I told my sister I planned to tackle this subject, and I heard her turn pale over the phone. She checked her reference book to determine what the scholars said. When she turned to Matthew 11:13-15, she said they skipped over those verses to Matthew 16. Even the Bible scholars didn’t want to touch it. But I, intrepid farm kid that I am, forge ahead.
And as they were walking along and talking, behold, a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and they separated the two of them. Then Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.
Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and strike the land with complete destruction
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. The one who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Jesus speaking).
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
So here goes.
God took Elijah to heaven by whirlwind rather than death. Then Malachi predicted his return.
In John 1:21, John the Baptist denied that he came as Elijah, but would he know? Elijah’s sandals were big ones, and John may have felt inadequate to fill them. And Jesus doesn't tell us everything. John said he came to make straight the paths of the Lord. By ushering in Jesus did he prevent destruction?
Was Jesus our last chance? God demands justice. If, on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus had not said, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine,” why continue?
John had the Holy Spirit in Elizabeth’s womb. Elijah had the Holy Spirit. Anywhere Elijah went, the Spirit also went. Only Jesus and John came to earth filled with God's Spirit. Ordinary believers receive the Holy Spirit through salvation.
Jesus tells us openly that Elijah returned as John the Baptist. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Some intelligent people swear that the verse is figurative. John the Baptist became the Elijah of his day. I believe in Elijah's literal return as John the Baptist.
Others more educated and intelligent believe Elijah will come back as one of the two prophets mentioned in Revelations. I hope not. Poor Elijah. Two lifetimes of hardship?
Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us your mysteries to ponder.
Painting by Harry Anderson, Illustrator 1943