Matthew 17:10-13. “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all t hings. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples undeerstood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist.”
The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, prophesies the coming of Elijah.The last two verses of the book say: “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.”
The disciples had seen Elijah in his glorified form, but there was no light spreading across the land of Israel; no restoration, no turning of fathers to children and children to fathers. So they did the smart thing, as we should learn to do but for some reason we always think of it after we’ve tried everything else–they turned to Jesus and asked Him. And He provided the answer, as He always does when we seek Him with all of our hearts.
Jesus confirmed the prophecy that Elijah would come. Then, he told them that indeed Elijah had come, and had been largely rejected by the people, who had “done with him as they listed.” That is, they had imprisoned him and eventually beheaded him at Salome’s request.
The disciples understood, then, that Jesus was speaking of John the Baptist; however, the Malachi prophecy had not yet been fulfilled. Before Jesus returns to earth in all His power and glory, another forerunner, another Elijah, willcome, and his testimony will not be rejected. He will be followed by the coming of the King.
The questions remain, then: When, where, and what? When will this Elijah appear, where will he appear, and what will his work be?
When: It is not possible to pinpoint an exact date. We know only that he will appear during the end times, after the removal of the Church, when when Jewish history resumes as the nation is gathered back to Israel. It will be at some point during the Great Tribulation.
He will appear in Israel, not in any other nation. His work will be directed to Israel, exclusively to the remnant of Israel. He will preach repentance, and his testimony will be received. He will fulfill Malachi 4:5-6.