Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
"Elijah Truly Shall Come First..."
What's all this business about Elijah to come, before the Messiah? Has Elijah already come? Was Herbert Armstrong "Elijah"? Will the prophet Elijah, or the one to come in his spirit and power, be recognized by the vast majority? How will you know who he is? What are the key signs? There are many false prophets arisen in the world, today, and many seducing spirits. How can you recognize a TRUE prophet or servant of YEHOVAH God?
by HOIM Staff
In the book of Matthew, Yeshua the Messiah said to his disciples, "Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise also shall the Son of man suffer of them" (Matthew17:11-12).
The Amplified Version has this passage, "Elijah does come and will get everything restored and ready; but I tell you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know or recognize him, but did to him as they liked. So also the Son of man is going to be treated and suffer at their hands."
The Phillips translation has: "'Yes, Elijah does come first,' Jesus replied, 'and begins the world's reformation. But I tell you that Elijah has come already and men did not recognize him. They did what they liked with him, and they will do the same to the Son of Man."
The Messiah was speaking to them of John the Baptist (verse 13). It was prophesied of John the Baptist, "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 spirit, 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 [the Messiah] 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 1:15-17).
When John was born, his father Zecharias, a priest, prophesied, saying, "And thou, child, shalt be called a prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the LORD to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God" (Luke 1:76-78).
"He will be one of God's great men; he will touch neither wine nor strong drink and he will be filled with the holy spirit from the moment of his birth. He will turn many of Israel's children to the LORD their God. He will go out before God in the spirit and power of Elijah -- to reconcile fathers and children, and bring back the disobedient to the wisdom of good men -- and he will make a people fully ready for their LORD" (Luke 1:15-17).
"And you, little child, will be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the LORD to prepare the way for His coming. It will be for you to give His people knowledge of their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because the heart of our God is full of mercy toward us, the first light of Heaven shall come to visit us -- to shine on those who lie in darkness and under the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the path of peace" (v. 76-78).
The work of Elijah is more fully explained in the Amplified Bible: "And he will return and cause to return many of the sons of Israel to the LORD their God, and he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable to the wisdom of the upright [which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God], in order to make ready for the LORD a people [perfectly] prepared --- in spirit, adjusted, disposed and placed in the right moral state" (Luke 1:17).
"And you, little one, shall be called prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before the face of the LORD to make ready his ways, to bring and give the knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness and remission of their sins. Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us], to shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide our feet in a straight line into [the] way of peace" (v. 76-79).
The original prophecy of one coming like Elijah, in spirit and power, is found in Malachi. YEHOVAH God says, "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah 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 " (Malachi 4:4-6).
The Jewish Tanakh has this passage: "Be mindful of the Teaching of my servant Moses, whom I charged with laws and rules for all Israel. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the LORD. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction" (Malachi 3:22-23).
The Amplified Bible amplifies this passage, and brings out more of its hidden meaning, as follows:
"[Earnestly] remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him on Mount Horeb to give to all Israel, the statutes and the ordinances. Behold, I will send to you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. And he shall turn [and reconcile] the hearts of the [estranged] fathers to the [ungodly] children, and the hearts of the [rebellious] children to [the piety of] their fathers [a reconciliation produced by the repentance of the ungodly]; lest I come and smite the land with a curse [and a ban of utter destruction]" (Malachi 4:4-16).
Who is this prophet of the LORD who will be sent by YEHOVAH God to teach the people His ways, His truth of salvation, His laws and commandments, BEFORE the coming of the fateful and dreadful, horrendous and awesome "Day of the LORD" -- the Day of YEHOVAH God's intervention in world affairs?
John the Baptist was a type of another, an END-TIME prophet of YEHOVAH God, who will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. He will restore the TRUTH of YEHOVAH God -- "all things" -- to a church and people of YEHOVAH God which has become terribly ignorant of spiritual truth!
Who Is Elijah?
There are certain requirements which must be met for an individual to be a "prophet of God." He must certainly teach the TRUTH of YEHOVAH God -- that should go without saying. But so many "prophets" have arisen of late, teach with contrary and self-important explanations of prophecies and Bible doctrine, that we must be cautious, judicious, and beware. As the apostle John warned, "Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world" (I John 4:1).
A prophet of YEHOVAH God must be a man of high moral character and fiber -- a man of honesty and integrity. In the whole history of Israel, YEHOVAH has never used a flagrant womanizer or adulterer as a prophet or servant of His. Although a man may repent of such actions, and become a true Christian, he could not become a true prophet of YEHOVAH God -- or a man whom YEHOVAH uses directly to reveal truth and knowledge to His people. Notice YEHOVAH's qualifications for even the ministry of the Ecclesia -- and the qualifications for a prophet must be even higher! Paul tells us,
"Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of ONE wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable -- showing love for and being a FRIEND to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners -- [and] be a capable and qualified teacher, not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money -- insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means. He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful. For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God? He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride, [be blinded by] conceit, and fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did" (I Timothy 3:2-6, Amplified Bible ).
John the Baptist was a man of high moral integrity. Elijah the prophet was also a man of consummate dedication and devotion to YEHOVAH God and His Law. These men hated hypocrisy, sham, falsehood, make believe. They both saw religious leaders of their day -- ministers of the "Church of God" in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) -- who were blowhards, blasphemers, proud, arrogant, who usurped authority, and paraded themselves around as YEHOVAH's gift to mankind, as if they were holier or better than others, and yet they were money-grubbing, corrupt, selfish, and self-promoting and self-aggrandizing sycophants, who would do anything to "get ahead" or receive the "approval" or "approbation" of their human superiors.
John the Baptist decried the Pharisees and Sadducees. We read, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism [as if it was the thing to do], he said to them, you brood of vipers, who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of YEHOVAH God against disobedience] that is coming? Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance -- let your lives prove your change of heart; and do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones! And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 3:7-10).
John was not mealy-mouthed. He did not hold back, afraid of offending people. He called a sin a sin, and a spade a spade -- and even took on the highest religious "authorities," and those who thought that they were somebody "important"! It did not matter to him. To him, all were alike. He knew, "For God shows no partiality (undue favor, or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another)" (Romans 2:11). He knew, "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the terrible God, Who is not partial and takes no bribe" (Deuteronomy 10:17). "So now let the reverence and fear of the LORD be upon you; TAKE HEED WHAT YOU DO, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality, or taking of bribes " (II Chronicles 19:7).
We have heard of men being "ordained" after they made a big "offering" or contribution of money to a Church. Is this not partiality, and evidence of being receptive of "bribes"?
When teaching, or being taught by another person, Moses warned us to "Lo sakir paunim, " a Hebrew expression which means, in English, literally, "Do not recognize the face." We read, "You shall not be partial in judgment; but you shall hear the SMALL as well as the GREAT; you shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God's" (Deuteronomy 1:17).
Certainly, this is a very important principle for all of us to bear in mind, always. As David said to Solomon his son, who was about to take the throne, "The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be JUST, ruling in the FEAR of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain" (II Samuel 23:2-4).
The tendency of human beings, when evaluating the lives of others, is to judge by "appearances." That is, they tend to give high respect to the rich, the powerful, those who have been "ordained" by men, evangelists, etc., and they tend to denigrate and despise others who are not wealthy, haven't been "endorsed" by men or church leaders, and ignore them -- judging everything by the appearance. They don't search the Scriptures. They don't study their Bibles. They don't carefully compare each man's teachings with the SOLE AUTHORITY -- THE WORD OF YEHOVAH GOD! That is esteemed too difficult; rather than trust their own investigation and Biblical research, and YEHOVAH GOD, in prayer, they just follow a man -- whosever seems on the surface to be the best one!
The Messiah, however, rebuked this approach toward truth. He thundered, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge RIGHTEOUS [LAWFUL, according to YEHOVAH's Law and Truth -- His Word] judgment" (John 7:24).
When YEHOVAH God sent Samuel His servant to anoint a king to replace Saul, who had disqualified himself from being king over Israel, He sent him to Bethlehem, to the family of Jesse.
"And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD's anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the OUTWARD APPEARANCE, but the LORD looketh on the heart " (I Samuel 16:5-7).
YEHOVAH rejected all the sons of Jesse who were present at the dinner -- none of them were chosen. Samuel finally said to Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" Jesse replied, "There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep" (verse 11). Even his own father did not think it important to bring David to the feast!
Seven older sons were rejected, till they finally came down to David, the youngest. Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." David was brought in, ruddy, sun-tanned, and a good-looking young boy. "Then the LORD said, 'Rise and anoint him; he is the one.' So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the spirit of the LORD came upon David in POWER" (I Samuel 16:12).
How To Judge a Matter
Some say that the end-time Elijah was a man who was the leader of a Church who taught many truths of YEHOVAH God, but died some years ago. They even preach this as an article of faith, and if you don't accept this doctrine, they reject you from being a member of what they call the "Philadelphia Church of God."
Could they be right? The man whom they claim is Elijah, unfortunately, although he did restore some of the truths of YEHOVAH God during his ministry, he never understood the truth about the right day and manner to celebrate the Passover, or the correct day to observe Pentecost, or even how to celebrate all YEHOVAH's holy days, including the Feast of Tabernacles and the weekly Sabbath! Furthermore, he did not understand the truth of YEHOVAH God about the races, nor did he really understand the truth about Church Government. In his later years he created a church "tyranny," and dictatorship -- partly out of fear that members would leave if there were not a strong central church government, invested in himself, personally.
So when he died, the church members were still like little children, spiritually, and not mature enough to discern between good and evil. They were so used to following "church authority" and "church government," that when the NEW government over the church, the NEW leadership, began leading them astray, and changing scores of major church doctrines, they just supinely followed along, like so many doting sheep, thoughtless of the dire consequences!
Was this man even a prophet of YEHOVAH God? The truth is, he admitted himself that he was no prophet. He made scores of predictions that never came to pass. He predicted the end of the world and the return of the Messiah in the 1930s, then the 1940s, when Rommel reached Jerusalem (he never did of course), and later predicted the second coming of the Messiah in 1975. He later predicted that the United States space program would fail utterly, that no man would ever return from the moon alive, and during the British war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, he predicted in a co-worker letter that the British fleet would suffer a catastrophic defeat! All his predictions failed. Could this man have been "Elijah"?
The answer is no. There are many more reasons to determine that this man was certainly not the Elijah to come, even if it may be admitted that in some respects his "work" for YEHOVAH God was like a "voice in the wilderness." Even though he called his work an "Elijah-like work," and "the work of Elijah," the truth is that he himself was not and never qualified to be the "Elijah" to come!
So many still wonder. If that man were not Elijah, where is Elijah? The Jews, at the Passover Seder every spring, set a place for "Elijah," hoping that he might pay them a visit. But of course he never does. The original Elijah is dead and buried in his grave. Like John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah in his day, the Elijah who is to come will not be recognized or endorsed by the vast majority!
Who will recognize him? Only those who are very close to YEHOVAH God!
Church leaders of the various splits of the Worldwide Church of God will not recognize or endorse him, for he would pose a threat to their ministry, authority, and they might even fear that he would "draw off members" from them! They would therefore tend to denounce him, find fault and criticize him, and revile his name and actions and teachings!
Worldwide would reject him, denounce him, and call him a "false prophet"!
Do you know anyone like that?
Is there someone out there pointing out the continually growing litany of sins and doctrinal errors of the Churches of God and "Christianity" in general? Do you know of anyone who is proclaiming the imminent return of the Messiah AND YEHOVAH God Himself to rule from a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem -- and who is continually warning about the prophesied Catholic and Islamic beast powers? Do you know of anyone who has been restoring vital and significant TRUTH concerning the laws of YEHOVAH God, the true weekly Sabbath, the correct way of determining the day of Shavuot/Pentecost, holy days, prophecies, doctrines of YEHOVAH God? Is there a voice out there warning about the dangerous road our beloved country is heading down? Do you hear a voice thundering out in anger about the abominations of homosexuality and same-sex marriage -- or of the millions of babies aborted every year that amounts to nothing less than murder? These are the SIGNS of the Elijah to come!
Is this person seemingly "little" or "insignificant" in your eyes?
YEHOVAH God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts [higher] than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Do you look down upon, deprecate, or despise a "work of YEHOVAH God," no matter how much truth is being revealed by and to that Work, because it is "so small" in comparison to others?
How "big" was John the Baptist's work? Did he ever have a large following, thousands of "members," and a "growing" organization? No he did not. But he had the most precious of all commodities -- the truth of YEHOVAH God!
John himself said to his followers, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease " (John 3:26-30).
John's was not a great big salient work. He did not found a huge church, based on errors and false doctrines, which worshipped the image of a dead man. His followers were those individuals who truly loved YEHOVAH God, and loved His truth, and who did not "judge by the appearance," but looked beneath the surface, and who investigated all the evidence.
Speaking of YEHOVAH's end-time Work, the true work of "Elijah," YEHOVAH God says, "Not by might, nor by power, but BY MY SPIRIT, saith the LORD of hosts....But who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice..." (Zechariah 4:4-10). YEHOVAH promises, "Obstacles as great as mountains will disappear before you" (v.7, Good News Bible ).
Zechariah continues his prophecy: "He said, 'Zerubbabel has laid the foundation of the Temple [see Ephesians 2:19-20], and he will finish the building. When this happens, my people will KNOW that it is I who sent you to them. They are disappointed because so little progress is being made. But they will see Zerubbabel continuing to build the Temple [Ecclesia -- prepare a people ready to meet the Messiah and YEHOVAH God], and they will be glad " (Zechariah 4:9-10, Good News Bible).
The Living Bible says: "Zerubbabel laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. (Then you will know these messages are from God, the LORD of Hosts.) Do not despise this SMALL BEGINNING, for the eyes of the LORD rejoice to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel" (Zechariah 4:9-10).
The Amplified Bible states: "For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubabbel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere mole hill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it! Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house; his hands shall also finish it. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me [His messenger] to you.
"Who [with reason] despises the day of small things? For these seven shall rejoice when they see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel. [These seven] are the eyes of the LORD which run to and fro throughout the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:7-10).
A Type of "Elijah"
Zerubabbel appears to be a "type" of the end-time Elijah. He was the leader who was mainly responsible for building the physical Temple during the return from Babylon. John the Baptist did not build a physical Temple. Yet he was a prophet of YEHOVAH God, one who the Messiah said was the "Elijah to come." John did, however, prepare a people for the coming of the Messiah, and many of his disciples became foundation stones and building blocks of the New Testament Church of YEHOVAH God.
The Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God is compared to a "Temple." The apostle Paul wrote, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are BUILT upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a HOLY TEMPLE to the LORD: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit " (Ephesians 2:19-22).
John the Baptist was one of the major prophets who became a foundation stone of this Temple -- the spiritual Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God!
But during these end-times, another prophet "in the spirit and power of Elijah" -- a prophet like John the Baptist -- is to "prepare the way" for the coming of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah. Malachi wrote, "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 [in Jerusalem]..." (Malachi 3:1).
John the Baptist was a loner. He came out of the desert, preaching the kingdom of YEHOVAH God, and repentance of sin. Isaiah prophesied of him, and the Elijah to come, "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 " (Isaiah 40:3).
When the religious leaders came and asked John who he was, he confessed, "I am not the Christ." When they asked if he was Elijah the prophet, he answered, "I am not" (John 1:19-21). When they were stumped, and dazed, they then asked him, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" (v. 22).
We read: "John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'I am the voice of one calling in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord'" (John 1:23).
A modern "John the Baptist," a modern prophet "in the spirit and power of Elijah," like John, will be doing the same kind of ministry and work -- a parallel ministry, similar to that of John, but yet different, even as John's ministry was quite different from that of the original Elijah.
The Two Olive Trees
The prophecy of Zechariah 4 continues: "Then I said to him, What are these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on the left side of it? And a second time I said to him, What are these two olive branches which are beside the two golden tubes or spouts by which the golden oil is emptied out? And he answered me, Do you not know what these are? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two sons of oil [Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince of Judah] -- the two anointed ones -- who stand before the LORD of the whole earth [as His anointed instruments] " (Zechariah 4:11-14).
Joshua and Zerubbabel were ancient "types" of YEHOVAH's two END-TIME anointed servants, or prophets, "sons of oil," men filled with YEHOVAH's holy spirit, who like Moses and Aaron will confront the two Beast powers and challenge the end-time apostasy, right in the streets of Jerusalem. Says John in the book of Revelation: "And I will grant the power of prophecy to my two witnesses for twelve hundred and sixty days [forty-two months; three and one-half years], dressed in sackcloth. These [witnesses] are the TWO OLIVE TREES and the two lampstands which stand before the LORD of the earth " (Revelation 11:3-4).
Certainly, when the final years of this age are here, and two human beings clothed in sackcloth are walking the streets of Jerusalem, thundering against sin, inveighing against wickedness, and bringing awesome plagues upon the kingdom of the Beast, similar to what Moses and Aaron did upon the ancient kingdom of Pharaoh in Egypt, then those who are "wise" will understand just who the two witnesses are, the sons of oil! Again, as the Messiah said, "You shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20-21).
The only way to have a "clue" as to who the end-time "Elijah" is, is to judge and examine by the fruits and teachings. Yes, one is coming -- or has come and is here now -- who is "in the spirit and power of Elijah." This is a sure prophecy -- as sure as the word of YEHOVAH God itself!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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