There are over 330 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah that are only fulfilled in Jesus. As if that was not enough, God told them He would send someone ahead of the Messiah to announce His arrival.
Malachi 4:5-6 says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Every year during the Passover, the Seder meal is celebrated. Typically, a cup of wine is set on the table as an invitation for Elijah to join the family. They were waiting for one to come in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for “the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
Matthew 11:13-14 boldly speaks of John the Baptist as being the Elijah who was told would come, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” John opened the door for the Messiah (Jesus).
In Mark 9:11-13, the people are told that John came as Elijah and was not received well, “And they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ And he said to them, ‘Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.’” Mark acknowledged that they knew Elijah would come and that they ignored him.
Luke 1:17 speaks about John the Baptist by saying, “And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” He later adds, “This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:27-28).
After 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament, God sent a prophet to pave the way for His Son. John came in the spirit of Elijah. He pointed all who would listen to Jesus. We should do the same.