And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” (1Ki 18:36-39)
But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2Ki 1:10)
Calling down fire from heaven was one of the hallmarks of the prophet Elijah. He did it on three occasions. Once, famously, on mount Carmel when he defeated the prophets of Baal, and twice more when two presumptuous military captains thought that fifty men were a more than a match for one man of God.
Elijah is also a powerful type of the church in the Old Testament. Those who in the Spirit and power of Elijah will prepare the way for the Lord by turning the disobedient back to the way of God, and preparing his people for his coming. Just as Elijah made way for Elisha (lit. Lamb of God) and John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus; the church are those with the ministry of getting the world ready for his second coming. Elijah must come first and restore all things.
Does this mean that the church should also be hallmarked by those who call fire down from heaven?
It's an interesting question. I wonder if James and John were thinking along these lines in Luke 9:54? Although though they clearly got the wrong end of the stick, they obviously had an expectation that they should be following the pattern of Elijah.
And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. (Luke 9:54-55)
Jesus' rebuke makes it clear that if we are to call fire down from heaven it is not for the purpose of consuming our enemies. In fact, the disciples would have to wait for Pentecost to see the kind of fire he had in mind.
John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:16)
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Ac 2:3-4)
It's a fire that does not consume, but rests and abides. A fire that does not destroy the enemies of God, but causes them to turn aside to see. A fire that does not fall upon a sacrifice of dead flesh, but a fire that falls upon living spiritual sacrifices that have laid their lives on the altar and soaked themselves repeatedly in the river of living water that flows out from within. It's a fire that falls upon a restored altar where the living stones are together in unity. It's a fire that falls in response to the prayer, "That they may know that you are God, and we are your people." It's a fire that causes the prophetic spirit to burn so bright within all that men fall down and exclaim, "The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!"
These are the days of Elijah. Now is the time to call down this fire from heaven.