Q. I grew up in church whose founder believed that he was the Elijah quoted in Malachi 4:5-6. Others have refuted his claims on the basis that Jesus said, “Elijah has already come and you did not recognize him”. But if that were so, why does Malachi 4:5 say ‘before the great and terrible day of the Lord? That sounds like a messenger (Elijah) is meant to show up before the tribulation. I’m no longer a member of this church but I am confused about whether such a messenger is yet to come onto the scene. What do you think?
A. First of all, I think it’s good that you’re no longer part of that church. I’m certain its leader is not Elijah, because Elijah’s ministry is to Israel not the Church.
In Matt. 17:12 Jesus said Elijah had come in the person of John the Baptist. Because they didn’t recognize him, and by extension the Messiah Himself, the Lord struck the land with a curse in a partial fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. But I don’t think Malachi’s prophecy was completely fulfilled. I believe Elijah will come one more time in the person of one of the two witnesses of Rev. 11:3-14. (I think the other witness will be Moses.) This time it will be just before the beginning of the great and terrible day of the Lord, since the Great Tribulation will begin shortly after the arrival of these two witnesses, and Malachi’s prophecy will finally be fulfilled.