Good morning, I greet you all in Jesus name. God bless you wherever you as you listen to this. The title of the message today is, Who Is the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6. And the scriptures for this message, as you might have guess is, Malachi 4:5-6. So I invite you to turn your bible there with me this morning, and lets read that together.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.Malachi 4:5-6 King James Version
Let us pray. Lord God, Thank you for your tender mercy to us. Thank you for the bible, for in it we find the words of life. Lord we approach the scripture this morning as humble people. We have one desire, and that is understand what we are reading. Help us to understand, In Jesus name we ask it. Amen
Well, we have quite a topic today. One that, to most people in the world, they could care less about. It’s not a question that would even interest them. But to you and I, because of the background of where we come from, this is a very big topic, and a very big question.
And in case some of my listeners this morning are unfamiliar with why this subject would matter to us, I and most of our listeners here were formerly in the cult following of William Branham, called The Message. We believed William Branham was the Elijah that Malachi was referring to here in the book he wrote. We believed William Branham was the last days end time prophet to fulfill this prophecy.
I have had many people ask me this question, which I have answered privately. But I am going to answer this question publicly today. Because it’s very natural, with our background, that once you realize William Branham is not the Elijah foretold by Malachi, the immediate question is, then who was it? If it was not William Branham, than who is it? And I understand why people, from the background we had, would have that question.
And as we go into this subject, I want to break this into several parts. I will get it all done here in one message. But going into it, I want to let you know there are going to be four parts to this message.
First, I want to show you how we interpreted this verse in The Message. And then second, I want to show you how, using The Message interpretation, we can actually prove William Branham was not the Elijah.
And then third, I want to show you how The Message interpretation is actually flawed, and show you the big mistake the Message preachers made in looking at this verse.
And then last of all, I want to answer the question, who is the Elijah that this verse is talking about.
I believe I can show you all four of those things in one sermon. So, you bear with me, and we will get started.
How does The Message teach it?
To begin with, I want to show you how we were taught this verse in The Message. Specifically, this is how it was taught by Raymond Jackson among the churches that fellowshipped with Faith Assembly Church in Jeffersonville.
You can easily access their publications to see how they teach it. It’s worth mentioning that I was the editor of their publications, responsible for creating and putting them online. Therefore, I am intimately familiar with their beliefs. However, if you want to verify it for yourselves and ensure I’m not misrepresenting anything, you can check it out independently.
Let me now read these verses and break them down in the way they are taught in The Message.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:Malachi 4:5-6 King James Version
Now this verse was interpreted to mean that it is not the literal Elijah who will return, not the Elijah who held the Mount Carmel showdown and was translated into heaven on a chariot of fire. We did not believe this verse is saying that he himself would return from heaven. Instead, we believed it would be his mantle, or his anointing, that would come upon another person, just as his anointing was passed to Elisha. So, we were not looking for Elijah himself, but another person with Elijah’s anointing.
The second part of this verse, “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” was interpreted to mean two different days. We understood the “great day of the Lord” to refer to the first coming of Jesus with salvation and the gospel. On the other hand, the “dreadful day of the Lord” indicated the second coming when he comes with wrath and judgment.
Thus, we believed that verse 5 was talking about two different comings of Elijah. One Elijah at the first coming and a second Elijah at the second coming. We also divided verse 6 into two comings of Elijah. Let me read that:
“It shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
That’s how we understood and taught these verses within The Message.
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, (so that would be the first coming of Elijah) and the heart of the children to their fathers (which would be the second coming of Elijah), lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.Malachi 4:5-6
King James Version
And the way we broke verse six into two comings was through Luke chapter 1, verse 17.
Let’s turn there together, and I will read it. As we read this verse, please note that it’s being spoken by the angel Gabriel to Zachariah concerning his son, John the Baptist. Gabriel said:
17 And he (John the Baptist) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, (so Gabriel is quoting Malacia) and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.Luke 1:17
King James Version
As we can see in Luke 1:17, Gabriel did not fully quote Malachi. According to The Message’s interpretation, John the Baptist only fulfilled the first coming of Elijah as foretold by Malachi. John came before the great day and turned the hearts of the fathers to the children. However, there still needed to be a second Elijah before the dreadful coming, who would turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.
Therefore, The Message taught that the first Elijah foretold by Malachi was John the Baptist before the first advent, and the second Elijah was believed to be William Branham.
John the Baptist turned the hearts of the fathers to the children, and William Branham turned the hearts of the children to the fathers. This explanation was ingrained in me throughout my life.
Besides Luke 1:17, there are several other verses that The Message would use to support the idea of an Elijah yet to come. For the sake of argument here, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that Malachi’s prophecy indeed refers to two comings of Elijah.
This coming of Elijah before the dreadful day, which is supposed to be William Branham, is said to have turned the hearts of the children back to the fathers. The interpretation suggests that William Branham restored the church to a form of worship, governance, and Christian faith identical to that of the early church fathers, resembling the Book of Acts. This includes signs, wonders, miracles, great miraculous works, and God speaking in supernatural ways, providing supernatural revelation.
In essence, the second Elijah, William Branham, was believed to have restored the church to a state resembling the days of Paul, Peter, James, John, and the early apostles.
William Branham was not Elijah
Now this takes us to the second part of this message.
We have explained how the message interprets those verses, and now I am going to take that very interpretation and show you how it could not possibly have been talking about William Branham.
Firstly, I want to point out a very big fallacy in the reasoning that goes along with this verse. The verse is interpreted to say that the church is being restored to the faith of the fathers – something old, something ancient, not something new, but something old.
By definition, if he is preaching something new, it can’t be the faith of the fathers; it has to be something new. Yet, we believed both that he restored us to the faith of the fathers and, at the same time, we believed he brought new revelations never before known.
So, how can it be the faith of the fathers if it’s new revelation the fathers never heard of?
The basis for believing that William Branham was this Elijah was supposedly a voice that spoke from heaven when he was baptizing in 1933, tongues and interpretation on two different occasions during his revivals, and people claiming it was personally revealed to them that William Branham was this Elijah. The basis for this belief rested on declarations from individuals.
However, I want to suggest that this is totally the wrong way to determine if William Branham was the Elijah of Malachi 4. The way to determine if he was this Elijah is not a voice speaking from heaven, someone having a personal revelation, or tongues and interpretation.
The way to determine if William Branham is the Elijah of Malachi 4 is to read that passage of scripture and ask ourselves: Did William Branham actually fulfill it? Can I prove that he did what that verse of scripture said he would do – if he was Elijah? According to The Message, this verse meant he would turn us back to the faith of our fathers, and our church would be like the book of Acts.
So, the way I would determine if William Branham was Elijah would be to look at the facts of his life and his ministry. Did he actually do that? Did he produce a church and a people that were turned back to the faith of their fathers, who look like the book of Acts?
And I want to ask you, is that true? Is the message church you are in actually turned back to look like the book of Acts? Are there signs and wonders and miracles happening like in the book of Acts? Did William Branham accomplish the mission that this Elijah was supposed to accomplish?
What I would assert is that he did not. If William Branham was the Elijah mentioned by Malachi, then he totally failed to achieve his mission. There is no message church that looks like the book of Acts, experiencing miracles on a level that remotely resembles the book of Acts. The church does not exhibit perfect unity and harmony, all in one accord, holding all things in common. That church does not exist.
And if you want to say there is such a church, then I want to let you know you are mistaken. I spent my entire life in the message, and there is no such thing. You might have some people tricking you really well, talking things up, but if you think you have a message church that is like the book of Acts, you are mistaken. You must have never read the Bible or the book of Acts if you think that.
You might say, “Well, when William Branham was alive, there were lots of miracles.” But that’s not what this verse says. It does not say he will turn himself to the faith of his fathers; this says he will turn the children to the fathers. His followers should be like the early church fathers, not him personally. This prophecy is not about him; it’s about the children whose hearts are being turned.
In terms of a church that is experientially like the book of Acts, that is a total flop. That church does not exist. There is no message church where the preachers’ shadows heal everyone they pass over, where everyone is living together and owning all things in common. There is no message church that looks like the book of Acts; you’ve got to be kidding me. And if you think that, you are one big fool who doesn’t know how to read the Bible.
You admit that’s the truth every time you go out predicting the big revival is just around the corner, the big healings are just around the corner, the big thing is just around the corner, “We are almost there, almost there.” That’s them admitting you are not there yet, because the book of Acts church was already there. The book of Acts church already had all those things in action.
The next thing they might say is, “Well, he turned us back to the faith of our fathers. He restored to us a biblical understanding that the early church had.” But let me remind you of what I said earlier; that is a logical contradiction. Either he restored us back to the faith of our fathers, or he brought us some new divine revelation and took us farther. It can’t be both. If he took us to a faith beyond the faith of our fathers, then he didn’t restore us to the faith of our fathers; he took us to something else.
William Branham was certainly not preaching the same gospel as Paul; he said so himself. William Branham said the message Paul taught won’t work for our day – that’s a direct quote. He taught that you got to have the message for your hour, and the message for our hour, according to him, was not the message of the early church fathers. It was the new revelation he was getting from God, and that revelation contradicts badly the things Paul taught.
I just spent the last year going through the book of Romans, and Paul said we are saved by faith in Christ, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from all wrath to come, and all we need to be changed in the twinkling of an eye is to have the holy spirit within. The message does not believe that, not by a long shot. The message believes people like that will burn or be slaughtered in the tribulation.
So, it’s very hard to say that William Branham restored anyone back to the faith of their fathers, and it is outright ludicrous to say the followers of William Branham’s message look like the book of Acts.
You might say, “Well, it’s a work in progress, we are getting there, it’s a work in progress.” But again, I would point you back to the verse of scripture in Malachi. It doesn’t say Elijah will come, and then a five-fold ministry will finish it up; it doesn’t say he will come and set it in motion, and someone else will finish it up. It doesn’t say he will start it, and it will be a work in progress. No, it says the Elijah will do all those things, himself, personally.
And if William Branham was that Elijah, and if the message interpretation of that verse is correct, then everything connected to that verse should have been fulfilled while William Branham was still here. He should have done it personally, not handed it off to someone else to finish. This thing should have been wrapped up and turned back to the faith of the fathers before he left.
And there is no other way to read that verse. That is, of course, nowhere near what happened.
What is the right interpretation?
Now I am going to move to the third section of this message.
What is wrong with the message interpretation of Malachi 4:5-6? There is something they got very, very wrong, and I want to show it to you. When I do, it will become so obvious.
To begin pointing it out to you, let me read verse 5 again:
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet…Malachi 4:5-6
King James Version
It says, “I will send YOU.”
Who is the “you“?
Who is the prophecy written to?
Who are the people this Elijah is being sent to?
Because you know, where we come from, it’s always just taken for granted that this Elijah is coming to the church. But let me ask you this: What in this book makes us think this passage of scripture is about Elijah coming to the church? What is here to give us that idea? Does the book of Malachi actually say that? Let’s back up to chapter 1, and let’s work our way through this book. Let’s see, who was this book written to? Who was Elijah going to be sent to? Malachi chapter 1, verse 1.
1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel (To Israel! This is who this prophesy is addressing, this is who it is too. It is to Israel) by Malachi.
1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
2 I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob,
3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.
5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.Malachi 1:1-5
So who is this prophecy to? It’s to Israel.
Let’s go over to chapter 2, maybe there is a transition somewhere? Right? Maybe he stops talking to Israel, and changes this to the church somewhere?
Let’s see chapter 2, verse 1.
1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.Malachi 2
King James Version
So again, this is to Levi – the priests of Israel. This is not the church. This is clearly being wrote to biological Israel, the nation of Israel. Verse 8.
8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
So again, this people bound by the covenant of levi, which is not the church. Verse 11.
11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
Again, this is clearly to Israel.
12 The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, (Jacob, who is Israel) and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.
Jump to verse 16.
16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Its Israel. Chapter 2 is all to Israel too. Lets go to chapter 3, maybe it transition there, let me get verse 3.
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.Malachi 3
King James Version
So those verses are to Israel again. Go to verse 6.
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob (Israel) are not consumed
The sons of Jacob – this is Israel. So he is still at Israel in chapter 3. Well, what about chapter 4, surely it must transition to the church in chapter 4, right? Lets go see.
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.
4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.Malachi 4
King James Version
So here, we see, it is still to Israel in chapter 4. Very plainly, this prophesy is still to israel as we come to chapter 4, and verse 4. So, when I read verse five, who is Elijah being sent to?
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet…
How can it be that chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, and even the verse right before this in chapter 4 are all directed to Israel? The whole book, from Malachi 1, 2, 3, and chapter 4 up to verse 4, is addressed to Israel. But then all of a sudden, verse 5 and verse 6 are seemingly directed to the church.
How does that make sense? How can the entire book be addressed to Israel, except the last two verses?
You may say it’s just a revelation, but the Bible says faith comes by hearing the word. So there needs to be something in the word for that faith to be built on. Don’t tell me it’s a revelation if there’s no word to support it. That would be foolishness.
So, if Malachi 4:5-6 is meant for the church, then show me the scripture that proves this Elijah is coming to the church. It’s a straightforward question. Is there a single thing in the book of Malachi that gives us the impression that this Elijah would be coming to the church? The answer is no. There is nothing in this book to indicate that this Elijah is coming to the church. In fact, there are several other verses in the Bible about the return of Elijah, and none of them, anywhere, suggest that Elijah will come to the church. Not a single one. Though we won’t delve into those references now, we’re focusing on Malachi here in this message. But all those references point towards Elijah returning to Israel, not the church.
That is the significant mistake the message made here. This prophecy of the coming Elijah is not for the church; it is for Israel.
Now, let me give you a moment of silence to let that sink in. The Elijah of Malachi 4 is not coming to the church; the Elijah of Malachi 4 is coming to Israel.
How Did This Happen?
So how did this happen?
How did our message forefathers make this terrible and very obvious error when interpreting this verse from Malachi? Because, once you think about this for a while, it is actually very obvious that this prophecy in Malachi has nothing to do with the church. So how did our forefathers ever get the idea that it did?
The answer to that is not too hard to understand either. About 200 years ago, there was an ideology called British Israelism, sometimes referred to as Anglo-Israelism. It taught that the Anglo-Saxon people were the ten lost tribes of Israel, including the people of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Some Christians embraced this belief and thought they were Israel.
As this ideology grew, there were Christians who believed that Malachi’s prophecy was talking about a time when Elijah would return to Israel in the future. When those who embraced British Israelism got hold of this teaching, they interpreted it to mean that Elijah would return to them since they thought they were Israel. Many famous names from the early days of Pentecostalism, such as John Lake, FF Bosworth, Gordon Lindsay (for a time), and Alexander Dowie, believed in this interpretation of Malachi 4.
However, over time, in the 1930s and 1940s, Pentecostals realized that British Israelism was incorrect, and they stopped believing that they were the ten lost tribes of Israel. They purged this belief from their churches, but they kept certain prophecies for Israel, including Malachi 4:5-6.
Thus, the mistaken idea that Elijah would return to the church persisted, even though they no longer believed they were Israel. This misconception was the result of compounding errors over the past 250 years and not divine revelation or truth from God.
Today, I can confidently tell you that there is no such thing as an Elijah prophet returning to the church. That is not going to happen, and anyone in the past who claimed such a thing is a deceiver.
So that brings us to the final part of this lesson this morning.
If its not WIlliam Branham, then who is it then?
If this Elijah was not William Branham, then who is it?
Who could it be?
I want to answer that question for you and present two options.
The first option, which most Christians in the world believe, is that the Elijah of Malachi 4 refers to John the Baptist. This is the answer you would get from about 90% or more of preachers and churches if you asked them about the identity of the Elijah in Malachi 4. And, of course, where we come from, we would agree with this belief, considering John the Baptist as the Elijah before the great day of the Lord.
Now, the second option is where we deviate from the mainstream interpretation. We believe there is a second Elijah, for the dreadful day of the Lord.
But let’s consider for a moment if that is true. Is this verse truly telling us that there are two coming Elijahs? Does it really talk about two separate days, one great and one dreadful?
That is an honest question we should ask ourselves. Given that the men we have been listening to all our lives were so far off base, it would be wise to reexamine everything they said. Not to say that everything they taught was wrong, but it is prudent to double-check, as there might be other errors if they made one serious mistake. Clearly, they were men who were unable to discern the truth accurately.
So, what does this verse really tell us? Is it about two Elijahs?
Here’s the thing, I’m going to leave this up to you. Read the passage, and see what you think. My opinion is that if you were a normal person, and you just sat down to read Malachi 4:5-6, the plain reading of the passage suggests that it’s talking about one Elijah. Let me show you what gives me that impression. Let me read verse 5.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet (that is singular, it is not Elijahs the prophets. It is not plural. So there is nothing in this first part to make me think this is two Elijahs.)
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet (singular) before the coming of the great and dreadful day (singular) of the Lord:
And so day is also singular. It don’t say the great and dreadful dayS plural. But the great and dreadful day, singular. And verse six is the same.
6 And he (singular, it is he, not they) shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
The Elijah of Malachi 4 is definitively John the Baptist. Almost all of Christianity agrees with this, and the angel Gabriel confirmed it when he spoke to Zachariah. There is no question about John the Baptist being the Elijah of Malachi 4.
If you believe this verse is also pointing to a second Elijah, then the evidence would suggest that it could be one of the two witnesses of the book of Revelation. However, I won’t delve into that further at this moment.
In conclusion, the Elijah of Malachi 4 is John the Baptist, and possibly one of the two witnesses from Revelation. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible to suggest that Elijah is coming to the church, and this has nothing to do with a man named William Branham.
Anyone who claims otherwise has been deceived into believing something that is not in the Bible. I challenge anyone, especially those from the message, to find a verse that indicates Elijah will return to the church. It’s not there. The very foundation of the beliefs in the message is false, and the house built upon it is already crumbling.
Instead, I urge you to turn to Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Your prophet may be false, but Jesus is real, and He alone is the true foundation to build upon.
I invite you to come to Jesus Christ. If you want to have the faith of your fathers, just read the Bible, for their faith is in there. You don’t need a prophet to turn you back to it. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. The church has never fallen away. The church cannot fall away. Systems and organizations can, but the church is not systems and organizations. The church is individual people. And when a system becomes corrupt and cannot be reformed, the individuals who form the church move along, and the church moves with them because they are the church.
And there is no need for a prophet to come restore us back to the faith of our fathers. The true church never left the faith of our fathers. We believe in Christ as our Savior, and we believe the Bible is for our instruction, and we seek to fulfill the great commandment He gave us, to love one another as He loved us.
Come back next week, and I will be continuing this series. Next week, the topic will be, “Who Is The Seventh Angel of Revelation 10:7.”
Let me close in prayer.
Lord God, take these words that are spoken, and may they be helpful to the hearers. I have presented this as simply as I know how. God, your word speaks for itself, and the Holy Spirit teaches. I am just a man, but let your word speak, and let the Holy Spirit teach, and deliver the minds of confused men and women into the glorious liberty of Jesus Christ. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.