The Latter Rain
Posted on 10 May 2012 01:21 PM
I am curious to know what you believe is the latter rain mentioned in the Joel 2:23: "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month."
The latter rain is the follow-up to the early rain, which fell at Pentecost. The early rain germinates the crop—gets it started. The Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit were poured out at Pentecost, appearing as tongues of fire upon the gathered disciples (See Acts 1:13-15 and Acts 2).
Jesus had told them, "ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). When they returned to the room where they gathered together, they "all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication," (ACts 1:14) confessing and putting away all known sins and seeking a bond of love among themselves. At the end of that intense purification in expectation of the promised gift from heaven, the early rain came. The Christian church, through the preaching and work of the apostles, got a strong start at that time. That outpouring of power from heaven was called the early rain.
The latter rain, also called the "times of refreshing," is the second and final manifestation of God's power through a chosen group of people: His purified remnant people. It will be given for the same purpose—to be witnesses for Jesus—and it will come the second time to ripen the final crop of souls for harvesting, because it will be right before Jesus' return that this will occur. After the shaking and sifting has done its work in these end times, the latter rain will come to carry the Loud Cry of the three angels' messages—the message of the investigative judgment, the soon coming of the King of Kings, and the warning not to worship the beast, but to worship the Creator. The seventh-day Sabbath will be the main issue at that time in opposition to the Sunday "mark of the beast."
The latter rain will be poured out only upon those who are sealed. They are the only ones who can be trusted not to misuse the power from on high. They are dead to self, are full of love for souls, and are living to glorify God, taking the last message of mercy to the world. They are are ones that "sigh and cry for the abominations" done by those who are rebelling against God (Ezekiel 9:4).
The book Acts of the Apostles has this to say about the early and latter rain (We hope you read that entire book—or every book in the Conflict of the Ages series by Ellen G. White):
It is true that in the time of the end, when God's work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God's church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.
But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest "in the time of the latter rain." In response, "the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain." "He will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain," Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23.
But unless the members of God's church today have a living connection with the Source of all spiritual growth, they will not be ready for the time of reaping. Unless they keep their lamps trimmed and burning, they will fail of receiving added grace in times of special need.
Those only who are constantly receiving fresh supplies of grace, will have power proportionate to their daily need and their ability to use that power. Instead of looking forward to some future time when, through a special endowment of spiritual power, they will receive a miraculous fitting up for soul winning, they are yielding themselves daily to God, that He may make them vessels meet for His use. Daily they are improving the opportunities for service that lie within their reach. Daily they are witnessing for the Master wherever they may be, whether in some humble sphere of labor in the home, or in a public field of usefulness (pages 54-55).
Some will be prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the form of the latter rain, but others will be totally unprepared. Those who receive it will be used mightily as a living witness of God’s saving grace, and thousands upon thousands will be gathered in. The evangelistic work of the Church will be finished in a blaze of glory. All this will happen before the close of probation. All five of these events will end abruptly as the investigative judgment ends and the time of trouble begins.
Many look to the coming crisis and tremble, but it is time to look to Christ and be unafraid. Christ, not the crisis, is to be our focus. If we see Who’s coming, we won’t need to fear what’s coming. Jesus said, “I’ll never leave thee nor forsake thee.” We can say to Him, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:5-6).