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 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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."