The Elijah Principle

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"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord..."   Malachi 4:1  KJV

In the Old Testament, God gave to the prophet Malachi a strange prophecy concerning the coming of the day of the Lord and the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to set up His kingdom on earth in Jerusalem for a thousand years of peace and prosperity.  As we have discussed before (in the study on the book of Revelation) the "day of the Lord" is a phrase that is used in the Bible that refers to that time towards the end of the great tribulation period when God Himself will fight against and destroy the wicked, Christ rejecting people who are left on this earth.  It will most likely be the same time that the battle of Armageddon takes place and this battle is to take place after the rapture of the church.   We can understand the timing of these events more clearly when we read the book of Revelation.
"So the angel swung his scythe on the earth and stripped the grapes and gathered the vintage from the vines of the earth and cast it into the huge winepress of God's indignation and wrath.  And [the grapes in] the winepress were trodden outside the city, and blood poured from the winepress, [reaching] as high as horse's bridles, for a distance of 1,600 stadia (about 200 miles)."   Revelation 14: 19, 20  Amplified Bible
"And I saw three loathsome spirits like frogs, [leaping] from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet.  For really they are the spirits of demons that perform signs (wonders, miracles).  And they go forth to the rulers and leaders all over the world, to gather them together for war on the great day of God the Almighty...And they gathered them together at the place which in Hebrew is called Armageddon."   Revelation 16: 13-16  Amplified Bible
The Lord gives us both a warning and a clue to the timing of His coming to take the church out of the world before God's wrath is poured out on the ungodly.
"Behold, I am going to come like a thief!  Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who stays awake (alert) and who guards his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!"   Revelation 16: 15  Amplified Bible
This statement by the Lord is mentioned while John is beginning to describe the events of the battle of Armageddon which is at the end of the great tribulation period (the last 3 1/2 years of the 7 year peace treaty with Israel by the antichrist). 
The purpose of this study is to help the people of God to understand what is going to take place in the future and the church's role during the time of the end of this world system as we know it.  Some ministers of the gospel seem to think that the church will be raptured out of the world before the events in the book of Revelation begin to take place on the earth, however, I disagree with this assumption.
Jesus spoke a parable concerning the church saying,
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent)...While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!...But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut...Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come."   Matthew 25: 1-13  Amplified Bible
Most Bible scholars and those who study the Bible recognize that this parable refers to the rapture of the church.  In this scripture we are given a clue as to when this event will take place.  Jesus said that at midnight a cry was made that awakened the sleeping virgins.  A virgin is a symbol for the church and it is revealed by the Scriptures that we are the bride of Christ.  The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth saying,
"For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealously, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."   II Corinthians 11: 2  Amplified Bible
The word "midnight" is used as the timing of the wake up call to the sleeping virgins (the church).  The dictionary defines the word midnight as meaning the middle of the night and a time when it is very dark.  Darkness is used in the Bible to symbolize a time of great wickedness or evil and it also describes the condition of a person's heart when they do not know God.
"He will keep the feet of His saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail."   I Samuel 2: 9  KJV
"For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."   Isaiah 60: 2  KJV
"And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do...It was now about the sixth hour (midday), and darkness enveloped the whole land and earth until the ninth hour (about three o'clock in the afternoon), While the sun's light faded or was darkened; and the curtain [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two."   Luke 23: 34-45  Amplified Bible
"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen."   Romans 1: 21-25  KJV
I believe that God has a mighty work for the church to do in these last days and that it will take the power and annointing of the Holy Spirit for us to do it.   The prophet Elijah was annointed by God to do a powerful work in the Old Testament.  He both prophesied and did mighty miracles by the power and annointing of God.  His boldness and courage in the face of evil was unsurpassed in the Holy Scriptures.  Moses was also used by God in a similar fashion during his time and God used him to work special miracles in Egypt.  God spake unto Moses saying,
"...And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth."   Exodus 9: 16   KJV
We shall now go to the book of Revelation to see what work God has ordained for His church in these last days.
"And I will  grant the power of prophecy to My two witnesses for 1,260 (42 months; three and one half years), dressed in sackcloth.  These [witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth."   Revelation 11: 3, 4  Amplified Bible 
Some Bible scholars believe and teach that the two witnesses spoken of in the above verses are none other than Moses and Elijah and that God will send them back to the earth before the day of the Lord comes when God judges the world for their ungodliness.  Well, there is something that is wrong with this interpretation and it does not fit with the rest of the Scriptures concerning the second coming of the Lord.   When Malachi gave his prophecy he did not say that God would send Moses and Elijah, he only stated that God would send Elijah.  As a matter of fact, I have found no where in the Bible where a prophecy is given that Moses would be resurrected to come back to the earth in the last days.  We must be careful not to add anything to the Bible when we are reading it if we want to gain the correct understanding of the Word of God.  So then who are the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation that God will give power to prophesy and do miracles during the time of the end?  We must answer this question using the Bible as our guide.  
"These [witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth."  Revelation 11: 4  Amplified Bible
Next, we must ask ourselves what is the olive tree and the lampstand a symbol of in the Bible?  God told Jeremiah to prophesy to Israel saying,
"Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble...The Lord called thy name, a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult He kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.  For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke Me to anger in offering incese unto Baal."   Jeremiah 11: 12-17  KJV
As to the symbol of the lampstand the lord Jesus said,
"As to the hidden meaning (the mystery) of the seven stars which you saw on My right hand and the seven lampstands of gold: the seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven assemblies (churches) and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."  Revelation 1: 20  Amplfied Bible
The interpretation of the lampstands being a symbol for the church also fits together with the parable of the ten virgins (mentioned earlier) where each virgin had a lamp that they were using for light.  We are told by the Scriptures that our light is the knowledge of the Word of God.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."  Psalms 119: 105  KJV
Thus, we can safely conclude that the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation whom God will give power will be the church and the 144,000 jewish evangelists who God will seal with the Holy Spirit at the time of the end.  
"...Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed and hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."   Revelation 7: 3, 4  KJV
It is my belief that God is mainly dealing with nations and countries during the time of the end. 
Historically, the United States of America has been the most Christian nation on earth and Israel is God's chosen nation or people that God used to bring forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Whom God would use to bless all the peoples of the earth.
There will be a time of great spiritual darkness upon the earth during  the great tribulation period (which begins after the first 3 1/2 years of the seven year peace covenant that the antichrist will confirm with Israel and the nations surrounding her).   The church, which is asleep now, will no doubt awaken and begin to let it's light shine like never before when we see the coming of the antichrist on the world scene as he attempts to create a one world government and dictatorship.  His ultimate goal will be to force the whole world to worship Satan (who will give the antichrist his powers to deceive the world during that time).  Israel will also be under intense persecution from the antichrist as he rises to dominate all nations of the earth during the time of the end.
It is my belief that when God spoke to Malachi to give the prophecy of the coming of Elijah before the day of the Lord's wrath and judgement upon the earth, He was not talking about sending Elijah back to the earth from heaven in a bodily form but, in a spiritual and annointed sense the church and Jewish saints in Israel during that time would be given the spirit and power of Elijah to prophesy and work signs and wonders on the earth that will cause many to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour during the time of the end.
The Lord Jesus Himself gave the clue to this interpretation when He spoke to His disciples concerning His second coming,
"The disciples asked Him, Then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?  He replied, Elijah does come and will get everthing 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 like.  So also the Son of Man is going to be treated and suffer at their hands.  Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them about John the Baptist."   Matthew 17: 10-13  KJV
John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for the first coming of Jesus Christ.  Malachi also prophesied about John's coming before Jesus Christ.  In the gospel of Luke we read this description of John the Baptist,
"...And he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable to the wisdom of the upright [which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God]--in order to make ready for the Lord a people [perfectly] prepared [in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state]."   Luke 1: 17  Amplified Bible
The prophet Malachi spoke of two separate comings of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The first coming was preceded by John the Baptist who God used to prepare the way for Jesus Christ and also gave him the spirit and boldness of Elijah, but
before Christ's second coming to this world (at the end of this world system as we know it) God will give to the church (and the Jewish believers at that time) the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord.
"Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me.  And the Lord [the Messiah], Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger or Angel of the covenant, Whom you desire, behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts."  Malachi 3: 1 
Amplified Bible
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes."  Malachi 4: 5  Amplified Bible
The Lord Jesus was trying to help His disciples to understand that John the Baptist had the annointing of Elijah to boldly and fearlessly proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ and to preach that men needed to repent of their dead religious works in order to receive and follow Jesus Christ when He came.  However, many did not believe John's message and finally John was thrown into prison and his head cut off for his bold stand against the ungodly during his day. That same spirit and annointing of Elijah will God place upon the church during the time of the end.  The history of the church is full of the martyrs for Christ and those whose faith in Jesus Christ caused to suffer greatly.  God promised in His Word that He would send a great outpouring of His Spirit in the last days.
"And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, Even upon the menservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.  And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes."  Joel 2: 28-31  Amplified Bible
The Word of God also lets us know that God will hear and answer the prayers of any true believer in Jesus Christ and great miracles will be done by God's mighty power.
"Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months.  And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced it's crops [as usual]."   James 5: 17, 18  Amplified Bible 
The prophet Daniel also was given a vision of the end times by God and it was revealed to him what would be the fate of God's people during the tribulation period at the hands of the antichrist's government.
"And such as violate the covenant he shall pervert and seduce with flatteries, but the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God].  And they who are wise and understanding among the people shall instruct many and make them understand, though some [of them and their followers] shall fall by the sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for many days.  Now when they fall, they shall receive a little help.  Many shall join themselves to them with flatteries and hypocrisies.  And some of those who are wise, prudent, and understanding shall be weakened and fall, [thus, then, the insincere among the people will lose courage and become deserters.  It will be a test] to refine, to purify, and to make those among [God's people] white, even to the time of the end, because it is yet for the time [God] appointed.  And the king shall do according to his will; he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished, for that which is determined [by God] shall be done...And at that time [of the end] Michael shall arise, the great [angelic] prince who defends and has charge of your [Daniel's] people.  And there shall be a time of trouble, straitness, and distress such as never was since there was a nation till that time.  But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the Book [of God's plan for His own].  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt and abhorrence.  And the teachers and those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness (to uprightness and right standing with God) [shall give forth light] like the stars forever and ever.  But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the Book until the time of the end.  [Then] many shall run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall be increased and become great...Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be tried, smelted, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly.  And none of the wicked shall understand, but the teachers and those who are wise shall understand."  Daniel 11: 32-12: 10  Amplified Bible
In conclusion, we who are the people of God and called to be saints must prepare ourselves (spiritually) for what is coming upon this world in the immediate future.  May God give us all grace to be more like Jesus Christ our Lord and to be found faithful at His coming.  Amen.

Rance Allen - "I belong to you" 1988