Articles of Faith |

Elijah, the Two Witnesses and the Church

In the book authored by the prophet Malachi, he foretells of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah.

Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, He shall come, says the LORD if hosts (Malachi 3:1).

The angel Gabriel declared that John the Baptist would “Go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).

Jesus’ disciples had knowledge of this prophecy, and it was being taught by the religious leadership that the messenger that was to precede the coming Messiah was Elijah. So when Jesus’ disciples asked Him, -

“Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must first come?”
     And Jesus answered and said to them, “Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say to you, that Elijah is come already, and they did not know him, but have done to him whatever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.”
     Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

Thus Jesus is declaring that Malachi’s prophecy had been gloriously fulfilled.

At this moment in time, the church is anticipating the second coming of the Messiah. While much of the Christian church has drifted into apostasy, there is a remnant within the body of professed believers that will repeat John the Baptist’s role in preparing God’s people for the return of the Bridegroom.

In the eleventh chapter of the book of Revelation, two witnesses are evangelizing in Israel. In verse four they are described as “candlesticks.” In Revelation candlesticks are identified as churches. There is no other application for the word in Revelation (Rev. 1:20). In the same verse they are also called “Olive Trees.” In scripture there are two olive trees; one representing the Hebrews and the wild olive tree that is symbolic of the Gentiles that has been grafted into the Hebrew olive tree (Romans 11:16-17). So we are being shown that the two witnesses are Messianic Jews and believing Gentiles ministering as one. This remnant church is the equivalent of John the Baptist functioning in his role to prepare the way for the Lord’s return. There is no other “Elijah” appearing in scripture that fulfills this role, other than the two witnesses/remnant church.

God would have every believer be included in that remnant category. The zeal and power those witnesses demonstrate is available to every Christian who is willing to make Jesus Lord of their lives, pick up their cross (die to self) and follow Him on a daily basis.

The fire that proceeds from the witnesses mouths in verse five, is figurative of the word of God that they are proclaiming. –

Is not My word like as a fire? Says the LORD; and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29).

When people stray from following God’s word, they invent for themselves another version of God that does not correct or demand repentance; a turning from sin. Thus the prophet’s words fall on them with the severity of a consuming fire and a rock smashing hammer that comes against the hardness of their hearts.

John the Baptist preached repentance and did not hesitate to correct someone who was in sin. His rebuke of Herod resulted in his death. Likewise, those who preach against sin will also be persecuted and maligned by those who are convicted by the fire of their words.

Because these witnesses have a close relationship with the Lord and have not shunned the intimacy of fellowship with Him, they have great power in prayer. The plagues that they can bring are directed at the wicked and the purpose is correction. Therefore the motive behind these plagues is love. They are demonstrating the power of God in an attempt to bring those that hear them to repentance.

Are these witnesses among us now? A pastor related to me this incident. Years ago when he was watching a news report on the riots in Los Angeles, a nervous reporter was asked what she was witnessing. She said, “A building was on fire across the street. A police car pulled up in front of it. The policeman got out, got down on his knees and prayed, then the fire went out.”

James encourages us all with these words,-

Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months (James 5:17).

The spirit and power of Elijah that was given to John the Baptist, is also available to all believers who share the single minded purpose of proclaiming our Savior’s glory and salvation to the world and the apostate church.

Copyright 2024 by H.D. Shively

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