Stare into the biblical picture of parent and child. There is a deeper relationship that God desires for humanity.
The prophet Malachi looked into the future and this is what he saw.
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi saw that the ancient prophet Elijah was coming back. This powerful miracle worker from Hebrew history would reappear in time with a message that would change attitudes of parents and children.
If attitudes between generations do not change, total destruction will come. Was the real Elijah coming back from the dead? Or was it someone just like Elijah? Malachi saw a prophet coming who would address broken relationships between parent and child.
400 years later, a priest named Zechariah was in the Temple at Jerusalem saw the same picture.
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah and Elizabeth had a son who became known as John the Baptist. Zechariah saw that his boy would have the spirit and power of Elijah. The heart change between parents and children was necessary to prepare people for the coming One—the Messiah.
Later on a mountain, Peter, James and another disciple named John saw Jesus, Moses and Elijah clothed in light. The transfiguration prompted a discussion about what it meant to raise from the dead. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets. They are gloriously connected to Jesus. As the conversation between Jesus and the disciples continued, the disciples raise an important question about Elijah.
10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Are you staring into the picture here? Malachi says Elijah is coming back. Zechariah has a son who is given the spirit and power of Elijah. Jesus says that his cousin John is the return of Elijah.
John’s mission is like Elijah’s mission. The restoration of all things starts with hearts of parents turning toward their children. The hearts of children turn toward the parents.
Jesus notes that people stared at John and were blind to his prophetic identity. In the same way, Jesus true identity was invisible to a people whose heart was calloused.
John the Baptist says to prepare a way for the coming Lord. In the wilderness there is to be a road that is well engineered to get you to the King. The road to Jesus needs to be leveled. Mountainous obstacles need to be removed. Deep ruts must be filled.
What does an attitude towards parents or children have to do with road building in the desert? Are there obstacles to a healthy connection with parents and parental figures? Are there deep gaps in the way you relate to your children and those who need you in a parental way? If you can see the picture here, you will understand that there is a change of heart required if we are to see Jesus for who he is.