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When Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them,”[1] He did not limit Himself to the fulfilment of prophecies concerning Himself only, but rather, His statement is a blanket overshadowing, overall, of all prophecies.  Just as Christ’s fulfilment of the law was not just doing all that was commanded, so that only the blessings of obedience were on His life, He fulfilled it so that the curses were also upon His life.  So cursed did Christ become as He fulfilled the law that He was hung from a man made tree with nails grafting Him in.  It was a graphic reality of the true Tree of Life being engrafted into the tree of man, making the two one.

Christ’s fulfilment of the prophets likewise extended beyond just the prophecies about Himself, but also about Israel, the world and Creation.  Every prophecy in the Old Testament has been, is and will always be fulfilled in Christ and through Christ.  As such, one thing we must learn is to look at Old Testament prophecies and their fulfilment in and through Jesus and not through our perception and understanding.

As an example of what Jesus meant when He said, “I have come to fulfil… the prophets.”  Take the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 where God said through Malachi, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Because of that prophecy from the days of Malachi, Jews, and lately even Christians, have been expecting God to send Elijah back.  Indeed, just as some said in Jesus’ days that He was Elijah[2] and others asked John the Baptist, “Are you Elijah?”[3] for they were rightly expecting Elijah to come back, so we have had preachers lay claim that they are the Elijah who is to come.  A most notable one being William Branham who apparently claimed to be the Elijah that was to come, and indeed, there may still be disciples of Branham who are waiting for him to return.

You are disciples of Jesus Christ, and you are waiting for Jesus to return, not Elijah.  However, how Jesus treated and fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6 will give you the insight and wisdom needed to correctly begin to discern prophecy and its fulfilment.  You will begin to learn to see why errors are made in regard to prophecy.

Now, in Christians, prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and for some individuals, that gift can be developed by God until they are ushered into the office of the prophet by God’s choice.  Prophecy is a gift that all who are baptised with the Holy Spirit have available for them to use—they only need to ask as one asks for a gift that they may use it and enjoy it.  However, the gift of prophecy does not, will not, and has never made a person a prophet.  The failure to distinguish the workings of gifts in a person and the person working in the office or calling has been a source of error when it comes to the prophetic.

Any prophecy must be tested, and from our perspective and indeed every Christian’s perspective if they have been discipled properly, it is based on firstly the recognition of the voice.  “My sheep know… My voice.”[4]  That is why we must teach others to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who tells us what is yet to come; and knowing what is yet to come is the gift of prophecy.  Telling others what is yet to come is not the gift of prophecy.  I repeat, telling others what is yet to come is not the gift, but the office, the work and role of the prophet.  Being told by the Holy Spirit what is yet to come is the gift!  The telling of others what is yet to come is the beginning of the calling into the prophetic office.  God uses you to tell those who cannot and do not recognise His voice in order to test you for humility, obedience, sincerity and honesty, to see if you are fit to be a prophet.

After we recognise the voice, then we test the context and the content of the message.  Again, prophecy is not a matter of quoting or claiming scripture, but rather, to see it in context, and for us, it is from the context of Jesus Christ.  You see, a prophecy can hold very different meanings, depending on your perspective, as you will learn from Malachi 4:5-6 and its application.

And finally, the fruit, as Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognise them.”[5]  However, the fruit of a prophet is not just whether what he says happens, for Moses clearly warned:  “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods… and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.”[6]

Thus, the manifestation of what is prophesied is not the test of a prophet.  And furthermore, a prophet’s character is no test, even if he appears to be displaying the fruits of the spirit of love, joy, peace, etc.  Elisha and Elijah were not known for their so-called fruits of the spirit, as they called fire down from Heaven and curses upon boys who teased them; neither Jonah, for he ran away.

The fruit Christ spoke of is the fruit of the True Vine that they would be engrafted into, that not only do their prophecies come to pass that they have the fruits of the Spirit, but that their whole focus must be on the fulfilment of the prophecies of Jesus —accurately!

It is this failure to understand the difference between the gift and the office of prophecy and a prophet and what Jesus meant by the fruit of a prophet that has led to the deception of countless people, especially those who believed in the predictions of Jesus’ day of arrival.  We do not know the day, except that it is a day called today, and even if we did know, we would never tell, for that would contradict Jesus’ words.  You can ask God for the day, for God knows, and God can tell you, for Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.”[7]  But once you know, you can never tell.  However, by your life people will know if you know. 

So, the test of a prophet is his fruit:  Who does he call you to believe and worship by his message that is confirmed with signs and wonders.  You will also soon realise why it takes the people who know their God to resist the beast and the false prophet, for the skill of the false prophet is such that his voice and content of message are near perfect, just not the context.  And he will not show his true fruit until he breaks the treaty when he knows the arrival of Jesus is imminent, and he will have to help the beast gather the kings and their armies to prevent the arrival of Jesus Christ.  That then is the true poison of the fruit of the false prophet.  His prophecies have firstly nothing to do with the return of Jesus and His millennium, thus his prophecies are designed to delay the return of Jesus. 

So then, how did Jesus apply Malachi 4:5-6?  We know that Elijah did come back, for he stood next to Jesus with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration as it is recorded:  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.[8]  Yet when the disciples asked Him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus said, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.  But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but have does to him everything they wished.  In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”[9]  Did you see those words of Jesus again?!?!  “But I tell you…”  Just like what He said about the law:  “Again you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’  But I tell you.  Do not swear at all; either by Heaven…”[10]

This phrase of four words of Jesus, “But I tell you…” when He taught on the law and now about Malachi’s prophecy of Elijah, is the key to the application of law and prophecy.  It is not just what is written, it is what Jesus says it means that counts.  Listen again:  It is not just what is written, it is what Jesus says it means that counts.  There was Elijah standing there on the mount next to Jesus as if in fulfilment of Malachi 4:5-6, but there was a problem for the disciples.  Jesus arrived before Elijah, contrary to popular teaching and the word of God, for it is clearly written in Malachi 4:5-6:  “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes…”

God said, “Before,” not “After,” but Jesus had come before Elijah arrived.  Now Jesus said, “But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him…”  At this point in time, you would be correct in saying that Jesus is spinning or twisting this prophecy around to suit Himself.  He came before Elijah— how can He say Elijah has already come?

Amazingly it is written:  Then the disciples understood that He was talking to them about John the Baptist.[11]  Now, what just happened?  See that they understood that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist, and it is not that they believed, supposed, thought, proposed or agreed— no, they understood that Jesus was speaking of John the Baptist.

First of all, how can Jesus mean John the Baptist as being the Elijah who was to come?  After all, they are not the same man.  Jesus’ authority to say the John the Baptist is the Elijah to come was because of the prophecy given by the angel:  “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”[12] 

So, did John the Baptist fulfil this?  Yes, in spirit and power.  How could Jesus say that?  Because the Elijah to come “will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” was the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6.  For Jesus, that prophecy was fulfilled through John the Baptist when, at the River Jordan, as Jesus was being baptised, he heard the Father say to Jesus, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”[13]  Perhaps inside Jesus, His heart was turned to the Father in a way we do not yet understand, but may be found in His reply to John when John said, “I need to be baptised by You, and do You come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.”[14]  You see, the fulfilment of Malachi 4:5-6 had only taken place in Jesus’ eyes.  Only He knew how John the Baptist fulfilled that word to the letter for Him.

You can still argue Malachi 4:5-6 remains unfulfilled because the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” has not yet come.  Indeed, many think that way, for to them the great and dreadful day of the Lord is Judgement Day when they will face judgement.  How dreadful for them!  That is it right there.  It is always about them —not about the Lord!  That is the fruit of false prophets.  It is never about the Lord, but it is about them and themselves.  Watch yourselves from here on closely.  To us, the great and dreadful day of the Lord is Judgement Day when we are self-centred like spoilt children who do not relish being brought to account. 

But what is the great and dreadful day of the Lord to the Lord?  Is it not the day of His suffering and crucifixion?  To Him, is that not THE GREAT DAY—THE DAY OF ATONEMENT for all?  And is that not HIS DREADFUL DAY, when every punishment of every sin was laid on Him?  Jesus Christ suffered that day in a way no other single individual can suffer.  For on Him and Him alone, God laid the punishment of ALL sin once for all.  You may suffer for your sins and even the sins of your forefathers, but you will never suffer for all the sins of all men.  See this truth and you will only see Jesus from now on.  Oh, selfish wretches that we are!  Always concerned for our own well-being while presuming on the well-being of God.  Although it is true that God would not tell you if He were hungry, you should ask at least, and not wait for Him to ask.

So then, the application of that prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 by Jesus was such that it was fulfilled in His context, for His purpose, and by His saying, “But I tell you…”  The only other witnesses that John the Baptist is the Elijah who is to come were the Father and the Holy Spirit.  For the law requires all things to be confirmed by two or more witnesses, but for those who are dead according to the law through faith in Christ Jesus, there is only one witness needed:  Jesus Christ.  That is why the Father said, “Listen to Him!”[15]

So, how could a man like William Branham claim that he was John the Baptist, the Elijah who is to come?  Although he knew the power of God for he had a powerful ministry of signs and wonders and preached salvation in Christ’s Name, and although he knew scriptures, he didn’t really know Jesus, for if you really know Jesus, you would always listen for these four words of His, “But I tell you…” concerning all matters of law and the prophets.

If you have learned that Jesus stands alone as the Witness of the Father with no other man as His co-witness, except the Holy Spirit whom the world cannot see anyway, then you will realise whatever Jesus says, no matter how incredible and unbelievable and illogical it appears, there are no other collaborating testimonies to the truth of His testimony.  Either you believe what you have heard or you do not.  It is this understanding of the words of Jesus that will allow you to apply His words in prophecy accurately and live a life that testifies to your expectations of testimony of Christ.

Your faith in the words of Jesus, the degree to which you can believe what Jesus said and how far you are prepared to believe and practise, to come to know and understand, will determine the richness of your eternal life.  A richness not measured by worldly wealth, not even by powerful signs, wonders and miracles, but measured by a faithfulness to wait for the revelations to come to pass, and though He tarries, we will wait and not presume to die so that He may welcome us into Heaven, but live and never die so that when He arrives, He will find His church faithfully waiting for Him on the Mount of Olives and throughout the ends of the Earth.

Indeed, the false prophet will do his hallmark miracle and cause fire to come down from Heaven[16] as proof that he is the Elijah who is to come to prepare the way of the Lord —the lord who is the first beast who “will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.”[17]  The false prophet will, by his power exercising authority on behalf of the first beast, help deceive many that the beast is indeed the Lord who is to come, and what we will have is the false prophet who claims to be Elijah installing the false Christ who claims to be God in the temple of God.  And in so doing, refute what is written in scriptures about what Jesus said.

The people who know their God who will resist them, are the ones who remember that Jesus said, “But I tell you…”  It matters not what anyone else says, it is what Jesus says that matters, for the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him.”

Jesus, we are listening, for we know Your testimony is the spirit of prophecy.

[1] Matthew 5:17

[2] Luke 9:19

[3] John 1:21

[4] John 10:14,16 (4)

[5] Matthew 7:15-16

[6] Deuteronomy 13:1-3

[7] John 16:24

[8] Matthew 17:3

[9] Matthew 17:10-12

[10] Matthew 5:33-34

[11] Matthew 17:13

[12] Luke 1:17

[13] Luke 3:22

[14] Matthew 3:14-15

[15] Mathew 17:5; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:35

[16] Revelation 13:13

[17] Daniel 11:37


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