“And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.” (2 Kings 1:10)
I like Elijah. He’s my type of prophet. He called fire down from heaven, and it came. Would you call fire down from heaven if God led you to do so? You may say, “God doesn’t do that today.” But then why are you singing the song, “These are the days of Elijah?” if that is your response? In that case, you’d better stop singing the song.
On the other hand, if you do like the song, and are convinced that God wants to move in the same way today that he moved back long ago when Elijah was around, then would you be ready and willing to call fire down from heaven when and if God led you to do so? Hum … not so easy, eh? But think about it. We’re all clamoring for miracles and signs and wonders. And we’re singing that song, “These are the days of Elijah” like it was going out of style. But have we put two plus two together? Where there are miracles like Elijah did, there is judgment. You can’t separate the two. If you really want God to bring on the miracles like he did in Elijah’s day, then pray for the miracles, and pray also for the judgment. Because one will not come without the other.
Let’s put it down to a mathematical equation, since most people reading this article will be into math (I presume).
* A miracle happened means God is present
* Since God is holy
* And holiness leads to judgment of sin
* A miracle happened implies judgment against sin
Now that coincides quite well with the early church, in fact, in which Ananias and Sapphira were judged by God. There were miracles then, remember? And we all want it to be just like the early church, right? Okay, let’s do it. But remember, where there are miracles, there will be judgment against sin. Some people may die. Everyone’s lives will be turned upside down. God will shake everything that can be shaken. It may and will be a little unpleasant, to be sure.
In the context of Acts 5, in which Ananias and Sapphira fell dead, Peter was a “type” of Elijah, judging sin. Interestingly, James and John had earlier said to Jesus concerning some individuals that they didn’t like, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” (Luke 9:54b) At this, Jesus replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them].” (Luke 9:55-56)
And yet it was after this that Ananias and Sapphira died, not before. What then did Jesus mean? That we are never to judge? No, that could not possibly be the case, otherwise we would not read about Ananias and Sapphira being slain through the judgment proclaimed by Peter a little while later.
I think the best interpretation of Jesus rebuke to James and John is that Jesus was rebuking them on account of the spirit in which they spoke. In other words, they spoke of their own initiative when they said this. Their predisposition and their desire was more judgment oriented than mercy oriented. They were not really interested in doing God’s will when they said this. They were only interested in the power, and the authority, and perhaps the “show” of it all.
And that is not God-like.
To be like God is to prefer mercy over judgment, as we read, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13) However, to be sure, there is also a time for judgment, and the Bible makes that perfectly clear. In fact, it is James himself who writes, “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” (James 5:9)
So then, while James says that mercy triumphs over judgment, he also says that God is ready to judge. The key to unlocking this mystery as to how Jesus could say to James and John, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” and then later Peter pronouncing a judgment against Ananias and Sapphira is precisely because of the fact that Peter didn’t judge in and of himself. He was only being a clean channel for God to act through. When Peter spoke those words, it was because God was speaking through him. It was the time of judgment, to be sure.
Are these the days of Elijah? I hope you will agree that the answer is a tentative and optimistic “Yes”. I hope that will mean that you are preparing both for the miracles and the judgment. For one will not come without the other.