Who is Elijah?
Beyond doubt, Elijah of Tishbe is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. He appears unexpectedly in Book I of Kings without his parents being mentioned and it seems there is no story of his childhood.
But the importance of his role is fundamental: he is the forerunner signaled with all clarity in the Book of Malachi as the prophet who was to precede the Messiah on His first coming as well in the time of His Advent in the final time in this Third Era.
That he left an unerasable track in all the cultures of ancient times is suggested by the fact that the symbol of the chariot of fire, the sun that seems to be in flames, appears in the mythology of diverse cultures, such as in the Greek myth of Helios.
In the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus tells His disciples that Elijah, who was to come according to the prophecy of Malachi, at that moment had already come, and the disciples understood that He was talking of John the Baptist. In Luke 1:17, the angel that appears before Zacharias to announce that, regardless of the advanced age of his wife and him, a son would be granted to them by God, says irrefutabily: “…and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah…”
Let’s review what Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist reveals in Luke 1:76 concerning this when he says: “… and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways.” in clear referrence to the passage of Malachi 4:5,6.
But that’s not all: Further on, in Luke 1:78, Zacharias says : “…whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us…” The symbolic association of Elijah with the sun, the chariot of fire, appears also in Revelation 7:2 in the passage relating to the opening of the Sixth Seal when the prophet John sees “another angel ascending from the east…”
Coincidence? Maybe not.
Some scholars disagree about this analysis of the texts by quoting the passage where John the Baptist, when questioned by priests and Levites (in those times, the priests were kin to the Sadduceans) if he was Elijah, the prophet, he answers : “I am not.” But, of course! What else could he have answered? He was John the Baptist at that moment, but he had in him the spirit and power of Elijah, just as Jesus reveals it to the apostles later on. To understand this well, one must remember the passage of Isaiah 62:2 that reads: “…and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name…”
If those men had asked him, “Do you carry within you the spirit of Elijah? ” they would certainly have obtained an affirmative answer which another evangelist, Mark, puts in the lips of the Divine Master: “…But I say unto you, That Elijah is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they wished, just as it is written of him”(Mark 9:13) and Mathew 11:14 confirms it: “… and if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.”