“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5, 6).
In the time of Jesus, many believed that Elijah would literally come down from heaven to live again on the earth. This is shown in the disciple’s response to Jesus’ question, “‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ So they answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again’ ” (Luke 9:18, 19).
But Malachi’s prophecy wasn’t intended to imply that the Old Testament prophet would return. Instead, it was Elijah’s spirit of revival and reformation that was predicted to return.
The angel Gabriel said to Zacharias, speaking of the birth of John the Baptist, “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Gabriel pointed out that John the Baptist would fulfill Malachi’s prophecy.
John was to do a work of revival and reformation for the coming of Savior. Jesus later confirmed this fact when He said, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:13, 14).
But Malachi’s prophecy does not end with the Baptist. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” This “great and dreadful day,” also called “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17), points to the second coming. The final fulfillment of this prophecy will happen just before Christ returns!
What will the spirit and power of Elijah do? “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). True revival transforms the heart and lives of God’s people.
Jesus said that at the end of time, His disciples will preach the truth boldly: “Watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them” (Mark 13:9). And also they will preach the truth by living the Elijah lifestyle—pure and humble. Their godly living habits and style will reflect that they have been with Jesus.
In His service,