“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.”Malachi 4:5-6
I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but the final words of the Old Testament point us to the future and I think the passage above refers to two different people. First, the New Testament introduces us to John the Baptist who was a type of Elijah who prepared the way ahead of Jesus’ ministry, but I think it also refers to a future appearance by Elijah who was taken up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). I think it is likely that Elijah is one of the two witnesses in the eleventh chapter of Revelation.
Importantly, we learn that the message of Elijah precedes the “great and awesome day of the Lord.” There will be a day when everything is set right.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4
And so Elijah’s message is intended to prepare all of us. The hearts of Fathers will turn to the children and the hearts of children to their fathers. God’s intent is to restore, but the message of reconciliation is already here. Let us do what we can to turn our hearts to God and to our families.