The Fulfillment of Malachi 4:5
This article is one in a series of studies on the doctrines of William Branham that pointed to himself - you are currently on the article that is in bold:
William Branham taught that he was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. This is a foundational doctrine of the message.
As a result of our research, we have had countless people email us asking the question: "If Bro. Branham wasn't the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5, then who is?"
The problem with this question is that it starts with an assumption that a Gentile Elijah must come. But is this assumption correct? Do we have to look for a Gentile prophet to fulfill Malachi 4:5?
Here are a number of views that most message believers should consider when asking this question. We should also add that we are not pointing to any man, church, denomination or system. People need Jesus Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
The questions that need to be asked when looking at William Branham's interpretation of Malachi 4 are as follows:
These questions and others are answered below.
Who was Malachi's message directed to?
William Branham claims that the message of the prophet Malachi was to both Israel and to the Gentiles. But look at the plain wording of the opening statement of the Book of Malachi:
Malachi's message was to Israel. That is what the Bible says. It does not say it is to Israel and to the Gentiles at the end-times.
The spirit of Elijah, and the spirit of Jesus
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is." (Mt 11:11).
The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.
Because every true Christian has the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which is far greater than the spirit of Elijah!
Why would we need the spirit of Elijah when each believer possesses something greater?
Are we falling short of what God intended for believers by looking for the spirit of Elijah when, in fact, we possess something much greater? Are we really living and attaining to the level of spiritual life that God intends for us?
Malachi 4 vs. Malachi 3
William Branham stated that John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi 3 but did not fulfill Malachi 4.
However, Jesus told his disciples, referring to John, that "if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come." (Matt 11:14)
The problem is that there is only one reference to Elijah in Malachi, and that is in Malachi 4. So how could William Branham's interpretation that John did not fulfill Malachi 4 be correct if Jesus specifically referred to John the Baptist as Elijah, a direct reference to Malachi 4?
Jesus said, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” (Mt 17:11b)
This statement has been interpreted by some to mean that Elijah’s spirit is needed again as John the Baptist did not restore all things.
This presents two problems.
First, this ignores Jesus statement, “that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed… Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” (Mt 17:12-13)
In other words, John the Baptist introduced Jesus Christ, who was the only person able to restore man to their intended condition. When John bore witness of the light, he was pointing the way back to the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word,”(John 1:1a) and John the Baptist restored that Word to the people.
Second, Jesus said that the Holy Ghost would “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26). Why would Elijah be needed if we have the Holy Spirit to teach us all things, and if it is the Spirit himself that brings all things to remembrance?
Turning the hearts
An angel prophecied to Zacharias, before the birth of John the Baptist, that he would “go before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17).
The first, second, and fourth parts of this verse are very clear. The third part says, “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” Since it is usually children who are disobedient, and usually parents who have wisdom, this part of the verse should be interpreted to read “to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.” In this case, the fathers refer to the patriarchs, while the children are interpreted as disobedient people of Israel. The patriarchs are the fathers, the great ancestors of the present sinners. From their vantage-point in the next world, they looked at their descendants and were displeased. But John would bring about such a change that the fathers would come to look with favour on Israel. Similarly John would change the disobedient so that they accepted the wisdom of the just (as in Prov. 4). The result would be a people prepared for the Lord. It is not the disobedience of children to parents that is meant, but that of the Jews to God.
As a result, there is no half-scripture left for Elijah to fulfill.
The Great and Dreadful Day
Malachi 4:5 says that Elijah will come before:
The Hebrew word translated as "dreadful" in the KJV includes the meanings "to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe; or, to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe.”
William Branham, relies on the "dreadful" interpretation of this Hebrew word when he states in the Church Age Book, See, immediately after the coming of THIS Elijah, the earth will be cleansed by fire and the wicked burned to ashes. Of course, this did NOT happen at the time of John (the Elijah for his day.)
However, if the true meaning is “awesome” rather than “dreadful, then this verse is not stating that Elijah will come before judgement. It is stating that he will come prior to the first coming of Jesus. Malachi 4:6 then goes on to say that God will strike the earth if Elijah never comes.
Another possible interpretation
If someone says, "I don't believe your interpretation. I think it is referring to judgment.", then we don't have to look very far.
The nation of Israel was judged in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple was destroyed. It was also announced prophetically by Jesus in Matthew 24. Jesus announced that the Temple would be destroyed.
The following paragraphs are all based on the KJV:
When Jesus was on earth, his ministry was to proclaim “the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:19). Jesus also said that he would send the “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost” (John 14:26a). Isaiah 61:2 says that the ministry of the Messiah (Christ, the anointed) was to “proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn”.
As a result, the “day of vengeance of our God” is not the tribulation, but the day of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. That was the day that Jesus Christ suffered God's wrath and vengeance for sin on our behalf.
The Law and the Prophets were until John
Jesus said that “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:13-15).
Paul taught that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4). So, if the law has no dominion over Christians after Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to us by faith, then the judgment of the prophets (including Elijah) also have no dominion over us by the same faith.
Note what Peter said:
The Old Testament had false prophets but what we were to watch for in the New Testament is false teachers.
Elijah’s 4th coming
William Branham stated that Elijah was to come FIVE times:
But in his haste to point to himself, did William Branham forget another coming of Elijah?
Peter spoke to Jesus on Mount Transfiguration and said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (Matthew 17:4)
He said this because he had seen Moses and Elijah with Jesus. This is the second appearing of Elijah in the New Testament and the fourth in the Bible.
So if William Branham's biblical interpretation is correct and the spirit of Elihjah was to appear five time, then there is no room for a Gentile Elijah.
Quotes of William Branham
Audio Letter to Lee Vayle (May 1964, Tucson, AZ)
QUESTIONS.AND.ANSWERS.4 JEFF.IN 64-0830E
PROVING.HIS.WORD LA.CA 65-0426
65-1204 - The Rapture