Elijah never died. Celestial chariots of fire and a whirlwind carried him away.
Since his body wasn’t destroyed, some Jews consider it reasonable that he can return. Malachi’s promise leads many Jews to believe that Elijah will become the advance man for the Messiah-or as Isaiah put it, “the voice of someone shouting, ‘Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD!. . . Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together’ ” (Isaiah 40:3,5).
At each springtime Passover meal, Jews set out a cup for Elijah in case he should come. And at circumcision ceremonies, they reserve a chair for him.
But Christians teach that Elijah has already come-symbolically and literally.
Symbolically. Jesus said John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy. “He is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come” (Matthew 11:14). John qualified as Jesus’ advance man by preaching about repentance and by introducing him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Literally. Later, before Jesus’ crucifixion, Elijah and Moses both met with Jesus on a hilltop known as the Mount of Transfiguration. That’s where Jesus’ body temporarily transfigured into a glowing celestial form. “His clothes become dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them” (Mark 9:3).
Malachi ends with the world waiting for the Messiah. Matthew, the next book in the Christian Bible, begins with the Messiah’s arrival as a newborn baby boy: Jesus.
MALACHI 4:5-6- “I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.