By Doug Batchelor
Two Great ChampionsAn Amazing Fact: Scientists tell us that the sound waves set in motion by our voices go on an endless journey through space, and that, if we had the power to stand on some planet long years afterward with instruments delicate enough, we might be able to find them again and recreate the words we spoke here on earth.
In the age of a lukewarm church and wayward children of God, people need heroes, great men and women we can look up to as role models and mentors to bring real passion back into our relationship with the Lord. The Bible prophets who proclaimed special messages and exuded faith are excellent heroes whom we can emulate, and two of the greatest champions of the Holy Writ who come to mind especially are Elijah and John the Baptist.
God used both these men to affect powerful revivals in their times, and He wants to do the same today in your life and in the church today. Malachi 4:5, 6 says, “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” (emphasis added).
Perhaps we should first spend a moment understanding what this verse does not mean. In the time of Jesus, many believed that Elijah would literally come back down from heaven to live again on earth, or possibly be reborn into a new man. Jesus once asked the disciples, “Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias [the Greek form of Elijah]; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again” (Luke 9:18, 19).
The Jews lived with a sense of expectancy that Elijah would soon come to announce the advent of the Messiah. But this prophecy in Malachi was never intended to imply that the Old Testament prophet would return to the earth.
Instead, it was Elijah’s spirit of revival and reform that was predicted to return. Speaking of the birth of John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel said to Zacharias, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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” (Luke 1:17).
Gabriel was the first to point out that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy in Malachi. John was to precede the Lord to do a special work of revival and reform. Jesus later confirmed this fact when He said, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:13, 14).
However, the completion of Malachi’s prophecy does not end with John the Baptist. There is also a modern-day fulfillment. Notice the prophecy says: “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The “great and dreadful day of the Lord,” which is also called “the great day of His wrath” in Revelation 6:17, is synonymous with the second coming. So this other fulfillment points us to a period just prior to the return of Jesus!
In a literal sense, real revival brings a new expression of love to the family and then from there, it spreads into the community. The most basic unit of any society, government, or church is the family. The outpouring of God’s Spirit will always result in love that leads to obedience of His commandments. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So in a spiritual sense, the spirit of Elijah’s and John’s message will also work to unite disobedient earthly children with their heavenly Father today.
So let’s take just a brief moment to see how these two great prophets helped bring a new hope-filled message of obedience and action on the Lord’s behalf—in other words, true revival. The 12 characteristics that are so much a part of the spirit and power of Elijah will also be in the last days before Christ returns.1. Bold and Fearless Preaching—Even Before Leaders • Elijah—
Elijah told Ahab, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:18). • John—
“John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18).
Both John the Baptist and Elijah were fearless in preaching a straight message before rulers and governments. Jesus said this would happen again in the last days. “Ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them” (Mark 13:9). We must not seek to find our approval among men, but rather with God. To establish a great revival, the Elijah message must be a bold proclamation of clear, uncompromising, and sometimes unpopular truth.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).2. Simple Diet and Lifestyle • Elijah—
“Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand” (1 Kings 17:11). • John—
“He did eat locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6).
Both Elijah and John were known for their simple diets and wilderness living. These basic rigors kept their mental faculties clear and their bodies strong, that they might be prepared for the special work God called them to do. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Likewise, the church in the last days must be revived to the truth that there is a strong connection between the body and the spirit. What we eat and drink, as well as our personal living habits, has a direct effect on our mental clarity and ability to discern truth. The power to resist temptation can be traced in part to a simple diet and moderate lifestyle. Remember, sin came on the human race as a result of eating the wrong thing.
“Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” (Ecclesiastes 10:17).3. Modest Dress, Simple Clothing • Elijah—
“He was an hairy man [with a garment of hair], and girt with a girdle [belt] of leather about his loins [waist]” (2 Kings 1:8).• John—
“And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin [leather belt] about his loins [waist]” (Mark 1:6).
In a time when kings and priests loved to wear ornaments and long, flowing robes, Elijah and John’s modesty and simplicity were a stinging rebuke. We live in an age where there has never been more arrogant attention given to flamboyance and fashion. The main goal of modern clothing designers is to highlight a person’s sexuality. Sadly, everything from body piercing to tattoos is being indulged even among professed Christians. Once again, the church desperately needs last-day Elijahs to witness for Christ by their example of humility and simplicity through modest clothing and appearance.
“Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [propriety] and sobriety [moderation]; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array [clothing]” (1 Timothy 2:9).4. Discipling Others • Elijah—
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha … and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (1 Kings 19:19). • John—
“And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things” (Luke 7:18).
The Scriptures record that Elijah not only discipled Elisha, but he also visited the schools of the prophets (also translated “the disciples of the prophets”), which were scattered all through the land of Israel (2 Kings 2). These training centers combined spiritual instruction with practical work skills, and the young men trained there went throughout Israel to teach others the ways of God. John, likewise, reproduced his faith by teaching the disciples who followed him. Both John and Elijah spent most of their time training not the priests and Levites, but rather the common people. Similarly, the last great movement of God will not be led by clergy alone, but also by Spirit-filled laypersons. This is why the Elijah message must give attention to training, discipling, and mobilizing every member of God’s church.5. Preaching Baptism of Repentance and Death to Self • Elijah—
“And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan” (2 Kings 2:6). • John—
“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:5, 6).
One identifying mark of the Elijah message is that it calls people to the Jordan River—a symbol of repentance and baptism. The children of Israel had to cross the Jordan to enter the Promised Land, just as we enter the waters of baptism and cross over to a new life. The great commission of Jesus to the church will have its finest hour in the future, when once again modern Elijahs will baptize converts to Christ in explosive, Pentecostal-like numbers. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14).
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).6. Manifested Humility • Elijah—
“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42). • John—
“He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear” (Matthew 3:11).
Before Jesus comes again, the people of God will have learned to reflect the meek and humble character of Jesus in an age of arrogance and pride. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).7. Endure Religious Persecution • Elijah—
“Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them [who had been killed] by to morrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:2). • John—
“And she went forth, and said unto her mother [Herodias], What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist” (Mark 6:24).
In the Old Testament, a pagan queen named Jezebel married Ahab, the king of Israel. Jezebel and her daughter, Athaliah, persecuted God’s people and tried to entice Ahab to kill Elijah and the other prophets. In the New Testament, Herodias, the pagan wife of king Herod, and her daughter Salome succeeded in enticing Herod to kill John the Baptist. The persecution experienced by Elijah and John will soon be repeated. In the last days, Revelation tells us the “Mother of harlots” and her daughters will persecute God’s remnant people, the last-day Elijahs. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).
“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:5, 6).8. Running Before the King • Elijah—“
And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:46). • John—“
As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Luke 3:4).
When a monarch traveled in Bible times, servants often ran ahead to prepare the path for the approaching king. They cleared the road of rocks and obstacles, filled in potholes, cut down high spots, and straightened the crooked turns. In the same way, those preaching the Elijah message in the last days will help prepare people for the coming of our King Jesus. They will proclaim a message that makes the way of salvation clear, plain, and easy to understand.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).9. Supreme Interest in Glorifying God • Elijah—
“Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again” (1 Kings 18:37). • John—
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Those preaching the Elijah message will make glorifying God their top priority. They will be wholly consecrated to God’s cause, just as were John and Elijah. They will be willing to make any sacrifice that others might be saved—in other words, to spend and be spent in the work of God.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).10. Repairing God’s Altar • Elijah—
“And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down” (1 Kings 18:30). • John—
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1, 2).
The Elijah message will be a trumpet call to return to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Today, when so many are telling us that the teachings of the Bible are old-fashioned and need to be revised to better fit the times, we desperately need to be reminded that God said, “For I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12).11. Messages Spark Reformation • Elijah—
“Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel. … And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:19–21). • John—
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4, 5).
In the days of Elijah and John the Baptist, God’s people had been corrupted by the pagan influences around them and had compromised God’s truth (1 Kings 19:14; Matthew 3:1, 2). These two brave prophets delivered a message that sparked revival and reform among God’s people. Today, once again, it seems that much of Christianity is lukewarm and worldly. If judgment is going to begin at God’s house (Ezekiel 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17), then certainly the revival must start there too! Since God’s plan is for His people to reach the entire world, He must first send the Elijah message to reach the church. In the Old Testament, Elijah led the people to repent and turn back to God on mount Carmel. Then he prayed, and God sent abundant rain to end the drought. Likewise, John the Baptist called on the people of his day to repent and accept Jesus. Then shortly thereafter, they received the former rain of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Modern Elijahs will also preach a message of repentance. Then, when the church humbles itself, the latter rain of God’s Spirit will fall.12. Point People to Christ • Elijah—
“Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God” (1 Kings 18:36). • John—
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The burning desire of modern Elijahs will be to turn people to Jesus, that they might know Him and have everlasting life.
If the Lord felt it was important to send a special messenger to prepare Israel for Jesus’ first coming, how much more important is it for Him to send a special message and messengers to
awaken the church for Jesus’ second coming—the very climax of redemption?
In the same way that the Lord empowered Elijah and John the Baptist to do a work of revival and preparation, God is today preparing an army of last-day Elijahs to do a great work of revival! Amazing Facts invites you to be a part of delivering this great, end-time Elijah message—“to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).
When a bride and groom stand before the minister, they make some very broad and permanent vows … promises that are meant to last forever. What gives them the confidence that they can fulfill these vows? They have a strong love and a deep sense of commitment. In the same way, when we make our baptismal vows we should understand that this means “In sickness and health, in prosperity and adversity, in the sunshine and the rain.” God’s church family will have many of the same highs and lows of any earthly family, but if we love Jesus and commit to love His people, it becomes a precious experience that will survive any trial.
I think we sometimes underestimate how much God can do through one completely converted, committed
Christian! Through the prayers and faith of one ordinary man, Elijah, the nation of Israel was turned back to God. The Bible promise is:
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:16–18).
King David also reminds us, “Commit
thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalms 37:5, emphasis added).
Paul adds, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed
unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, emphasis added).
And of course, the example of complete commitment is Jesus. “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed
himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23, emphasis added).
Here is one of my favorite statements on commitment. It’s from Ellen G. White, one of our greatest Christian writers:
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” —Education,
Dear friend, I’ve learned that with God’s help, a person can do almost anything he or she wants, if the desire is really there. I have also learned that where there is faith and hope, all things are possible to him that believes. If you truly desire and believe, you can survive and succeed in church as a vibrant, Spirit-filled Christian. However, without Jesus we will surly sink in the stormy times ahead. Friend, this is the only way to survive the tempest ahead: Have Jesus in your boat. Let Him take the ropes and rudder and He will lead you through the storms of life and safely bring you to heaven’s harbor. So, I implore you to make a firm commitment today … to ask Him to be your Captain, Lord and Savior and to fill you with His Spirit … and then faithfully follow Him wherever He leads.
You’ve read how God used Elijah to share His amazing grace—and the amazing results that followed. Now just imagine what millions of last-day Elijahs calling people to Jesus throughout the entire world will do. I hope and pray that you will be one of these. Why not join me now in making this pledge of commitment to Jesus by choosing to put your hand to the plow, holding tight, and never looking back?
“But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:15–17).