26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Mal 3:1).
28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
1. Why is Jesus saying that John the Baptist is Elijah? Is he saying John is Elijah reincarnated? Mt 17:10-13
Read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4:1-6.
2. Looking at the outward physical application, what distinctions point to a difference in times?
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
3. The only prophet greater than John the Baptist, is someone in the Kingdom of God. What is the meaning of
Jesus’ words? Mk 4:30-34.
Re-read Malachi 3:1-5:
4. How are the two messengers distinguished and who are they? Verse one.
5. What was the reaction of religious leaders to the preaching of John? Lk 7:29-35. Re-read Malachi 4:1-6:
6. Can you see how these verses relate to the last generation church? Amos 5:18-20 + Mt 24:29; Joel 2:1, 31; 2Pt 3:9-13.
1a. It is similar to Paul using Sarah & Hagar as types for the two covenants, Gal 4:22-24. So it is not Elijah reincarnated, as some thought, Lk 9:7. Elijah’s life is being applied allegorically to the life of John–i.e. John was moved by the same spirit as was in Elijah. The messenger is not named in Malachi 3:1, but is called Elijah in Malachi 4:6. However, the context indicates two time periods–one fulfilled in the Baptist, the other, the last generation church as preparing the multitudes & the Jews for the 2nd return of the Messiah (Jesus).
2a. a. prepare the way before me, Mal 3:1; Lk 1:17: John the Baptist prepared the people by causing them to think about the Messiah, cp Isa 8:13-14; 57:14;
b. shall suddenly come to his temple, Mal 3:1; Hag 2:7-9: Rv 16:15. These phrases can be applied to Israel in John’s day, and to spiritual Israel in the last generation, 1Cor 3:16; Rv 11:3-6;
c. However, the phrases, the day comes that shall burn as an oven & shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, the great and dreadful day of the LORD, only applies to the last generation, 2Pt 3:6-13. The prophecies often have duel applications and yet, may not apply 100% to either.
3a. John the Baptist prepared the way for the people to hear the expected Messiah. The Messiah (Jesus) came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Mk 1:14; Acts 1:3, which is given to those with ears to hear, Mk 4:9-11. The gospel are those things revealed from the hidden things in parables & symbols. Those who are seeking to understand the parables, are seeking the Kingdom of God–His way of understanding, Isa 55:6-11; and those receiving them are greater than John the Baptist, & give the gospel in the spirit of Elijah.
4a. Messenger one: In vision, Zacharias, the father of John, was told: And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, (Mal 4:6) and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just (1Cor 1:24); to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, Lk 1:17.
Messenger two: Called messenger of the covenant, cf Dt 4:12-14, which we know from the NT is Jesus Christ, Heb 8:1, 6. Outwardly, the sons of Levi were the priesthood, which Jesus encountered practically every day of his ministry, with some accepting him, as did Nicodemus. He is like a refiner's fire, Jer 23:29, and like fullers' soap, Eph 5:26; Jn 15:3. The spiritual sons of Levi are like modern Christians who start their spiritual journey being governed by man’s understanding of the law (Bible, a book of instructions).
5a. Most of the religious leaders rejected the preaching of John. John did not receive of their spiritual bread & wine, so they said that John was possessed by a demon. Jesus did partake of temple rites & studied the law: example–Lk 2:41-47. Religious leaders condemned him for associating with whom they considered sinners.
Jesus described their generation with a two part parable: playing of joyous music & dancing is figurative of people happily receiving the good news of the gospel; sad music and mourning represent their repentance. Jesus liken the Jewish leaders as children (milk drinkers, Heb 5:12) mocking these things.
6a. The nearness of day of the Lord is sounded by a trumpet in Zion (followers of Jesus), details of which appear in symbolic language beginning in Rev 8:6, the preparation of which is taking place NOW, for those with ears to hear. The Sun of righteousness arises with healing in his wings, which is Jesus, Jn 8:12; the main healing begins with a correction of how to understand the Bible, Pr 22:15; wings are a symbol of a spiritual heart dwelling in the heavens–God’s way of understanding. Outwardly, for those not accepting the gospel of the
kingdom of God, it will be a day of spiritual darkness; they are destroyed by the fire & will be ashes under the feet of the righteous; Inwardly, it is the foolish & corrupt heart that God replaces, Eze 36:24-26, in those accepting the truth of the Father & Son, and their love shown by the accomplishments at the cross.
Note: In part II we will begin to look at an overview of the life of Elijah and how it relates to the giving of the gospel, in the days of the disciples, as well as in last days.
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