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ELIJAH COMES FIRST
It was prophesied of John the Baptist before his birth that he would go before the Lord "in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk. 1:17). Yet, when John began his ministry of preaching, he was asked point-blank by priests, "Are you Elijah?" John answered just as pointedly, "I am NOT" (see John 1:21). The fact that John refused to claim that he was some great one out of the past, a prophet who had lived before, should be an example and warning to us. Any individual person who claims he is ELIJAH, or someone else out of the past, is surely FALSE! Those who are truly called of God do not make presumptuous claims. However, we will see in this study that John the Baptist did fulfill the "Elijah" prophecies for his day, and that there is to be a fulfillment of those same "Elijah" prophecies for our day, not by some man who claims he is Elijah come back, but by a preparatory move of the Spirit of God.
John the Baptist was to PREPARE THE WAY of the Lord as follows: "And many of the children of Israel shall he TURN to the Lord their God. . . 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" (Lk. 1:16-16). To prepare THE WAY is to prepare a PEOPLE who will TURN from their ways to GOD'S WAY. This calls for a REPENTANCE (a TURNing) and a RESTORATION (of the WAY). This people (a "firstfruits remnant") who will turn wholeheartedly to be established in HIS WAY, shall then become THE WAY to multitudes during the time of great harvest that is coming.
In order to understand more aspects of these truths not covered in this study, order the booklet, "The Voice of the Bridegroom " by the same author. A study of that booklet will be helpful in getting the completed picture of an Elijah-John the Baptist ministry preparing the way of the Lord in these days and in the days that are ahead. John's ministry as the “friend of the Bridegroom" to prepare the Bride is presented in detail.
ELIJAH IS HERE
God's prophet. "Behold, Elijah is here!” These are the startling words that were to be conveyed to Ahab the King of Israel by Obadiah, the governor of his house (I Kings 18:7-8). Elijah had been hiding away at the command of God during the time of drought which had come as a judgment on the nation, because of the wickedness of the king and his foreign wife, Jezebel. But the time had come for the drought to end, and God was once again going to send rain on the land. Elijah therefore had to emerge to get the people ready for what was coming,
A living drama. What takes place in the story of Elijah as recorded in the 17th & 18th chapters of I Kings is extremely significant for the day in which we are living. God has wrought a "living drama" for us that we might learn by the things that are written aforehand for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11). This story takes on special significance in light of that which is spoken by Malachi the prophet: "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" (4:5-6). Signs indicate that the great "day" of the Lord's judgments on this earth and His return in power and great glory (Mt. 24:30) are near at hand. Therefore the prophecy of Malachi must be fulfilled before He comes.
Preliminary fulfillment. Many prophecies in the Bible have both a preliminary and a final fulfillment. Sometimes there is even more than one preliminary fulfillment before the prophecy finds its final and complete fulfillment. God's Word is rich and many-sided, having many facets of application, like the many sides of a beautiful jewel, each reflecting the light in its own way, and adding to the symmetry of the whole. Paul speaks of the "manifold (many-sided) wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10), and certainly this is incorporated into His Word, as history (His story) unfolds in harmony with the predictive words of the prophets, pulsating in rhythmic fulfillments, both preliminary and final, but conforming to the basic pattern of each prophetic declaration.
John the Baptist. The disciples asked Jesus a question. "Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" Jesus replied, "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. Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them about John the Baptist" (Mt. 17:10-13 Amplified). The scribes knew the law, and were familiar with the prophecy of Malachi that Elijah was to be sent before the day of the Lord's appearing, but because they were blinded by their own traditions, these religious leaders did not recognize the fulfillment of the prophecy before their very eyes. But Jesus said John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy for His day.
Warning. The above should be a warning to us. Unless we have "eyes to see and ears to hear" (Mt. 13:16), it is possible for important prophetic events to be taking place around us and not even be aware of it. Jesus said "The kingdom of God comes not with observation (with outward show and display so that everyone is aware of it): neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (or, in your midst)" (Lk. 17:20-21). God's kingdom workings and progressive fulfillment can be taking place right in the midst of even religious people, and yet they may not be aware of it, or its spiritual significance in relation to God's unfolding purposes. Concerning John the Baptist, Jesus spoke on another occasion, "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elijah who was to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mt. 11:14-15). Ah, dear friend, pray for spiritual perception and attunement to the divine Word and its fulfillment even in this day, that you may have grace to receive what shall be unfolded herein.
Preliminary and partial. To show how a prophetic scripture may be fulfilled in part but not fully in a particular historical setting, let us take a look at Isa. 40:3-5: "The voice of him that cries in the wilderness. Prepare [ ] the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it." This passage is quoted in Mt. 3:3 & Lk. 3:4-6 as being fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist, as he prepared the way for the coming of Jesus and pointed the people to Him. Although many did see the "glory" of the Lord in the person of Jesus (John 1:14), it can hardly be said that "ALL FLESH shall see it together" has been fulfilled. Also, the scriptures are clear that the full GLORY of the Lord is not to manifest until He appears a second time (Lk. 21:27).
Patterns by the prophets. Before we look further at the Elijah ministry for our day, let us examine the story of Elijah in the 17th & 18th chapters of I Kings and behold the prophetic drama. God makes clear His manner of speaking through the prophets in Hos. 12:10: "I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and have used similitudes (patterns) by the ministry of the prophets." The last statement means that God had the prophets act out "symbolic dramas" by things which He required them to DO. And through such "living parables" God SPEAKS to His people. Let's use this KEY then in unlocking the meaning of that which God told Elijah to do.
By the brook. Elijah suddenly bursts on the scene in the days of Ahab the king and says, "As the Lord God of Israel liv es, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." Immediately following God told him to "turn you eastward, and hideyourself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan" (I Kings 17:1-3). Why was Elijah to hide himself? We might surmise just from a practical standpoint that it was to escape the wrath of Jezebel who was destroying the true prophets of the Lord (I Kings 18:4). But if this is all we see, we are "limiting the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41), and deliberately ignoring His word of truth that He SPEAKS to us in PATTERNS by the ministry of the prophets. To understand the prophetic drama we must understand the meaning of the names involved. "Elijah" means the might or strength of Jehovah. "Cherith" meansa gorge or trench. It was during the time of no rain and consequent drought, that Elijah (the strength or might of Jehovah) was hid from the people in the gorge.
Seeing the picture. Natural Israel is a type of spiritual Israel or the church. What happened in the history of natural Israel has been repeated in the history of the church (as far as the basic pattern of fulfillment is concerned). God promised Israel that if they obeyed Him, He would always give them rain at the proper season so that they would never know drought (Deut. 11:14; Lev. 26:4). In God's symbolic language, rain is a type of the refreshing or outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29). Spiritual "rain" or the effusion of God's Spirit is absolutely necessary for the church to fulfill its divine commission and for fruit acceptable to God to be brought forth (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; Eph.3:16; Gal. 5:22-25; James 5:7). If the church had been faithful and obedient to the Lord, there would have been no lack of the power of God's Spirit, and God's perpetual blessing from on high would have continuedon it. But because the church "fell away" from its first love (Rev. 2:4) and from obedience to the truth (II Thess. 2:3), God withheld the "rain" of spiritual enduement, and the result was spiritual drought and barrenness of fruit. Except for occasional "seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19), bringing revival, renewal to the church, such "drought" conditions have more or less prevailed throughout church history.
The gorge. As Elijah was to hide himself in the gorge during the time of drought, so has this symbolic picture been fulfilled in the church, as the might and strength of the Lord through the Holy Spirit's power has been "hid away" from the people of God because of the unbelief and apostasy of the church's clergy and priesthood. Such apostasy is portrayed by Ahab, king of Israel, taking into his bosom through marriage the daughter of a foreign king by the name of Jezebel (I Kings 16:31). This was contrary to God's law, for the people of God were not to intermarry with the heathen nations, lest they be drawn into their idolatry (Deut. 7:3-4). Since Ahab was king, he symbolizes the "ruling" spirit which has largely dominated the church down through this age; the spirit of compromise with that which is "foreign" to the Spirit of Christ. Because of this, "Elijah" (the might of God's power through the Holy Spirit) has been hid away in the "gorge" of ceremonialism, lifeless and powerless forms, sectarianism, lust for power, political expediency, unbelief and modernistic denial of scriptural truth, fundamentalist self righteousness, and many stupefying "fleshly" vanities, so that much of the church world has been guilty of "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Tim. 3:5). This is the negative side of the picture, of course, and shortly we shall take a look at the positive side, as we see Elijah's ministry to the widow woman; a type of the spiritual remnant.
Eastward. In order to hide himself in the brook Cherith, Elijah went eastward (I Kings 17:3). In God's symbolic language, east portrays going away from God into the false light of man's reasoning and ways. Much scriptural evidence could be given to illustrate this truth, but we will mention only the following:
Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden toward the east (Gen. 3:24). After Cain had sinned, he was sent out from the presence of the Lord toward the east (Gen. 4:16). When Jacob fled from his brother Esau, and left the Promised Land behind, he went to the "land of the people of the east" (Gen. 29:1), there to be dealt with by the Lord through many trials. When Jacob returned to the Promised Land in response to the revealed will of the Lord, and found a new place of submission and obedience to Him, he turned his back on the east and traveled west. Later, when the children of Jacob/Israel crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land, it was from the east in the land of Moab towards the west. Entrance into the sacred tabernacle which God commanded the Israelites to build was through the eastern gate with progression towards the west where the Lord dwelt in the Holy of Holies. Thus west speaks of going toward God.
Cherith and Jordan. We have already seen that Elijah hid himself in the gorge of the brook Cherith, but the record says that this was "before Jordan" (I Kings 17:3). The brook flowed into the Jordan River. Jordan means "descender," and symbolizes death. Thus Elijah's place of hiding also pictures the spiritual deadness which comes on the people of God when they turn from the light and truth of God's ways to the ways of man. And how often in the history of the church has Paul's admonition been needed: "Awake[sleeper] , and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Eph. 5:14). Elijah was also fed in the gorge by ravens (I Kings 17:4). The raven was an unclean bird according to God's law, therefore it speaks of the uncleanness that has come into sacred things as a result of the church's apostasy. Ravens are black, and they pick out the eyes of their victims, speaking further of the darkness; or the lack of spiritual understanding (blindness) which has pervaded the church through much of its history.
The widow woman. After hiding in the brook Cherith, God ordained that Elijah should continue to portray by the living drama of his ministry a further aspect of God's plan. God told him to "Arise, get [ ] to Zarephath, which belong s to Zidon, and there dwell: behold, I have commanded a widow woman to sustain you." (I Kings 17:9). This widow woman was a gentile, and the part she played in God's prophetic drama was so important that Jesus made personal reference to her in Luke 4:24-26, in His first message in His home town of Nazareth. It was in connection with His divinely revealed awareness that His own people and nation would reject Him, with the resultant casting off of natural Israel and the opening of the door to the Gentiles to become a part of God's covenant people (Rom. 11:7-11, 25; I Pet. 2:9-10). This widow woman, then, is a type of the Gentile church of this age; that is, the spiritual and faithful remnant which has always existed in the midst of nominal "churchianity" down through this age. As the widow woman sustained and kept alive Elijah, so has this faithful remnant "kept alive" the true, vital, living evidence and witness of Christ, and the might and power of His Spirit, in the lands of Christendom. God has moved many times through such faithful remnants to bring revival and restoration, with mighty movings of His Spirit, both within and outside of organized churches.
Why a widow? In the scriptures, the church is pictured as being united to Christ in a marriage covenant relationship (Eph. 5:25-32). But since the Bridegroom (Christ) has been taken away (Mt. 9:15) and the church, which is the Bride, is not now personally living with her Husband, the church is symbolically pictured as a "widow,” waiting for her Bridegroom to return and take her to dwell with Him in His own house or Kingdom (John 14:1-3). In the meantime, the Bride (covenant wife) is making herself ready (Rev. 19:7-8), that she might be presented to Him as a "chaste" and faithful "virgin" (II Cor. 11:1-3; Rev. 17:14). What a glorious destiny is hers!
Jezebel. In contrast to the widow woman who was sustaining Elijah, another woman, Jezebel, was on the throne, seeking to destroy Elijah (I Kings 16:31; 18:4; 19:1-2). Jezebel symbolically represents the seducing, compromising, "flesh spirit" that comes into the church and always "wars" against the Spirit (Elijah). The unfaithful "Jezebel spirit" began to grow in the history of the church after the church had "lost its first love" (Rev. 2:4). By the time the historical period was reached which is represented by Thyatira (the 4th of the 7 churches of Asia—600 A.D. and. after), the spirit was so strong that Christ commanded the church to repent, saying, "I have a few things againstyou, becauseyou [allow] that woman Jezebel, which call s herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication (unfaithfulness to Christ—see Rev. 17:1-2), and to eat things sacrificed to idols (partake of that which is unholy—see I Cor. 10:20-21, II Cor. 6:14-18). Since the church failed to repent (Rev. 2:21), the Jezebel spirit continued to grow [and] there came into being the mother harlot and her daughters of compromising, unfaithful "churchianity" (Rev. 17:5). In contrast to the "widow" of the faithful remnant, the Jezebel harlot spirit boasts, "I sit a queen, and am no widow (Rev. 18:7), because she is "kept" by many worldly "lovers" (Rev. 17:2).
Meal and oil. Not only did the widow sustain Elijah, but Elijah ministered to the widow and provided the means for her to continue to live. But only because she PUT HIM FIRST. This is a type of how the Spirit of Christ has ministered to and kept alive the witness of His faithful ones down through this age, and especially how He is ministering to those who are diligently seeking to do His will in this end time. Because the widow was willing to obey Elijah's command to "make me thereof a little cake first,” Elijah promised her that "the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord send s rain on the earth" (l Kings 17:13-14). The meal speaks to us of the WORD of God, and the oil of His SPIRIT. Truly the Lord is being faithful in this day to visit His hungry saints with "living bread" (see Ruth 1:6), and the oil of His Spirit is flowing freely to those whose hearts are seton Him. This is in anticipation of and preparation for the "latter rain" which the Lord is going to send on the earth.
After many days. I Kings 17:15 tells us that the widow was sustained "many days" by the meal and oil. Then in I Kings 18:1, we read that "after many days, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying. Go show your self to Ahab; and I will send rain on the earth." In the account following, we see pictured in symbolic drama another phase of God's plan to prepare for the coming of the "latter rain.” Elijah was not only used to minister to and sustain the widow woman, but he also came out of hiding and began to be used of God to manifest His might and power to the people. In the midst of the religious apostasy of his day, he gave a demonstration of the reality of his God. Surely this is also a pattern for our day, as an Elijah ministry comes forth in the power of the Spirit to make known the coming of the Lord and prepare a people with a manifestation of that which is vital, real and mighty through God.
On Mount Carmel. Elijah called for all the people to gather on Mount Carmel, along with the false prophets of Baal and of Asherah who ate at Jezebel's table. There he challenged them with these words: "How long [do] you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." But though I'm sure Elijah put all of the sincerity of his heart, and the "unction" of the Spirit which was on him, into this message, the record says that "the people answered him not a word" (1 Kings 18:19-21). How characteristic this is of people; and how prophetic of the day in which we live. The masses of people have heard so many sermons, and have been preached to so much, and yet by and large they remain unmoved to action. It was only after God sent fire from heaven in answer to the prayer of Elijah, that the people fell on their faces and said, "The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God" (I Kings 18:38-39). FIRE is a type of the Holy Spirit moving with supernatural power to baptize, deliver, and empower the people of God for a witness to the reality of a living Christ. Beloved, it is going to take more than just preaching in this day to a "gospel hardened" generation; it is going to take the FIRE of God's Holy Spirit moving with "signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will" (Heb. 2:4), in order to move vast numbers out of indifference into the "valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).
The altar. Before the fire fell, Elijah had to do a preparatory work. We read in I Kings 18:30 that "he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down." An altar was not only God's appointed place for blood to be shed as an atonement for sins, but the altar also symbolized the consecration and dedication of the one offering the sacrifice. As Christians, our bodies are a "living sacrifice" which we offer to God on His "altar" (Rom. 12:1). The fact that the altar was broken down in Elijah's day speaks symbolically of the lack of the heart-consecration of God's people to do His will. Where there is no altar, there is no power of God's Spirit (fire). Fire can only fall on that which is on the altar; where nothing is on the altar, there will be no fire. What a lesson this is for us today. Before God can move in a greater way in our midst, the "altar" of consecration must be repaired (restored) among the saints. For this very reason an "Elijah" ministry is going forth in this day to "stir up" the hearts of those who are willing to make the necessary sacrifice for God to fulfill that which is pictured in the story of Elijah for our day, for IT MUST COME TO PASS!
For all Israel. In repairing the altar, we read in I Kings 18:31, that Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob. This has to be very significant, when we realize that at the time of Elijah's ministry, Israel was divided into two factions or nations, and there was much strife and warfare between them. Elijah was ministering in the northern kingdom, which consisted of the ten tribes which had revolted and broken off from the ruling house of David in Jerusalem, under the leadership of Jereboam (see I Kings 11:26-37; 12:19-20). But Elijah was not willing to "write off" the southern kingdom and the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. In other words, he was not "sectarian" in his thinking. His altar and sacrifice was for ALL the house of Israel. Is there not a lesson in this for us? Are not Christians divided as the people of Israel were? What is our vision, and the purpose of our sacrifice and consecration? Is it just for "our group," "our denomination," "our church," or is it FOR THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST? In our tendency to judge and condemn, we may think of certain Christians as being so blind or "unworthy" that we are sure they will never come into what the Lord is doing. But instead of thinking "we are it," and proudly "writing off" all the rest of God's children, we need to pray and consecrate ourselves to the end that many will yet awaken and arise to the challenge of this hour, and let the "fire" of God's Spirit fall on them, that they might also help "prepare THE WAY of the Lord.”
Water. After Elijah had put the sacrifice on the altar, he saturated it with water, so that the water ran down around the altar and into the trench he had dug about it (I Kings 18:32-35). There were four barrels filled and poured on three times. Three is the number of the WORD of God, and four is the number of FRUITFULNESS. In the natural, water cleanses as we use it for washing, and it refreshes as we drink it (also cleansing the inner body as it flushes out wastes). It is the WORD of God that cleanses (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26). It is the SPIRIT that refreshes the "inner man" of the heart as we "drink in" of God's provision (John 7:34-38; 1 Cor. 12:13), so that there is not only a deeper cleansing and purging within, but there is also an impartation and empowering, that through such "watering," FRUIT might be brought forth to the praise of God (Eph. 3:16-20; Gal. 5:22-23). Thus Elijah set the pattern for us, as this type is fulfilled in our day. As an "acceptable sacrifice" to the Lord, we must be thoroughly saturated by the Word and the Spirit.
Evening Sacrifice. When Elijah finished preparing His burnt offering, it was the time of the evening sacrifice (I Kings 18:36). When God gave His law to Israel, He required that the priests offer two burnt sacrifices every day, one in the morning and one in the evening on behalf of all the people (Ex. 29:38-39). Must not this type also be fulfilled in this "day" (or age) of grace? The 120 who gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost constituted the "morning sacrifice" of this "day.” They placed themselves on God's "altar" of consecration, wholly and completely, and the FIRE of God's Spirit came on them (Acts 2:1-4). As we approach the close of this age, it is now time for a people of God to offer themselves to God as the "evening sacrifice,” that the FIRE of God's Spirit might comeon us in a greater way than we have ever known. This MUST be, or the pattern God has given us is not true. Beloved in Christ, are YOU willing to be a part of this "evening sacrifice,” that the world may know that God is real, alive and powerful? Even now God is "answering by fire" as more and more hungry and dedicated ones place themselves on the altar and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But this is only the preparatory stages of a greater operation and manifestation of the "fire” of God's Spirit in and through those He is making ready through an "Elijah" ministry.
Abundance of rain. After God had answered Elijah by fire, the prophet went to the top of Mount Carmel, where the great sea to the west could be seen in the distance. There he cast himself to the earth and began to pray. He told his servant to go up higher and look toward the sea. This he did in response to the command of the prophet of God for six times; each time returning with the report that he saw nothing. But the seventh time he went and looked, he brought back the message, "Behold, there aris es a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand" (I Kings 18:42-44). In God's symbolic language, waters in the sea portray "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Rev. 17:15). Clouds can symbolize people (Heb. 12:1). A little cloud such as Elijah's servant saw would symbolize a small remnant ARISING TO GOD out of the nations in the present preparatory move of the Spirit. This is another way of portraying those who have placed themselves on God's altar as the "evening sacrifice." God is drawing them to Himself, even as clouds represent waters drawn from the sea, and He is preparing them for a mighty visitation. Elijah sent a message to Ahab and said, "There is a sound of abundance of rain" (I Kings 18:41). What a "remnant" of God's people are now experiencing, as God moves by His Spirit, is only a foretaste and first-fruit of that which is coming, when the Lord shall "pour out of His Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28), and there shall be an abundance of rain.
Restoration first. In the passage from Joel just quoted, when read in the context in which it was given, the inspired prophet said, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.” After what? Read the verses preceding in the 2nd chapter of Joel and you will discover that God promised a restoration. In Joel's day the people of Israel, because of their unfaithfulness to the Lord, were suffering from drought, famine and a locust plague. The land was languishing, and being stripped (see Joel, chap. 1). But Joel was to lift up his voice like a trumpet and call the people to return to the Lord with fasting and prayer (Joel 2:1, 12-18). Then the Lord promised to RESTORE what had been lost (Joel 2-25), by sending rain and blessing them again with "grain and wine and oil,” as well as driving off the "locust army" (see Joel 2:19-30). In God's symbolic language, "grain" stands for the WORD (the living Bread), wine pictures JOY and BLESSINGS, and oil represents the SPIRIT. The natural nation of Israel lost natural resources through natural disasters. This is a type of how spiritual Israel has lost spiritual resources through spiritual disasters. But as God restored to natural Israel what was lost, so will He restore to the church what has been lost. Let us look further. . .
Locusts. The locust plague which had devastated the land of Israel is a type of the demonic hosts of Satan coming against the church. Through the "wiles" of Satan (Eph. 6:11), the church was gradually deceived and "seduced" into leaving her first love, and falling away from the truth (Rev. 2:4; II Thess.2:3). Then followed in time conditions of drought (lack of the "rain" of the Spirit), and famine (lack of hearing the Word of God—see Amos 8:11). In the land of Palestine, locusts always come in times of drought, stripping the land of its remaining vegetation. True to this type, when the church began to experience spiritual drought and famine, the Satanic inspired doctrines of Balaam (compromise with the pagan world—Rev. 2:14), the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes (political power of the clergy and subjection of the people in ignorance and superstition—Rev. 2:16), and the seducing tactics of Jezebel (mixing pagan religious ideas and practices with Christianity—Rev. 2-20), began to STRIP THE CHURCH of its remaining spiritual life and power. Giving in to "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" became common; two of which Paul mentions as "forbidding (the clergy) to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats (on certain days, etc.)”—I Tim. 4:1-3).
Opening of the pit. Rev. 9:1-4 definitely shows that locusts are a type of Satanic spirits. The symbolic picture shows the pit being opened and the demonic spirits of Satan in the form of locusts, going forth to "torment" mankind. In 9:2, we read that the sun was darkened by their activity. The sun is a type of Christianity and the church, which has been "darkened" (robbed of its light and power in relation to the people) because of the corrupting tactics of Satanic spirits. But though the "sun" of traditional "churchianity" is being darkened, there is another side of the picture, and it fits the pattern of God's promise to deliver Israel from the locusts and their devastation, and restore what had been lost, when they would heed His call to "return [ ] even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning (repentance)"—Joel 2:12.
Sevenfold brighter. Isaiah speaks of a day when "the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord binds up the breach of his people and heals the stroke of their wound" (Isa. 30:26). The number seven symbolizes the church and also speaks of the completed cycle or consummation of this age. Therefore as we reach the climax of God's plan for this age, a segment of God's people are going to shine forth in the glory and power of Christ SEVEN TIMES BRIGHTER than ever before. This will take place when the Lord "binds up the breach" (restores UNITY) among His people, and "heals the stroke of their wound (restores SPIRITUAL HEALTH)" and VITALITY through the cleansing and refreshing of His Word and Spirit. The beginning of this work is already evident in what the Lord is now doing among many spirit-filled Christians of all backgrounds. Surely we are beginning to see Hosea's prophecy fulfilled in our day: "Come, and let us return to the Lord: for he has torn and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days (2,000 years—11 Pet. 3:8) will he revive us: in the third day (the ‘day of the Lord’—now dawning) he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth." (Hos. 6:1-3.)
Recovery. "Restoration" means the recovery of that which has been lost; to bring back, or put back into the former or original state. God moves by His Spirit, not just so that we might be blessed, but that His Church (His spiritual "house" or "temple") might once again be BUILT UP and RESTORED out of the "ruin" into which it has fallen. The recovery of the spiritual truths and practices of the New Testament church results in spiritual renewal and power. God's order as given in Acts 3:17-21 is REVELATION, REPENTANCE, REFRESHING, RESTITUTION (restoration), and RETURN of Christ. Christ must remain in the heavens until the "times of restitution of all things" which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). This does not mean that Christ remains in heaven until all things spoken by the prophets are restored, for the great millennium coming is itself a time of restoration when many things, including paradise conditions on this earth, will be restored. But restoration begins with the church, the house of God, through the judgments of God (I Pet. 4:17). We are now in the beginnings of the times of restitution or restoration, and since the church is God's instrument during this age of grace, then the church must be restored to its pristine glory and power before this age ends.
Prophet of restoration. The spirit and ministry of Elijah is especially associated with restoration. In his prayer in I Kings 18:37, he uses an expression meaning restoration: "turned their heart back again.” John the Baptist was to go forth in the "spirit and power of Elijah"(Lk. 1:17). When the disciples asked Jesus concerning Elijah, He said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. . . Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist" (Mt. 17:10-13). But we have already seen that John the Baptist's ministry was only a partial and preliminary fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy. OUR DAY must see the final and complete fulfillment of the restoration ministry of Elijah. John the Baptist was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Lk. 1:15). John brought a preliminary and preparatory move of the Spirit before Jesus came to His people. Even so in this end time; God is moving now by His Spirit, in what we might call the "restoration rain,” which shall culminate in the "double portion" rain spoken by Joel the prophet: "Be glad then, [ ] children of Zion (we are children of the heavenly Zion—Gal. 4:26, Heb. 12:22-23), and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he has given you the former rain moderately (this is the restoration of the "early" or Pentecostal rain which came on the church in its beginning), and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month (the 'double portion')." Joel 2:23.
Prophet of revelation. Restoration can come only through revelation of the truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Free from the corruptions of Satan which bring bondage. When John came on the scene, he found a nation that was in bondage because the Divine Revelation God had given them was "encrusted" and overlaid by the "traditions of the elders" (Mark 7:3-I I), and as a result the Word of God was made of "no effect" (without life and power). Thus "THE WAY" of truth and righteousness which God had given Israel, was no longer a straight, level "path" for the nation to travel on toward its appointed destiny. John's task was to renew and restore the Divine path by turning the people back to the truth of God's ways. His message, as foretold by Isaiah was: "Prepare [ ] THE WAY of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain" (Isa. 40:3-4). He could only straighten out the "crooked" ways they were walking in by calling them from their ways back to God's ways.
Prophet of repentance. In calling the people back to God's ways, he commanded them to REPENT; and the people went to be baptized of him, "confessing their sins" (Mt. 3:6). Repentance means a change of mind and heart, leading to a change of action. John spoke to the people thus: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham for our father; for I say to you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which brings not forth good fruit is [cut] down, and cast into the fire" (Luke 3:8-9). This message is applicable to our day, for the church has followed in the "way" of Israel: substituting man's ways for God's ways, "encrusting" the Word of God by religious traditions, and failing to enter the "covenant land" of spiritual blessing and power through unbelief. The "axe" of divine truth and judgment is now laid at the root of all man-made ways and religious systems. All are going to be "[cut] down" and cast into the "fiery" tribulation which is coming on the earth (see Rev. 2:22; 3:16). The "fire" (of tribulation) is going to TRY every man's WORK of what sort it is (see I Cor. 3:12-15). The question is not so much with whom we are working in our affiliation (in or out of a denomination), but rather HOW FREE are we to BUILD with the "gold, silver, and precious stones" of God's truth and ways, rather than the "wood, hay, and stubble" of man's traditions and ways.
God's call. God's call to those who have ears to hear is REPENT and COME OUT of her (religious Babylon—the confusion and bondage of man's ways) MY PEOPLE, "that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4). Boast not in either your physical OR religious pedigree. Say not within yourselves, "We have Abraham (or some religious group or denomination) as our father (putting your TRUST in such a relationship): for I say to you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham." And THAT is just what He is doing! He is "raising up" and "shaping" LIVING STONES (I Pet. 2:5) which are "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. In whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:20-21). And in doing so, He is breaking through all religious barriers that man has erected, and Christians of all backgrounds are beginning to "flow together" as never before, regardless of what their "affiliation" might be as far as fellowship and worship.
No one man. Elijah and John the Baptist were both called to minister to a small nation within a very small geographical location on the earth. For how long a period John the Baptist's ministry continued, we do not know. But that one lone man could cover the land through itinerant preaching and prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. However, when Christ comes again, He will return to the whole world, not to just one small nation, so that it will take a worldwide preparatory ministry through many chosen vessels. Thus the "Eiijah" for our day is not one man, but rather a movement involving many servants of the Lord. No person or group can say "I" or "we" are "it.” "It" is a move of the Spirit encompassing many. When John the Baptist was asked who he was, he replied, "I am the VOICE of one crying in the wilderness" (John 1:23). He indicated by such an answer that who he was (personally) was unimportant. He had not the slightest desire to exalt himself as an individual, or to build something around himself. He felt no jealousy or rivalry toward anyone. His answer to those who came to him with information that Jesus was baptizing and all men were coming to Him was this: "A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven. . . He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease." The same spirit of self-effacement must be manifest today among those who are CRYING out this last day message of preparation. Individual personalities are of little importance, but the VOICE (of prophetic authority) must be heard in the land. Any ministry that we may have has been given to us from heaven and there is no occasion for boasting or self-exaltation. We must not call attention to ourselves, but MAGNIFY CHRIST.
Unity. John the Baptist set the PATTERN of oneness or UNITY when he said, "I am the voice of ONE crying." Not many voices, but ONE. If we are to "Make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk. 1:17), we must realize that this people is ONE BODY IN THE LORD, and that we must be "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (For) there is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling: One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:3-6). There should be no rivalries, no jealousies or sectarian spirit among those who are seeking to move out in this last day message and ministry; but ONE BODY beginning to function in God's divine order with each ministry and each member of the Body functioning as the Spirit equips and directs, and in subjection to one another in love (Eph. 5:21; I Pet. 5:5).
Let Christ Increase. Our personal ambitions must be replaced by the desire to see the Lord INCREASE in the "church which is His Body” (Eph. 2:22-23), as EACH MEMBER develops in his or her ministry. The five gift-ministries of Eph. 4:11 are "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service (ministry), to the building up of the body of Christ" (New American Standard). Each ministry must fulfill his function, and yet be willing to decrease that the Lord might increase IN THE WHOLE BODY. "But speaking truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effective working in the measure of every part, makes the increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:15-16).
Turning the hearts. Let's look again at the Elijah prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6. "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 strike the earth with a curse." God places great importance on His divine order, whether in the home or in the church. We cannot ignore the importance of the headship and responsibility of fathers, and proper submission to authority in the divine arrangement of the family and the church. It is the BREAKDOWN of the home (and the consequent effect in all society) that is causing the "curse" of divine judgment to fall on the earth. "Lawlessness" is rampant in every segment of society, even as Jesus said it would be (Mt. 24:12). It is not just the increase of crime and violence that reflects this spirit of lawlessness, but the "militancy" that is evident in the "demanding spirit" of "I am going to get what is coming to me OR ELSE," with strikes, marches, demonstrations, disruptions, destruction of the rights and property of others, defying and disobeying the law in various non-violent or semi-violent ways; and much of this even aided and abetted by some Churches and Ministers. Then there is the moral breakdown, also aided and abetted by many Churches and Ministers who reject the divine authority of the Word of God, teach the "new morality,” "situation ethics," etc., all fulfilling Jesus' prophetic words in Mt. 7:21, concerning those who would SAY "Lord, Lord," but would not do the will of His heavenly Father. Such, said He, are those who "work iniquity" (the Gr. word means "lawlessness"). It is the "fathers," who have the authority and responsibility under God, whose hearts need to be TURNED BACK to their children, to TEACH, LEAD, and SET the right EXAMPLE, in order to stem the tide of lawlessness.
Spiritual fathers. The "fathers" spoken of in the prophetic utterance, whose hearts are to be "turned back" by an Elijah ministry, can be both natural fathers, [and] the spiritual fathers (pastors) of the church. The hearts of the pastors must be turned back to their spiritual children (their flock). God is very severe in His Word in His denunciation of the pastors or shepherds who have not properly taken care of their flocks (read Ezek. 34 and Jer. 23). This is too large a subject to go into here; but there are far too many "hirelings" in the pulpits of the churches (John 10:12-13). They don't feed the people with the "meat" of the Word of God, and they do not have a heart to the people as they should, but to their own career, success, popularity in the eyes of people, etc. Isaiah states it in this way: "they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter" (Isa. 56:11). But God made a promise, and I believe He is fulfilling it in this day: "And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, says the Lord" (Jer. 23:3-4). We can praise God that He is turning the hearts of the fathers (pastors) back to their flocks. And this is bringing to pass the other half of the promise, "and the heart of the children to their fathers (pastors)," as hungry hearts seek out those true shepherds who will feed and care for them, and then render to these shepherds the true submission and support which God desires.
Another phase of truth. The "turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers" has another phase of truth. We sometimes refer to those men whom Christ chose and appointed as apostles as "church fathers." Paul indicates that he was a spiritual father to the Corinthian church (I Cor. 4:15). The early Christians "continued steadfastly" in the APOSTLES' doctrine (Acts 2:42). In other words, their hearts were to their spiritual fathers in the Lord. In this day, I believe an "Elijah ministry" is turning the hearts of God's people back to the NEW TESTAMENT and the TEACHING of the APOSTLES. The desire is to see apostolic truth, order and power return to the church, and this requires bypassing all the accumulated traditions and manmade ways of the last 1900 years and returning to the "fountain" of truth which Christ committed to His apostles.
The home. We can see yet another phase of the truth that the hearts of the fathers would be turned back to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Among those who are seeking to move in what the Lord is doing today, there is a fresh emphasis on the place of the home in God's plan, and a renewed desire to see God's divine order for husbands, wives and children implemented in the home. We cannot enlarge on the subject here, as it is beyond our scope for this booklet. But we are beginning to see as never before that the church will only be as strong as the individual family units which make up the church. Many have had the strange notion that they can be "spiritual" and yet not fulfill their proper "role" in the home as a husband and father, or wife and mother. We MUST get back to the basic truth that if a person is married, their FIRST and most IMPORTANT ministry under God is to their family. HOW WE TREAT THOSE NEAREST TO US IN OUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY CIRCLE determines to a great extent how "spiritual" we are in the sight of God. There are too many, both men and women, who are out trying to minister to others when they have failed to fulfill their responsibilities and ministry to their own mates and children in their own family. God help us to get our priorities right and put first things first. This is part of the ministry of "restoration" taking place in our day.
Elijah on the mount. There is another evidence that an "Elijah ministry" must come forth and "prepare the way" of the Lord in these last days. It is presented to us by symbolic drama. The story is given in all three synoptic gospels, so we know it is of great importance. I refer to Jesus taking three of His disciples up into a high mountain and being transfigured before them. In Mt. 17:3, we read, "And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with him." Moses was refused entry into the Promised Land by the Lord because of his smiting of the rock in anger (Num. 20:11-12), but there on the Mt. of Transfiguration we see him IN the Promised Land, talking with Jesus. This speaks of the end-time of this age, when God is going to lead His people into the FULNESS of their spiritual inheritance. Though the church has failed many times through "striking the rock" (Jesus) in its unbelief, waywardness and apostasy, we are yet to see the church in the "spiritual mount" of the promised blessing and power and victory. Since Elijah was there with Moses and Jesus, he pictures the end-time ministry and move of the Spirit of God which is PREPARING the church for her destined hour of full glory. The three disciples (only one fourth of the chosen twelve) who went up into the mount with Jesus, portray the fact that only a PORTION of the church will be willing to "ascend" into that higher spiritual realm which the Lord has prepared for His people in this end time.
Time element. I want to present two evidences from the Mount of Transfiguration story to show that it portrays events which are to take place in this very end time in which we are living. First, in Mt. 17:1, we read that it was "after six days" that Jesus took Peter, James and John up into the high mountain. Six days after what? Reading the 16th chapter of Matthew, we see that the event from which the transfiguration is dated, is the Lord's first mention of His sufferings. In other words, six days after He tells them that He is going to be killed at Jerusalem, He takes them up into the mount. In II Pet. 3:8, we read that according to God's reckoning of time, one day is a thousand years; thus the six days represent six thousand years. However, we are not to reckon the six thousand years from the time that Jesus was historically crucified, but from the time that He was crucified in the foreordained plan and purpose of God, for that was when God reckoned it to be done. We need, then, to ask the question, WHEN was Jesus thus crucified? According to Rev. 13:8, Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The Greek word translated "foundation" here is katabole, which means "casting down." It is NOT the word usually used to denote the foundation of a house or building: that word is themelios, as used in Lk. 6:48-49; 14:29; I Cor. 3:10-11, etc. I point this out because I believe katabole (used in Rev. 13:8) should not be translated "foundation,” but rather "casting down" or "fall.” WHEN was the sacrifice for sin NEEDED? When Adam FELL, and was "cast down" from his pristine perfection and unity with God, and all creation fell with him. Thus Rev. 13:8 should read that Jesus was the "lamb of God slain FROM the CASTING DOWN or FALL of the world. Katabole (and the verb form kataballo) is incorrectly translated "foundation" in a number of New Testament passages, such as Mt. 13:35, Lk. 11:50, Eph. 1:4, etc., but in II Cor. 4:9, and Rev. 12:10, we have the correct rendering, "cast down.”
[Ed. Note – Brother Earls’ exegesis of “katabole” should be considered more prophetically interpretive than grammatically definitive. Grammatically the word also means to “lay down” (as one lays tile on a floor), hence “to found.” In certain passages, “katabole” cannot sensibly be translated as a destructive casting down (e.g., Heb. 4:3; 11:11). ]
Foreordained before. In I Pet. 1:20, we read that Jesus was "foreordained BEFORE the foundation of the world.” The word "foundation" here is again from the Greek word katabole (casting down). In the foreordained plan and purpose of God, Jesus was chosen to become the sacrificial lamb slain for sin BEFORE Adam and Eve fell and the "casting down" of the world because of sin occurred; but He was actually "slain" in the purpose of God FROM the time of that fall, for that was when the sacrifice was needed. God Himself symbolically dramatized this truth by killing some animals and clothing Adam and Eve with the skins (Gen. 3:21). These animals slain at the time of the fall were the first to shed their blood for man's atonement, beginning the long succession of animal sacrifices to typify the eventual sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself as the "lamb of God."
Passover pattern. The pattern for the slaying of the Lamb of God was set in the rites that were given to Moses when the Passover was first instituted in the land of Egypt. God told the people to "take" a lamb for each family on the 10th day of the first month, and then "keep" it until the 14th day of the month, when it was to be killed in the evening. Thus the Lamb was "marked out" for death ("slain" in the purpose of God) on the 10th day, but not actually killed until the 14th day, being kept for 4 days. As a day is with the Lord as a thousand years, we see how this portrays the fact that Jesus (although "slain" in the purpose of God from the time of Adam's fall), was kept in the heavenlies for 4,000 years before coming to the earth to actually die.
Knowing the time. Based on the above pattern, we know that the time previous to the cross of Christ was 4,000 years, and that leaves just 2,000 years on this side of the cross in order to "fill out" man's "work week" of 6 days (6/000 years) before the "day of the Lord,” the 7th day begins. Time can be figured by either lunar (354+ days per year), or prophetic (360 days per year) or solar (365+ days per year): 2,000 years of lunar time ran out in the year 1941; 2,000 years of prophetic time ran out in 1972; and 2,000 years of solar time runs out at the end of this century. Since the days are to be "cut short" (Mt. 24:22), we will not likely reach the end of the solar time reckoning. Which makes us realize that NOW we are in the closing years of the 6th 1,000 year "day," and in the DAWNing of the 7th, which will be the "Sabbath" of God's REST: the one thousand year millennium.
[ Ed. Note –Obviously we are well into the 21 st century without the fulfillment of these time patterns having occurred. While referring to the cross as his time point of reference, Brother Earls erroneously makes all his calculations from the birth of Christ—which was the common starting point for anybody calculating the Lord’s return in the late 20 th century. Truly, if we use Calvary as the starting point of reference for calculations, two thousand solar years will not actually occur until approximately 2030 AD .]
Another evidence. The above shows that now is the time for that which is portrayed by the Mount of Transfiguration drama to take place. But we want to take a look at a second evidence. The 6 days of Mt. 17:1 equate to exactly 144 hours. Does not that number speak to us? Multiply 144 by 1000 (the number of Christ in His High Priestly ministry: being the number of the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle—10 x 10 x 10 = 1000) and we get 144,000—the number of the Firstfruits of Rev. 14:1. These "firstfruits" are seen standing WITH the Lord on mount Zion, BEFORE the main harvest of Rev. 14:15. Thus after 6 days, or 6,000 years from Adam's fall, shall 144,000 be READY to be taken by Jesus into the "high mountain" of His Kingdom, and enter into the powers of the "glorified life.” Whether 144,000 is to be taken as an exact number, or merely symbolic of a larger firstfruits company, makes little difference. The truth is the same: that a "remnant" of God's people are now being prepared to "come up HIGHER"—as did Moses (Ex. 24:18), while the people stayed at the foot of the mountain. Ascending the mount with Jesus, as did Peter, James and John, symbolizes both that "higher" spiritual place or realm which the Lord is NOW leading us into: to walk in His ways and be conformed to His image, and also the coming literal entering into His heavenly Kingdom through the translation of the physical body into a glorified body liketo His (Phil. 3:21). Hallelujah! Elijah is here!—"talking with Jesus" in the spiritual mount, and calling a people to ascend into their spiritual inheritance.
A voice in the wilderness. We will now take a final look at the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, who went forth in "the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk. 1:17). When asked by the priests and Levites, who came out to where he was baptizing, "Who are you?,” John said, "I am the voice of one crying in THE WILDERNESS, make straight THE WAY of the Lord, as said the prophet Esais (Isaiah)." (John 1:21, 23). We have already seen that God speaks in "similitudes" (patterns) by the ministry of the prophets. John was preaching in the wilderness of Judea (Mt. 3:1-3), in order to portray the truth that in his day, the Jews were in a spiritual "wilderness" OUTSIDE the "Promised Land" of Kingdom blessing and fulness. Following John's ministry, Jesus came preaching "The TIME IS FULFILLED, and the Kingdom of God is AT HAND: repent [ ] and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Thus He gave them a chance to ENTER IN and see the promises to Abraham fulfilled and the kingdom fully established. But they refused to accept Him: "He cameto His own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Paul says in Rom. 11:7, "Israel has not obtained that which he seek s for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded." "Even so then at this present time also there is a 'remnant' according to the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5). This remnant obtained the promise on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was outpoured to establish them in a position of spiritual blessing and power. Later the Gentiles were added to this elect company when the house of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-48).
Not maintained. History shows, however, that the early church failed to maintain the spiritual estate in which they were established; neither did they press in to "fully possess" the ground given to them "in Christ." On the contrary, even before the death of the apostles, a general declension had set in which eventually led the church into a "wilderness" of spiritual impoverishment. As we have already seen, though there have been times of "spiritual refreshing" and revival, the church has been, and still is to a great degree, in a spiritual "wilderness" OUTSIDE the FULNESS of spiritual blessing and power manifest at the beginning. But God is now moving by His Spirit, and giving His people an opportunity to once again ENTER IN and fully POSSESS their spiritual inheritance. As John the Baptist raised his voice in the "wilderness" of his day, so NOW there are those that God has raised up to be a VOICE in the "wilderness" of religious confusion, sectarianism, and apostasy. WHY? Because "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The "crossing over" of God's saints into the Promised Land, first in spiritual power, and then in translation glory, IS NIGH.
Back to God rule. We have seen that John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to restoration. The Greek word translated "restore" in Mt. 17:11 is apokatastasis. The first three letters are a prefix. The Greek apo means "from" or "away from.” The rest of the word is defined as follows: "setting, appointing, institution and introduction; a state or condition; to bring ambassadors before the assembly." The prefix and the word together thus indicate a GOING AWAY (apo) from MAN APPOINTED conditions of government. The "restoration" of John was that of GOD-RULE. He was a preacher of RIGHTEOUSNESS. He preached RULE BY GOD within the human heart and in all the affairs of life and the nation. He was a spiritual REVOLUTIONIST. Most of the people of his day were IN the world, OF the world and FOR the world. While he was OUT of this world, IN the Spirit of God and FOR the God of his fathers. All the deliberations of man were but an abomination to him. He corrected the heart of countless multitudes, and IN their hearts he "straightened the way" of his Lord, that a PATH in human hearts might be prepared for Jesus Christ. Thus must be our message: RESTORE RIGHTEOUSNESS within the human heart and GOD RULE in all things. We must be so on FIRE in the zeal of HIS SPIRIT that all the traditions and practices of man get booted, that CHRIST ALONE shall REIGN supreme in the heart of the individual, and in the affairs of His church.
Preparing the Way. "Go through, go through the gates: prepare [ ] THE WAY of the people: cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord has proclaimedto the end of the world. Say [ ] to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation com es; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them. The HOLY PEOPLE, The redeemed of the Lord; and you shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken." (Isa. 62:10-12). The picture in this passage is that of the exiles RETURNING to the Promised Land from captivity. The speaker exhorts the people to pass forth from Babylon, and speed on their homewards. They are clearing away obstacles, bringing materials to construct a HIGHWAY along which a stream of emigrants may march, removing stones that might cause stumbling, and lifting up a STANDARD to direct the march. Even so, would the Lord have us prepare a WAY in the desert (of spiritual desolation), that others might follow after and enter into the "Promised Land" of blessing and power which God has for His church. Not many like to be pioneers, preparing the way for others, but some must hear His voice and obey, saying to the "daughter of Zion,” "Behold,your salvation com es; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” If we will be FAITHFUL to seek Him and obey Him in all that He has shown us, then HE WILL DO THE WORK, and the time will come when God's people will be called "The Holy People, The redeemed of the Lord. . . SOUGHT OUT, A city (people) not forsaken."
Are you willing? Dear reader, are you willing to let the Lord PREPARE A HIGHWAY in your heart? Are you willing to let him "straighten" all your ways and gather out the stones of stumbling? Are you willing to LIFT UP A STANDARD to others, that a WAY might be prepared and a PEOPLE readied for His coming? In Isa. 40:4 we read: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain!!" The poor and lowly in spirit are to be raised up; the proud and self-righteous depressed; the "crooked" ways of religious vanity and deceit are to be changed to those of simplicity and integrity; the "rough" (rude) places caused by the "hindering tactics" (Luke 11:52) of self-seeking leaders are to be smoothed out. THEN shall the GLORY of the Lord be revealed. Praise His Name! So may He hasten the day!
Postscript. Finally, in presenting the evidence of an "Elijah" ministry for this end time, we must include John's vision of the two witnesses of Rev. 11:1-12. In verse 6, we read that these witnesses have power to "shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to [strike] the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." The miracles mentioned here were performed by Elijah and Moses in the Old Testament, and this has led many to believe that Elijah and Moses will literally return to this earth to be the two witnesses in this end time. I fail to see that this is necessary. We have already seen that Elijah and Moses were TYPES of that which God would do through other special messengers and through His church by the power of His Spirit. My personal conviction is that the "two witnesses" represent the "faithful remnant" which has witnessed to the truth of God down through this age during the two-church system. The two-church system was represented first by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches, and then re-fulfilled by the split between the Roman Catholic and Protestant groups. God has al ways had a spiritual remnant as faithful witnesses within and in the midst of the organized church systems, and this witness will be intensified in the end time as God anoints those whose hearts are whollyto Him to "prepare the way" for His coming. Out of their mouths will go forth the "fire" of His Word (see Jer. 5:14; 20:9) to "devour their enemies" as we read in Rev. 11:5. I believe also that the two-witness prophecy will find special fulfillment in this end time in the two-fold ministry of the apostles and prophets that God is restoring to the church (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 18:20; Lk. 11:49).
Two men. But because of the special witness needed (particularly to the Jews) the two witnesses will also most surely be two individual men, prophets of God, brought forth at the strategic time, to do the works of Rev. 11:6, and to be martyred in the streets of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:7-8). If God is going to bring back two men, rather than Moses and Elijah, it would be prophets of the New Testament era. Jesus said to His disciples, " You shall be witnesses to me" (Acts 1:8). This was true then and has been true of all His disciples down through this age evento the end. But there is a special way in which the two witnesses of Rev. 11 could be witnesses to Jesus. They could be men who actually saw Jesus, heard Him teach and perform miracles, and also witnessed His death and resurrection. It would be impossible for Moses and Elijah to be witnessesto Him in this sense. Since the New Covenant is a better covenant with better promises (Heb. 7:22, 8:6), why should the Lord have to bring back two men who lived under an inferior covenant to be His witnesses? The Greek word "better" in these passages actually means "stronger" or "more powerful.” These specially chosen witnesses who shall minister under the New and more powerful covenant than the old, will certainly have no trouble doing similar or even more powerful works than did Moses and Elijah, when the Lord gets ready to use them. Jesus spoke to John, just before the vision of the two witnesses, and said, "You must prophesy AGAIN before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." Will John, then, be one of the two witnesses? Only time will tell. Maranatha! Even so, come Lord Jesus! (see Rev. 10:11; 22:20). [ Ed note – Brother Earls speaks more fully about the identities of the witnesses in the prophecy entitled “The Two Witnesses.”]
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