"The Spirit of Elijah"
In lesson number one, we dealt with the importance of personal Bible study. Believing that we are living in the very last days of this Earth's history, it is very important to study the vital information that God has given to us in His Word. This information is vital because the last days will be perilous for all who are not following the warnings and reproofs of the Holy Scriptures, and clinging with the hand of faith to God.
If you review the history of God's church as written in the Bible, you will find that there is a pattern of waywardness on the part of those who would
call themselves God's people. This can be a very difficult lesson for us who love the church. I would ask that you stop right now, and ask God for
a very special portion of His Holy Spirit. Ask Him to help you to deal with this important topic, then commit yourself to have an open mind about it.
As we go through this study may you pray with the psalmist: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-24).
1. Whom did God say that He would send just before the second coming of Christ? Malachi 4:5
Please notice that he is sent just before the "great and dreadful day of the LORD"; If you look at verse one, it says: "the day cometh, that shall
burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up," It is obvious that
we are dealing with the end of the world; the time when the wicked are destroyed by fire. God has promised to send Elijah, before that great and
The word Elias, is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Elijah. In Zacharias' prophecy, he almost repeats, word for word, the prophecy of
Malachi 4:5. Jesus later confirms that symbolically, Elijah had already come, in the man of John the Baptist; (see Matthew 17:11-13).
Notice that while John the Baptist was a sure fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, it cannot be the only fulfillment. In Malachi's prophecy, Elijah must
come just before the second coming of Jesus. John came just before His first coming. In these last days, there must be yet another fulfillment
of this prophecy. Just as John was the forerunner of Christ's first coming, there must be a voice lifted up in the spirit and power of Elijah, just
before Christ's second coming.
3. What was the message given by Elijah in his day? 1 Kings 18:21
It is very important to understand whom Elijah is talking to. It is the people of Israel. Israel was God's chosen people at that time. They were the
ones who professed to serve and obey God. They were His church; just as you and I are His church today. We profess to believe, obey and
Ahab was the king of Israel, Jezebel was the queen of Israel. The prophets of Baal were actually the priests which were charged with
ministering in the temple of God. The real point here is that Elijah's message was not to the heathen, who did not know God. His message was
for those who called themselves God's people.
4. What caused the trouble in Israel that brought this important warning from God? 1 Kings 16:31-32
Verse 33 tells us: "Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." God was
angered at His people, because they were not obeying Him. By mingling with the heathen nations around them, they had begun to worship
their pagan gods. It was corruption in the church that Elijah was commissioned to deal with.
5. What was the message given by John the Baptist in his day? Matthew 3:1-2
6. Who was it that John preached to? Matthew 3:5
Again it is very important for us to understand who it was that John was sent to preach to: It was the nation of Israel: the professed people of
God: the chosen people of God; the church of God in that day. John was sent to the church for reform and revival just before the important
scenes of Christ's life here on Earth. We have read that he was sent in the spirit and power of Elijah, who also had brought reformation and
revival to God's church at a crisis time in it's history.
7. What was the cause of trouble among God's people during Johns' and Jesus' day that needed to be changed? Mark 7:7
In verse 6, Jesus goes so far as to call the church leadership of His day hypocrites. In fact, Jesus refers to the Pharisees and Saducees twenty
times by using the word hypocrite. These men claimed to love the law of God, and yet while they outwardly professed to keep that law, inwardly
they transgressed the commandments of God.
The charge here is that they taught the traditions of men rather than the commandments of God. (Verse 8). In Elijah's day, the church of God was worshipping other gods (Baal, the ancient Sun god). To do this, is to break the first two commandments of God. (See Exodus 20:3-6). We are told that this angered God. Many years later, in John's day, the church of God was again breaking the commandments of God by replacing them with the vain
traditions of men. John was sent to deal with this problem in the spirit and power of Elijah. He would bring reformation and revival to God's church by pointing out the sins and errors of God's people, and calling them to repent.
8. What does the Apostle Paul call those who are Christians? Galatians 3:29
In verse 28, he says when we become Christians there "is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile)," but we are all spiritual Jews and heirs
according to the promises of the gospel given to Abraham.
9. For whom were the stories of ancient Israel written? 1 Corinthians 10:11
A wise person once said: "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in
our past history." All the stories of the Bible were written for you and me! If we are in Christ, we are spiritual or modern Israel. (See also Romans 11:11-24).
10. What kind of times did Paul say there would be in the last days? 2 Timothy 3:1
11. How does he describe some of them that profess God? 2 Timothy 3:5
At first glance, you would suppose that this list of people are unbelievers, but it is obvious from verse 5, that they at least profess to be godly Christians. We must admit that in today's society this list is all too accurate. The world is full of those described in verses 2-4. If this is the case, then we must also admit that the churches are full of those who fit the words of verse 5. Many have a form of godliness, a profession, but there are very few in the churches today who really enjoy the life-changing power of God's grace. Paul's prophecy here is true.
12. What does Paul tell us about the condition of things just before the second coming of Christ? 2 Thessalonians 2:3
Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, "the
mystery of iniquity" carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into
the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured
under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of
Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human
theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine , in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world,
cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be
vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the
faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.
This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of "the man of sin" foretold in prophecy as opposing and
exalting himself above God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan's power--a monument of
his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.
13. Did the Bible predict that the truth would be all but lost for a time? Daniel 8:12
Isn't it wonderful that God doesn't leave His people in the dark? He predicted that the truth would suffer, so that even in this woeful time, we might know that He is in control. God will surely restore the truth to His church!
14. What did Isaiah prophesy about God's true people in the last days? Isaiah 58:12
We've read about the reformation in Elijah's day, and in John the Baptist's day. We've read about the need for
reformation in the last days, just before the second coming of Christ. There is another reformation that took place; It is the
Protestant Reformation. Over the long span of time we know as the "Dark Ages," the truth of the Bible was all but lost.
Virtually every point of doctrine was cast 'to the ground.' Through the work of the reformers, such as Martin Luther, God
brought back the truths of the Bible for His people in these last days. Like a great picture puzzle, each of the reformers
added a piece, or doctrine, to the "BIG" picture. God is looking for those faithful followers who would take all the truth of
His Word and follow it. Instead, we see a trend today, of professed Christians returning to the dark ages because they do
not follow the Bible as their guide.
It is the purpose of these lessons, to reveal those points of truth that have been cast to the ground. Please understand
that this is done in love. God does not condemn us for having done wrong in the past, He forgives us! But we must NOT
continue in error. My prayer for you is found in John 16:13:
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:"
It is a difficult subject when we begin pointing out sin or error in the church. Remember that we have read in Malachi's
prophecy that just before the second coming of Christ, this same message must be preached to prepare God's people.