“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal4:5,6NAS; Mal3:23-24 in Catholic editions)
So ends the Old Testament. From one perspective that prophecy was undoubtedly referring to John the Baptist, for such was his annunciation:
But the angel said to him, “do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (lk1:13-17)
But from the dual perspective outlined in my book* much of this is yet to happen for the “great and terrible day of the Lord” has been put on hold in view of the “fellowship pertaining to the secret plan hidden in God from the previous age” (Eph3:9-11), in which Gentiles were unexpectedly included amongst the people destined with faithful Jews to be a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy ‘nation’, a peculiar people to show forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light (1Pet2:9). The task of enlightening, restoring and above all uniting such a people so that a unified witness might be provided before the end of current arrangements on Earth (cf. Mt24:14) would appear to be needed. As for the “fathers and children” needing reconciliation I have come to understand it to be referring to our Jewish fathers of the faith and their Gentile children on the one hand and Catholic/Orthodox believers with the children of the Reformation on the other.
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Illustration: The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) – courtesy Wikipedia