In the last posting it was suggested that Elijah would return to “restore all things”. This cuts across standard evangelical belief that the next thing to happen is the “rapture”, in which all true Christians are seen to be whisked away from earth, to meet the Lord and be changed into their resurrection bodies. If this is so, then Malachi’s prophecy about Elijah, and our Lord’s confirmation of that, have no place in any chronological scheme for the coming days.
Elijah was presented as the “Restorer”, and we must have a closer look at the original Greek. Jesus said, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.” Matthew 17:11. “Restore” is APOKATASTESEI, a compound word of APO-KATA-STESEI. The prefix APO, “away from”, has the sense of “away from the present circumstances”. KATA “down”, has a sense of completeness when used in compound words. STESEI is a verb meaning to stand. Hence we get the concept of “removing, standing away from the present circumstances and returning wholly to that which obtained before.”
See how Peter used the word in Acts 1:6. “Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” The disciples had in mind a return to the kingdoms of David and Solomon when they posed the question. That is what they were hoping for.
A certain man had a withered hand. The Lord asked him to stretch out his hand , and we are told, “his hand was restored whole as the other.” Luke 6:10. A valuable reference, showing the completeness of the process of restoration.
So when the Lord said that Elijah would return and restore all things, what had He in mind? Perhaps we should think in terms of what happened on Mount Carmel. The people were unable to decide who was God. Elijah said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.” 1 Kings 18:21. Isn’t this like today? Don’t we need Elijah to come back and call for fire from heaven? Doesn’t the world need to know who is the TRUE GOD? That would indeed be an act of restoration.
Malachi’s prophecy also spoke about “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Turning, or restoring. How greatly we need a return to normal family life, where children grow up under the influence of two parents, each guiding them in the ways of righteousness. Elijah was prophesied to accomplish this.
Malachi said that Elijah would perform this function before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. Therefore we should be looking for, and expecting a supernatural time of restoration before the coming of the Lord. This is wholly necessary. Just as Noah gave positive evidence of the coming flood by building the Ark, so today the world needs adequate warning of the coming of the Day of the Lord, and the Christian Church is not giving that warning. Therefore God has promised a time of restoration with Elijah.
We now turn to Peter’s speech in Acts 3:21. “Jesus Christ . . .whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, spoken through the mouth of His holy prophets from of old.” This leaves us in no doubt. The word “restitution” is the same as that used by the Lord when speaking of Elijah. Notice particularly that Jesus Christ will not return until these restitution times have run their course.
Shall we not pray for the Lord to send Elijah? Who can declare that he is not needed?