I woke up early this morning with a sudden inspiration in which I sensed the Holy Spirit saying two short but clear phrases in my heart. The first was “Moses and Elijah will come.” The second was a continuation and clarification of the first – “Moral Confrontation.”
For a couple of months, I’ve been meditating on the “last prophecy” of the Tanakh from Malachi 4:4-6 which became the “first prophecy” of the New Covenant in Luke 1:17. I have been impressed that these Scriptures constitute a significant mandate for all of us in this generation.
These prophecies go along with the prophecies of the book of Revelation, which also portray “two witnesses” who speak judgment with signs and wonders, very similar to Moses and Elijah. The reference to Moses and Elijah was obviously taken from these contexts.
(Moses was the great man of God who gave the Torah; Elijah was a great leader among the Prophets. Thus, the two represent the whole of the “Law and the Prophets.” Moses confronted Egypt; Elijah confronted Israel.)
22 זִכְרוּ תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה עַבְדִּי אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֹותֹו בְחֹרֵב עַל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל חֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים׃ 23 הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ לָכֶם אֵת אֵלִיָּה הַנָּבִיא לִפְנֵי בֹּוא יֹום יהוה הַגָּדֹול וְהַנֹּורָא׃ 24 וְהֵשִׁיב לֵב־אָבֹות עַל־בָּנִים וְלֵב בָּנִים עַל־אֲבֹותָם פֶּן־אָבֹוא וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ חֵרֶם׃
4 Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, statutes and judgments. 5 Behold I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrifying day of YHVH. 6 And he will restore the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
What did it mean to me that “Moses and Elijah will come”? To my mind the meaning would be parallel to the statement of Yeshua that the end times will be as it was “in the days of Noah and Lot” (Luke 17:26-29). The end times’ message will be like the message of Moses and Elijah; the situation will be like the situation at the time of Noah and Lot.
There must be a major moral confrontation between the Word of God and Worldly Society that takes place right before the appointed time of the day of judgment. According to the righteousness of God, there must be perfect justice in all His working with mankind. Justice demands the punishment of evil, and there is much evil in the world. This evil will become worse and worse.
According to the same righteousness of God, not only will He punish evil, but He will warn the people of that punishment before it is executed. God must warn people in order to exhort them to change so that as many as possible might not be punished.
This moral change before the judgment is what the Bible calls repentance. The evil behavior of human beings is called sin. The willingness of God to forgive (or “pardon”) the people and cancel the punishment is called grace.
In the example of Noah, there was much violence and murder across the world (Genesis 6:5). It was so bad that virtually everyone in the world was due a death penalty (Genesis 6:7). God’s justice demanded that all of this sinful activity be punished. But in His love, He wanted to warn the people so that they would repent, and thus He could pardon them and cancel the punishment.
In order to warn the people, Noah preached (II Peter 2:5) and called the people to righteousness. He preached for a long time–perhaps even 500 years if one considers the prophecies of coming judgment that he may have heard even as a child from his grandparents, and relayed to others.
Not only did he preach, but he also built an ark (over a period of decades) which served as a vehicle to save anyone who would listen. The building of the ark was also to warn the people that the punishment was on the way. (The ark was a boat, which indicated that water would come. This may have been the first time rain had ever fallen. The ark was built “in land” far from any water that could float the ark. So, the ark itself was a visual warning of the coming flood.)
But of course, the people did not repent in the time of Noah, and the enormous judgment did come. The flood of Noah is a historic event which also serves as a warning of future judgment. Worldwide sin will demand a worldwide punishment. It may be a long time in coming, but when it comes, it will be instantaneous. Much time will be given to repent beforehand, but at the appointed day of punishment, there will be suddenly no time left at all.
Depending on how one looks at it, there is much time or no time. There is much time that God grants for grace; but there is no time at all to delay repentance. Historically much time is given. Morally no time can be wasted. In the light of grace, God is amazingly patient. In the light of terrifying judgment, the time is at hand.
(Arguments over the timing of judgment prophecies are often a waste of time. The time is always “now.” The issue of timing is to emphasize the long-suffering grace of God on the one hand, and the terrifyingly “impending” nature of the execution of the punishment. The time is urgent.)
“Noah’s ark” is certainly a charming story for children, with all the animals coming on the boat. God loves animals as well as humans. The beautiful rainbow (probably the first time a rainbow had ever appeared) shows God’s exquisite artwork in creation and the promise of a perfectly beautiful world coming in the future. Paradise is eternal and punishment is eternal. In the midst of the beauty and grace, there is also a severe and sobering seriousness. Again, the main point: moral confrontation of world-wide sin before the coming of the time of judgment.
[Note: Evil-doing demands punishment. God’s love offers an opportunity for pardon. The simple prerequisite is to stop doing wrong – which is to repent. (The legal provision for pardoning is called “atonement” or “propitiation,” which means to pay the price to transfer the punishment to someone else. That atonement was symbolically portrayed in the priestly sacrifices and then fulfilled by Yeshua’s death on the cross. The crucifixion of the righteous Messiah provides the legal mechanism to transfer and cancel the punishment that is due to all of us.) The judicial logic behind the gospel message is propitiation > payment > pardon >punishment.]
After the judgment in the time of Noah came the judgment in the time of Lot. In the case of Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah, the sins of violence, rape and homosexuality were so widespread, that punishment was unavoidable (Genesis 18:32). Sodom and Gomorrah were very wealthy “upper-class” cities (Genesis 13:10-13). Their sins also included pride, complacency, and lack of compassion for the poor (Ezekiel 16:49). The sexual perversion and financial corruption of Sodom are repeated in many other places throughout history (see Revelation 11:8).
The punishment by fire in Lot’s time and by water in Noah’s time are precedents for the final judgment at the “great and terrible day of YHVH” (Joel 2:31, Malachi 4:5, Jude 1:7). The prophets warned people of the coming judgment in order that they would stop doing wrong, so that they could be forgiven, and thus avoid the punishment. Before the coming of the great and final judgment, that message of warning and moral confrontation must be restored.
The prophetic call to repentance has been applicable in every generation. How much more so in the final generation leading up to the Second Coming of Yeshua! (The Messiah is the judge who executes the punishment and the priest who provides the atonement. He both pardons and punishes. Mt 16:27; 25:31-46)
After Sodom comes the judgment of Egypt, then the greatest empire of the world. While Egypt was a righteous and blessed nation in the generation of Joseph, it had turned evil in the time of Moses. It was so evil, that the government leaders wore snakes on their heads. Witchcraft, slavery, abuse, child sacrifice and every other evil was prevalent. The nation had to be punished.
God sent Moses as a prophet to confront Pharaoh. Since Pharaoh refused to repent, there was no other option than to bring punishment. The evil empire had to be destroyed. First came the verbal warnings, then came the Ten Plagues as partial punishment. Since the plague warnings were also ignored, final judgment came at the time of the crossing of the Red Sea.
The prophecy in Malachi instructs us to remember the Torah of Moses. I believe that in the end of the End times, we will witness similar situations to these stories in the Law of Moses. Instead of the evil Egyptian emperor will come an evil world-wide leader, called the antichrist, with a monstrous and beastly government. Judgment must come, but before the judgment, because of God’s grace, will come moral confrontation and warning.
The people of God will release a prophetic message of coming judgment and a confrontation of sin and evil. That confrontation will demand a high level of purity on behalf of those giving the message; and a high level of spiritual authority to speak to worldly authorities, and also a high level of power for miraculous signs and warnings. The identity of this “Moses” or “Elijah” figure, or the timing of the events, is not the main issue. The essential point is the content of the message, the purpose of the prophecy, and the spirit and power in which it is given.
Taking our stand on the moral teachings of the Bible (Moses), and speaking boldly, even prophetically, to our generation (Elijah)– is the last great spiritual conflict of our age. It is the culmination of all the moral confrontations throughout history. It will be on the level of a worldwide Ten Plagues and Exodus, of the flood of Noah, and of the fiery overthrow of Sodom.
Elijah in his day also confronted sin. In particular, he had to confront the witchcraft, murders, and sexual immorality of Queen Jezebel. That conflict has become a symbol of all spiritual conflict in the same pattern throughout the ages (Revelation 2:20). The same sinful and rebellious spirit that characterized Jezebel is still active today; maybe more than ever.
That spirit is called “The Great Harlot” in Revelation chapters 17 – 19. As Elijah confronted Jezebel in his generation, we will have to confront the Great Harlot in our generation.
In the image of Elijah also came John the Baptist, who called for repentance in the years before the first appearance of Yeshua. He confronted Queen Herodias in his day just as Elijah confronted Jezebel in his.
Clearly, it was not Elijah himself who was to return, but another human being in the “spirit and power of Elijah” – Luke 1:17. So will it be in the end times, not Moses or Elijah or John, but people of God who come in a similar spirit and power.
This prophetic mandate is enormous. It is like combining Moses, Elijah, Noah, and Lot all together. The battle has already begun. Yes, there will be a final stage in which “Moses and Elijah”-like figures will appear. But the mandate is relevant to all of us as disciples of Yeshua at any time.
As John prepared his disciples for the first coming of Yeshua, we need to be prepared for the second.
We need to be getting ready now. The people of God must be “made ready” (Luke 1:17, Revelation 19:7). The world must be warned and offered grace. We are already coming into days “like Elijah” and “like Moses”.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel – Tikkun Global, June 28, 2022, and reposted with permission.