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Who was the messenger or Elijah prophesied in Malachi?


“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.  Malachi 1-4
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”  Malachi 4:5-6
            The “Elijah” Malachi promised turned out to be John the Baptist who arrived 400 years later from the writing of the book.
            John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin and prepared the people’s hearts for the great coming the Lord.  Little did everyone suspect that it would be God literally in human flesh, coming in the form of Jesus.
            And it was Jesus who confirmed John the Baptist’s “Elijah” identity.
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.  Matthew 11:7-15
            John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, a prophet, a proclaimer of truth, though not a miracle worker like Elijah was.  He was not literally Elijah, who later showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration next to Jesus and Moses.
            God’s final words in the Old Testament were to prepare people for Jesus’ coming and John the Baptist’s preaching in the wilderness would be the next great sign that God was coming soon.