The Jews believed that Elijah’s return would precede the coming of the Messiah. Elijah was taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot (2Kings) and thus was considered not to have died a mortal death! This left room in their minds to allow for the notion that he would some day return. Some Jewish families would set an extra seat at the Passover celebration in case Elijah arrived at that time.
This may seem a somewhat quaint sort of an idea, however, it came to represent a very important notion for the Jewish people. That is, there is a constant need to be vigilant and always prepared for the coming of the Messiah. It would not do to be caught unawares of His Coming! We see this theme of preparation and alertness carried through into our Christian faith in terms of being prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus. We do not know when that will be. Yes, there will be signs that will precede Christ’s return, however, there is no way to predict the date or time. Thus, the only effective response is to remain alert at all times!
Spiritually this requires us to be constant in our prayers and daily disciplines. We cannot afford to slacken our commitment to them, as this will only allow the enemy to get behind our defences to do his evil work. Let us pray that we will not allow this to happen!
Jesus indicates that the belief of the Jews was not too far wrong in the John the Baptist has preceded Him in order to prepare the way for the proclamation of the Gospel. He may not be the person of Elijah, but his life is very closely in tune with that of his great forbear. The tragedy is that so many of the Jews did not see that John the Baptist was moving in the spirit of Elijah! Would we have done any better than them? I do not know and the question is somewhat irrelevant. What is relevant is how well are we prepared to welcome Jesus should He come again in a few minutes. I bet that if you honestly answer this question you will be forced to admit that your preparation has been lacking!
What can I do NOW to help in my preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus? It may not be tomorrow, but we can never be sure. It is better to be safe, … than sorry!
Lord Jesus, the world failed on the whole to recognise you when you came into our midst the first time. I pray, that by your grace, we will be ready to welcome you when you come again.