the Baptist and our Lord if they were Elias. The answer was an emphatic
no, but our Lord did say: "If ye will receive it, this is Elias,
which was for to come" (Matthew 1 1: 14). In Matthew 17:12 He said
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". So both John and our Lord could have fulfilled
Malachi's prophecy had the people repented and heeded John's warning and
accepted our Lord's salvation.
In Matthew's Gospel (1 7:1 1) Jesus clearly stated "Elias truly
shall first come, and restore all things". That is a firm promise.
But which Elijah? The man in Old Testament history bearing the sacred
name? Or the Man Himself, the "God of Jehovah ". He is the
returning One as He has promised, "I will come again " (John
14:3). He is the Name in reality - not the prefiguring one.
What are the "all things" to be restored? If the Elijah is
the Old Testament prophet of Israel, the "all things" were all
part of the Israel economy. AND THEY ARE NOT TO BE RESTORED!
This interpretation is not of the generally taught views of the physical
reappearing of the man Elijah, and I am conscious of the fact that I
differ from other teachers, including colleagues. Orthodox Jewry also
accepts interpretation of Elijah's return, having an extra chair at the
Passover Feast, for his use.
- There is to be no temple (Revelation 21:22).
- There is no Aaronic priesthood (Hebrews 7:1 1).
- There are no more ordinances of worship (Colossians 2:14).
- The Law is not to be written on tables of stone, but in our hearts
(Jeremiah 3 1; Hebrews 1 0).
Perhaps we should go back to the source of the prophecy and ask Who
is Malachi? as he is the only prophet, as far as we can discover, who
specifically mentions this expectation. Reference books do not help much
as they all resort to probabilities. Lumen, in his "The Date of
Malachi", published in 1907, suggests that Malachi was not the last
of the prophets, writing in the period of Ezra and Nehemiah, 500-400
B.C.; more likely he was the first! And witnessing at the time of the
accession of Rehoboam, and the division of the Kingdom of Israel,
"The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi". Not
to the House of Israel nor to the House of Judah, and therefore before
the division was complete. He argues from internal evidence that there
is no mention of the Temple or of its destruction, as there would surely
be if the temple of Solomon had been destroyed and Zerubabbel's was
a-building, that much mention is made of the Edom might and power, which
was destroyed by David and Solomon, but which would be unknown at the
time of Ezra. He suggests the date of 960 circa, and that the "man
of Judah " who was sent to Jeroboam warning of God's judgements for
his making of sacrifices to false gods (1 Kings 13), might well have
been Malachi. If Malachi had existed in Ezra's time, united Israel would
have been divided and the House of Israel some 300 years into captivity!
Thus Elijah the prophet who had not yet commenced his ministry, must
be a type of "God of Jehovah " Who, in both revelations, warns
the nation of judgements for unfaithfulness, but it is the "God of
Jehovah "who brings restoration, as later prophets confirm.
But much more than that! He is the Creator-God! He is the Triune
Godhead! He is the Eternal Son, to be the Word Incarnate! He is the
Jehovah-King! He, the second Adam, Who restores all that the first Adam
lost. He restores and He makes all things new! He, the Creator-Christ,
makes a New Heaven and a New Earth!
How wonderful is this restoration as revealed in the victories of the
overcomers as promised in Revelation chapters two and three and the New
Jerusalem reign of the One Who upholds all things by the Word of His
The El-God the Creator and Jah the Jehovah-Judge-Saviour returns to
bring reconciliation to generations past and present.
Paul's letter to Titus sums it up: "Looking for that blessed
hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ,. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
Harold Stough, Pastor
Orange Street Congregational Church,