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The hearts of the fathers

“Elijah … will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers….” (Malachi 4:5-6)


Really? How would Elijah “turn the hearts of the fathers”? My imagination stopped at the door, but Russ opened it enough to let me peek inside.

Respect and honor

“Respect and honor, parent to child and vice-versa,” he said. “For me and my children — I don’t think we need an Elijah to turn our hearts toward one another as I have a high level of respect for my wife and children.”

I told Russ how my older brother and sisters felt our father did not respect or honor them, but when I came along, I felt his respect and honor. At Dad’s funeral, my baby sister Ruthie said although she heard how he treated our three older siblings, Dad had learned to be a good father.

Russ replied, “This reminds me that in my early years as a parent, I could have used an Elijah to turn my heart toward my children.”

So, in both of us, my how-to question called up — not steps in a process — but stories from our past.

But how?

Then I pushed a little. “How does that work? How would a returned Elijah …what would he do to help bring it about?”

Russ: “I’m not sure how that would work. Would he be an influential popular speaker, evangelist, rabbi, world leader, monk, …fill in the blank… ???  and deliver messages that catch fire in the hearts of people?”

A lover

Carolee joined us.

“My immediate reaction is – he would be a lover. A common, humble lover. Maybe the other roles would come after practicing the role of lover, but I think it’s really hard to balance the more front-of-the-line roles with loving: especially with loving children.

Many of the patriarchs did not love their children well enough and turned them away. Samuel’s children suffered. David’s son tried to murder him. I realize that doesn’t address changing the world, but I think it plays a role.”

Hmmm…. a leader but first a lover.

The hearts of the children

We’ve still said almost nothing about turning “the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Here’s what Ralph found.

John Piper refutes an obscure idea of some ancients who put this slant on Malachi 4:5-6. “Elijah will turn the hearts of the children [of Israel] back to the fathers [i.e., Abraham, Jacob, etc.],” which they say means focusing renewed attention on the Torah. Piper points out how this nice idea doesn’t really work if you try to apply it to the whole verse. That is, turning the hearts of Abraham, Jacob, etc., back to the modern Children of Israel seems beyond the power of Elijah.

Go see Ralph’s blog. Good stuff, and you don’t have to wait two weeks.

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Elijah

Elijah