Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
 

4:5 Elijah the prophet. Elijah was taken into heaven without dying (II Kings 2:11), and is apparently one of “the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:14), who will return to the earth as one of God’s two witnesses in the first half of the seven-year tribulation period of the end-times (Revelation 11:3-4). Although many have assumed this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist, John himself said he was not Elijah, and had not come for that purpose (John 1:21). The Lord Jesus said that “Elias [same as Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). John did, indeed, come “in the spirit and power of Elias,” (Luke 1:17), but he was only that—not Elijah himself. Elijah must yet return to complete his unfinished prophetic ministry just “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,” which is still future. See also notes on Zechariah 4:14; Matthew 17:10-13; and Revelation 11:3-4.


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