In the excellent parenting book, “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!”, author Ginger Plowman compares my job as a parent with John the Baptist. (She calls us “Joan the Baptist,” LOL!) Why does she do that?
Yeshua says, in Matthew 11:14, that John was “the Elijah who was to come.” Who was Elijah the prophet?
I know you know who the first Elijah was. He’s in 1 Kings 17-19. When Malachi 4:5-6 says another prophet will come, one who is so much like the first Elijah that God also calls him Elijah, he’ll do the same things the first Elijah did. The first Elijah confronted Ahab with his sin (and by extension, confronted the Israelites who chose to follow Ahab in his sinful worship of Ba’al). This is especially seen in 1 Kings 18.
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of YHVH comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6, NIV).
The second Elijah, then, will also confront sin and call Israel back to the true worship of God. Malachi 4:5-6 tells us:
- When he’ll come — before the “great and dreadful day of YHVH.” This is prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27 and fulfilled in Matthew 24.
- What he’ll do — “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Luke 1:17 adds that he will “make ready a people prepared for YHVH.”
Luke 1:13-17 says that John the Baptist (Baptizer) was the “Elijah” mentioned in Malachi. This is repeated in
- Matthew 3 (and quoting from Isaiah 40:3-5)
- Matthew 11:7-15 (see especially v. 14)
- Mark 1:1-8 (doesn’t specifically mention Elijah but ties it in with Matthew 3)
John tells us that John the Baptist came to testify to the light of Yeshua (John 1:6-9, 15).
But how confusing! Read this:
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for YHVH.’ ” (John 1:19-23, NIV)
The only way I can reconcile this passage with the words of Yeshua saying that John the Baptist WAS Elijah (Matthew 11:14), is to say that John wasn’t Elijah literally, in the flesh. However, it certainly confused the Jewish leaders and still does to this day. Even at Passover, it’s traditional to set a chair for Elijah, who is to come before the Messiah. However, we know from Matthew and Luke that John the Baptist was like Elijah and is the one referred to as coming before the Messiah (which is why the Elliotts do NOT set out a chair for Elijah at Passover. He has already come… and so has our Messiah!)
I think that God did not intend for all of the Jews to understand who John was, or else they might have truly understood that Yeshua was their Messiah:
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:10-17)
Now, what does any of this have to do with us as mothers?
Wow, ever have one of those times when you are amazed by God’s timing? (I know you do!) I’ve been reading a great book, Don’t Make Me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman (I’ve written a review for it on my blog), and I saw this quote, having to do with “Elijah”:
This is really cool! John prepared the way for the Messiah by calling people to repent, just as the first Elijah called for Ahab and the people of Israel to turn to the true God from their sin. We prepare our children’s hearts for the Messiah by showing God’s Word to them and calling them to repent when they sin. We can’t force them to accept Christ, but we prepare their hearts to do that by constantly “prophesying” God’s Word to them and helping them turn to Him in repentance. This is the essence of a parent’s job! I think that’s why Malachi says,
“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
And why Isaiah says,
“Prepare the way for YHVH.” (Is. 40:3).
Very cool. May I be a good “Joan the Baptist”!