The Elijah Message 

What is it – specifically? 

Lorraine Day, M.D.


The very last message of the Old Testament, namely the last two verses of the last book in the Old Testament, give a prophecy about the coming “Elijah” who will come before the “day of the Lord.” 

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5,6 

Let’s look first at what the verse does not mean.  In the time of Jesus, many people believed that Elijah would literally come back down from heaven to live again on earth, or possibly be reborn into a new man.  

The Israelites expected 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 be reincarnated. 

Surprisingly, some Christian denominations still believe that same fallacy today – that before Jesus’ Second Coming, the original Elijah (in the flesh) will again come to earth. 

Who was the “Elijah” that heralded Jesus’ First Coming? 

When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was, indeed, the Messiah.  Jesus responded by telling John’s disciples to, 

“Go and show John again those things that you do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” 

Jesus then spoke to the multitude saying, concerning John the Baptist: 

“. . . 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 from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is gotten by force, and the violent take it by force.

“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

“And if you will receive it, this is Elias (Elijah), that was to come.

“He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Matthew 11:10-15 

And later when Peter, James and John had witnessed the “Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:28) by observing Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, they were amazed and afraid.  

“And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 

“And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 

“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man is risen again from the dead. 

“And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? 

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijash truly shall first come, and restore all things. 

“But I say unto you, that Elijah has come already,  and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they wished.  Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 

“Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”  Matthew 17:7-12 

Jesus confirmed that the “Elijah” who had come before Him was John the Baptist. 

Gabriel was the first to point out that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy in Malachi.  When Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to tell him that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son in her old age, and that His name would be John, Gabriel said:

“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (God’s breath of holiness), even from his mother’s womb.

“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

“And he shall go before Him (Jesus, the Messiah), 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 a people prepared for the Lord.”  Luke 1:14-17 

“Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children. . .”?   

Here again we have the King James Version and all other versions telling us the “Elijah Message” will “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. . .” 

What IS the “Elijah Message”? 

Why doesn’t the Bible talk about the “Isaiah Message” or the “Jeremiah Message” or the “Paul Message”? 

What did Elijah do, or say, or know, or preach, that is similar to John the Baptist, but different from Peter, Paul, James, John, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and many other Old and New Testament Patriarchs? 

One author has given us twelve characteristics of the Elijah Message, as follows.  But as we think about them, we must analyze whether these characteristics also can apply to important personages in the Bible other than Elijah and John the Baptist, because, if they can, then these characteristics are not necessarily part of the “Elijah Message.”

1. They were bold and fearless in preaching, even before kings. 

    Certainly that applied to Elijah, but it also applied to Paul, Peter, and Daniel and others.

    2. They had a simple diet and lifestyle. 

      Again, that applies to the other disciples as well and also to Isaiah and Jeremiah.

      3. They dressed in modest, simple clothing. 

        We have reason to believe that all the disciples and prophets dressed that way.

        4. They believed in discipling others.

          Again, all the other disciples and the prophets had the same belief.

          5. They preached a baptism  of repentance and death to self. 

            All the disciples and the prophets did the same.

            6. They both manifested humility. 

              All the disciples (except Judas), and the prophets did the same.

              7. They both endured religious persecution. 

                Virtually all the disciples and the prophets experienced persecution.

                8. They both ran before the king. 

                  It is true that Elijah “ran before the king” and John the Baptist “appeared before the king” but so did Daniel.

                  9. They were both supremely interested in glorifying God. 

                    But so were the disciples and the prophets.

                    10. They repaired the altar of God. 

                      Indeed, Elijah literally repaired the altar and John the Baptist “repaired the altar” spiritually by calling people to repentance, but so did Peter, Paul, Jeremiah and Isaiah.

                      11. Their messages sparked revival and reformation. 

                        That is also true of Elijah and John the Baptist.  But it is also true of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul.

                        12. The Elijah message will point people to Christ. 

                          But so did the message of Peter, Paul, and the other disciples.

                          Twelve Characteristics of Elijah from

                          So, what was – and is – the “Elijah Message”? 

                          This information still does not show us what was unique about the message of Elijah and John the Baptist as opposed to the disciples, Paul, and the other Old Testament prophets. 

                          Let’s look at the text in Malachi again. 

                          “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5,6 

                          Does it mean that “families will come together”? 

                          This passage in Malachi, Chapter 4, has been interpreted by the churches as having a common, almost social, application meaning, that ‘parents and children would have perfect relationships and/or “see eye-to-eye” on biblical issues’ and/or that ‘the youth of the church would come to be in harmony with the older members of the church on diverging issues, such as dress, music, entertainment, etc.’ 

                          But that couldn’t possibly be Elijah’s primary message because in Israel in his day, there were no problems with children not obeying their parents.  If children didn’t obey their parents – the penalty was death!  So that pretty much took care of the problem! 

                          “For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:”  Mark 7:10 

                          Have the Translators Done it Again? 

                          Is it possible that the translators have mistranslated this passage in Malachi, Chapter 4?  

                          Does it mean something other than what the churches are all teaching? 

                          Can we better decipher the importance of the “Elijah Message” if we delve deeper into the translation? 

                          As in any accurate understanding of a biblical passage, the first step must be a proper exegesis (critical analysis) of the passage in question, and that always begins with an accurate translation from the Hebrew or Greek. 

                          The following information was taken from the website in an article entitled:  Theological Views: The Heart of the Elijah Message (Malachi 4:5,6) at 

                          The author is not identified, nor is the owner of the website.  But the information regarding the mistranslation of the “Elijah Message” of Malachi 4:5,6 - the last message in the Old Testament - is not only interesting, it makes sense.

                          • What is often understood as a directional statement of “turning hearts to (i.e. towards)…” is actually more accurately understood as a bestowal statement with the possible meanings of “upon, onto, to the height (i.e., level) of” as the Hebrew preposition “al” is used instead of the expressly directional preposition “le”.

                          Because of the use of a Hebrew marking here known as a maqqef, the expression “hearts of the fathers” can be understood as a single nominal expression here as: “hearts-of-fathers” while the corresponding expression “hearts of the children” which does not include this marking, is not.

                          • As it can be seen in the NASB translation, the first mention of “their” in the English phrase “their children” is in italics because it is not found in the original text, while its use later with “their fathers” is not in italics because it is indeed found in the original text.

                          • The Hebrew expressions which are translated here as “fathers” and “children” is rightly understood in context here as their literal meaning of “ancestors” and “descendants”, respectively.

                          • The Hebrew conjunction “and” (Heb.: waw) can be understood in three main ways as either being conjunctive (“and”); consecutive (“then”); or explicative (“that is”), all depending on the context in which it is found. 

                          Therefore based on these points, when applied, a more accurate translation of this passage reads as follows;

                          “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  He will restore the heart-of-fathers upon descendants; that is, (raise) the heart of descendants to the height (i.e., level) of their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

                          This translation is corroborated by the Gabriel’s quoting of this passage for John the Baptist’s mission as Luke 1:17a should be accurately translated as: ‘ order to return* hearts of fathers upon children...’ *[also an intransitive occurrence - contra Balz, EDNT 2:40]; that is, as priorly similarly stated in Luke 1:16 and also presented above: ‘restore the hearts of descendants to that of righteous forefathers/ancestors’ (= “turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God” Luke 1:16) which is understood as: ‘turning “the disobedient to the attitude/mindset/understanding/(practical) wisdom/insight of the righteous’ and all “so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17b) 

                          As indicated in John the Baptist’s ministry (Luke 3:8-9) he was to fight against this false belief that the current generation of Israelites were still acting in accordance to their forefather(s). (cf. John 8:39-41) 

                          Indeed this more accurate translation reveals several key interpretative statements. Plainly stated, it speaks of an Elijah Message which would seek to bring the ‘hearts/minds of descendants back into harmony with the heart/mind that their spiritual fathers had and which was approved of by God.’ In other words, it is the spiritual disposition of the descendants of these “institutional” pioneers/forefathers that needs to be recalibrated here. They have not continued in the right paths set out by their fathers, and have lost their way. Therefore, the Elijah Message would come to cause this spirit to be restored among these descendants. So rather than a reciprocal view here, the focus for reform is solely upon the descendants, as emphasized by the explanative follow up statement which speak of ‘the children’s heart/mind being raised up to the height of that of their forefathers.’ 

                          With this more accurate, ‘waywardness/apostasy of descendants’ view of this passage, it can be more clearly understood why ‘the land would be struck with a curse if this reform, and return to the proper ways of the pioneers is not returned to.’ It can also be seen why this is chronologically, indeed, the last prophetic message uttered in the Old Testament. 

                          It may be argued here that these descendants did not have exemplary forefathers to emulate, or even that the post Babylonian Captivity generation was more righteous than their forefathers whose unfaithfulness led them away to this Babylonian Captivity. And this is indeed true, however, the forefathers that is in view here is not necessarily the strictest, latest ancestors, but instead, more vastly, any righteous ancestor, from the founding of Israel as a nation, who had (much more than less) walked in the ways of God. These would include fathers such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Josiah, etc., It is these “hearts, minds and spirits” that God wants to restore with this present generation of descendants through an Elijah reform. 

                          founding of Israel as a nation, who had (much more than less) walked in the ways of God. These would include fathers such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Josiah, etc., It is these “hearts, minds and spirits” that God wants to restore with this present generation of descendants through an Elijah reform. 

                          The Elijah Reform and Laodicea 

                          Interestingly enough, John the Baptist, of whom it was said was a fulfillment of the Elijah reform (see e.g., Mat 11:13-14; 17:10-12) also had this “heart-of-fathers” warning/discussion with the leaders of his day which he was seeking to reform. (See Matt 3:9|Luke 3:8). They were absolutely obstinate that they were as righteous and approved of as Abraham, their forefather. Jesus also encountered this blinding false belief with them in His Ministry. (John 8:39). It was told to these leaders that ‘if Abraham was really their “father” then they would be “doing the works of Abraham,”’ which in turn would mean that they had the heart/mind/spirit of Abraham. As this never came to be the case with these leaders, nor with the majority of that 1st century generation of Israelites, the land was indeed struck with a most severe, and most lasting, curse (cf. e.g., Matt 23:29-39). 

                          “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”  Matt 23:28 

                          It is enlightening to note that the message that the prophet Elijah delivered to the wayward generation of his day (1 Kgs 18:21) is almost identical in meaning to the message given to the Laodicean by their True Witness (Rev 3:15-16). Translated literally, Elijah’s statement in 1 Kgs 18:21 was: 

                          King James Version: 

                          “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow Him.  And the people answered Him not a word.” 

                          The literal translation of that verse is as follows: 

                          “How long do you limp upon the two divided (i.e., irreconcilable) opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” 

                          In other words, Israel was trying to walk along with ‘one foot in God’s ways and the other foot in Baal’s ways.’ As Elijah said to them, this actually greatly hampered their walk, in either direction, and caused them to “limp” along. So here, in order that they could "run unhindered" in either direction, they needed to wholly choose one side or the other. This almost verbatim, at least in spirit, mirrors God’s message to the Laodicean Church, namely: ‘either be hot or be cold, but do cease being lukewarm.’ So it can be seen here that the Elijah message is also found in the heart of the reform message to the prophetic Laodicean Church.  

                          Elijah’s message, interestingly enough, in turn echoes the message given by his forefather Joshua, as he stood before the newly formed Israel of his generation and charged them to ‘Choose for themselves this day whom they would serve. Whether it would be foreign gods as their fathers had done in Egypt or whether it would be God.’ (Jos 24:14-15). 

                          Again the message was clear here. ‘Do not think that you can serve both the God of Heaven and a man-made god.’ All of these related messages all have their origin in the initial ultimatum of God towards Israel to: ‘choose between the life with Him or the death without Him.” (Deut 30:15-20). Jesus also preached the same message with exhortation such as choosing either ‘God or Mammon/wealth” because both cannot be simultaneously served.’ (Matt 6:24).  It is so detrimental and hindering to the work of God, and impossible for Him to work with a People who chooses to spiritually “straddle the fence” that He even has to supernaturally, ‘push recalcitrant professed believers off of this fence of unbelief in His Truth.’ (2 Thess 2:8-12). 

                          Conclusion:  The true “Elijah Message” has nothing to do specifically with restoring family unity (turning the hearts of the father to the children and vice-versa).  Instead, it is a world-wide call to those who call themselves Christians in every organized denomination on earth, those who are worshipping “man” while claiming to be worshipping God, those who are in abject apostasy while thinking they are “rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev 3:17) – including having no need for any information other than what they already know which has led to churches of every denomination being filled with sick and dying people, both physically and spiritually, churches that have veered so far off the path of the doctrines that Jesus taught when He was on earth that they bear no resemblance to true followers of Jesus Christ, churches that are using the methods of the world (mass marketing techniques that respond to what people “want” rather than what they “need” from Jesus Christ) to fill their pews, churches that really worship “man” – doctors, pastors, “Christian” counselors, atheistic science, and every other conceivable apostate belief rather than the Creator of the universe. 

                          The Elijah message is a call to return to the truths that Jesus Christ taught when He was on earth, and to the beliefs and faith of our spiritual “fathers” - Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Josiah, etc., a return to true Christianity that has been almost totally absent from the earth since a couple of centuries after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. 

                          Like the frog being placed in cool water and slowly heated up until it is boiled to death, the Christian churches – world wide, and in every denomination – have slowly, over the last two thousand years, compromised their principles in every area of true Christian beliefs, embracing the “world”, worshipping “man” while believing they are worshipping God, worshipping a “Killer God” – a god who will torture His children in hell fire forever or “as long as they deserve,” worshipping a “god” who has all the characteristics of Satan while believing they are worshipping Jesus Christ. 

                          That’s why, when Jesus was on earth, even when He was about to be crucified, He made no plans for an Organized Church.  Organizations always go bad.  They make group decisions of convenience, decisions that keep falling to the lowest level. 

                          God only works through individuals – never through organizations.  He worked through Elijah, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and others like them.  It was always the “organization” – the Israelites and their priesthood system – that went into apostasy.  Then God would raise up an “individual” to go tell the “organization” of their horrible apostasy. 

                          Returning to the truth of Christianity requires a proper translation of the Word of God – the Bible - from the original manuscripts that were written in Hebrew and Greek, rather than relying on the numerous mistranslations of virtually every version of the Bible available today, including the King James, the NIV, the RSV, and almost every other well-known Bible translation, mistranslations that essentially have changed the doctrines of Christianity taught by Christ and the patriarchs into a hodge-podge of beliefs that are warm and fuzzy on one hand, the side that Christians believe about themselves in their relationship to God, yet harsh and Satanic in the beliefs by Christians of what God’s relationship is to non-Christians. 

                          Again, until the salvation of every person in the world is as important to you as your own salvation, you are not safe to save. 

                          Jesus came to save the whole world, including every person who has ever been born.  

                          “Behold, the Lamb of God, who TAKES WAY the sin of the (WHOLE) world.”  John 1:29 

                          It is “God’s will that NONE should perish, but ALL should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 

                          If you believe that Jesus Christ will FAIL in accomplishing what He came to earth to do – save EVERYONE who has ever been born – then you believe in a different god, a god that is impotent and incompetent – a Big Loser!  And you believe that Satan will be the big triumphant winner in his “great controversy” against Jesus Christ.  You believe that Satan can win God’s children away from God by deception, but God is not great enough to know how to win His children back to Him – ALL of His children. 

                          But the Bible says:

                          “God is Love” – and “Love NEVER fails.”  1 John 4:8;1 Cor 13:8 

                          God will NOT fail to win ALL His children back to Him.