“And the disciples asked him, ‘Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ He answered, ‘Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased.’” (Matthew 17:10-12)
The prophet Elijah is succeeded by Elisha, and other prophets recognize that “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha” (2 Kings 2:15). But the story continues even further. In the last book of the Old Testament, God foretells: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Malachi 4:5).
The gospel of Luke records how the angel Gabriel announces the birth of John the Baptist, who will prepare people for the coming of the Messiah: “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” (Luke 1:17). Later Jesus says about him: “he is Elijah who is to come”, even though many people don’t grasp this (Matthew 11:14).
John the Baptist does not only wear the same clothes as Elijah, but he also has the same mission: he points out people’s hypocrisy and wickedness and exhorts them to repent. He wants them to return to the one true God because His Kingdom has come near.
This same message is relevant today. Have you turned back to God?