Sermon delivered July 31, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Elijah: His Y2K Message

Today is part five of the sermons series on Elijah, one of the greatest men of the Old Testament. I think you're going to be excited about the conclusion.

I saw seven characters all in a row. Let me just read them to you. R U Y 2 K O K. That's about all anybody can think about any more, it seems like. And it bothers me that people are spending more time and more money preparing for Y2K (Year 2 thousand, 2000 A.D.) than they are preparing to get Jesus into their hearts and to get into His kingdom. That's not good. I don't think much is going to happen with Y2K. I'm preparing for maybe a good snow storm or an outage of a week or two of some services missing. But is my soul Y2K ready? Is my heart ready for the times of trouble that are ahead of us? Am I ready for Jesus' coming? Am I ready for the spiritual end of the world? Am I going to experience the power outage at the end? Am I braced for the time of trouble? Am I going to lose communications with the control center of the universe in the near future? Many questions need solid answers.

I think Elijah's ministry and messages help to provide guidance for these last days. I hear a of all sorts of prognosticators who are telling me that this evil thing is going to happen and that evil thing is going to happen. Well, I want to find out what the Bible says is going to happen.

Let's finish up with Elijah here today. Last week we left Elijah standing at the mouth of the cave.

Come to I Kings 19:19-21. So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah... He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.

So in effect, Elisha burned his bridges and followed Elijah. Notice that Elisha was a very successful farmer before going into the ministry. You have to be a pretty good farmer to plow with twenty four oxen. That must have been a 10 bottom plow! (Of course it is possible that he had several men helping him and they used eleven yokes while he used the twelfth yoke.) Bur he was also successful as a minister.

Now, let's follow along with the life of Elijah. Come clear over to 2 Kings 2:1,2. This talks about Elijah being taken up to heaven, which was the next major experience in his life. When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. I like that. Elisha said, "I'm not leaving you. You are my mentor. You are my spiritual leader. You're the prophet of God. I'm not going to leave you. You know, it's a good idea to choose and stay close to godly people. That's what helps us to be strong as Christians. A blessing will surely rub off upon you if you do.

Verse 6-8 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on. He couldn't get rid of him, could he. He was not really wanting to get rid of him. Verse 7. Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. That's a miracle! Just like Moses performed.

Now verses 9-11. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours--otherwise not." As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Now, let's just stop there. That's basically the end of the life of Elijah on this earth, isn't it, because he was taken in a whirlwind of fire. Wouldn't I like to have seen that chariot of fire! And horses of fire! Have you ever seen horses of fire? It would be pretty hot. What a marvelous powerful Man of God. What a monumental leader we have in Elijah! He walked with God so closely that he was taken to heaven without ever seeing death. Elijah disappeared into the clouds on a celestial spaceship, the shuttle. Elisha was the last human being to see Elijah. And so ends the story of one of the greatest men in the whole Bible that we have been studying for five weeks. But, wait, it is not the end at all. Actually there was more about Elijah. Do you realize that in one hundred and eleven different mentionings in the bible, Elijah's name is found. Let's study some of these.

The real Elijah, body and all, was taken to heaven without seeing death. Bible scholars say he was "translated."n He went to heaven without dying. He is a sample of what will happen to the Christians who are living in the last days who will be taken to heaven. Let's read that over in First Corinthians.

I Corinthians 15:51,52. Here the apostle, Paul, is speaking, one of my favorite authors, and he says, Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, (That means we will not all be dead forever.) but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

So where are the dead today? They're in their graves. When will they be raised? At the last trumpet. How long will that take? In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. (Snap!) Just like that. They will be changed. They will be given eternal life. You can read it there in the following verses. That's what happened to Elijah. He's up in heaven now with a new body. The risen saints will be just like that.

Just like Elijah was taken up to heaven, we will be taken up to heaven. Prior to our ascension we will be instantly changed. Eye glasses will fall off; you're going to hate to lose you eyeglasses, aren't you. But you will be able to see. Your eyes will be better and more powerful than the best microscopes or telescopes. Crutches will be flung into the dust. We will be eternally immune to pain and suffering and all sickness and death. We will never experience fatigue or pain. Our knowledge of God will grow as we journey through eternity. We will be able to fly like eagles in space at speeds unknown to human beings as we go off to explore the vast victorious universe that God has made. Our vitality will be eternally fresh. The weather will be perfect. In fact, you won't have to listen to the weather forecast because it would be boring. Our hearts will be happy!

Listen to an awesome prediction about the reappearing of Elijah! Come over to the last two verses of the Old Testament: Malachi 4:5,6. Here is a prediction that Elijah will come again! 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."

And so ends the Old Testament with a promise that Elijah will come again. Did that happen? Just like he turned the people back to the true God after Mount Carmel, he would come and do it again. Did this happen? Just prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, Elijah would come and prepare the way for the Savior. And so this is the second Elijah. You see, there are two Elijah's in the Bible that are mentioned. Who was the second Elijah?

Come over here to Matthew eleven and let's find out who this is and when this happened. Matthew 11:11-14. These are the words of our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ. I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who 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 forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of 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.

So, who was the person who fulfilled Malachi 4:5,6? It was John the Baptist. He was the second Elijah. He was the one who was prophesied to come. And here Jesus plainly says that the Elijah who was predicted to come, was John the Baptist! God sent Gabriel the angel to announce the birth of John. (Luke 1:11) He came to his father, the priest Zacharias and this celestial being gave the good news that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a boy and they were to name him John.

Now, I have a question to ask you: Was John the Baptist actually Elijah? NO. He was John. He was the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth. Elijah and John the Baptist were two separate people. Because he called people to repent, just like Elijah did, and because led a reform movement, like Elijah did, and because he came down hard on sin, like Elijah, he was called Elijah. He basically carried on the same ministry that Elijah had done. Gabriel did not say that John would be an actual reincarnation of Elijah, (Of course that wouldn't happen because Elijah was still alive.) or that the living Elijah would descend from heaven to earth. But Jesus tells us, (and we can trust Jesus) that John was the fulfillment of that prophecy and that he did carry on the same basic authoritative message. John had a big assignment. He had to remove sin from the cold hearts of the frozen chosen. The Jews were frozen in orthodoxy and traditions and he had to break them loose from that. He did a marvelous job of it.

An additional mention of Elijah is found in Matthew 16:13-16. Let's read about Elijah here. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And how right he was. Jesus is not just some created being. Jesus is God.

Some folk thought that Jesus was the Elijah who was predicted to come. But even though Jesus was a reformer, even though He pointed out sin, even though He led people to a high relationship with God, and called for repentance, He was not Elijah. John the Baptist was Elijah. Jesus was God in human flesh.

Well, there's another mentioning of Elijah here in the Bible. Look at Matthew 17:1-4. After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." Well, Peter was just going to do it, wasn't he. "BI will do this." Now, was that really Elijah? That was really Elijah, wasn't it, and really Moses and really Jesus. The three of them were all there together.

    To be transfigured is to be mutated or transformed into a new state. Here stood a sample of each class of people. Think about this for a minute.
  1. --Moses was there. Now what class does Moses represent? He represents those who died and were resurrected. Moses is an sample of all who would die the first death and be resurrected back to life at the second coming.
  2. --Elijah was translated without seeing death. Now, he was a sample of all those who would live at the end and be taken without experiencing the first death. Now I believe we're living in the last days. So he was a sample of those who do not die the first death.
  3. --Jesus was the power that accomplished both. Jesus was a sample of one Who died the second death but not the first death. And how many people are in that category? Just one, and that's Jesus.

All three were visitors to planet earth. All three were residents of heaven. All three had eternal life. Although the first two had conditional eternal life, because it was conditional. The condition was that Jesus' ministry would be successful. Their continued eternal life depended on the successful completion of Christ's ministry in living the perfect life and dying for our sins.

And so we come to the end of the appearances and the mentioning of Elijah, this mighty man of God. Or do we? No! There's still more! There's more here. I've got to share this with you, because look again closely at Malachi 4:5. Listen to how this reads! I don't think this is totally fulfilled. See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. When is the great and dreadful day of the Lord? Well, let's let the Bible answer that question.

Was the first coming of Christ the great and dreadful day of the Lord? No! Come over to Joel 2. Now Joel was one of the minor prophets and look at Joel 2:28-31. And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, (Did you know that women would prophesy in the last days?) your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

So, when is the great and dreadful day of the Lord? When will all this happen? It's at the end of the world! When the sun grows dark, when the moon turns red, when the people are prophesying, and that's at the end of the world. So here we go again. Obviously there is still going to be a third Elijah. It looks to me like it is. Just prior to the second coming of Jesus. What is the Bible talking about? Who is the Elijah of Y2K and beyond? Who is the Elijah of these last times of the history of the world? Who are we looking for? I believe it's not one person. Now I'm just thinking about this, trying to figure out who this is. I think it is the last day Christian people who prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. I think Elijah and John the Baptist were representatives of those who are living in the last days to whom God has entrusted the sacred truths of the Bible to present to the people the prepare the way of the Lord.

I had a man come up to me and say, "I am the Elijah of the last days. I'm preaching that message. I'm doing that work." I said, "Well, that's interesting." And he said, "Yes, John the Baptist did that. And I'm doing the same work that John the baptist did. John the Baptist pointed out sin." And this man started to criticize our church and telling me all the bad things about Christians today and all these terrible things that are going on in the leadership. And I asked him a question, "Have you baptized anybody?" "Oh, no," he said, "I don't give any Bible studies, I point out sin." And I said, "We know John the Baptist. He was not known as John the Criticizer, but John the Baptist. he pointed out sin, yes, but he pointed people to Jesus. You've got to have a positive message. You can't come down on sin without having the full message." God's last day Elijah's need to get out and preach. God's last day people. I think the third Elijahs are the ones who proclaim the truths of the Bible for the last days, and point others to Jesus Christ. They point out sin, yes the do. But they point people to Jesus Christ.

You could be one of the third Elijahs. Anybody who is seeking to be like Jesus, who is seeking to turn as many as possible to the Savior, who is seeking to bring the message of Jesus to as many people as possible. Those are the Elijahs.

Remember the heavy rain that the first Elijah brought down upon the parched earth? The third Elijah is that group of saints who experience the latter rain! They share the power with others. They experience repentance, success, rejuvenation, and joy in Jesus. They have a saving relationship with Him.

Like Elijah who eventually triumphed over Jezebel, the last day Elijah people will rise above the fear of the death decree and proclaim the last saving message of the three angels of Revelation 14.

I am pleased to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. We're not the only ones who are going to be saved. But I believe a lot of our people are really into the relationship with Jesus that is a saving relationship.

Let me share some good news about our church. Did you know that in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which now has a membership of almost eleven million, did you know that there are fourteen stat of the United States that are smaller than the Seventh-day Adventist Church? We are a major church. We used to be one of the smallest churches. I am very pleased with the growth of our church.

God has been blessing our church. Here in America we have a population of some two hundred sixty million people. Of those, they tell us, that on any given Sunday, and given Sabbath, two hundred million are not in church. They're unchurched. Do you know where the heaviest concentration of these unchurched people are? Most are on the West coast. All up and down: California, Oregon and clear up to Washington. And do you know where the Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing the fastest? Up and down the west coast. Did you know that in Oregon and Washington and parts of Idaho, what we call the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists that out of every sixty-four people you see is a Seventh-day Adventist? Here in the United Sates! That's amazing! Our church is growing. The Lord is blessing.

Did you know that there are a total of one hundred seventy two nations in the world and that only fifty six of these nations are larger than the Seventh-day Adventist Church! One hundred sixteen nations are smaller than our church is! We have a message to give, and the Lord is blessing this church phenomenally. And I think it's because people want to get back to the Bible. They wan to get back to Jesus. And if we ever drift from that we're going the wrong direction. Let us give the Elijah message with all personal the energies we command. Let us come out of our caves of sin like Elijah did and preach the truth to this dying world. We have had too many killings in Atlanta. There have been too many killings in Columbine, Colorado. Too many people are going berserk. We are living in an age when people are poisoning their bodies with drugs, they are filling their minds with garbage and calling it entertainment. They are going down the tubes.

America is fast becoming the greatest mission field in the world. Make sure you know Jesus as your personal Savior. It is time we got back to God. That we get back to the Bible. Have you read the Bible this morning? You have no business being a Seventh-day Adventist unless you are a man or woman of the Bible. You need to be into the Word. The world is going down the tubes. America is fast becoming a mission field, darker than Africa. We need to know Jesus. We need to preach Jesus. Then, Let us point others to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Some day soon Jesus will come and you and I will get to see Him face to face. We will get to see good old Elijah face to face. I want to pray for a double quantity of zealousness of Elijah in my life, that I can help finish the work and we can go home. I urge you to take the message of Elijah home with you, get into the Word, get on your knees, to be a person of quality for Jesus Christ.

Our closing Hymn says to "Take Time to be Holy." You know, it takes time to be like Jesus. It takes time to grow, time to change. I appeal to you to give your heart to Jesus today and help others to find Him so that we can all go home together.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.  

Opening Hymn:  #371  Lift Him Up
Scripture reading:  I Kings 18:20-21
Closing Hymn:  #500  Take Time to be Holy


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