"And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.Matthew 11:14(NASB)
At the very end of Malachi we read: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and turn the hearts of children to their fathers - but if they do not believe, I will come and strike the land with a curse."
Following this final prophesy in Malachi, we have the gospel of Matthew, which opens with "a record of the life of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham". The combined facts from the four gospel-writers, paints the perfect picture of Christ's life and ministry. He was the Lord, Whom Malachi foretold would suddenly come to His temple, which the religious leaders had turned into a den of thieves. He was the Lord - even the messenger of the Covenant - the New Covenant in His blood, which God promised to make with His people Israel.
Earlier in Israel's history Isaiah spoke of the suffering Servant, Who would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and He shed his blood as the ransom price for the sin of the world. He identified Him with the one who would come as "voice" crying in the wilderness - 'prepare ye the way of the Lord'".
From the mouth of two witnesses we identify John the Baptist as that voice in the wilderness, who would turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers. "REPENT," was the forceful message that resounded from his lips. "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near".
John was the man who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah. He was the voice who would "go before the Lord to prepare His ways". He was the prophet who pointed to Jesus as "the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world". He was the one who witnessed the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descend, like a dove, on Christ - as the Father declared, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased".
But most would not believe John's urgent message, and this powerful prophet, was thrown into gaol to silence the truth. Confusion must have swept the heart of this great man of God, who sent his followers to ask: "Are You the One Who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"
YES! John was the voice in the wilderness. He was the one who would turn the heart of many back to the Lord, and Jesus identified him as the greatest of all men, born of women, with the following statement: "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself IS Elijah who was to come".
For Jews and Gentiles alike, who believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.. John the Baptist was Elijah the prophet, Whom God sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He spoke in the spirit and power of Elijah and turned the heart of many in Israel back to God.
For those who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ - these prophecies from Isaiah and Malachi have already been fulfilled and our life is now hid with Christ in God and we are part of the New Creation in Christ.
However, those who did not hearken to John's powerful message and rejected their Messiah; together with ALL who do not believe on the only begotten Son of God; will have to face the eternal consequences of their choice - "but as for me and my house WE WILL SERVE THE LORD".
Heavenly Father, thank You that You tell us the end from the beginning and that Your word is clear for all who have eyes to see and a heart that believes on Christ, for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. Thank You for the prophetic writings of Old Testament prophets like Malachi, who point us to Christ, and record history before it happens. Thank You also for the New Testament apostles and prophets Who have opened up our understanding of past events in Israel's history and shown how everything points to JESUS, the Lamb of God and Lion of the tribe of Judah. Give me an understanding heart and a desire to seek the truth of Your word, for Your praise and glory - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.