Summary: The substitution of John for Elijah teaches us much about God’s ways and his dealings with mankind.
The Elijah Factor
1. The world has been going through a chaotic time. Islamic terrorists have been cruelly killing anyone unlike them.
2. Scotland almost voted for independence but decided to stay with the UK.
3. Vladamir Putin talks about starting World War III; Gay Marriage bans are breaking down in the courts.
4. Franklin Graham has publically wondered whether we are near the end times.
5. One individual associated with the end times is the prophet Elijah. You might recall that Elijah was taken up to heaven alive in a chariot of fire. Malachi predicted that he will return near the end times and have a ministry of repentance.
6. So when Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration with Elijah and Moses present for a very short time, they were confused. Elijah appeared, but did not stay to have a ministry of reconciliation. And his is where we pick up.
7. Today’s sermon is not technically an expository sermon, as I typically preach; a hybrid; it deals with a text like an expository sermon might, but it also digresses
Main Idea: The substitution of John for Elijah teaches us much about God’s ways and his dealings with mankind.
I. God Works in PATTERNS (Mark 9:9-13)
A. Why the SECRECY?
• people wanted crown before the cross, the Millennium not crucifixion
• How things might have happened, in theory, had people been receptive
• Disciples confused about taking things more or less literally
B. God Often Works in Repeated PATTERNS
• Temple destroyed twice, same day of the year (9th of Av) 586 BC, 70 AD
• Number 40: rains 40 days, Jesus tempted 40 days; children of Israel sentence of 40 years to wander, God gives Israel 40 to decide
• Elijah multiplies loaves and fishes, Jesus multiplies loaves and fishes.
C. Usually a LESS literal fulfillment first, then the MORE literal
Because Something is Fulfilled Less Literally Does Not Mean It Will Not Also Be Fulfilled more Literally
1. Virgin Birth of Isaiah 7
2. Jesus Kingdom
3. Redemption: souls now, bodies later
4. Joy of the Lord at times now, full joy forever in heaven
II. God Foreknows All, and Makes Appropriate SUBSTITUTIONS (Malachi 4:5-6)
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” [Malachi 4:5-6]
A. Subject matter: END time fulfillment
• “Elijah comes first,” not “Elijah will come first.” A pattern, a principle.
• John the Baptist Less-literal fulfillment, but Elijah Will Literally Fulfill It
• Even today, the Jewish people leave an empty seat / open door at the Passover table in case Elijah shows up…
1. Elijah, not JOHN, at the Transfiguration
2. JOHN himself denied being Elijah
John 1:21, “And they asked him [John], ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’”
B. Luke HARMONIZES Jesus’ words and John’s
1. John only SPIRITUALLY fulfills this prophecy
Luke 1:16-17 (Angel Gabriel speaking to Zechariah about the coming birth of his son, John), “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
2. One of the two WITNESSES in Revelation 7 will probably be Elijah
• Probably along with Enoch
• Miracles associated with Elijah
• Have to be vulnerable to death
Revelation 11:3-12, “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.