Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Marshall Applewhite And Heavens Gate Cult, Korea's Reverend Sun Myung Moon And The Unification Church, Infatuation With Prophets Prophetesses And Other Charismatic Leaders, Bible Basis For Endtime Elijah Doctrine, Understanding Time Frames Correctly, God's CrossWord Puzzle, Proper Research Methods, Establishing The Time Frame Of Malachi's Prophecy Regarding Elijah, Malachi Wrote About Christ's First Century Arrival, The Prophet Isaiah Describes Sufferings Of The Lamb Of God, Comparing Malachi 3:1 And Malachi 4:5, Elijah = Elias = John The Baptist Who Was The Messenger Who Prepared The Way For Jesus, Simeon And Prophetess Anna Praise God In The Temple Jesus Teaches Performs Miracles And Rebukes In The Temple, Why Jesus Appeared Suddenly In Jerusalem, Jewish Religious Elders Were Both Surprised And Afraid, Jesus And The New Covenant, John The Baptist Is The Messenger Of The Covenant, Isaiah's Prophecy Regarding John The Baptist, Jesus Confirms That John Is The Prophesied Elijah, Angel Gabriel Confirms That John The Baptist Is The Prophesied Elijah Who Is To Come
Maitreya is not alone in making the absurd claim of being Jesus Christ. Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult boasted of the very same thing. In the early years, he and his wife were known as "Ti and Do", or "The Two". For almost twenty years, Applewhite indoctrinated a small group of followers with a religion which was an odd mixture of Christianity, New Age thought, and UFOlogy. During most of that time, the group remained underground, only surfacing on rare occasions in order to try to win new converts to their monastic way of life and odd belief system. In their later years, they also maintained a website which attracted people by the thousands. In the end, Applewhite committed suicide along with thirty-eight of his followers, who all believed that they would be transported to a spacecraft of celestial origin, which followed in the tail of the now-famous Comet Hale-Bopp of early 1997. Since that tragic event, at least one other member of this cult has followed in their suicidal footsteps. I discuss this cult in more detail in "Heaven's Gate, Suicide and Other Death Cults".
Let's discuss one more person who claimed to be the Messiah. After gathering a strong following in the United States in the early 1970's, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon -- who is the founder of the Unification Church -- returned to South Korea as a result of legal charges involving alleged tax evasion. However, although some people did not believe that Moon was guilty of the charges, he returned to the USA where he spent thirteen months in prison of an eighteen-month sentence. In spite of his earlier problems, over the past several decades, Moon's Unification Church spread out all over the world, much like the Children of God. This is born out by the fact that they have quite a few websites in different languages.
To his followers -- who are commonly referred to as "Moonies" -- Sun Myung Moon was reverently called "Father". As I noted earlier in this series, this directly contradicts Jesus' own words regarding calling any man our father on Earth. I find the practice particularly blasphemous in Moon's case, being as his followers actually believed that he was Jesus Christ in the flesh. Similar to the Children of God, Moon's Church also places a lot of emphasis on sex and marriage. In fact, Moon and his wife -- who are referred to by their followers as "True Parents" -- had a total of sixteen children. Quite frankly, I do not see what possible truth can be found in a man who claimed to be a manifestation of Jesus Christ.
One thing that can be said for Sun Myung Moon is that he was very rich, very powerful, and very influential for being a controversial cult leader. Moon founded the Washington Times newspaper, as well as United Press International and a number of other organizations. Many eyebrows were raised -- and some people embarrassed -- when in June of 2004, the Washington Post reported on a congressional reception that was held in March of that same year, during which Moon was honored due to his work towards achieving global peace. It was what Moon had to say during the ceremony, and how he was treated, which was an embarrassment to some, and raised the ire of others. Here are some excerpts from the 2004 Washington Post article:
----- Begin Quote -----
"At the March 23 ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon's head. The Korean-born businessman and religious leader then delivered a long speech saying he was 'sent to Earth . . . to save the world's six billion people . . . Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.'"
"Moon has claimed to have spoken in 'the spirit world' with all deceased U.S. presidents, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and others. At the March 23 event, he said: 'The founders of five great religions and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin . . . and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons.'"
----- End Quote -----
Moon died in 2012 at the age of ninety-two and is survived by his wife and fourteen children. I don't know what the current status of the Unification Church is, but I imagine that it is still going very strong.
With all of the examples I have now presented in this series, it should be easy for you to see how the idea of an Endtime Elijah fits right into the mentality which has prevailed for many decades within the United States of America. Whether we are talking about a recognized church, organization or cult, it seems that so many of them are founded around a prophet, prophetess or other powerful spiritual leader who believers must revere and view as the very voice of God. Furthermore, if the truth be told, I have barely scratched the surface in this series. There are so many of them now, that I'm not even aware of them all, and I most certainly cannot discuss them all. Tragically, as we have seen with even the ones which we have discussed here, so many of these charismatic leaders are terribly misguided, are deceiving their flocks, and in some cases are downright wolves in sheep clothing who are abusing their followers in some very serious ways.
But let's focus our attention again on this widespread belief in a so-called Endtime Elijah. As I explained at the beginning of this series, some of the primary verses which are used to support this wayward doctrine can be found in the prophetic Book of Malachi. Let me share them with you again:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
Malachi 4:5-6, KJV
The people who embrace the Endtime Elijah doctrine use the previous verses to basically make two points. The first one is to interpret the verses as referring to the Endtime. The second one is to erroneously claim that these verses aren't referring to a second Elijah -- or Elias -- who lived during the time of Jesus Christ; rather, they are referring to a third Elijah in our modern times. If we read these verses exactly as they are written, it is easy to see that there is absolutely no mention of our current time in them; that is, if one understands them properly. Neither do the two verses mention two additional Elijahs to come. They only mention one. As such, to make such claims, in my view, is clearly to read something into the Scriptures which is simply not there.
As I have mentioned before, unless one is properly prepared, trying to understand the correct time frames of some of the Old Testament prophecies can be an extremely difficult and frustrating experience. I have discovered that in order to arrange events in their proper chronological order, one must possess at least a rudimentary understanding of the ancient history of the Jews. If we fail to do this, we may very well end up with a timeline which is totally inaccurate. Let me again remind you that the Bible is like one great CrossWord puzzle. The Lord has seen fit to provide us with all of the necessary clues so that we can correctly arrange His great puzzle; but it is in knowing how to properly interpret each clue, that we find our greatest challenge.
As we engage in our task to properly interpret the clues of God's CrossWord puzzle, we should first look for similar or related verses in the very same chapter which might help us to understand the riddle. If we are unable to find our answer there, then we should expand our search for similar verses to include the entire Book. If doing that still doesn't serve to confirm what we think a particular verse might mean, then we should expand our search even further to include the entire Bible. There are many excellent concordances and other Bible research materials which can assist you in your studies. If you happen to own a computer, your work becomes even easier because there are many well-written Bible programs available for different operating systems, such as Windows, Macintosh and Linux. In addition, you also have the Internet at your disposal.
Regarding the time frame of Malachi's prophecy, a number of years ago, I was likewise under the erroneous impression that the Prophet wrote about events concerning our current time, which many Christians refer to as the Endtime. However, just by performing either a manual search or a computer search in the Book of Malachi, you will make an interesting discovery. As it turns out, words and phrases such as "latter years", "latter days", "end of days", "last years", "last days", "end of time", "endtime" and "end time" are nowhere to be found in the entire Book. In light of this fact, we must wonder how it is that some people have arrived at the erroneous conclusion that Malachi was writing about events involving our current time. The answer to this mystery is found in a phrase which is contained in the first verse of the aforementioned two. That phrase is "the great and dreadful day of the LORD."
As I said, years ago, just like so many other Bible students, I erroneously interpreted that phrase as meaning our current time. However, after performing a much more in-depth study of the Scriptures, I am now convinced that this is not what this phrase is referring to whatsoever. It is actually referring to Jesus Christ's arrival on the Earth during the First Century; not as a King who was coming to take charge of His Kingdom, but rather as a Lamb without blemish who was prepared for the slaughter, and who would shed His innocent Blood for the sins of the world. The Prophet Isaiah tells us all about it in the following prophetic verses:
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
Isaiah 53:7-12, KJV
As you will see shortly, there is ample Scriptural evidence which proves that Malachi was writing about Christ's arrival on the Earth during the First Century. Please recall what I wrote earlier regarding how important it is to compare one Scripture with another, so that we can arrive at the correct understanding of God's Word. This is a very vital point. It is absolutely essential if we wish to view everything in its proper perspective. If we don't follow this practice, we are going to end up with a faulty interpretation, just like the people who believe in the American Endtime Elijah. If we go back only one chapter in the Book of Malachi -- that is, to chapter three -- we discover that in chapter four, Malachi is simply repeating something which he has already stated in the third chapter. He is simply using different words. Let me place the two verses one after the other, so that you can easily see what I am talking about:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."
Malachi 3:1, KJV
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"
Malachi 4:5, KJV
I am convinced that this messenger who was to prepare the way -- or Elijah, as Malachi calls him in the second verse above -- was none other than John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way before Jesus. These two verses are speaking about the very same event, the very same messenger, and the very same Lord. Who is it who "shall suddenly come to his temple"? The answer is found right before that in the phrase "the Lord, whom ye seek". As you may already understand, for hundreds of years prior to Jesus' birth, the people who knew the words of the Prophets had been anxiously awaiting their Messiah's arrival. It is in fact for this very same reason that in the Gospel of Luke we find the following incidents concerning Simeon and the Prophetess Anna:
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Luke 2:25-38, KJV
What we see then is that what Malachi is actually prophesying is the arrival of John the Baptist, who will prepare the way before Jesus, who "shall suddenly come to his temple". As the New Testament informs us, that is precisely what Jesus did on more than one occasion during His final week of life. Jesus suddenly came to the Temple at Jerusalem, where He preached the Word of God, performed miracles, and likewise rebuked the moneychangers and other merchants. This is quite evident by the following verses:
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,"
Matthew 21:12, KJV
"In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me."
Matthew 26:55, KJV
"And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve."
Mark 11:11, KJV
"And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?"
Mark 12:35, KJV
"I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled."
Mark 14:49, KJV
"And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions."
Luke 2:45-46, KJV
"And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him. And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?"
Luke 19:47-20:2, KJV
"And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him."
Luke 21:37-38, KJV
"Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness."
Luke 22:52-53, KJV
"Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught . . . Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me."
John 7:14, 28-29, KJV
"These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come."
John 8:20, KJV
"The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said."
John 18:19-21, KJV
My impression is that until Jesus entered Jerusalem during that last week of His life, He remained outside of the city, because He already knew what awaited Him there, based on the the Old Testament prophecies. That is why "suddenly" -- which is derived from the Hebrew word "pith'owm" -- is a good choice of words. The Scribes and the Pharisees had heard about Jesus and the sermons which He preached, and the miracles which He performed, but now He was suddenly in their very midst. Not only was Jesus in their very midst, but He was exposing their hypocrisy, challenging their authority, and proving to them exactly who He was. That is why Jesus had to wait until that final week to go to Jerusalem, and more specifically, to enter the Temple. As He had warned the Apostles, He already realized how quickly the situation would deteriorate once He began to challenge the corrupt religious leaders of Jerusalem.
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word "pith'owm" also means "surprisingly". If we stop to think about it, the Scribes and the Pharisees must have no doubt been extremely surprised by Jesus' sudden appearance in Jerusalem during the final week of His earthly life. They must have been even more surprised by the way that the Lord was received by the common people -- riding on a mule, and draping clothes and tree branches before Him -- and by how He boldly entered the very nerve center of their corrupt system -- the Temple -- and began to rebuke and challenge their authority. No one had done this in recent times, and they were not prepared for it. So again, Jesus came suddenly, and His enemies were quite surprised. They were also very afraid -- particularly of what the Romans might do -- which is why they decided to put a quick end to the matter by pressuring Pontius Pilate into murdering the Savior of humanity.
Please notice how in Malachi 3:1, the Prophet speaks about "the messenger of the covenant". As I point out in articles such as "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words" and "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", a study of the Epistles reveals that time and time again, the Apostle Paul discusses how Jesus came to establish a New Covenant between God and man. Not the Old Covenant which centered around keeping the rigid Mosaic Law, but a New Covenant which is based on Grace and Mercy, and which Jesus paid for with His own Blood. This becomes evident by verses such as the following. You will find many more related verses in the aforementioned articles. I also discuss this topic regarding the Divine Agreement in the article entitled "Backsliding, Divine Chastisement and the Divine Agreement":
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
Hebrews 8:6-13, KJV
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:24, KJV
So John the Baptist is "the messenger of the covenant". He was sent to prepare the hearts of the people, and to get them to adopt an attitude of repentance, so that they would be willing to receive the New Covenant, which was about to be put into effect by Jesus. If we turn to the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, we discover yet another prophecy which predicts the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord. While Isaiah does not specifically refer to John as Elijah like the Prophet Malachi does, from verses that we find in the New Testament, we do know that this is precisely who Isaiah was referring to. Please consider the following verses:
"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. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Isaiah 40:3-5, KJV
"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."
Matthew 3:3, KJV
"But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 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 suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."
Matthew 11:9-14, KJV
Notice how Jesus quotes Malachi almost word for word. Then, to make sure that the people really understand Him, at the very end the Lord says to them "if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." Jesus could not have made it any clearer than that. Just as the Lord quoted from the Book of Isaiah in Luke chapter four when He preached in the synagogue in Nazareth and confirmed His own ministry, here we see Him quoting from the Book of Malachi to confirm John the Baptist's ministry as well.
At this point, allow me to offer a word of explanation for those of you who may not be familiar with Hebrew and Greek. Being as the ancient parchments from which our English New Testament is derived were originally written in Greek, we find some of the Old Testament English names transliterated with an "s" ending, usually preceded by one or more vowels. Thus, Isaiah becomes Esaias; Elijah becomes Elias, Jeremiah becomes Jeremias, Zechariah becomes Zacharias, and Eleazar becomes Lazarus. Thus, Elijah = Elias = John the Baptist.
In the very next Gospel, we discover that Mark was even more specific than Matthew. Whereas Matthew only quoted from the Prophet Isaiah, Mark appears to be quoting from both Isaiah and Malachi. Notice that Mark says "prophets" and not just "prophet". He also uses the word "messenger" which is found in Malachi's prophecy, but not in Isaiah's prophecy. Thus, it appears that Mark is combining both of these Old Testament sources:
"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Mark 1:2-3, KJV
Eight chapters later in Mark chapter nine, the Lord again confirms that John the Baptist is indeed the Elias -- or Elijah -- who was spoken of by the Prophet Malachi, as we see here:
"And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."
Mark 9:11-13, KJV
If we turn to the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we find that the Angel Gabriel is speaking in the Temple with Zacharias, who is the father of John the Baptist. As Gabriel describes the future ministry of John to Zacharias, notice what he says to him:
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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 1:17, KJV
As you can see, just like Jesus and the Gospel writers, the Angel Gabriel is quoting directly from the writings of the Prophet Malachi. Let me share those verses with you again so that you can compare them with the previous verse and see the obvious similarity between them:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
Malachi 4:5-6, KJV
Please go to part ten for the continuation of this series.
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