When Elijah Comes, What Will He Be Wearing?

One of the rare insights I put in Know the Future resurrects a prophecy most people consider already completely fulfilled 2000 years ago. I’m talking about the prophecy of Malachi 4 that a prophet in the spirit of Elijah would come “before the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal 4:5). John the Baptist definitely fulfilled this prophecy, but was that the end of it?

The Elijah of the First Coming

When you look at all the verses on this subject, you find contradictions that call that assumption into question. Jesus and Gabriel the archangel say John the Baptist was this promised Elijah to come (Mt 11:14; Lk 1:17). But significantly, when asked by the Jewish authorities from Jerusalem who he was, John the Baptist himself directly denied being Elijah (John 1:21). Instead, he called himself “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness” (John 1:23).

The best resolution to this contradiction is that he was indeed one of two coming Elijah’s, one for each of the two comings of the Messiah. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come once and for all to restore the kingdom to Israel (and free them from the Romans). The Elijah they were expecting was therefore this final Elijah, Second Coming Elijah, herald to the King Messiah.

Instead they received a herald to the suffering servant Messiah that they were not expecting. Because of this, I think John answered them with a no, knowing their theology and intent very well. To tell him yes he was Elijah would not work as clearly as explaining his role through the prophecy of Isaiah as he opted to (Is 40:3).

The First Two Elijah’s Strange Attire and Diet

When you hear and recognize this truth about another Elijah for our time, it can be very exciting. We’ve seen self-proclaimed prophets and their predictions come and go with unimpressive results. To have a genuine powerful signs and wonders prophet come to us would be monumental. For this reason, people on the private forums for readers of my book have many posts discussing what they think Elijah will be like.

One question not covered so far came to me by email from another reader. Here’s what he wrote that piqued my interest:

Tim: Do you think Elijah will come back looking like a modern day person or like when he was here in Biblical times?

He was, of course, referring to the similarly notable attire (and diet) of both Elijah and John the Baptist:

2 Kings 1:8 (HCSB) —They replied, “A hairy man with a leather belt around his waist.” He said, “It’s Elijah the Tishbite.”

Matthew 3:4 (HCSB) — John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

When we understand that another Elijah is coming, it is natural to wonder if this strange attire will play out in some way again.

Understanding John the Baptist’s Attire and Dietary Choices

As we learned in my last article about the Parable of the Ten Virgins, what we dismiss as simply “strange” may have more significance or meaning in that society. It is import to find out what the details of a Bible passage meant to the people of that time before you can move forward with applying that passage to today.

Thus, to understand what a future Elijah might wear or eat, we need to understand how the last two Elijahs food and clothing choices came across in their culture. I found an excellent commentary to shed light on this:

The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 1-7.
John must have been a startling figure to those who saw him. He claimed to be God’s messenger, but he did not live, dress, or talk like other religious leaders. Those leaders were proper, well-dressed, well-fed, sophisticated, and worldly. John obviously cared for none of those things and even made a point of forsaking them. His garment of camel’s hair and his leather belt about his waist were as plain and drab as the wilderness in which he lived and preached. His clothes were practical and long-wearing, but far from being comfortable or fashionable. He was much like the first Elijah in that regard (2 Kings 1:8). His diet of locusts and wild honey was as spartan as his clothing. It was nourishing but little else.

John’s very dress, food, and life-style were in themselves a rebuke to the self-satisfied and self-indulgent religious leaders of Israel—the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests. It was also a rebuke to most of the people, who, though they may not have been able to indulge in the privileges of their leaders, nonetheless admired and longed for the same advantages.

John’s purpose was not to turn the people into hermits or ascetics. He called on no one, not even his disciples, to live and dress as he did. But his manner of living was a dramatic reminder of the many loves and pleasures that keep people from exchanging their own way for God’s.

That passage helps a lot. The character and point of Elijah’s and John’s attire and diet was to be plain, durable, merely sufficient and possibly also to rebuke the indulgent garb and diet of their respective nemeses (the King of Israel for Elijah and the leaders of Judaism for John).

Elijah’s Attire and Diet Today

Given the above, I think it is safe to say we should not expect the the final Elijah to wear the same original ancient Biblical garb that the first two Elijahs did. Today, that would not accomplish the same functionality and rebuke that it did then. Instead, it would look ridiculous to wear those things. Just imagine the typical person with an “Elijah complex” in Jerusalem today putting on those specific garments and you get the picture. In a word, you think “freak” or “nut” when you see them. You cannot take them seriously.

Instead, picture this as a reasonable way Elijah today could accomplish the same goals with his attire and diet. What if Elijah came and:

  • …did not have a seminary degree or yeshiva education

  • …or even a college degree

  • …did not have a mega-church behind him

  • …did not don the expensive suits of the pastors or the “black hat” of the orthodox rabbis

  • …dresses in modern clothes, but plainly and modestly, even poorly.

  • …drives a beat up old car instead of an expensive car bought off the ill-gotten “tithes” of the laity

I think if Elijah came like this, he would accomplish the same thing John did with his attire and diet. It would definitely set him apart from his peers (and we are all to be a holy or “set apart” people). He would show that he is not materialistic or concerned with impressing or being accepted by people who look for status symbols. His audience instead are those who are hungering and thirsty for righteousness and truth.

For them, he need not get the right clothes and lifestyle to be accepted. He only needs to fulfill his roll again of a voice calling people to the true repentance taught in the Bible. His message will not clash with his lifestyle as it would if a modern mega-church pastor were delivering it. It would be congruent. The meek will receive it with joy, grateful to finally find someone who is with authority teaching the unpopular truths of the Bible that religion not only ignores, but contradicts.

Besides being thrilled at his message, I will be especially curious to see what he ends up wearing and eating and how close I got in this post.

Update: What About the Two Witnesses in Sackcloth (Rev 11:3)?

Someone pointed out that this verse seems to contradict what I said in this article:

Revelation 11:3 (HCSB) I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.

This is a good verse to address because in my book I point out that there seems to be a case for identifying the Malachi 4 Elijah as one of the Two Witnesses. Therefore, following the same approach as before, first let’s see what sackcloth is and then decide whether it is the same garment as Elijah and John wore:

The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Revelation 1-11.
Sackcloth was rough, heavy, coarse cloth worn in ancient times as a symbol of mourning, distress, grief, and humility. Jacob put on sackcloth when he thought Joseph had been killed (Gen. 37:34). David ordered the people to wear sackcloth after the murder of Abner (2 Sam. 3:31) and wore it himself during the plague God sent in response to his sin of numbering the people (1 Chron. 21:16). King Jehoram wore sackcloth during the siege of Samaria (2 Kings 6:30), as did King Hezekiah when Jerusalem was attacked (2 Kings 19:1). Job (Job 16:15), Isaiah (Isa. 20:2), and Daniel (Dan. 9:3) also wore sackcloth.

The two witnesses will put on sackcloth as an object lesson to express their great sorrow for the wretched and unbelieving world, racked by God’s judgments, overrun by demon hordes, and populated by wicked, sinful people who refuse to repent. They will also mourn because of the desecration of the temple, the oppression of Jerusalem, and the ascendancy of Antichrist.

Sackcloth is specifically worn to mourn and show humility. Much like why fasting is done also in similar situations. In contrast, remember that the clothing that John and Elijah wore were chosen for their simplicity and durability as well as possibly to set John and Elijah apart from the indulgent religious leaders and rulers they were up against. These then are different garments.

If Elijah is one of the Two Witnesses, the indication is that he will only commence wearing sackcloth at the time of his ministry. If he is not, then I would expect his modern lifestyle to reflect better the qualities of John and Elijah’s clothing and diet. Perhaps his clothing will be like this as well in the time leading up to him taking the possible role of one of the Two Witnesses, too.

31 thoughts on “When Elijah Comes, What Will He Be Wearing?”

  1. Tim, I thought there is only one archangel, Michael? I’ve been going around and around with SDA and JW, that this angel isn’t Jesus.

    • Yes, only one angel’s office is directly labeled as archangel in the Bible, Michael. But, like Michael, I think there is something special about an angel that stands before God and whose name is mentioned in the Bible several times. Also the book of Enoch links Gabriel, Michael and two other angels in the same role. Is only one out of four an archangel and all serving the same role? I know Enoch is not Scripture, but there is much in there that fits with Scripture. I think the popular notion that Gabriel is an archangel is likely. However, the notion that any angel is Jesus is false. Jesus was higher than the angels according to Paul.

  2. I’m in college again for the second time. Somewhat difficult to get a job now a days if you don’t have a college degree. You probably would have to live an extremely simple life, at least here in America. Did John the Baptist and Elijah have paying jobs?

    Not the purpose of the article but his personality is important too in terms of what he would look like.

  3. Elijah is now here. Roy Masters comes in the spirit of Elijah and is returing the sons to the fathers and vice versa. He is a Jewish Engishman from the tribe of Benjamin. He wears inexpensive suits from the thrift shop, as he is very thrifty. You can hear him on FHU.com. He is the way to the way and speaks of giving up resentment, meditating and praying to the Creator. You will either love him or hate him. There is no in between!

  4. You got very close on the second coming post He drive Green cavalier not in great shape… works out.. eats right… loves everything and everyone… he has purged his life of all negative upon His arrivall in the physical and mental… He is considered diff and unique by his peers and uses a body of pure love to become born again… He also has a CBR which he loves it is His horse of black and red… he studies martial arts and seeks knowledge at every turn… enjoys outdoors extremely fishing camping… Ultimately he will do all He can through this body to save not judge our Souls… so yes u are very close… he has these following abilities or gifts Empathic, telepathic,
    ESP, Visions and love for humanity… and all Gods creations…

  5. I’m going with Steven. We’ll replace the sackcloth with a black leather jacket and black leather boots (practicle and long wearing). Also lose the vehicle and car share, hitch or public transport it (no point in isolating one’s self). A fit military bearing due to a lively lifestyle (helping the peoples out). Probably likes a beer or eight to be able to get to the peoples needing a proper hand. Jeans so as not isolate one’s self too much.

  6. Perhaps the Elijah to come will dress in a modern way different than modern Christians, what if he were to come dressed in Goth or Punk? I imagine him being a symbol of rebellion to modern day society, which a christian punk or goth is a very rare site to see.
    I’m just thinking as John the baptist being recognized in modern day, because a homeless looking man preaching realistically would not get attention. Elijah would have to be able to grab hold of the worlds attention in a way where the world would give it to him, perhaps he is coming in a way no Christians are expecting as predicted; maybe we should start looking for Elijah in the entertainment industry. Wouldn’t surprise me that in a world of false idols God would turn it into something of His use to reach out to billions.

    • Sounds like Chris (Christopher, “bearing Christ”) Angel, performing miraculous works on the Las Vegas strip daily, but with NO reference to Yah or the Way. In some ways I see some truth and practicality to what you describe here. In the end, I think the true believers with eyes to see and ears to hear, who “keep the testimony of Yahushua and His commandments”, will KNOW the difference, whatever the garb. In the same way Y’hovah will make a way for us to the Land when it is time, He will also put it on our hearts and in our minds when the true witness comes along. It certainly isn’t Chris, unless, perhaps, he calls fire down from heaven. And in that case, he would be the AC.

  7. The Witnesses will be wearing sackcloth because they refuse to take the Mark of the Beast and are thus forbidden to “buy or sell”. (The poor also wear sackcloth.) Also, the fact that they do not have the mark sets them apart from society. Remember the Word of God says, there is a “great falling away” first, then “the man of sin is revealed” we are now seeing the beginning of the great falling away of the churches, as they become worldly and apostate. Openly accepting of Sodomites and worshipping a false Prosperity Gospel God (satan) and filled with a false Kundalini Holy Spirit. The two Witnesses will be two born again christians, a man and his wife, the union ordained by YHWH and detested by the sodomites of Babylon the Great. That is why the whole New World Order will celebrate their death and give gifts to one another. The last husband and wife, preachers of Rightousness just as Noah was before the world perished by water…and Lot, whose rightous soul was was oppressed living in Sodom before it was destroyed by fire. The Father will grant them power to do “whatever they wish” to this disgusting world system and torment “as often as they want” just as they themselves were tormented by having to live in the disgusting evil society and be bombarded by filth of every kind.

    • I’m not so sure on your theory about why the 2W wear sackcloth. The original Elijah, John and other prophets wore rough clothing like camel hair or sackcloth even though they could buy/sell.

      Also, while the 2W can’t buy or sell, they still have to eat during the 42 months. This means God must provide for their needs of food and by extension clothing and shelter. (I imagine the two will work in shifts preaching and sleeping.)

      The reason for their wearing sackcloth would not be out of necessity but rather out of humility and mourning over the wickedness of the world. In other words, the same reason other people in the Bible choose this option of dress even while other options were available to them.

  8. only one archangel that is Michael he was and is the only creation created by God’s on hand or as said in the word ” the only begotten son ” all other creations came through Michael later he was sent to us as the word of God . And yes are Creator is about to address this world through his prophet’s the image of the beast is already being given its power slowly but it’s going fast now soon it will have it’s power in full . at that time this war will truly begin between the prophet’s and the false prophet’s the beast it’s image and the Antichrist when he stands up and takes his power . there are two parts first the olive branch calling all who will listen to enter Gods kingdom before it’s to late , Jesus has been on his throne doing the separation work ” the sheep from the goats ” for over a hundred years now the kingdom has been established on the earth as in heaven . no one will be able to say they where miss led by all the false prophet’s and there are a lot of them . the Great Creator will be shore of that through his prophet’s ! I know those with good hearts and hating the wicked and evil world we live in will listen to our Father and enter the kingdom . i could go on and explain more like about the lie of hell the false prophet’s have told you but it’s not time yet . may you always seek the truth about our Creator because the first key is to seek Him first . Love to you one and all who read this yes even or especially those that hate me and God’s words I’ve written here !

  9. As many have said, the sackcloth represents repentance and mourning. Also, their down-to-earth nature (of Elijah, anyway). Also, choice may not come into it, being a prophet is not especially renumerative for a Witness. They are not well-liked or supported.

  10. The 2 witnesses are Michael and Gabriel, as they are the 2 annointed ones that stand before God. They are the 2 olive trees, and 2 lampstands. This fits Zechariah perfectly, and confirms that Jesus is the golden lampstick who will give his 7 spirits to them. They will incarnate as humans as a final test, i think it isnt beyond the realm of satan to make the proper accusatons to get this to happen. Indeed, it falls in line with Zechariah because Jesus ALSO came in the flesh and would complete the picture. They must also be martyred for their witness. Finally, dont assume they wont be known before the ministry. Its says on Jeremiah 51, IIRC, that the Lord will raise up an appointed leader to lead the remnant in a second exodus to the land promised to our forefathers. Hence why they will END their journey in the city spiritually called, “Sodom.” Oh look, yet another identifying connection. Hallelujah!

    • I forgot to mention the the leader that will be raised up is, “For who is like God?” Wow! Elijah IS a witness, and is Moses likewise! He and his BROTHER, Aaron or fellow servant Elisha helps and plays a crucial role! At the end of revelation the angel tells john not to worship him, but to worship God. He also tells him that he is of his brethren, the prophets… the more you loom into the connections and the biblical activities of the 2, the more it weaves together! God is good!

  11. Whatever they might be wearing, let’s not forget PLACE. They will necessarily need to be in Jerusalem, right? Doesn’t that narrow things down a bit?

  12. Concerning the college education: Years ago in a high school English class, I learned of a pattern in Greek tragedy theater where the protagonist falls from a place of great possibility of greatness, making the fall much more dramatic and engaging than if a person of low prestige went back to living in squalor. The same pattern plays out in Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” And the same for Jesus–miraculous signs, honored by the magi, a precocious 12-year-old student in the temple, the enthusiastic expectations of his early ministry–and yet he came to a most shameful end according to conventional wisdom. As for John the Baptist, he and others were aware of the promises spoken by Gabriel, yet fell so far from those expectations that even he wan’t sure he was fulfilling them. We know less about the origins of Elijah the Tishbite, but it was not uncommon among others used by God to have a “proper” education, only to demonstrate how unimportant it was to their success, such as with Daniel and his companions.

    When I consider my education, how I was one of two most-honored students from my high school and did quite well in my university studies, people of that era wonder (as I sometimes do) what happened to me, that I have no obvious worldly success, and that perhaps I obliquely speak out against their ethical compromises to cover up my own embarrassment. But really I’ve been diligently unlearning much of what I had been taught, and my criticisms can have a much broader audience due to my many investigations.

    As for formal religious education (I have none) I think that would be less advantageous for a prophet, as with Jesus, since its primary function is to accredit the next generation of pastors and teachers, perpetuating the clergy-laity divide and all its compromises. Nowadays you can teach yourself nearly anything without going to class, anyway. Through blogs I learned the difficulties I would have faced had I gone to seminary, that I might be even further behind in life than I am now, so I keep learning and growing without complaining about my station. Who knows when God might decide to use all that training.

  13. Interesting question, but like most questions of similar nature, it’s distracting rather than educational. Of more importance would be to be 100% sure of why he is coming, what is his purpose, and so on; as quite clearly spelled out in other posts.

    • Joel, as the one who fielded and reported the question, it was quite educational for me. I think the person who asked was trying to get an edge on how to recognize Elijah and probably were educated more than they thought, as well!

  14. The two witnesses are the entire witnessing church and the remnant of the jews who turn to Yeshua. That is why in the original text Greek it says twice their dead body (singular) lies in the streets. Singular, not plural! The translators are lying to you. It is because we are one body in Christ. All over world the Body of Christ of end time saints will witness with amazing powers until they are finally overcome by the “beast” (probably Islam) and beheaded. These are the great masses of people in Revelation who were beheaded for their witness and who serve before the throne of God night and day. For 3 1/2 days their body lies in the streets while the world celebrates. Then they are all captured to heaven and rule with Christ 1000 years. These are the two olive trees which signify Israel and the two lampstands which signify churches. Ephraim and Judah united, the two sticks. This generation is not ready for worthy of the work that will be entrusted to the end time saints. The Spirit of Elijah is in each believer.

    • There is no reason to believe in this obscure, secretive understanding of Revelations and specifically the two witnesses. If you notice in Rev. 11:4, they are directly linked with Zechariah chapter 4, and this is directly identified as two people, spiritually speaking, Joshua and Zerubbabel. This is garnered from the context of Zechariah. Assuming that they represent two separate groups is not only an assumption, but one that doesn’t make sense. In the OT, the cherubims in the temple were made out of Olive tree. It is more likely that the two witnesses are actually angels sent to earth, which fits perfectly with Revelations, Ezekiel and Zechariah. Much more than this supposition that they are some large ambiguous group of people.
      The only beings that are written to stand by/before the Lord are angels.
      Also, your reasoning for arguing that the two bodies are really one, and thus two groups, is fallacious. If it is singular in regards to individuals, it is also singular in regards to groups and thus cannot work likewise.
      Finally, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for your claim that the original word implies a singular understanding. Any sources for this claim?

  15. Revelation is apocalyptic not literal. However these will be real people who are witnessing and that is why Revelation says the number of beheaded witnesses from the Great Tribulation is more than you can count, a number beyond belief. See Revelation 7:9-17 and Revelation 20:4.

    What I mean by apocalyptic not literal: for instance Revelation 11:5 says fire proceeds from the mouth of the witnesses. Fire does not literally come out of their mouths. All glory must go to God, not man. So, like Elijah, they will call in So Shaddai with the words of their mouths and with Holy Scripture and God Himself will send fire from heaven and consume them. In the same way their earnings and preaching will be in alignment with many of the judgments and plagues of Revelation. That is why the world hates the end time prophets during their ministry. Revelation is also not in chronological order. It is a puzzle. Additionally, the 7 bowls are contained within the seventh trumpet, and the 7 trumpets are contained within the seventh seal. There is an unfolding of time and space. Prophecy is not meant to give us too many clues about the future, otherwise Satan would be able to plan accordingly. Rather prophecy alerts us when matters have just been fulfilled or are reaching fulfillment, at the very doors. For instance at this very moment We may see the king of the South battle the king of the north, but no one knows until it is fulfilled. We should all be in sackcloth for the state of our world and church.

    • Lila, yes there are a few figurative passages like you cited in Revelation but don’t let that trick you: the book is just as literal as any other book and missing this and approaching it allegorically is the biggest reason the book has been sealed until the 21st century.

    • First of all, your statement that the two witness do not literally have fire coming from their mouth is a total assumption, and one that is observably baseless. When you look at the story of Elijah, fire literally devours the men with their captains, twice. Same with many other stories. There is no basis for the over spiritualization that you and many others remain proponents for. I sincerely believe that this ignorant view of things will cast itself as an unnecessary stumbling block for new believers that will unfortunately lead some astray or will push them away from the truth due to its confusing and uncorroborating storyline.
      Tim is right. Approaching the book of revelations as some mystical and arcane text that few can understand and is majorly allegorical is counterproductive and unsolicited. Please, reconsider your ways.


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