A Man out of Time




The idea of time travel into the future has long been a favorite dalliance of science fiction writers. The thought of being able to travel beyond the scope of one's lifetime to glimpse the world of an anticipated utopian or apocalyptic tomorrow holds an unwavering fascination for many. For others it is the past that intrigues them.
For those who hold either interest there is a man from biblical history that embodies both themes in a real live adventure story that transcends the imaginative writings of men - his name is Elijah.
Elijah is a man who like Enoch has never died (see II Kings 2:11 & Heb. 11:5).
Once serving as a powerful prophet of God during the days of Old Testament Israel, this man taken out of time has been preserved by God to appear before the world in these last days.
Quoting from Malachi Ch. 4 we read, "For behold, "the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says the LORD of hosts, :"That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out, And grow fat like stall-fed calves, You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this," "Says the LORD of hosts. "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
A critical portion of this prophecy that Bible students need to commit to memory, which testifies to the truth of the pre-tribulation Rapture, is where God has declared to the Israeli believers who will be living during those dreadful days before the Lord's return, "..On the day that I do this, says the Lord of hosts. Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements."
What is made evident by God's command to once again recall the Mosaic Law is that the Church Age will have had to have come to a close previous to this time. Nowhere in the New Testament writings to the Church are there instructions for believers to reinstitute the Judaic statutes and judgments of Moses.
Contrary to what many would like to believe, there is no distinction found in the Church between Jews and Gentiles as we abide as one in the grace of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:28). It is only in the Scriptures that pertain to the Tribulation Period and beyond that one finds the Jewish believers distinction restored.
When Elijah is returned to the earth in these last days, as God has promised, we find in Revelation 11:1-2 that the Temple of God will be standing once again in Israel and will be evaluated by the Lord for its quality of worship.
In Daniel 9:27 we are told of how the Anti-Christ will rail against the Jews over this restored Mosaic worship. At the mid-point of a week of years (that is after 3 ½ years, the Anti-Christ will break a covenant he will have confirmed with Israel and will then cause the worship and sacrifices to cease.
By this fact we know that Mosaic offerings will have to be put in place during the first 3 ½ years. Since Israel will reinstate the Law of Moses during the first 3 ½ years of Daniel's prophesied final 7 year covenant, and God in fact calls for Israel to do so in Malachi 4:4, then by dispensational necessity the Church will have been Raptured to Heaven prior to the start of the 7 year Tribulation Period as is prophesied in I Thessalonians 4:15-18. Members of the Church who are alive must be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord with all those who sleep in Jesus, "...And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
This brings us back to our fascinating man out of time, Elijah. When Elijah was taken off of the earth, and Enoch likewise, we know that they could not be taken to heaven since Jesus had not died for their sins yet. The only other abode of the departed righteous revealed in the Scriptures is the place called by Jesus, Abraham's Bosom or Paradise (for further information see our Rapture Watch message, "The Landscape of Hell").
As living men, Elijah and Enoch would be extremely unique among the spirits of the righteous and unrighteous dead who awaited Christ's arrival after His crucifixion ( 1 Pet. 3:18-19).
The only information shared in the Scriptures pertaining to Elijah's state as he awaited in Paradise are found in Matthew 17:1-3 & Mark 9:4 when he appeared upon the earth with Moses for a meeting with Jesus. No details are given of whether Elijah appeared as a glorified man or a mortal man immortalized for the time being.
Likewise, no details are given about Moses state, though we would have to include for Moses that he could have been a manifested spirit such as took place with Samuel and the witch of Endor in I Samuel 28:11-15.
This is a fascinating mystery as well as the questions of who Elijah continued to reside with in Paradise after Jesus resurrected the Christians at His death in Matthew 27:50-53 and in what manner will Christ return Elijah to the earth?
What would it be like to be a man waiting in Paradise? A man out of time. In this glorious place there would probably be no awareness of the passing ages.
If it were you and you were to remain in Paradise after Christ's visit who would be left to keep you company?
It is likely that the Old Testament believers would still be abiding there until the millennial resurrection. By Matt. 27:50-53 we can reasonably assume that the raised believers who could not be glorified before Christ, but had trusted in Christ for forgiveness before their deaths, such as Lazarus, had their spirits caught up to heaven with Jesus upon the conclusion of their extended lives, since all Christians are promised in II Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent from their bodies is to be present with the Lord.
Enoch and Moses were not Christians prior to their departures and must still come to God's only begotten Son on earth in order to be presentable before God in heaven according to John 14:6. In any case we can rest assured God has not allowed Elijah to be forlorn during his two thousand year wait since Jesus' ascension, just as Enoch's wait has not been filled with days of loneliness either.
As we near the time for Elijah's fiery prophetic ministry to be rekindled in these last days, we are compelled to remember that during his sojourn in Paradise (or where ever), he has come to intimately know his Savior as is attested to by his visit with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration and the Lord's 3 day visit to Paradise (Lk. 23:43, Jn. 20:11-17 & Matt. 27:63).
When and however Elijah is returned to the earth his ministry will have been uniquely prepared to deliver the Messianic message of the Savior Jesus Christ to an Old Testament centered Israel, who in fact are even now awaiting Elijah's arrival before the Messiah is to appear.
What a sight that will be to behold when the supernaturally anointed Elijah visits the soon to be restored Temple in Jerusalem and challenges the worship being conducted there with the true meaning behind the sacrifices they will be dutifully offering. Picking up right where their father's had left off almost 2,000 years ago, the Jews will again face a mighty man of God who will be announcing "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:1-2).
Approximately 2,000 years ago it was John the Baptist they faced as he went forth as the one called in Matt. 3:3 to be, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness" who was to "prepare the way of the Lord," and to "make His paths straight" as prophesied in Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3-4.
Of significant importance to this message is that John the Baptist was also to uniquely fill an initial role of Elijah at Christ's first coming in order to fulfill the prophetic requirement that Elijah appear before the Lord's arrival. This is why John the Baptist could truthfully deny in John 1:21 that he was the actual Prophet Elijah at the same time that he was in fact operating in the spirit and power of Elijah as was prophesied in Luke 1:13-17.
Verse 17 reads, "He will also go before Him (that is before the Lord) in the spirit and power of Elijah, 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."
In Matthew 17:11-13 Jesus presented the amazing fact to the bewildered disciples that Elijah the Prophet is still to come before the close of the age while at the same time affirmed that the role of John the Baptist had satisfied the prophetic requirement for Elijah to also be His forerunner at His first coming.
As we read this passage of Scripture, note that Jesus does not say that Elijah had come, but is to come. "Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist."
As we marvel at the working of God in Elijah's and then John the Baptist's life we cannot help but recognize that a newly discovered archeological find in Israel is more then just a piece of ancient history, but a testament for a people to remember the unique union of two of their great prophets of history and the message they bring to the close of the age.
Quoting from the Colorado Springs Gazette article of Aug. 17, ‘04 which headlined, "Cave may have harbored John the Baptist - carvings, shards point to John" we read, "Archaeologists think they've found a cave where John the Baptist baptized many followers - basing their theory on thousands of shards from ritual jugs, a stone used for foot cleansing and wall carvings telling the story of the biblical preacher.
Only a few artifacts linked to New Testament figures have been found in the Middle East, and the cave is potentially a major discovery in biblical archaeology.
"John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life," British archaeologist Shimon Gibson said during a tour of the cave given to The Associated Press...John, a distant relative of Jesus - their mothers were kin, according to the Bible - was a fiery preacher with a message of repentance and a considerable following.
Tradition says he was born in the village of Ein Kerem, which today is part of modern Jerusalem. Just 2 ½ miles away, on the land of Kibbutz Tzuba, a communal farm, the cave lies hidden in a limestone hill - 24 yards long, 4 yards deep and 4 yards wide.
It was carved by the Israelites in the Iron Age, sometime between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C., the scientists said. It apparently was used from the start as a ritual immersion pool, preceding the Jewish tradition of the ritual bath.
During the centuries, the cave filled with mud and sediment, leaving a tiny opening that was hidden by trees and bushes. Yet in recent years, it had occasional visitors - Reuven Kalifon, an immigrant from Cleveland who teaches Hebrew at the kibbutz, took students spelunking. They would crawl through the narrow slit at the mouth of the cave, all the way to the back wall, though they saw nothing but dirt and walls.
In December 1999, Kalifon asked Gibson, a friend, to take a closer look.
Gibson, who has excavated in the Middle East for more than 30 years, moved a few boulders near the walls and laid bare a crude carving of a head. Excited, he organized a full-fledged excavation.
During the next five years, Gibson and his team, including volunteers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, cleared out layers of soil, picking up about 250,000 shards from small jugs apparently used in purification rituals.
The explorers uncovered 28 steps leading to the bottom of the cave. On the right, a niche is carved into the wall - typical of those used in Jewish ritual baths for discarding the clothes before immersion. Near the end of the stairs, the team found an oval stone with a foot-shaped indentation - about a shoe size 11. Just above, a soapdishlike niche apparently held ritual oil that would flow through a small channel onto the believer's right foot.
On the water-covered floor of the cave, stones and boulders were moved aside by the worshipers and a middle path was filled with gravel, said Egon Lass, an archaeological consultant at Wheaton College, near Chicago, who worked on the dig.
Crude images were carved on the walls, near the ceiling, and Gibson said they tell the story of John's life.
One is the figure of the man Gibson spotted on his first visit to the cave. The man appears to have an unruly head of hair and wears a tunic with dots, apparently meant to suggest an animal hide. He grasps a staff and holds up his other hand in a gesture of proclamation.
James Tabor, a Bible scholar from the University of North Carolina, said there is little doubt this is John. The Gospels say that John was a member of the Nazarites, a sect whose followers didn't cut their hair, and that he adopted the dress of the ancient prophets, including a garment woven of camel's hair.
On the opposite wall is a carving of a face that could be meant to symbolize John's severed head. The preacher had his head cut off by Herod Antipas after he dared take the ruler to task over an illicit affair.
But the images are from the Byzantine era, apparently carved by monks who associated the site with John, following local folklore, Gibson and Tabor said.
"Unfortunately, we didn't find any inscriptions" that would conclusively link the cave to John, Tabor said.
Still, Gibson, who heads the Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit, a private research group, argues that the finds and the proximity of John's hometown are strong evidence the cave was used by the preacher.
"All these elements are coming together and fill in the picture of the life and times of John the Baptist," said Gibson, who has written a book about the dig, "The Cave of John the Baptist,' to be published this week.
Stephen Pfann, a Bible scholar and president of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said Gibson has provided a plausible explanation for the unusual finds, but further study is needed.
"It is inviting more scholars to come in and give alternative explanations, if they can," he said.
In Matthew 17:12 Jesus said that when John the Baptist came in the role of Elijah they "did to him whatever they wished."
We are told in Revelation 11:5 that things are going to be different this time around when Elijah and a companion prophet resumes his ministry in Israel during the very end of the age. We are told that, "...if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner."
And then when the Lord finally permits the beastly Anti-Christ to finally kill them in verses 7-10 we are told in verses 11 & 12, "Now after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.' And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them."
During the time of their death experience they will join under the altar in heaven with the great assembly of martyred tribulation saints of Rev. 6:9-11 who cry out in contrast to the forgiving Church, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Once again Elijah will be a man out of time and this time his wait will be only a matter of a few days. Then perhaps as a uniquely resurrected being he will be called up above the altar to join the glorified believers of the Church Age that were called up to heaven years earlier. At present only God knows the answers that reveal the whole story of Elijah.
Just as amazing is the story of every believer who are just as much people out of time. People who God knew before they were created and whose lives have left footprints throughout history. Most are now living in a spiritual realm beyond the reach of time waiting for the resurrection call that will propel them as glorified and immortal beings into the eternal glory-filled tomorrow of their God and Savior.
It only takes a simple act of faith to step over from those who don't realize they are dead even now while they live to those who have eternal life now and forevermore.
Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that whoever believers in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will be delivered from God's wrath and whose sins will be forgotten and removed from the Eternal One's record.
For many this will still not be enough to motivate them to turn to Christ and their place in unforgiving darkness remains reserved forever. This very moment is the time to seize the opportunity to call out to Jesus to save you.
It is only fitting that we close this message with the prophetic words of John the Baptist's father Zacharias recorded for us in Luke 1:76-79, "...you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dawn from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

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