If we read Mal. 4:5 we see that Elijah is to come before the Day of the Lord. The empty seat at the Jewish Passover is evidence of their trust in this promise.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (KJV)

If we read Joel 2:10&11, we see that the Lord returns with His mighty army on the Day of the Lord, and that before that glorious event the sun, moon and stars do not shine.

In fact when Jesus came the first time Elijah (John the Baptist) did come with his mission to restore all things, but Jesus tells us that John as Elijah was rejected. And Jesus even used John’s rejection as a comparison to His own coming rejection just as Jesus tells the disciples that He must be rejected. But Jesus predicted that Elijah is coming, or as many understand it, yet to come, and He does this before He speaks of John’s rejection and death. is he still to come yet another time? Some do not want to believe that there is a second time for Elijah’s coming. Are they correct? Without Elijah’s coming to restore all things before the Day of the Lord; then these scriptures never get a fulfillment. Men want to believe that we are living in the day of the Lord today, but if this is true then the glory of the Lord that Scripture predicts is coming on that day is so greatly diminished that today instead of His rule with a rod of iron, men instead pay Him no attention whatsoever, and they fear no god or even The very God Himself. So Jesus says after John is dead and gone that Elijah will come. A yet future coming, with the same mission to restore all things before the Day of the Lord when Jesus comes with His armies. It appears that again Elijah will be rejected, but not until he restores all things.

The restoring of all things is to us speculative, but not to God. What does it mean? This restoration obviously was not completed by John the Baptist. I believe it to mean that before Elijah, as one of the two witnesses, is once again rejected by the world that he will be received and understood by the entire remaining body of believers, both Jew and Gentile. He will also have an impact on the sheep of Jesus’ right hand in the Matthew 25 account of the judgment of nations, and once this judgment is complete all things that Elijah impacted will be restored as God intended it. There is no question that a future restoration is needed within the church in order for the bride to make herself ready in purity and in unity. When these two witnesses are killed, the day of the Lord will be very near, and the bride will have made herself ready Rev. 19.

I see no conflict with this understanding and the tenses that Jesus provides in this verse:

They asked Him, saying, “ Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has [j]indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.” Mark 9:11-13 NASB. And this verse;

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (KJV)

If you cannot accept that there is still a Nation Israel prophesied to be saved and added back to His olive tree; then you will need to spiritualize these verses to make it say what you want. I prefer to believe the word as it is written.

May God bless His bride so that she may maker herself ready. Tribulation I believe is taught to be His method of restoration.