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The Bible tells us that John was not Elijah the prophet resurrected from the dead. Rather, it tells us that John was to “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).
John himself declared that he was not Elijah (John 1:21). And Jesus confirmed that John came in fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming of Elijah (Matt. 11:9–14; 17:10–13). The disciples clearly saw that (Matt. 17:13).
Elijah’s bravery in the days of apostasy (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1–19, 36–40) showed that the prophet was faithful in restoring the nation of Israel back to the Lord. In a similar manner, the work of John resembled that of the prophet Elijah in preparing the way before the Messiah and leading people to repentance and reformation.
John was like Elijah, not only in his bold preaching amid national apostasy (1 Kings 21:17–24; Matt. 3:7–10), but also in his simple life and humble appearance (Matt. 3:4; 2 Kings 1:8).
The ministry of John the Baptist as the heralder of the Messiah was prophesied (Isa. 40:1–11; Mal. 3:1; 4:5, 6) in the Scriptures and people knew that John resembled Elijah (John 1:19–21). For the two prophets were persecuted for declaring their God given messages in a time of spiritual darkness (1 Kings 18:10; 19:2; Matt. 14:10).
The religious leaders knew that “Elias must first come” before the coming of the Messiah (Matt. 17:10; Mark 9:11, 12) and that he would call the people to repentance (Matt. 3:1–10). Even after the death of John the priests, scribes, and elders did not deny that John was from God (Matt. 21:24–27; Mark 11:29–33; Luke 20:3–7). Also, King Herod knew that John was God’s prophet therefore, he didn’t have the courage to kill him until he was forced to do so (Matt. 14:3–11; Mark. 6:17–28).
The ministry done by Elijah and John the Baptist is needed in our apostate world today. God calls His faithful children to go out and preach in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist to bring reformation and get people ready for Christ soon coming (John 8:56; 1 Peter 1:10, 11).
In His service,