The coming of the Elijah Prophets – John the Baptist

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Isaiah 40:3 (JB)
In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’. This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said: A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight. Matthew 3:1-3
As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? Aman wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way before you. ‘I tell you solemnly of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence (or is forcibly entered) and the violent are taking it by storm (or seize it for themselves). Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and the Law were leading: and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen! Matthew 11:11-15 (JB)

John the Baptist began his ministry at a nexus in history. All the prophecies of the OT prophets, and the book of the Law, pointed to this time. What was so critical about his purpose for the Messiah to make such a provocative statement about this specific messenger? What was the hidden truth that only those with ears to hear would understand?
From the time Elohim spoke to Abram instructing him to leave Ur of the Chaldees, and go to a land he would show him, to the time of John the Baptist was around two-thousand to twenty-five hundred years. Ready or not the time had come for the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel to pay their debt to their God.

‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another, and they stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, lit us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives’. Matthew 22:33-41 (JB)

Note in the parable there is a beginning and an end, a planting and vintage (harvest). These reference points are consistent symbols used in parables and prophecy. Planting seed in spiritual terms is the teaching/learning process. God “gave the Law” to Moses, and Moses wrote all the words God spoke. Words are the seed and the people are the ground/soil. In the “vineyard” parable the people are the vineyard who have received the words of the Law.

Yes, the vineyard of Yahweh Sabaoth is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah that chosen plant. He expected justice, but found bloodshed, Integrity, but only a cry of distress. Isaiah 5:7 (JB)

The priests and scribes were responsible for the care of the vineyard/people. This is important to understand, if the evil one can corrupt and control the priests/preachers/shepherds/religious teachers he also has control of their flock/vineyard. The outcome for humanity is determined largely by the integrity of their spiritual authorities/leaders.
The harvest/vintage is the end/judgment. In the parable of the vineyard there we see two vintage/harvests. The Servants the prophets are sent at the first vintage time, and were not accepted by the religious authorities. This led to the first expulsion from the promised land, for both the northern and the southern kingdoms. When Israel returned to the promised land and received authorization to rebuild Jerusalem by the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BCE (see Daniel chapter 9), Elohim did not plant more seed, They sent more servants, the prophets. These prophets were not accepted by the religious leadership any more than were the first.

John the Baptist gave warning that the time had come for harvest/judgment.

Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptized by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? Matthew 3:4-7 (JB)
His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ Matthew 3:12 (JB)

John the Baptist’s message announced that the time for the judgment had arrived. The Messiah would soon appear to reward the righteous, and the wicked would receive their judgment; they would be consumed by fire (put to death). This would not be the final judgment or end of the world for humanity, but time had run out for the children of Israel; the kingdom would be taken away from them and given to those who would complete the requirements for restoration. Had the priests/shepherds of Israel performed their God given duty to the people this would have been the end of days, and sin would have been destroyed forever.
John the Baptist was questioned by the religious leadership concerning his authorization to be doing what he was doing.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quire openly, ‘I am not the Christ/Messiah’. ‘Well then,’ they asked’ are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No’. So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord’! Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you -unknown to you- the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap’. This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day, seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptizing with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit”. Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’ John 1:19-34 (JB)

John the Baptist was “sent” to baptize, he does not say who it was who sent him, but is was most likely an angel. He said, “I did not know him (Messiah) myself, but was told how to recognize him. It seems that this was all the information John the Baptist was given. He was not given a unique message. He stated that the Messiah would appear very soon and judge the Jews. He would establish himself upon the throne of David and subdue the nations.
It is interesting to me that the one who sent John the Baptist did not inform him that he was the Elijah who was prophesied in Malachi. We know that he was this ‘Elijah’, because the Son of God stated so (see page one Matthew 11). Apparently John the Baptist should have known who he was, other than a voice in the wilderness. It was this lack of understanding which caused him to later question whether Jesus was the expected Messiah, or should they be looking for another.

Now John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Matthew 11:2-3 (JB)

Here is what we know about John the Baptist. He was sent by a heavenly messenger to baptize with water, and was informed that the Messiah would be the one upon whom the Spirit of God would descend as a dove, and rest upon his forehead. We know that he was not a priest, scribe or member of the Sanhedrin. He had no theological or religious authority. It is also reasonable to suggest that the Elijah type prophet that will appear shortly before the end of days will have similar characteristics.
The disciples had serious questions about this man, Jesus, whom they were following. John the Baptist had questions about whether Jesus was the Messiah, or not. The scribes and experts on the Law of Moses were actively seeking to silence him, and even kill him if they got the chance. He had no rabbinical authority to teach. And he would make the most obtuse statements. For a time, none of his disciples were certain he was the Messiah, but stayed with him just in case he might. The scribes, those who were the last word as to prophetic truth, had cautioned the disciples about becoming to close to this ‘imposter’. They had pointed out that the Messiah would not appear until the coming of the prophet Elijah. John the Baptist had clearly stated that he was not the Elijah type prophet.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus, ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. ‘Listen to him.’ When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order. ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead’. And the disciples put this question to him. ‘Why do the scribes say then that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ he replied, ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognize him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:1-13 (JB)

Clearly the Son of Elohim did this to give proof that he was the Messiah. The appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets. The voice of the Father confirmed the fact that this man is His Son, and removed any doubt from the mind of the Peter, James, and John. Emboldened with this confirmation these three had the courage to ask their Master about the statement concerning the coming of Elijah. The answer they received may not have been exactly what they expected, but it was satisfactory. What I mean by this is that the Son of Elohim had stated that Elijah “is coming” and would restore (put things back in order) all things. He was saying that there would be an Elijah type prophet that would appear at the end of days, during the time of judgment and restoration.

The Son of Elohim, also the Lamb of the Father, the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Sower, Emanuel; also, a Prophet. Most of His parables were prophecies, and one of the most notable is the prophecy in Matthew 24 and 25. This prophecy was given in response to the question asked by His disciples concerning the sign of His coming and the end of the age (see Matthew 24:1-3). In this prophecy He reveals the appearance of a bond-servant (servant the prophet) who is “over the household” of the Master.

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your Master is coming. But be sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. ‘What sort of servant, then is faithful and wise enough for the Master to place him over His household to give them their food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you solemnly, He will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My Master is taking His time”, and sets about beating his fellow servants and eating and drinking with drunkards, his Master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The Master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Matthew 24:42-51 (JB)

This part of the prophecy foretells an individual who begins feeding his fellow bond-servants “their” food at the proper (set) time. The Master asks, “Who is faithful and wise enough to be placed over His household”. He is speaking of an individual who like John the Baptist, appears and starts feeding others. The “food” is the bread of life from the words (seed) spoken by the Sower and planted in the heart and mind of His ear-witness disciples who wrote down what their Master said. Elohim has promised to preserve their words until they have accomplished the purpose for which they were intended.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do. Isaiah 55:10-11 (JB)
‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Matthew 5:17-18 (JB)

I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. John 14:25-26 (JB)

Elohim created the universe and everything in it. They have already judged the people of earth once, and saved the only righteous man on earth, and his family, through the flood. The psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament demonstrates His handiwork” (ps. 19:1). One would think that a God who is capable of these great wonders is surely able to preserve His words until they accomplish their purpose. If not, then Elohim is misleading us and we should have nothing to do with Them.

The Elijah who comes at the end of days will be prepared to help the lost sheep find the Good Shepherd. Like John the Baptist he will not be a priest, pastor, theologian, philosopher, religious teacher, or anyone who has received authority from men/women to teach, and certainly not ordained by men/women. Established religions have all been under the control of the god of this world from their beginning; just as were the scribes, priests and religious rulers of Israel. I am not saying that they will not be saved, I am sure some will.

If the Elijah who comes at the end of the age is here right now, would you be able to recognize him? If you read something that makes sense, but was not what your religious leaders were saying, would you continue to hold to the beliefs of your religious leaders, or would you be able to accept the truth? Just as the whole world was in darkness until the Son of Elohim came, so too is it today.

The great dragon the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Revelation 12:9 (NASB)

The dragon, the devil, the primeval serpent, has deceived the whole world. The faithful and wise bond-servant will recognize that he too had initially been deceived, and will begin to learn the truth. The sanctification process cleanses the participant of every lie they have in them, and upon completion of this cleansing there is no lie remaining in them.

And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. Revelation 14:5 (NASB)
Behold I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying Revelation 22:12-15 (NASB)

The faithful and wise bond-servant’s message will be the TRUTH. The source of his message will be the Law and Prophets, and the testimony of the Son of Elohim. Any teaching that differs from this is a lie. Please do not allow yourself to be deceived because it seems like the safe thing to do. The disciples did not stay where it felt safe. The OT prophets stuck their necks out and suffered for it from the religious establishment. Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a furnace. Standing for the truth is not a safe action, but it is the only action you can take to receive eternal life. Remember this, right now what you believe, worship and practice is based in lies. Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, follow the way of truth, complete the sanctification process. and become a faithful servant of Elohim.

Rick Sterling

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