August 2017 Newsletter - "Elijah Returns" by Nathan Padilla
One of the most misunderstood figures in biblical prophecy today in the church is the spirit of Elijah, which is seldom preached and when it is, it is a minimal way of understanding the role Elijah plays at the end of the age. Everyone is looking for the return of the Messiah, however no one really talks about Elijah coming. Why is this so important? Because he prepares for the coming of Messiah in so many ways. When we understand what the Ante Nicene Fathers said about Elijah, his role for the End Times, and his characteristics and what exactly we will do, our eyes will open to know what to expect. In Matthew 17:10-13, Yahushua explains to Peter, James, and John the two comings of Elijah. He first explains that Elijah will come (future tense) and will restore all things. He then goes on to explain how that he had already come in John the Baptist and they did what they wanted with him (past tense). Now I have heard some pastors explain this scripture and totally blunder that Christ is speaking of two advents of the Spirit of Elijah. You might even say well how is this so? If we look at what Christ Himself said, He said that Elijah will come and “restore all things” and John the Baptist clearly didn’t do that. So, let me ask you two questions: 1) What does “restore” to you mean? 2) What does “all things” mean to you?
Restore in the Greek is apokathistēmi (G600, ἀποκαθίστημι) and it means to bring back to its former state. What former state? Before the fall of Adam. Did John the Baptist establish that? If we just look at all the chaos that is going on in the world and all the division in the church, we can easily see for ourselves that the answer is no. I wanted to present what Christ said about the Spirit of Elijah before I show you what the Ancient Church Fathers had said concerning Elijah.
Now first let’s cover the two advents of Elijah. Justin Martyr speaks of these two advents in his Dialogue with Trypho:
“If therefore Scripture compels you to admit that two advents of Christ were predicted to take place, — one in which He would appear suffering, and dishonored, and without comeliness; but the other in which He would come glorious, and Judge of all, as has been made manifest in many of the fore cited passages, — shall we not suppose that the word of God has proclaimed that Elijah shall be the precursor of the great and terrible day, that is, of His second advent?” (1)
Justin Martyr mentions that just as there are two advents of Christ, there would also be two advents of the Spirit of Elijah. There is always the forerunner sent to His bride to prepare for His coming. It’s the pattern, and He never breaks the pattern He set. So in what way will Elijah prepare the church and for what exactly? What will be the message that he will bring? Origen speaks of preparing a chosen people to receive the glory of God. That is a high priestly ministry. The High Priesthood were the only people out of the whole nation, who understood how to operate and dwell in the glory of Yah. Here is what Origen says concerning this preparation:
And it seems to be indicated by these words, that Elijah was to prepare for the glorious coming of Christ by certain holy words and dispositions in their souls, those who had been made fittest for this, which those upon earth could not have endured, because of the excellency of the glory, unless they had been prepared beforehand by Elijah. And likewise, by Elijah, in this place, I do not understand the soul of that prophet but his spirit and his power; for these it is by which all things shall be restored, (Mat_17:11) so that when they have been restored, and, as a result of that restoration, become capable of receiving the glory of Christ, the Son of God who shall appear in glory may sojourn with them. (2)
Origen is explaining that only those who are fit to be prepared by this Elijah will be prepared in their souls to be able to “endure” the glory of God. Elijah prepares a people who will be able to handle the glory of God, and that’s exactly how High Priests are prepared. You just don’t walk into the glory; no one can. If you read about King Uzziah (3) he tried to burn the incense before the Lord. That’s exactly what the High Priest would do before they entered in the Holy of Holies where the glory of God dwelled, by creating a cloud of incense. So, this Uzziah tried to enter the glory, but he was not equipped as a High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies and was struck with leprosy and cast out of the temple. There are serious consequences for not being prepared for this glory, because the glory is a very dangerous realm. Origen goes on to say how the glory of Christ will be received by those whom Elijah prepares. So how important is it that we know who this Elijah is? Elijah is preparing a people to be restored to its state that Adam had lost.
So, what other roles does Elijah play at the end of the age? For one, he is the one who seals a people before the Antichrist takes power and manifests on the earth. There are two seals going on at the end but this seal, that Elijah is giving, is to protect a people from the Antichrist.
“He himself will divide the globe into three ruling powers, when the Antichrist will be raised from Hades. Elijah will first come to seal the beloved ones.” (4)
We also have these quotes from Victorinus, as he interprets the book of Revelation. Elijah is hidden in the book of Revelation, and it’s interesting we don’t hear anyone really teach that today. Here is what he says:
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God”] He speaks of Elias the prophet, who is the precursor of the times of Antichrist. (5)
“whence in the last times a hundred and forty-four thousands of men should believe on the preaching of Elias” (6)
The early church understood the importance of Elijah at the end of the age. They understood what his role is and understood what to look for. They understood that this Elijah would come to prepare a people for the coming glory, preparing their souls to obtain the “glory of Christ” and to be sealed to protect them from the Antichrist. It’s interesting that even the 144,000 are the ones who are taught by Elijah. The 144,000 is not a bodily number of people, but they are a people who are becoming the New Jerusalem (12 gates, 12 levels, 12 angels, 12 stones, etc.). Another important trait that Elijah has is that he carries the Fear of the Lord. Justin Martyr explains this in his Dialogue with Trypho (Ch. LXXXVII). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. It’s to prepare us for the glory of our King, Yahushua HaMashiach. Without being prepared by this Elijah we will not be sealed or prepared for the glory of Christ, and we will miss it! Other than the Messiah Himself, the most important figure we are to be on look for is Elijah. The message is clear: we are to be prepared by Elijah for the triumphant return of our Beloved Yahushua. To God be the Glory! Amen!
References: 1) Justin Martyr - Dialogue of Justin with Trypho Ch. XLIX, ANF Vol. 1 2) Origen - Gospel of Matthew Bk. 13 Pt. 1 Sec. 2, ANF Vol. 9 3) 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 4) Commodianus - Instructions Ch. XLI, ANF Vol. 4 5) Victorinus - On the Apocalypse of John, ANF Vol. 7; interpreting Revelations 7:2 6) Victorinus - On the Apocalypse of John, ANF Vol. 7; interpreting Revelations 12:6