The Prophecy of Turned Hearts (Matt. 17:10)
God ordained prophets to play a key role in informing people about His will. Prophets such as Elijah played a leading role in Israel. They were appointed to the prophetic office to teach the people about God’s commandments and foretell the future.
Malachi 4:5, 6 mentions a forerunner, likened to Elijah, who turns the hearts of men and women “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The disciples reference this prophecy in Matthew 17:10. In response, Jesus indicates that Elijah already came in the person of John the Baptist, who turned the hearts of many people before the coming of the Messiah.
Each time we shift our focus from the living God to some worldly, sensual gratification, we plunge into sin.
With a powerful message of repentance, John, as had Elijah, called people to Christ. However, many of the prophets’ hearers opposed them and their messages. The messages of John and Elijah pointed people to Christ, who is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s prophetic message. Genuine messengers of God perform a noble task of turning the hearts of people to Christ in preparation for the kingdom of God.
Family Reunion (1 Kings 17:13)
The story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath highlights the fact that in many instances, to accomplish His purposes, God uses what man has neglected. In a drought-stricken land, He provides a means to feed Elijah, His prophet. For quite a while, Elijah survived on food brought to him by the ravens while drinking water from the brook Cherith. As the drought persisted, the brook dried up, but Elijah believed that God would provide. God directed him to a widow in Zarephath, a woman whom the prophet did not know.
In dire situations like that of Elijah, God surrounds His people with His love and protection. God had already spoken, but not to the rich men and women of Sidon; He had spoken to a poor widow to host His messenger. God goes before His messengers.
“It is God’s way, and it is his glory, to make use of, and put honour upon, the weak and foolish things of the world.”1
The widow obeyed Elijah’s words even though she did not believe in his God. Her obedience yielded unfathomable blessings, which included the miracles of multiplication and resurrection. As we look forward to the second coming of Christ, we should remember that one act of kindness accorded to God’s messenger could be the opportunity to turn our hearts to God and His promises.
Turning Hearts at the Altar (1 Kings 18:21)
The contest at Mount Carmel clearly illustrated the stark difference between light and darkness, evil and truth, God and Satan. In this situation, Elijah calls people’s attention to the fact that life involves choices that people have to make on a daily basis. Moreover, all choices have consequences. Therefore, each time we make a choice, we must be ready to own the results of our decisions. Some choices can have lifetime consequences, while others may seem insignificant.
On Mount Carmel, Elijah implored Israel to make the right choice. During that time, the Israelites had embraced the worship of Baal, shifting their focus from the promises of the everlasting God. Each time we shift our focus from the living God to some worldly, sensual gratification, we plunge into sin. The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal teaches us that God is sovereign and He places His agents strategically to win against the devil. The action taken by Elijah in this situation teaches us that God requires us to stand up for Him, to boldly confront evil and speak the truth. Above all, God is able to protect and deliver us from all troubles that work against His will.
Turning Hearts at the Jordan (John 1:29–37)
When John referred to Christ as “ ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ ” (John 1:29, NKJV), he was alluding to the purpose of the sacrificial lamb mentioned in the Old Testament (cf. Lev. 1:10; 3:8). John refers to Christ as the Lamb because He bore the sins of the world upon Himself at Calvary (1 Pet. 2:24). Christ accomplished what the traditional offerings could not do.
Another important lesson of this Scripture is the significance of meeting Christ. Both the Old and New Testaments proclaim Christ and reveal great truths about Him. By discovering Jesus, the disciples shifted their focus to something new. They discarded their past sins and started a new life with Christ.
To enter a lasting relationship with Christ, we first need to trust Him as the sacrificial Lamb of God who is able to cleanse us of our sins and to put us right with God. This happens when we first recognize that we are sinners before God, in need of forgiveness, and ready to start a new life with Him. It is all about turning our hearts to Christ.
1. At what point in our lives should we acknowledge that we are sinners?
2. Why is Christ a better sacrifice for our sins than the offerings of calves and lambs?
3. After Christ’s death on our behalf, what do we need to do as sinners to attain full acceptance before God?