Consider John The Baptizer– Elijah Has Come!
Don K. Preston
“I will send Elijah… before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” (Malachia 4:5-6)
The role of John the Baptizer, as Elijah, is one of the most ignored themes and subjects in the entire field of eschatology. Yet, apart from Paul- and of course, Jesus– John is the most significant and important eschatological figure in the entire NT!
Jesus clearly and unambiguously identified John as the anticipated “Elijah” (Matthew 11; Matthew 17). In spite of this, our dispensational friends say that what Jesus actually meant in Matthew 11 is that John would be the promised Elijah, if they would accept him. However, if and since they did not accept him, then John would not be the anticipated prophet, and the world would have to wait for the “real” Elijah to come.
But wait! There is something horribly wrong with this scenario! Let me briefly explain. Please, catch the power of this!!
In dispensational eschatology, Elijah does not come until after the Rapture, and during the seven year Tribulation period before the second coming.
Do you see a train coming, with lights blaring and horns blasting? You should!
So, consider the significance of the appearance of Elijah to the doctrine of the Rapture.
If Elijah was not to appear until after the Rapture, then how in the name of reason could Jesus have said that John was Elijah, even contingently? Let me re-emphasize that in millennialism, Elijah does not come until after the rapture. Do you catch that?
So, if John was Elijah– even contingently– then of necessity, the rapture had to have already taken place! (And since the Rapture has to do, we are told, exclusively with the church, to remove her from the world, this is problematic, to say the least! The church did not exist when John ministered.)
You see, had the Jews accepted John as Elijah, and the rapture had not already taken place, then the entire (dispensational) prophetic time line would have been destroyed!
Furthermore, the anticipated Elijah was to appear before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, (not before the Rapture). Now watch this:
Mark identified John as the Voice crying in the wilderness (Mark 1:1-4). No contingency, no conditionality; He was “The Voice.” But, the Voice was to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord in judgment (Isaiah 40:1-12).
In addition, Jesus unambiguously and emphatically identified John as “the Messenger” who would prepare the way of the Lord for His coming to His temple in judgment: “This is he of whom it was said: “Behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare the way before you” (Matthew 17:10). Once again, no conditionality to who John was. No contingency demanding the Jews’ acceptance of John’s role. He was “The Messenger.” And that Messenger was to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord when no one could stand before him, in the Day of judgment that would burn up the wicked like stubble (Malachi 4:1-3).
If John was, unconditionally and un-contingently, The Voice and The Messenger, then upon what logic can we argue that he was only Elijah conditionally? This is eminently illogical.
The facts are indisputable. John was The Voice / The Messenger, and in the OT texts, the Voice / Messenger was, as Elijah, to prepare for the Day of the Lord! Was The Voice / Messenger to prepare for a different Day of the Lord from that which “Elijah” was to prepare the people? There is not a word of scripture to suggest this.
So, since John was The Voice / The Messenger, then he was patently Elijah. There was no conditionality, no “if you will he is, but if you won’t he isn’t” identification of John as Elijah.
So, the identify of John as Elijah (The Voice / The Messenger) falsifies dispensationalism. Actually, John as Elijah falsifies all futurist eschatologies. More on that later.
See my The Last Days Identified or my Who Is This Babylon book for much, much more on the significance of John as an eschatological figure.