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Elijah - Part 2

Scripture: Malachi 4:5, John 1:19-23, Mark 9:11-13
The world's greatest weather-prophet was Elijah. On Mt. Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal after a 3 year drought, had them destroyed, and then the rain came. John the Baptist was also a fearless messenger of God, bearing an Elijah message. We must not falter between two opinions and accept all the things God has commanded us.
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We are going to continue today the tremendous subject which was introduced in our last broadcast about Elijah, the prophet. There is a text in the Bible that so many people misunderstand. They have often asked about it. What does it mean? The text is Malachi 4:5. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Now people have wondered, What does this mean? Is Elijah the prophet going to return to the world before Christ comes again? Is he going to come back in person with his flowing robes, his long white beard? Are we actually going to see him standing before multitudes of people preaching in the last days? We want to talk about Elijah today, dear friends, and his return to the world.

Now in our last broadcast, we dealt with that great encounter of Elijah with the prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel. With great courage Elijah went up there to meet the eight hundred and fifty men who were fed at Jezebel's table. You remember this man had predicted by the Word of God that there would be no dew or rain for three and a half years. He is the world's greatest weather prophet, undoubtedly. There was no moisture for that time either. At the end of the period, Elijah went with Ahab, the wicked King of Israel, and they met on top of Mount Carmel. There Elijah challenged the people to serve the God of heaven. He said, "If Baal is god, serve him, but if the God of heaven is the true God, then serve Him." So they built altars there and the God who answered with fire was to be the God the true God of Israel.

And so we read that God answered Elijah's prayer and came to consume the sacrifice on the altar and then the prophets of Baal who fed at Jezebel's table were destroyed. After this experience, of course, there was no longer any drought. Elijah prayed for rain and the rain came. Then Elijah ran into the city before the King and fell exhausted at the gate and dropped into a sleep. A message came the very next morning early, somebody opened the city gate and came out and shook Elijah awake and said, "Elijah, Jezebel is angry with you and she says she is going to take your head." And there, friends, after that tremendous demonstration of courage, Elijah in a moment of discouragement began to run from Jezebel as fast as he could go. Why is it, dear friends, that this happened? Why should a man do this in the wake of his greatest accomplishment and his greatest victory? Why he did it, I don't know, but out in the desert he went and fell down under a Juniper tree and said, "Lord, please take away my life."

Let me ask this question, friends: Was Elijah a perfect man? No, indeed, he was not. But friends, he had a perfect message. He bore the message that God wanted at that hour and God didn't let His prophet down. He said, "Oh no, Elijah, we can't have this. How would the newspapers look. How would the people feel if they looked in the newspapers tomorrow morning, and saw Prophet of the Lord Found in the Desert, Suicide Suspected." Well, it would have gone against His message, and so God took care of Elijah. We read in the Bible that a little later Elijah was translated. Those heavenly chariots swung low down there by the River Jordan and picked Elijah up. He was taken up to heaven, translated, without ever seeing death, a type of those who in the last days will bear God's last message to the world, who will also be translated without seeing death when Jesus comes. Elijah, the greatest weather prophet, made the highest ascent that has ever been made by any man long before the age of astronauts.

Well, friends, I think John the Baptist was also another fearless preacher of righteousness. John the Baptist was the kind of man who didn't look in the offering plate before he preached the message of the evening. He presented the truth. He preached it straight. He preached it clear, no matter what men thought. One day a delegation of ministers came out to see him. They asked, "Say, what denomination do you belong to?" It seems that is the way it goes, you know. Every time a series of meetings is conducted, some preachers begin to throw up some ecclesiastical dust to cloud the issue and obscure the truth. And so they came to John. We find the record there in John 1:19-23. "And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah."

John the Baptist pointed right back to that prophecy made so many hundreds of years before and he said, "I am coming in fulfillment of that message. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." John, when he came preaching, bore the credentials of heaven. His message was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. John came bearing the Elijah message for his day. I want to read that for you now in Mark 9:11-13. They are questioning Jesus. "And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? (Elias here in the New Testament is a transliteration of the name "Elijah.") And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."

Now, friends, mark this down. When Jesus said in His day, "Elijah is already come," who was He referring to? Why, He was talking about John the Baptist of course. I read again from Matthew 11:10, "For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." And then, verse 14: "And if ye will receive it this is Elias, which was for to come." Now friends, Jesus is referring to the message that John the Baptist preached. And He says, "If you will receive it, this is Elijah." If you receive what? "If you will receive it", He is talking not about a man but about a message. He is speaking and referring to the Elijah message. John the Baptist, as he came before the world, preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and be prepared to meet Jesus." He called people to step out and follow all the way, there was no half-way service in the preaching of John. He told people they must break from sin; that they must turn away from it; they must stop their law breaking; they must stop following tradition and the man-made things of worship. John the Baptist indicated that a person could not serve God 90 percent and expect to go into the kingdom of God. If a person wants to meet Jesus, he will have to turn to God with all his heart and be willing to go all the way with Him.

You remember the young man who came running to Jesus one day. Christ preached the whole message to him in just a few words that day. The youth asked, "Master, what good thing must I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus enumerated the commandments and the boy said, "Oh, I have done these things ever since I was a boy. Mother was a church member. She taught me all the memory verses and I have done everything from my youth up. What lack I yet?" Jesus said to that boy, "One thing thou lackest." Only one, is that all? Well, that is pretty good, Lord. The thing that this young man failed to realize is that just one thing would keep him out of heaven. A person has to commit his life to the Lord Jesus and be willing to follow Him in everything. "If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."

The last words of Jesus refer to this same thing. Jesus said, "I will tell you what I want you to preach. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:19, 20. What did Jesus tell them they were to teach? Some of the things He had taught them, part of the things that He had said, 90 percent of them? Absolutely not. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." And yet in spite of the clear injunction and command, the exclusive command of Jesus, many men do not dare to preach it all today. Why not? Because people do not like to hear the whole truth; therefore, in order to please the people, they refrain from giving God's last-day warning message to the world.

I want you to notice, friends, that the Bible says before Jesus is to come again, Elijah is to return as in the case of John the Baptist. Jesus made it clear that it is not the man, it is the massage that calls people to repent and turn to God with all their hearts and to prepare to meet Jesus when He comes. In order to fulfill the Elijah message, there must be a people in the last days calling on men to go all the way with God, to keep all the commandments, to keep all the things whatsoever Jesus has commanded. Part-way, my friends, is not enough. This last call goes forth, calling people to go all the way. It is the last step in the Reformation, if you please. The truth was pure when Jesus gave it. That was a faith that was once delivered unto the saints, but according to prophecy, there came a great falling away of stairsteps down into the darkness of the Dark Ages, and then God began to shine His light there in the midst of the Dark Ages.

There was Martin Luther and others who followed him, bringing back step by step these forgotten, neglected truths. Back, back, until finally, we come to the last step of the Reformation and that message is being sounded today, friends. It is the last call of God. It says, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen.... Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:1-4. And still people will linger. I have had some people tell me, "Well, I have been listening to what you preach. I believe it is founded on the Word of God. I find no argument with it. I believe that it is the truth of God, but you see, I can't give up some of the things I have. I can't give up my job. I can't give up some of my friends. I can't give up my church. I tell you what I am going to do. I'm going to keep it in my heart. I will live it in my heart but I can't change over right now and change my whole way of life." Friends, listen, for Jesus and His blessed truth we should be willing to make any change or adjustment. We can't say, I will live it in my heart but I won't live it any other way. That kind of excuse would never stand on Mount Carmel back in the days of Elijah. It would never stand in the days when John the Baptist stood out before the world and preached his message calling them to go all the way. It will not stand before the judgment bar of God today either, friends.

There are others who say, "Well, I don't think it makes too much difference. After all, if there is a little variation here or a little variation there, Sunday or Saturday, what difference does it make? Just two twenty-four-hour days. Baptism by immersion or baptism by sprinkling, it is only a little bit different, just a little variation, it doesn't matter." Oh, friends, I tell you, it does matter. That kind of excuse would never stand on Mount Carmel. The great question that faces each of us today is, Who is on the Lord's side? This is God's call for our time. Each person must answer the question. Each person must choose whose side he will be on. A line of demarcation is being drawn between truth and error. We dare not linger between the two. Only those who have the courage to stand with Elijah on the side of truth will go through to God's kingdom.

Now is the time for decision. Nine hundred years before Christ, Elijah's penetrating appeal was heard in Israel. Today the call of Elijah cuts deep into the conscience of our generation. How long halt ye between two opinions? Will it be the true God, the God of creation who made the Sabbath as a memorial of His creative power, or will it be the traditions of men? May God help you, friends, to settle that issue now and to linger no longer between these two great issues. Make your decision today.

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