Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Purpose Of John's Ministry, Call To Repentance, Herod's Sin And John's Death, More Confirmations Regarding The Baptist, Status Quo Of Pax Romana, Possible Reasons Regarding Why John Denied Being The Prophesied Elijah: Fear And Humility, We Are Nothing Without Jesus And God's Spirit, Humility Of Moses, God Uses The Weak And Foolish Things Of The World, "The Ten Commandments" And "Moses", Molded In The Hands Of The Potter, Anger And Impatience Deny Moses God's Blessing False Claim That Endtime Elijah Will Instruct People To Keep Mosaic Law, We Are Saved By The Blood Of Christ Alone, None Of The Verses In The Gospels Mention A Third Or Final Elijah, Endtime Moses And Endtime Elijah In America Doctrine, Moses Prophesied Regarding Jesus Being The Prophet Who Would Come During The First Century, Moses Liberated Physically, Jesus Is Spiritual Liberator, Intentional Deception By Branham And Other Elijah Supporters, Compare Scripture With Scripture, Teaching The Word Of God Is A Very Serious Responsibility
Clearly, Malachi and the Angel Gabriel are both saying that John the Baptist will turn the hearts of the fathers towards their children, and he will likewise turn the hearts of the children towards their fathers. Thus, as I explained earlier, the overall message is that John the Baptist's ministry was to spiritually prepare the people to receive Jesus by making a call for repentance, and by pointing out to them their need for a Savior. This becomes quite evident in verses such as the following:
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 3:1-2, KJV
"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire . . . I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."
Luke 3:7-9, 16b-17, KJV
It was because of John's boldness in exposing King Herod's sin of adultery -- Herod married his brother Philip's wife while Philip was still alive -- that John eventually found himself in a prison cell. Later, at her mother's vengeful insistence, the daughter of Herodias petitioned King Herod -- who was her step-father -- for the head of the Baptist. Caught in an embarrassing moment because of a foolish boast he had made, Herod conceded to the wicked child's request. You will find a detailed account of this incident in Mark chapter six, verses seventeen through twenty-eight.
Returning to the birth of John the Baptist in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, when Zacharias prophesied over his son, he also referred back to the Old Testament prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah, as we see here:
"And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;"
Luke 1:76, KJV
Two chapters later, Luke himself likewise testified that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah when the Prophet wrote about "the voice of one crying in the wilderness", as we see by the following verses :
"As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
Luke 3:4-6, KJV
In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus again made it very clear that John the Baptist was indeed the one who had been prophesied in the Book of Malachi when He said the following:
". . . What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
Luke 7:24b-27, KJV
Finally, in the Gospel of John we find John the Baptist's own testimony when certain priests and Levites arrived from Jerusalem in order to question him concerning his identity and ministry:
"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 Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing."
John 1:19-28, KJV
This account reveals a number of important points. First of all, as in the previous Gospels, we see that the Sanhedrin -- the Jewish religious council of seventy elders -- was in fact fully aware of the ancient prophecies. King Herod was obviously also familiar with them as well. This is why Herod feared that Jesus might actually be John the Baptist who had returned from the dead, as we see by the following verse:
"But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead."
Mark 6:16, KJV
The point is that both the political as well as the religious leadership of Israel realized that the Prophet Elijah would return some day, even if they did not quite understand how it would happen. Furthermore, they also understood that when he did arrive, just as he had done hundreds of years before, he would expose their false religious and political systems; and they certainly were not about to allow that to happen. As I explain in other articles, both King Herod and the Sanhedrin had a cozy relationship with the Roman government. Herod had in fact been appointed to his position by the Romans, and he did their bidding. Unless I am mistaken, in turn, the high priest was appointed by King Herod.
At any rate, all of these various entities wanted to hang on to their wealth and power for as long as they possibly could. The last thing they wanted was for some kind of troublemaker to come along who would upset the delicate balance which they maintained with Rome. The status quo of "pax romana" was just fine by them. However, that is what John the Baptist started to do, and that is what Jesus surely did when people began to coalesce around Him in large numbers, and utterances of "king" and "Messiah" began to be heard. It was for this reason that Jesus was crucified. As Caiaphas the high priest stated:
". . . Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."
John 11:49b-50, KJV
It is also interesting to note that at first, John denied being the Prophet Elijah, and then he turned around and quoted from the Prophet Isaiah. Some people have wondered why John would do this. While I cannot provide a definitive answer to this question, I can offer a few possibilities. It may simply be that John was afraid. If that is the case, he was not that much different from the original Elijah. As you may recall, when the Spirit was upon him, Elijah was as bold as a lion. However, when Elijah was not operating under the anointing of the Spirit, he was quite the coward, just like the rest of us. While Elijah slew the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal and openly mocked them and their false god, afterwards he fled from a mere woman; that is, the evil Queen Jezebel, who was the wife of wicked King Ahab. Consider the following verses:
"And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there."
1 Kings 19:1-3, KJV
So perhaps John may have initially feared for his life; but then, when the Lord anointed him with the Spirit, John was inspired to quote from the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. Maybe the Lord convicted John's conscience to speak the truth, no matter what his flesh may have been experiencing. Another possibility is that John was just a really humble man. Even though he may have known in his heart that he was actually the fulfillment of Isaiah and Malachi's prophecies, it was simply not his nature to boast. Furthermore, perhaps he also realized that no one would believe him anyway, so why even tell them?
As we have seen by way of this series, while there have been a number of foolish individuals who have made similar claims today, I can tell you that if I had been in John's shoes, I would have denied being a Prophet of the Lord as well. As it is, there are occasionally people who post certain comments on my Facebook timeline regarding my person which make me a bit nervous and uncomfortable. My friends, let's all keep our eyes on Jesus, because He is the only good thing about any of us. Without Him, we are all lost and nothing. As Jesus said in the Gospel of John:
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
John 15:5, KJV
As many of you will know, in Cecil De Mille's classic movie "The Ten Commandments", well-known Hollywood actor Charlton Heston portrays Moses as a bold, flamboyant Prophet of God. However, as I pointed out in part two, this is the furthest thing from the truth. After the Lord had dealt with Moses' pride and vanity -- which were no doubt by-products of being raised amongst Egyptian royalty -- Moses became a very shy, soft-spoken man who tried to evade the special ministry for which the Lord had chosen him. In the Book of Numbers we are told the following:
"(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)"
Numbers 12:3, KJV
It was this very quality of being meek and humble which made Moses prime material for the Lord's Hall of Fame; for as the Apostle Paul wrote in his first Epistle to the Corinthians:
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, KJV
I discuss this topic more at length in such articles as "The Wisdom of God vs the Philosophy of Men", "The Only Credentials You Need", and "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?". As we learn in the Book of Exodus, Moses had become so timid, that God had to raise up his brother Aaron to be his mouthpiece for him. While I have always enjoyed the pageantry of De Mille's 1956 "The Ten Commandments", I believe that the movie "Moses" -- which stars the excellent British actor Ben Kingsley -- is a much more realistic portrayal of this ancient Prophet of the Lord.
We must all remember that God cannot use people who are full of their own pride and vanity, and who think that they know it all. He has to utterly break and remold them, just like the clay vessel in the potter's hands. This is why the Lord had to break Moses' pride for forty years, and teach him the patience of a Bedouin shepherd before He could take him back to Egypt, where he became the deliverer of the Hebrews.
Despite the way in which God mightily used Moses, the Bible informs us that Moses' impatience was his downfall. Not only did he break the tablets of stone in a moment of rage -- and have to get them replaced -- but he later struck the rock at Meribah twice out of anger against the Israelites, instead of waiting patiently for the Lord to produce the water after he had struck the rock the first time. In other words, he failed to honor the Lord, as a result of his anger, impatience and lack of faith. Furthermore, his actions were a poor testimony to the children of Israel. It was for this reason that neither he or his brother Aaron were permitted to enter the Promised Land, as we can easily determine by the following verses:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them."
Numbers 20:12-13, KJV
"Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah."
Numbers 20:24, KJV
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin."
Numbers 27:12-14, KJV
Returning to the prophecies of Malachi, because they fail to properly understand what the Prophet wrote, some people who promote the American Endtime Elijah doctrine believe that he is going to instruct people to keep the Mosaic Law. In their view, this is what the phrase "turn the heart of the children to the fathers" means. They use this as their argument to refute the belief -- which I personally embrace -- that we are no longer bound by the Mosaic Law insofar as our Salvation is concerned. In other words, we depend solely on the Blood of Christ to save us. I discuss this issue in considerable detail in a number of other articles such as "The Royal Law: Thou Shalt Love", as well as in the others which I mentioned earlier in this series.
At any rate, these people raise the question that if we are no longer bound by the Mosaic Law, then why will this Endtime Elijah encourage everyone to keep it? Obviously, their whole argument falls apart when we realize that the Prophet Malachi was not referring to an Endtime Elijah whatsoever, but rather to John the Baptist, as I have already clearly demonstrated through many Scriptural proofs. To reiterate, as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as an Endtime Elijah. You may have noticed that in all of the verses which we examined in the Gospels where the prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah are discussed, no one -- not Jesus, or John, or any of the Gospel writers themselves -- made any mention whatsoever of another Elijah coming after John the Baptist. Now, if there was such a person, doesn't it seem likely that at least some of them would have mentioned him?
To further add to this confusion concerning a modern-day Elijah in America, sometime ago I discovered that there is also a belief amongst some people who claim that the Lord is going to raise up an Endtime Moses as well. The people who embrace this belief seem to imply that this alleged Endtime Moses will also appear in America. Whether or not David Berg of the Children of God ever tried to latch on to this false doctrine, I do not know. I don't recall having ever read anything to that effect.
Years ago, one man informed me that this Endtime Moses will be similar to the Moses of old, while the Endtime Elijah will serve as his spokesman, just as Aaron was Moses' spokesman in the Old Testament. From what I have gathered, the idea seems to be that this Endtime Moses and Endtime Elijah will work as a team in America, very much like the Two Sackcloth Witnesses who are described in Revelation chapter eleven. While I'm not absolutely certain of this, I suspect that this belief in an Endtime Moses may be based on the following verses which are found in the Book of Deuteronomy:
"The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
Deuteronomy 18:15-19, KJV
As I explain in such articles as "Holy Qur'an and Islam: A Doctrine of Devils?" and "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words", I am absolutely certain that Moses was not implying that a Prophet similar to himself would appear during our current time. He was in fact prophesying about the arrival of Jesus Christ on the Earth during the First Century. You don't have to take my word for it, because the Lord tells us the very same thing in the Gospels. For example, in one of His rebuttals to His unbelieving Jewish accusers in the Gospel of John, Jesus very clearly stated the following:
"For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"
John 5:46-47, KJV
In fact, after witnessing the miracles that Jesus performed, the disciples of John the Baptist were convinced that Jesus was indeed the Prophet of whom Moses had prophesied, as we see by the following verse. Please notice in particular how John's disciples refer to Jesus as "that prophet". In other words, they were expecting this Prophet, because they were fully aware of the writings of Moses:
"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."
John 6:14, KJV
Thus we see that just as Moses of old was the Prophet who God used to liberate the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, Jesus Christ is likewise the Prophet of the First Century who came to set free the spiritual captives; that is to say, everyone who is in bondage to sin and death. This He did through His own loving Sacrifice on a Roman Cross.
Considering the preponderance of evidence which I have shared with you in this series, I hope that by now you have come to realize that the concept of an Endtime Elijah in America is based upon faulty assumptions, and a misguided understanding of the Scriptures. As you will recall, in part four of this series, I mentioned William Branham's 1965 book entitled "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages", in which he erroneously sets forth his belief in the so-called "Seven Churches Ages", each of which would supposedly have an Angel -- or according to Branham, a human Prophet -- assigned to it. Allow me to share an excerpt from that book with you:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Jesus called John the Baptist, Elijah. Matthew 17:12, "But I say unto you that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him what they listed." The reason that he called John Elijah, was because the same Spirit that was upon Elijah had come back upon John, even as that Spirit had come back upon Elisha after the reign of King Ahab. Now once again that Spirit will come back upon another man just before Jesus comes. He will be a prophet."
----- End of Quote -----
As I mentioned earlier, while Branham does not outright say it, anyone who knew him, and his teachings, or who had read his books, understood that with the phrase "another man", he was in fact implying himself. Even though Branham recognized that John was the prophesied Elijah who was to come, he then adds "Now once again that Spirit will come back upon another man". This is utter nonsense. Jesus didn't say that; William Branham did; and others have said it since then. I can only view this as an act of intentional deception. To give you an example of how far some of these people will go in order to try to convince people of their wayward belief regarding an American Prophet named Elijah, consider the fact that some time ago I visited a website where the standard verses from Malachi chapter four were displayed. These were followed by Jesus' words, as found in Matthew chapter seventeen:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things."
Matthew 17:10-11, KJV
When the above verses appeared on my screen, I was shocked. My jaw dropped. Why so? I wasn't shocked by what was there, I was shocked because of what wasn't there. I am referring to the very next verse which comes after the eleventh verse of Matthew chapter seventeen, as we see here:
"But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them."
Matthew 17:12, KJV
As far as I am concerned, the person who maintains that site is intentionally deceiving people by not including the very next verse where Jesus clarifies exactly what He means. If you don't realize how serious of an issue this is, imagine if you are a young Christian who has just recently come to know the Lord. If you happen to visit that website, you are going to be given the false impression that Jesus is saying that another Elijah is yet to come, when that is not what He means whatsoever. God help such deceivers! Is promoting their false doctrine more important than telling the full truth?
As we have already seen, while William Branham acknowledged all of Jesus' words in Matthew chapter seventeen, he totally misinterpreted them. Furthermore, he intentionally added his own words to them, so that they would seem to validate his claim of being the Endtime Elijah. However, there is more. Another way that Branham and other supporters of this false doctrine endeavor to validate their claims is by saying that the opening verses from Malachi chapter three are referring to John the Baptist, while the verses from chapter four are referring to the Endtime Elijah. In other words, as I said earlier, contrary to the evidence which we actually find in the Gospels, they claim that these verses are prophesying the arrival of two different Prophet Elijahs; that is, one during the First Century -- meaning John the Baptist -- and one during our current time as well, meaning William Branham or perhaps someone else.
How these deceivers go about trying to prove their erroneous assumption becomes clear, once we consider a few more things which Branham states in his book "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages". The opening verses to Malachi chapter four describe the coming of the Lord, and state as follows:
"For, behold, 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, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts."
Malachi 4:1-3, KJV
As I have already stated, these verses are not referring to our current time. The Book of Malachi is not about the Lord returning sometime during the Twenty-First Century. They are prophesying His arrival on the Earth two thousand years ago. Exactly how do people such as William Branham use the above verses to support their Endtime Elijah theory? Believe it or not, they claim that these events simply have not happened yet; thus "proving" in their own minds that verse five has not yet been fulfilled either. Let me share that verse with you again:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"
Malachi 4:5, KJV
Let me share with you now William Branham's interpretation of the previous verses, as found in his aforementioned book "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages". This is how he and others arrive at their erroneous conclusions, and endeavor to convince other people of the same thing. Quite frankly, I find his explanation very confusing. Please note that where Branham says "this Elijah" in the very first sentence, he is referring to the so-called Endtime Elijah:
----- Begin Quote -----
"See, immediately after the coming of this Elijah, the earth will be cleansed by fire and the wicked burned to ashes. Of course, this did not happen at the time of John (the Elijah for his day). The Spirit of God that prophesied the coming of the messenger in Malachi 3:1 (John) was but reiterating His previous prophetic statement of Isaiah 40:3 made at least three centuries previously. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Now John, by the Holy Ghost, voiced both Isaiah and Malachi in Matthew 3:3, "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." So we can well see from these Scriptures that the prophet in Malachi 3, who was John, was not the prophet of Malachi 4, though indeed, both John and this last-day prophet have upon them the same Spirit Which was upon Elijah."
----- End of Quote -----
The previous explanation is utter nonsense and contradicts what we actually find in the New Testament. Either Branham is truly ignorant of the Scriptural facts -- which I doubt -- or else he is purposely picking and choosing only those verses which seem to support his doctrine. Branham is not honestly comparing Scripture with Scripture so that he can arrive at a balanced conclusion. As I have explained to my readers before, when I come across something in the Bible which I do not fully understand, which troubles me, or which challenges my current beliefs, I stop and ask the Lord to help me to understand. If I am wrong about something, I want to know about it. I take teaching others very seriously; and I want to do my best to teach them the truth to the best of my knowledge and ability. After all, God's Word informs us that someday we are all going to be held accountable for every single word we have ever spoken, as we see here:
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Matthew 12:36, KJV
". . . for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ . . . So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
Romans 14:10b, 12, KJV
Please go to part eleven for the continuation of this series.
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