And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things;Matthew 17:11(NASB)
For 400 years God's voice had been silent, until John the Baptist declared, "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand". Jesus came to present Himself to Israel as their promised Messiah-King, from the line of David - the Prophet like unto Moses - the Priest after the order of Melchizedek. He came to fulfil His ministry of reconciliation and to offer His life, as the ransom price for sin. He came to fulfil the righteous requirement of the Law and to reconcile man to God through the sacrifice of Himself. He came as the Light of the world and Lamb of God. He came as your Saviour and mine.
The day came when Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God", and Jesus told them of His imminent death and warned of the high cost of discipleship. He informed them of His second advent when the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His holy angels, to judge the world in righteousness. He explained that some, standing amongst them, would not taste death until they saw the Son of Man coming in His glory.
And then, six days later, it happened!! Peter, James, and John saw the Son of Man transfigured before their eyes. They saw Him talk with Moses and Elijah about his death and resurrection. They saw His face shining like the sun. They saw the brightness of His robes, which shone as white as light. These three men witnessed "the Son of Man coming in His kingdom," and heard the voice of God saying, "This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
It was as they came down from their amazing experience that they asked why the scribes taught that Elijah must come first - before the Messiah. They had forgotten that 400 years before the Word became flesh and dwelt among them, that Malachi prophesied, "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord". He explained that "Elijah would come to restore all things."
Elijah's mission was to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers". But then Jesus said a most astonishing thing regarding those who would believe in Him - but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognise him...” Then the disciples understood that Jesus spoke to them about John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah.
However, the disciples were still confused, for they realised that Jesus had come before Elijah! He has been born 33 years earlier. Jesus began His ministry three years before this appearance of Elijah on the holy mountain. However, they soon understood that figuratively, Elijah came in the person and ministry of John the Baptist, but few recognised the significance of John's mission.
Elijah came both figuratively and literally 2000 years ago, but he was not accepted by the majority in the person of John - whose ministry was cut short. Jesus knew that like John... He would be rejected and the kingdom, promised to Israel, would be put on hold, because the nation refused to recognise John as Elijah and Jesus as their Messiah-King. But for those who DID receive Him, Elijah had already come, both figuratively and literally!
Had Israel accepted Christ at His first coming, the world would have been ready for His kingdom - then and there. But Jesus came to His own people, and they rejected Him, and the kingdom of heaven had to be postponed until the time that God has appointed - BUT as many as received Him were given the power to become sons of God, citizens of the Kingdom and to THEM Elijah has already come. Elijah has already come to those who believe, for we are not appointed to the wrath of the Great Tribulation.
For those of us who believe on the Son of Man, Elijah has already come - both figuratively and literally. But for those who do not believe in Jesus, this prophecy of Malachi has yet to be fulfilled. It may be fulfilled figuratively; it may be fulfilled literally and it may be both figuratively and literally. Jesus told us that "Elijah is coming and will restore all things". He will come at a time when the love of many is cold. He will come in the end-times... when prophecy dictates that ungodly children will rebel against their fathers and estranged father will be cold towards their sons.
Like John the Baptist, Elijah will prepare the hearts of Jewish people to call on their Messiah - Jesus Christ the righteous, Who Himself will restore the kingdom of God that was lost in Eden to that old serpent, which is the devil - and Satan. Israel rejected Jesus and the kingdom was put on hold ... but Christ will restore the kingdom and reconcile man to God. However, figuratively, literally or both, Elijah will come, like a voice, crying in the wilderness during the Great Tribulation - repent of your sin and turn back to the true and living God - and choose life rather than death.
Elijah will probably come as one of the witnesses in Revelation. He will testify of His meeting with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. He will restore Israel's hope in God's promises and reignite faith in their Messiah. Elijah will come to testify to the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of JESUS for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
Heavenly Father, I stand in awe of Your amazing plan of redemption. Thank You that I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and like Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John... on the Mount of Transfiguration, I have been granted a peep into the coming kingdom of Christ. Thank You that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus, to be my Saviour and that through Him all the families of the earth are blessed. Thank You that in Christ I have already been granted a place in Your kingdom and I pray that the hearts of many of Your people will be turned back to faith in God and hope in Jesus, their Messiah-King - in Whose name I pray, AMEN.