“And it is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of 3,800 branch churches all over the world including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Honduras, Peru, Argentina, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and countries in Africa including Kenya, Uganda, and Congo, and in China, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Mongolia, Egypt, Israel, and Korean branch churches and local sanctuary members, all those attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television audience,
This is the 16th session of the series on “Goodness” and the 2nd lecture on “The Goodness of Elijah.”
In the last session, I said that the first trait in Elijah’s goodness was his humbleness in heart and how, because he didn’t have his own will, Elijah never quarreled with anyone.
Elijah may have seemed fragile in nature and incapable of making sound decisions, but God who looks at man’s heart recognized Elijah’s goodness in his heart and chose him as a great prophet of his time.
By trials God had allowed him, Elijah became strengthened and confident and – by manifesting God’s wondrous signs and wonders – brought back to God the people of Israel from idolatry.
When Elijah had wholly carried out his God-given duties, God chose Elisha as his successor and lifted up Elijah to heaven alive.
What happened to Elijah who ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire led by horses of fire?
I earnestly wish for you to be deeply touched and filled with grace by Elijah’s goodness which continues in the heavens to this day and whose goodness was modeled after that of Our Lord Jesus Christ who Himself came to this world after forsaking His glory in heaven!
Dea brothers and sisters in Christ, the second trait of Elijah’s goodness was his love for God with his deeds and in truth.
Elijah always communicated with God while he carried out God-given duties in this world.
Elijah also struggled to clearly understand God’s will that was laid out before him.
As Elijah clung to God all the more in order to achieve God’s great work with his weak and fragile temperament, with the power from above God strengthened Elijah’s spirit.
Through such experiences, Elijah languished for God’s power even more and also came to earnestly long for God who strengthened him by His power.
With his love for God, Elijah fulfilled God’s commands with obedience even when he felt he couldn’t accomplish them on his own.
We know how people of this world try to give people they love everything they can.
Even if things seem beyond their reach, people will nevertheless try.
Yet, the love of this world is temporary; it changes with the passing of time as well as changes to surroundings and one’s heart and deeds.
Most people also like to receive as much as they have given.
But Elijah’s love for God remained steadfast and he perfectly demonstrated that love with his deeds and in truth.
While many people profess their belief and love for God, when the time comes for them to accomplish works God is delighted with, they make an excuse of their temperament and back away.
They say, “I want to do God’s work but since it doesn’t suit my personality, I’ll just quietly work on what I have now.”
But people who say such things must examine how much they actually believe in God from their hearts and how truthfully they love Him.
Our Father God has told us, “All things are possible to him who believes,” and as long as their love for the Father remains fervent, temperament is not an issue.
They will not be able to control their hearts unless they testify to the love of Father God and to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Think about the time when this extremely weak-natured Elijah single-handedly challenged 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to bring down God’s answer by fire.
In his fervent love for God, Elijah became all the more desperate to save the Israelites who had abandoned God and embraced idolatry and that’s why he could be so confident and courageous.
This is how one truly loves God and Elijah demonstrated that love with his deeds and in truth.
And after this process, Prophet Elijah could come to know God all the better and to understand His heart more clearly.
When we reach the faith of the fathers – the mature measure of faith – we will come to know in greater detail God who has been from the beginning.
Even during his life in this world, Elijah earnestly longed for God because the prophet had taken what he knew about God to the depths of his heart.
Can you imagine how full of love for God Elijah’s heart must have been when he was lifted up to heaven alive and saw God with his own eyes?
Elijah had understood in his own way but once in heaven, the prophet came to comprehend God the Trinity with certainty.
Elijah came to know not only of God the Father but also God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Elijah has also learned the duties assigned to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
He learned that God the Son would have to come into this world to be mankind’s Savior.
In order for Him to be the Savior, Elijah learned that God the Son would have to put on flesh and eventually become an atoning sacrifice through His crucifixion.
When this has come to Elijah’s knowledge, the prophet’s longing for the Lord became even more fervent and confessed, “I will do anything for You, my Lord.”
Father God accepted Elijah’s confession and charged him with making ready the way of the Lord.
Elijah, who had been lifted to heaven alive and had been with God, was to be born again in this world and prepare the way of the Lord.
Our Father God’s plan, which was fulfilled by Elijah in the heavens, had also been prophesied by prophets of the Old Testament.
Isaiah 40:3 reads, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.'”
And Malachi 4:5-6 tell us, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to [their] children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
God has prophesied through prophets that He would send Elijah to this world again, as well as the duties Elijah would assume.
How is this kind of thing possible and when did God send Elijah back to this world?
Keep in mind that this is totally different from the concept of “reincarnation” Buddhism teaches.
And because this has been clearly stated in the Bible, I urge you to pay attention and understand the message.
An event of a man’s being lifted to heaven and his being born again happened only to Elijah and took place only once in mankind’s history.
Then, how could Elijah, who was lifted up to heaven alive, be born again in this world?
In order for an individual to be created, God must send a spirit to the combination of the parents’ sperm and egg.
Without a spirit, a man is no different from an animal.
At the conception of the person who was to make ready the way of the Lord, God included Elijah’s heart in the spirit He sent.
God did not send Elijah’s spirit; He sent a spirit that contained Elijah’s heart.
Because Our Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the body of the Virgin Mary, He did not receive anything fleshly or heredical from of His parents. Also, God’s spirit sent at Jesus’ conception was the heart of Jesus.
But things were a little different for Elijah.
Since the spirit that contained Elijah’s heart was given after the seeds of life had come in a union, that person was to receive his parents’ energy and their influence.
So among all the pregnant mothers whom God had considered to be “good,” He sent the spirit that contained Elijah’s heart to the fetus of one such woman.
Who do you think was the person born in this way?
There had been many prophets in the Old Testament and many disciples and apostles in the New Testament, but there’s only 1 person whom the Bible refers to as “a man sent from God.”
It was John the Baptist found in John 1:6.
And in many parts of the Bible are evidence of John the Baptist’s having possessed Elijah’s heart.
Today’s Reading Passage, Luke 1:17: “And it is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Angel Gabriel spoke these words to Zacharias, who was to be the physical father of John the Baptist, about the baby soon to be born.
And Luke 3:4 also confirms that John the Baptist was the man whom Prophet Isaiah had prophesied about, whose voice would to make ready the way of the Lord.
And above all else, Our Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah.
When 2 of Jesus’ disciples Peter and James witnessed His Transconfiguration and realized that He was the Messiah, they asked Him in Matthew 17:10, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
Since the scribes studied and taught the law, they were well aware of the words of the prophets and also knew that Elijah must come before the Messiah.
To their question, Jesus answered in Matthew 17:11-12, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”
The following verse reads, “Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.”
From the Bible, we can learn that John the Baptist was Elijah.
Our Jesus is God Himself in essence, is spotless and blameless, and is the true light.
Therefore, the one who was to make ready the way of Jesus the true light had to be pure and perfect.
This is why Father God sent Elijah, who had accomplished the whole spirit and was lifted up to heaven alive, back to this world.
Another reason for God’s selection of Elijah was because in his fervent love for the Lord, Elijah had confessed, “I will do anything for You, my Lord.”
So when Father God commanded Elijah to go back to this world, he eagerly obeyed with an “Amen.”
Because Elijah had lived in this world and was enjoying the glory of heaven, he knew very well the meaning of returning to this world.
But because Elijah’s love for the Lord grew all the more as he thought about everything Our Lord was to experience, Elijah was not hesitant to return to this world of sin and evil but instead received the command in joy and gratitude.
God considered Elijah’s goodness to be the most sincere as the prophet showed his love with deeds and in truth, not just with his words and tongue.
But what can we say of people today?
When they first meet the Lord, their love for Him is the most fervent. In gratitude of His overflowing love, many people confess, “I will do anything for the Lord. I will live by God’s Word.” or even “I want to give up everything – even my life – for the Lord.”
But only a few of them hold fast to the confessions of their lips through their deeds without changing their hearts.
For example, God didn’t ask them to go to some remote place and preach the gospel by risking their lives, but they can’t even open their lips and preach to people around them.
God didn’t ask them to give Him everything they have, but people can’t even obey the command of giving him the whole tithes – a command He had given to bless them.
People who truly love God not only obey and live by His Word but, in accomplishing God’s kingdom, they must also be the first to roll up their sleeves and jump in, instead of backing away.
Just as a kettle full of boiling water steams, from people who earnestly love God it is only natural to see that love in all their words and deeds.
We must also be able to do anything we can please Father God with.
For example, what did Jesus, who “[DID] NOT QUARREL, NOR [CRIED] OUT; NOR [DID] ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS,” do to people who corrupted the temple?
In John 2:14-16 we read, “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove [them] all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.'”
John 2:17 reads, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.'”
Because Jesus loved Father God so much, He could not stand by idly to watch His Father’s becoming corrupt.
Our Jesus was more meek and humble in heart than anyone.
But because Jesus loved the Father, He could act so courageously.
Then, who among us can use our personality or surroundings as an excuse in accomplishing God’s work?
There is a saying in this world, “Love makes you blind.” When you spiritually love Father God and the Lord fervently, people around you or your surroundings are not a concern for you.
You will only think of God’s will and become eager to accomplish that will in any way you can.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, from the moment I first met God and experienced His love to this day, my love for God has not changed.
After 7 years of torment in illness, I tasted eternal life before death as God healed me at once by His power. After that, Father became my everything.
And whenever I thought of the love of Jesus who died for me on that cross, I could be grateful in any situations.
As I found in His Word, I stayed away from “Don’ts,” threw away anything He told me to throw away, strove to do all the “Do’s,” and obeyed everything He commanded.
To what can I say something is “difficult” or “I can’t do this” when they were my Father’s commands?
Because every command and word Father God has given us is intended for our own blessing, we can do it all in gladness and gratitude.
Even when His commands seemed difficult to obey, my love for Father God always enabled me to obey Him with an “Amen.”
I shared with you in the last session how, at the time God called me as His servant, I was in no position to obey Him but ended up obeying Him.
After becoming His servant, I have proclaimed Father God who is alive and Jesus’ being Our Savior, and if any task was for God’s glory I obeyed His Word regardless of what people said and regardless of the threat I faced.
In obeying God’s Word, I didn’t think twice before going to countries where there was threat of terror or where preaching the gospel was illegal.
Like a saying, “Perfect love drives away fear,” no matter how fearsome a situation looked, in my fervent love for the Father I could always go forth boldly, cry out with all my strength, and end up giving glory to God.
And in accomplishing God’s kingdom, I have always given the Father my time, wealth, and everything else I possessed.
Even when I had nothing to give Him, by faith I prayed and still gave Him through various answers.
If I could, I always wanted to give Him more.
This is because I love my Father God very much and love my Savior Jesus very much.
It will be the same in the future.
As Our Father gave us a great task of constructing the Grand Sanctuary, I have been praying to accomplish it.
Even if it is a huge task and it will take a long time to be fulfilled from the time I was given that task, I have never lamented and said, “Father! How could You let me bear this burden for so long?”
And when the Father told me that I would meet with leaders and kings of nations in order to build the Grand Sanctuary, I have never harbored such feeble thoughts as, ‘How can I face them and move their hearts?’
As Scriptures says, “ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME,” if the majesty of Father God’s creation and power can be displayed through the most beautiful building structure on the earth, I am ready to do whatever He tells me.
I earnestly wish for each of you to remember that when your love for Father God is added on to your belief in Him, you will be able to confess, “I can do anything,” and demonstrate that love with deeds and in truth.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this 2nd lecture on “The Goodness of Elijah,” I testified to how Elijah loved God with his deeds and in truth.
Although Elijah may have seemed fragile in nature, the more he longed for God, the more boldly he could proclaim God’s will. Once he came face to face with God the Trinity in heaven, his longing became all the greater and confessed, “I will do anything for You, my Lord.”
And Elijah perfectly demonstrated his love for God with his deeds and in truth.
In the final session of the series on “Goodness” next time, I will explain how Elijah continued to demonstrate his heart of goodness once he returned to this world.
With Elijah’s goodness of love for God, we can learn that there is no need to make any excuses before true love.
Besides, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and helps us with our weaknesses.
And Romans 8:37 also reminds us, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
May each of you love Father God all the more and live every day and every moment in that love by taking after Elijah’s goodness of love, in the name of Our Lord I bless!