Who Is, Was, & Will Be Elijah (ATP)
Can you explain Elijah? Past present and future? He is coming back in the end times as well? What will his role be and will he come back with Jesus or before?
We first encounter Elijah in 1 Kings. He was a prophet during the reign of King Ahab. Elijah is considered one of the greatest of the prophets. It was Elijah who the Lord led by the Brook Cherith to be fed by the ravens in the time of drought. It was Elijah who was led to the widow at Zarephath and fed with the handful of flour and a little oil for many days and it didn’t run out. We see in these testimonies that as Elijah obeyed the Lord and followed His leading, he was always sustained. This is our first introduction to Elijah and it’s important for us to see this great level of faith right out of the dugout.
Fast forward, we see the event of Elijah and the false prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, where the true God answered by fire and Elijah stood in his faith (1 Kings 18). Elijah then, at the death threat from Jezebel, flees into hiding until the Lord rebukes him in the still small voice. Elijah thought he was the only faithful servant of God left and that the whole world was against him, but there were 7,000 others who did not bow to Baal. This is another important truth we see in scripture when reading about Elijah. God always preserves a remnant of the faithful, even when we ourselves feel we are alone in our faith. Many faithful Christians have felt that way lately in this current society.
Elijah was then directed to anoint a new king over Syria and a new king over Israel, and also to anoint Elisha as a prophet in his place. Now as the Scripture goes on in 2 Kings, Elisha is closely following Elijah and we see the account of Elijah’s death. Elisha refuses to leave his side as he follows Elijah to Bethel, then to Jericho and all the prophets along the way perceive that Elijah will be taken soon. The two cross over the river Jordan and Elijah turns to Elisha and asks a very important question in, 2 Kings 2:9, “And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” Elijah promised if Elisha saw him as he was taken that he would receive just as he sought.” We see the fulfillment of this request in, 2 Kings 2:11-13, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.” Elisha’s double portion was fulfilled literally. According to Bible scholars, Elijah experienced 16 miracles, but Elisha had 32.
Now something to recognize in these Scriptures is that Elijah was taken into Heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah was taken to heaven in natural body and there’s no evidence that his natural body died. In our human reasoning, based on human experience, we tend to struggle with this concept, but remember, God is a supernatural God meaning He can supersede natural things. Now scripture would lead us to believe that Elijah has been not only taken to Heaven without tasting death, but that he now remains in Heaven until the end. In Zechariah chapter 4, two “olive trees” are prophetically described as being at the right and the left of the Lord and called the “two anointed ones who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zch. 4:14) There is debate about who the other witness in Heaven is, but many believe it is either Enoch or Moses.
Skip ahead to Malachi 4:5, which says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” Now Revelation 11:3-4 describes again these “two witnesses” and the two “olive trees” as they stand before the god of this earth for 42 months, or 3 1/2 years during the 7 year tribulation. During this time, no one has any power to defeat them, though many try. They continue to stand and testify of the Lord, until they are done and the Antichrist is allowed to defeat them. Revelation 11:7, “When they finish their testimony, the beast (antichrist) that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.” The Word goes on to describe how they will be left dead for 3 1/2 days on the streets where Jesus was crucified, as the people rejoice at the way they were tormented and celebrate the Antichrist as being all powerful. People in all nations will watch, surely with Internet or Satellite images, and rejoice at this.
Many would ask why the Lord would allow the Antichrist to gain this power, but look at Revelation 11:11-12, “Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.” Just as Jesus was crucified and rose again, ascending into a heaven as a testimony of the power of God, the ascension into heaven of these two witnesses was a testimony to the power of God! The rest of the 7 year tribulation continues after this with the final trumpet and the worst of the earths destruction.
Let’s summarize what we’ve just seen. First, who was Elijah past? He was a godly prophet, a true prophet that was a voice of standing true to the One and only God, even while others refused to. Who is Elijah present? He is in Heaven, near the throne, awaiting his final task before Jesus returns to the Earth and the devil is cast into the pits of hell once and for all. Who is Elijah future? He is one of the two witnesses who will testify of Christ as a final beck and call. Just as John the Baptist before Christ’s first appearing, Elijah will be a voice of one crying “prepare ye the way of the Lord” before Christ’s final appearing.
With all of this, remember to focus on your walk with the Lord. Yes, pursue knowledge and study to show yourselves approved unto God, but look at what the Word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Focus on your walk with Him, learn from those like Elijah in His Word, stay sober, stay vigilant, stay stirred and stay focused, and you’ll not only experience salvation on this earth but also in the days to come.