At Christâ€™s transfiguration the disciples saw Him in His Heavenly state. Having tasted of His eternal reality they asked Him, Why do the scribes say Elijah must come first and restore all things?
Christ reply? â€ I say to you Elijah has come alreadyâ€.
Huh! People still say Elijah is coming even today, but why? To restore an earthly Kingdom?
Mt11.11 Jesus answered and said to them, â€œIndeed, Elijah is coming first[a] and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him. Do we?
So if Elijah came already what exactly did he restore? The Kingdom?
He can not restore the eternal unshakable Kingdom. (HE12.28)
But he does restore access to that Kingdom through the eternal gospel. As it is today and was back then, it needed to be restored as seen here.
Christ said in Mt 23.13, But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
They were in the temple in Jerusalem and Christ said the â€œKingdom of God is at handâ€, or right here! He wasnâ€™t talking about where they were standing in Jerusalem in the Temple of that day or any day.
John the Baptist made straight the way of the Lord by preaching the â€œKingdom of God is at handâ€ in the desert, away from the â€œHoly cityâ€ and away from Â a completed temple.
So what gets restored? Letâ€™s look at Malachi 4 of the prophesy the disciples referred to.
Malachi 4. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn (restore)
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.â€
Hmm. What does that mean?
Well first bear in mind that all who came out of Egypt by Moses were called â€œchildrenâ€ That is right. All that are under the law are called children. (Galatians 4.1-3) All of the people of Israel were called children, even adults. Used over 120 times in the old testament â€œThe children of Israelâ€. Referring to the 12 tribes.
Second, To those children under the law the term â€œfathersâ€ meant Abraham Isaac and Jacob. This is who they called out to, the God and covenant of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Used some 40 times.
So now lets dig a little deeper to the source in 1 Kings 18.37, in the prayer of Elijah.
36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, â€œLord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, (the fathers) let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned (restored) their hearts back to You again.â€
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, â€œThe Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!â€
Elijah turned (restored) their hearts back to Christ by calling upon the God of Abraham according to that pre-law covenant, to a status believers had before Moses and the law. He turned hearts to the fathers, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the covenant of faith.
The gospel had to be restored to what it was before the law and what it developed to be over the years. As we know, the law was added because of transgression till the seed would come (Gal 3.19). And again to the Jews chiding Him about marriage Christ said â€œit was not so from the beginning but Moses added it because the hardness of your heart. Indicating a change from Gods perfect will and a need to be restored.
John the Baptist in the spirit and ministry of Elijah restored access to the Kingdom (make straight the way of the Lord) by turning (restoring) their hearts to the faith of the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By restoring to them that form of belief of justification by faith unto righteousness for a relationship right now with the God ( Gen 15.6) who seeks those to worship Him in spirit and truth, away from Jerusalem and the temple.
Here is the what the Angel spoke to Zacharias, John the Baptist father about Johnâ€™s purpose in life in Luke chapter 1
16 And he (John the Baptist) will turn (restore) many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, â€˜to turn (restore) the hearts of the fathers to the children,â€™ and (restore) the disobedient to the wisdom of the just (Abraham Isaac and Jacob) to make ready (restore) a people prepared for the Lord.â€ Meaning vessels prepared to receive the Son of whom all prophecies are fulfilled.
What did the Lord come to redeem, save and restore? A city? A nation? No. People
What did the Lord want to redeem, save or restore it to? A city? No. Himself
He came to redeem, save and restore people to Himself from a corrupt creation. As Christ prayed â€œFather I pray that you take them not out of the world, but you keep them from the evil oneâ€. And He prayed â€œFather I pray that they may be with Me where I am that they may behold My Gloryâ€. And that is with the Father. This is the restoration. Not an earthly kingdom. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the Kingdom of His Son. His Son is the Kingdom.
At the transfiguration the disciples were delighted to see Elijah and Moses. So much so in fact that they wanted to make them each a temple. But what did the Almighty say to them? â€œThis is My beloved Son, Him you shall hear. The disciples after hearing this looked around and saw Jesus only. Â Christ is the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. It is as we gaze at Christ in His full glory that we are transformed.
So let us rejoice in that restoration which points to Gods full revelation of Himself in His Son and accept a full relationship with God in Christ right now, for what was lost in the garden of Eden is restored. Today is the day of Salvation/restoration with Him right now!