Dr. Alan Kurschner talked about Malachi’s prophecy of the coming of the prophet Elijah before the day of the Lord: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Mal 4:5).
There are several key precursors that will happen before the return of Christ: celestial disturbances, the apostasy, the Antichrist, to name a few. Then there is the prophecy about Elijah arriving before the day of the Lord.
Dr. Kurschner explained that Malachi’s prophecy of Elijah was not fulfilled in John the Baptist. John the Baptist was certainly a type of Elijah in “spirit and power.” But he was not the intended fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy.
There are six reasons why the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy is still in the future and thus not fulfilled in John the Baptist.
1. Jesus envisioned his ministry in two phases, his first and second coming.
2. Gabriel’s statement about John the Baptist indicates that he was not the intended fulfillment of Elijah’s coming.
3. John the Baptist himself explicitly stated that he is not Elijah.
4. Elijah may be one of the two witnesses, who will arrive in the future.
5. Elijah never experienced death, which may suggest a future coming.
6. The conjunction of Elijah and the Transfiguration, which was a preview of Jesus’ second coming, connects Elijah with Christ’s second coming.
The Elijah prophecy shows that Christ’s return is not imminent, but demonstrates that there will be precursors, such as Elijah’s arrival, before the day of the Lord, and by extension the rapture.