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Spirit of Elijah - Why?

What is the significance of “the spirit and power of Elijah”, and why do many present-day believers feel like it will be released again?  Wasn’t John the Baptist the fulfillment of this prophecy found in Malachi 4?  The angel that visited Zacharias (John’s dad) even quote that exact passage.”Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord - and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6″Your prayers have been heard… you will have a son… he will be great in the sight of the Lord… filled with the Holy Spirit… he will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children’… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:13-17First, it is important to note the Holy Spirit inspired words of Malachi, “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”  The phrase, “the day of the Lord,” and especially when it is combined with words like great, terrible, dreadful, and awesome, usually point clearly to the second coming of the Messiah (books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zephaniah, Acts, 2 Peter, etc). This brings up an important revelation that Lord gave me (that should have been really obvious, but it just recently hit me with its weight): the Jews expectation of a warrior-messiah, coming to overthrow tyranical secular rule and establish His righteous government on the earth was not mistaken.  The Old Testament prophecies clearly describe this coming of the Lord, and so does the book of Revelations.  However, there are a lot of prophecies describing the coming of the Lord that the world has already experienced, when He came as the sacrificial lamb (e.g. Isaiah 53).  They just had “the comings” out of order.His next coming will be great… and awesome… and terrible… and dreadful.The Malachi prophecy points to BOTH comings of Jesus.  The methods have not changed.  Their is nothing new under the sun, and there is little need for cultural relevance.  The problems of fatherlessness are the same from generation to generation, and compound over time.We need Abba Father to send this spirit and this power to the fathers and mothers on the earth today.  We need a generation of John the Baptists… of burning and shining lamps who will remove themselves from secular pursuits and call a region, a nation, a world back to their heavenly Father.

Comments

Comment from Jakob
Time: December 1, 2008, 1:59 pm

I guess I’ve always been confused by the horizontal reference in this verse. I’ve often thought to myself “why would the Spirit of Elijah not turn the hearts of the fathers and the children to THE FATHER which would also then turn our hearts back to each other.” I guess what I’m asking is why there seems to be an emphasis on the second commandment in this verse as opposed to the first.

Comment from Aaron
Time: December 1, 2008, 3:29 pm

When you say “1st & 2nd commandment”, I assume you mean “the greatest, and the one like it” from Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, right? 1st - Love God; 2nd - Love others & yourself… just clarifying for random readers. Moving on:

You would THINK that turning someone’s heart to our Heavenly Father (vertical) would be sufficient to change & turn their heart towards their earthly father and towards others, but, seriously, just look at the church as a whole. Look at a large chunk of pastors in the world, and then look at their own children.

It is entirely possible, with the human heart the way it is, to become consumed and focused on loving the Lord, and then end up neglecting and disrespecting the humans in your life. It’s entirely TOO possible! Don’t you think?

Comment from Jakob
Time: December 1, 2008, 8:52 pm

You are very right I think on this one, if I can’t turn my heart to my earthly father then I certainly can’t turn my heart to my Heavenly Father, but the question remains which came first the chicken or the egg? There are allot of humanistic people who turn their hearts to their children and their fathers but don’t know THE FATHER, How can we know what love is if we don’t know God (who is love) first? Is this passage talking about the Israelites/Followers of Jesus? I know this passage is for the end of days and I know that the love of many will grow cold, will the great Joel outpouring on all flesh be the thing that turns the hearts? Humor me here Aaron I’m still trying to drink my milk!

Comment from Aaron
Time: December 2, 2008, 4:30 pm

All people can know “phileo” love, and have “right & wrong written on their hearts” - making them very capable of being great fathers & mothers, children & siblings, leaders & citizens. But only those with the Spirit of God inside them are capable of “agape” love… the kind mentioned in 1 John 4:19, that requires that He first give it to us, before we can have it at all.

In Luke, the angel tells Zacharias that [A] he (who was the spirit of Elijah) will turn many children of Israel to God, and then also [B] turn the hearts of fathers to the children. (Luke 1:16-17) Will this only happen within the church? That’s not black-and-white enough for a straight answer, but, do we just want to be those whose hearts get turned, or do we want to be the ones moving in the spirit & power of Elijah TURNING these hearts? That will be believers.

There is no direct Biblical connection that I am aware of between Joel 2 (spirit poured on all flesh) and Malachi 4 (hearts of the fathers/children). But, it would look to me, from reading through Joel 2, that somewhere between “returning to the Lord”, “rending your heart”, “fasting & weeping” and His Spirit being poured out is when the hearts will be turning.

Comment from smith
Time: March 19, 2009, 8:18 am

Hi,

I have the same question as Jakob - I am puzzling over the ending of Malachi.

re: Turn the hearts of fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers

To my mind this speaks of relating correctly to others.

As in commandments #6-10 from Exodus, or #2 from Jesus’ summary of the 10 (as per Jakob)

Luke says that John the Baptist fulfils this - well he kind of does I guess - Within the Christian family we see that unity played out in Acts.

But I’m not clear as to why this “sign” is the one Malachi chooses to give.

Why doesn’t he say Elijah will turn the people’s hearts to the Lord. ie. relate correctly to God. #1-5 Ex or #1 per Jesus.

Even if we look for clues in the rest of the book of Malachi - i.e. at the disputes that Malachi refers to, we see 1) unacceptable sacrifices 2) divorce 3) social justice 4) tithes

1 and 4 are about relating to God.
2 is about relating to God and Others.
3. Is about relating to Others.

Ok – relating rightly to other people is in there – But why emphasise that in the conclusion rather than relating rightly to God. Isn’t Jesus’ main work making us right with God – doesn’t relating rightly to others flow from that?

Help!!

Comment from Aaron
Time: March 19, 2009, 10:20 am

Great stuff, smith. Here’s my quick answer (due to a really busy week), and I hope to get to pray about this and respond more thoroughly next week.

A HUGE obstacle that stands in the way of people seeing, accepting, feeling, and understanding our Heavenly Father’s love for His children is because they have never experienced “a father’s love” in a Godly manner. Few have fathers in their homes, and of those that do, too many are so addicted, exhausted, or frustrated to express a fatherly love (as God intended) for their children.

That’s one reason I think that the order of these phrases in Malachi is specific and purposeful. A generation of fathers needs to arise that will give themselves to their children. From that place of truly exemplified fatherly love, the children will still have to make a decision of whether or not to give their affections to their fathers. Right now, they barely even have the option, because the relationship is so strained.

Yes, this seems overly simplified or focused too much on “the humane” instead of “the divine”, but, just like marriage, God has ordained family structure to lead us into right relationship with Him. Family needs to be restored - and, in particular, fatherhood.

Comment from Jakob
Time: May 8, 2009, 10:58 am

I like the way you did what you did Aaron, kinda like what David did, oh yeah!

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