“The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel- all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him”.”
~1 Kings 19:15-18
When Elijah asked the question ‘What’s the Point?’ God was compelled to respond with a more strategic assignment to Elijah. The nature of his ministry changed. From the spectacular fire-spitting prophet, he became a maker of kings and disciples. While he was locking up the heavens and calling down fire, there were kings to be anointed, and prophets to be raised. Most importantly, there were seven thousand men that needed to be transformed into prophets.
He searched out the kings and prophets that would execute his vision, empowered and equipped them to do what he could never do. Then he hunted down the seven thousand that God spoke about. He organized them into schools of prophets around the nation where he developed them into effective advocates of Jehovah to better counter the virus of Baaalism.
Thus when he was on his way to heaven, he could see thousands of these men from one end of the nation to another. And he had an assistant that would go on to do far more than he ever did.
The real deal about Elijah was bigger than calling down fire from heaven. The real work Elijah did was awesome. Elijah anointed two kings. One was a king from a foreign nation to forestall any kind of demonic, idolatrous incursion or problems coming in from that nation. The second king that he anointed eventually destroyed the worship of Baal in Israel. In addition, Elijah mentored a prophet that performed more miracles than him, Elisha. To crown it all, he set up schools of the prophets.
Thus while Elijah is better known for the fire that fell on Carmel, he transformed his nation and altered the course of their history due to a less known — but far more powerful and effective — aspect of his work.