Christian reading

Issue N29

answers for a jew, valeriy sterkh

Answers for a Jew

Is it true that Elijah must come before the coming of the Messiah?

Question: The Bible says that Elijah will come three days before the coming of the Messiah. Elijah will proclaim to all nations that they must get ready for the coming of the Messiah. But this didn't happen in the lifetime of Jesus, did it?

Answer: It says in the book of Malachai: «Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts… Behold, I will send you Elijah [Elias] the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse» (Mal 3:1; 4:5-6).

Jews applied these words to Elijah the Tishbite. That's why, when the Apostles saw Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-10; Lk 9:28-36), after this «disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias [Elijah] must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist» (Mt 17:10-13; compare Mk 9:11-13).

But even before Jesus would say to the Jews: «What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee [Mal 3:1]. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come [Mal 4:5-6]. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear» (Mt 11:7-15).

This is what John the Baptist said about himself: «I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias [Isaiah]» (Jn 1:23). The underlying prophecy: «The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God» (Is 40:3).

He must have known that Archangel Gabriel had prophesied to his father: «Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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» (Lk 1:13-17).

At the same time, some of the Christian commentators believe that the second meaning of the above-mentioned prophecies alludes to the coming of Elijah the Tishbite before the Second Coming of Christ (see also Rev 11:3-12; Zech 4).

(to be continued)