The Gilt of Prophecy the Supreme Need of Our Age
Malachi 4:5-6
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:…

A strange and weird figure is this of the prophet Elijah, the Tishbite. A unique person, with a unique mission. John the Baptist was one of his spiritual successors, and the greatest. , perhaps, was another, and Martin Luther, and perhaps John Wesley; or, at least, these latter have been like Eliseus, catching up his mantle, baptised with a potion of his spirit. They have been the men who have accomplished the great social and spiritual revelations of the world. Rough, earnest, strong-willed men most of them, not given to mince their words or to stand upon courtesies; but they have been the men to keep alive the flame of religion, and to prevent its dying out. Mark their ages, and then compare the work of the man with the needs of his age. There were giants in the earth in those days, and people say we shall never see giants again. The individual grows less as the world grows more. Knowledge has got to be so diffused, and the elements of life so manifold, society so vast and complicated, that an Elijah whom all would recognise as a messenger from God seems impossible. The age of prophets, at least of Elijahs of the old type, has passed away. Yet, though no Elijah, there may be an Elisha; though no Isaiah, yet a Malachi. St. Paul tells us that prophecy is the highest gift bestowed by Christ upon His Church; and it is certain that all who feel that our call is to proclaim God's truth to men may well pray to be endowed with a portion of it. Whatever spiritual gifts may have been necessary or profitable to the Church at other times, I am persuaded that the gift of prophecy is the most necessary and profitable now. Men felt the difference between a Paul and a Philetus, for Paul spoke "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." A man may well pray for a portion of this power, and for grace to use it in the noblest cause. It is not eloquence, it is not popularity, it is not the power of attracting the crowd; it is something impalpable, but most real, when men bend their wills and hearts and consciences before the uttered truth. It is strange how even educated men misread the signs of the times. This age wants, and is prepared to receive, not the priest, but the prophet: not the man who claims to stand between them and God, and says, "No access to the Heavenly Father but by me"; but the man who can teach the truth, and help them, in their blindness, and waywardness, and ignorance, to discern the way of peace and righteousness. The prophet must be in earnest, or men will not receive him as a prophet; must himself believe his message, or he will carry no conviction to his hearers. We have a message able to stir the most phlegmatic feeling, and to arouse the dullest conscience, if only we knew how to deliver it. If our own hearts have found out the secret, we can speak of present peace and joy in believing, of the kingdom of God standing in righteousness, of the nearness of a Father to us in our dangers, difficulties, troubles. There are those who can speak of these things with a strange and moving power, and their arguments will rise high above the clouds of doubt and speculation, till they seem to bring us almost face to face with God. Such men are in very truth the Lord's prophets; such teachers build on immovable ground the fabric of faith. They are sure and trustworthy guides; for they are leading men to God through grace by the ways of holiness: they have themselves travelled, or are now travelling the road; they are testifying to us out of their own experience; they speak that which they know. It is a faith thus quickened, and faith cometh by hearing," that vitalises sacraments and prayers and worship. Without such faith, all these things are dead; with it they become living, quickening powers. It is the spirit of the prophet, before all other gifts, that the Churches need to enable them to evangelise the world.

(Bishop Fraser.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

WEB: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.

The Day of Divine Manifestation
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