In Deuteronomy 11:13-14, the following is written about the early rain and the latter rain. And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, (New King James Version).
All Bible texts are from the King James 1611/1769, unless otherwise stated.
The agriculture in the Middle East has always depended on rain. This raises several questions, including the two questions that these two verses raise:
What significance did the early rain and the latter rain have in Old Testament times?
What significance do the early rain and the latter rain have for us who live in the last time?
Let us look at the historical reason why the expressions early rain and latter rain are used in the Bible. It is not a superfluous word in the Bible, so they must have or have had a practical meaning for people both in the time of Moses, in the time of the apostles and in our time. Three times the expression early rain and latter rain is used in the Old Testament, and it is in Deuteronomy 11:13-14; Jeremiah 5:23 and in Joel 2:23. Once the expression latter rain and early rain is used in the Old Testament, and it is in Hosea 6:3, where it is used in reverse order, but with the same meaning. In addition, early rain and latter rain are used once in the New Testament, and that is in James 5:7.
Let us now look at the historical and practical reason why the expressions early rain and latter rain are used in the Bible. But let’s first look at what Jeremiah 5:24 says: Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.. In Deuteronomy 11:13-14, (see above) the early rain and the late rain were given so that one could sow, and harvest grain, must and oil.
The agriculture in the Middle East has always depended on rain. The early rain causes the seed to germinate, while the late rain is necessary for the grain to ripen before the harvest.
The early rain fall in autumn and make the dry, hard soil after the summer’s drought soft and moist so that it is possible to plough, and sow. Without the early rain, the seed cannot germinate and grow. The early rain thus causes the seeds that have been sown to germinate.
The latter rain, literally means the rain that falls during the spring, after the rainy season, but before the grain is ripe. This rain is absolutely necessary for the grain to ripen before harvest. Without the latter rain, the crop cannot ripen, and then there will be no harvest.
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], Joel 2,23.
The early rain is therefore necessary for the seed to germinate, while the latter rain is necessary for the grain to ripen before the harvest. Therefore, both the early rain and the latter rain are equally important and necessary for the harvest of the year’s crop, and one, the early rain, cannot fulfil its task if the other, the latter rain, does not occur, or vice versa. As we can see, the early rain and the latter rain were absolutely crucial for what the people sowed to sprout, grow and become ripe for the harvest. Both the early rain and the latter rain have their special task, and together they complement each other.
Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth, Hosea 6:3.
Jeremiah 5:24 (see above) must be read together with verses 22 and 23, which are about God’s righteous judgment, and in these verses we read. Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand [for] the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
Despite the fact that we as a people are both defiant and rebellious, God’s promise of both the early rain and the latter rain still applies to us who live in the end times. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain, (Early Writings 30.5). God himself says he will give us the early rain and the latter rain in due time.
The Lord also met his people in Old Testament times to give them the early rain and the latter rain. As we see from Deuteronomy 11:13-14, one of the conditions for them to receive the latter rain was to have to keep all God’s commandments. Another condition was that they loved the Lord with all their heart. And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season. The early rain and the latter rain that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, (New King James Version).
In Deuteronomy 11 and Jeremiah 5, the expression early rain and late rain undoubtedly refers to agriculture, while in Joel 2:23 and Hosea 6:3 it has a spiritual approach.
In Joel 2:23 the prophet says. Be glad, o children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before, (English Standard Version).
Many English translations omit for he has given the early rain for your vindication, and then the meaning of the verse is lost, all the time it is about vindication.
The outpouring of the early rain must therefore lead to vindication, and before that happens we must accept Christ, and that is what the early rain helps us doing. Our hearts are dry and hard, but the early rain works in the hearts so that they become soft and ready to receive the Saviour. It is only after we have accepted Christ as our saviour and we live our lives, as God wants us to live them that vindication begins in our lives.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we find a quote from the prophet Joel in the speech that Peter gave in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in the year 31, just after the apostles had received the Holy Spirit. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God. I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy, Acts 2:16-18. (See also Joel chapter 3.)
Hosea 6:3 also refers to the same event as Joel 2:23. Both point forward to the first coming of Jesus, but at the same time they can be applied to our time. We assume that Joel was active between 835 and 805 BC and Hosea between 755 and 715 BC. Hosea 6:3 says. Then shall we know [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth.
Then shall we know [if] we follow on to know the LORD are the key words of this verse. Here we are encouraged to learn to know the Lord because He brings the latter rain and the early rain over the earth. Again, we have both the early rain and the latter rain together because the early rain will prepare the hearts to receive the saviour, while the latter rain will mature God’s faithful people, or make them ready for heaven.
Then, and only when we fulfil the conditions, follows the promise that God will give us rain at the right time: Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, (Deuteronomy 11:14, New King James Version).
What is the symbolic meaning of this?
God says he will give us the early rain and the latter rain in due time. Just as the early rain in Old Testament-times literally softened the earth to receive the seed and caused it to sprout, so the early rain also affects the hearts of all who accept Jesus as their saviour.
The Bible shows us in several places that the Lord himself uses the early rain and/or the latter rain in a symbolic way to illustrate certain aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Before a conversion can take place, the gospel must be sown (preached), but it cannot germinate if the heart is dry, therefore the Holy Spirit comes with the early rain so that when the seed is sown everything is ready for the seed to sprout, take root and grow. Then it is up to the one who hears the word to accept Christ or not. The soil on which the seed is sown must therefore be treated so that it is soft and moist when the seed is sown so that it germinates.
When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, it was to anoint the disciples and enable them to preach the gospel in a powerful way, and this experience can be compared to the early rain. At the same time, we learn that before the Spirit was poured out, certain conditions had to be met before God could fill the disciples with the Holy Spirit. One of these conditions was that all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, Acts 1:14 and that they were all with one accord in one place, Acts 2:1.
We see that it was a condition that they were in the same place. It was probably easier on the day of Pentecost than it is today. Just after Jesus ascended to heaven, there were no more Christians than could gather in a room, the upper room (Acts 1:13). It is obvious that all who belong to God’s church in the end times cannot stay in the same place, so this must be understood in a spiritual sense.
In our days, God’s faithful remnant live all over the world, and consequently cannot be in the same physical place, but we must all be in the same place spiritually, and then be united in prayer, invocation and have a united mind. No matter where God’s remnant dwells in the end times, they must be in the same place in a spiritual sense in that, they are of one mind, and that they remain united in prayer and invocation. We must take into account that God can also choose to give the latter rain to individuals. As the situation is in God’s end-time church today, it does not look promising for the church as a whole to be blessed with the latter rain. We are in far too many different places for that. Fortunately, it is not up to me to decide this question, but we cannot put under a chair all the disagreements that exist within our denomination.
Several conditions before God blesses us with the early rain and the late rain are that we do what Moses said to Israel in Leviticus 26:1-4, where it says. Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it, for I [am] the LORD your God. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I [am] the LORD. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them. Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
As said earlier, the Lord met his people in Old Testament times to give them the early rain and the latter rain. As we see from Deuteronomy 11:13-14, one of the conditions for them to receive the latter rain was that they had to keep all God’s commandments, another condition was that they loved the Lord with all their heart. Deuteronomy 11:13-14 says. And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, (New King James Version).
In the Acts of the Apostles we find a quote from the prophet Joel in the speech that Peter gave in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in the year 31, just after the apostles had received the Holy Spirit. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy, (Acts 2:16-18. See also Joel chapter 3).
Both the early rain and the latter rain are given under certain conditions, and Joel 2:23 tells us that it is the Lord who will give us the early rain and the latter rain. This verse points directly back to Leviticus 26:1-4 and to Acts 1:14 and 2:1 where the conditions are listed and the promise of blessing is given (Leviticus). Let us look at what these four verses tell us.
The conditions are:
We shall not make idols.
We shall not make graven image or a standing image.
We shall not set up pillars of stone and bow down unto them.
We shall keep God’s Sabbath.
We shall show reverence for God’s sanctuary.
We shall follow God’s laws and commandments.
We shall continue with one accord in prayer and supplication.
We shall all be in one place (spiritually).
Then, and only when we fulfil the conditions, follows the promise that God will give us rain at the right time. Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, (New King James Version).
The preparation for the latter rain.
As always, God’s people must prepare for the coming events, but not everyone worries about the preparations God says are necessary. In Noah’s time, only Noah and his family took the preparation seriously. Everyone could participate in the preparation that Noah preached, but no one except his family followed God’s call.
When Israel was to leave Egypt, a preparation was also necessary on the evening of the exodus, and only those who participated in this preparation were allowed to leave Egypt without losing their first-born son.
For us who live in the absolute end times, it is also a preparation. We must prepare ourselves spiritually so that we satisfy God’s demands on us to receive the latter rain, or the refreshing, as Ellen G. White also calls it. In Early Writings, she says. I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of “refreshing” and the “latter rain” to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence, (71.2).
An important part of the preparations we must make is to protect God’s holy Sabbath. God’s holy Sabbath will be the great contentious issue now in the end times, and we see that our earthly enemies are working double overtime to get a Sunday law in place. Whichever packaging this law gets, whether it comes as The Family Day, The Ten Environmental Commandments (10 Spiritual Principles for Climate Repentance), or it comes in another packaging, then all the people of the world will be forced into this law by the world’s state leaders. The core of this Sunday law, because it is a Sunday law even if it may be given a different name, is that Sunday should be a day off for all people – given by the papacy! What they seem to overlook is that God already at creation gave humanity a day to keep holy, when God the Creator blessed and sanctified the seventh day of the week – our Saturday – as his holy day – the Sabbath.
All secular forces and organizations will support this law initiated by the papacy. If the Sunday law comes disguised as The Family Day, all employee organizations will press this law to their chests as it guarantees all people across the planet at least one day off from work every week – Sunday. This means that all production that is not vital will have to stop on Sundays, which will go down well with environmental activists. If it comes disguised as The Ten Environmental Commandments, all environmental activists will also press it to their chests, as it will ban all unnecessary use of cars and the like.
Ellen G. White says this about the Sabbath and the latter rain. “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear, waiting saints. I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully”, (Early Writings 85.2). This view was given in 1847 when there were but very few of the Advent brethren observing the Sabbath, and of these but few supposed that its observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers. Now the fulfilment of that view is beginning to be seen, “the commencement of that time of trouble,” here mentioned does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary. At that time, while the work of salvation is closing, trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the work of the third angel. At that time the “latter rain,” or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out, (Early Writings 85.3).
Who are those who preach the end time message?
The term God’s people is an ephemeral term. This expression carries several meanings. In the broadest sense, it is all people, since we are all created in God’s image. If we narrow the picture a bit and leave out those who do not believe in God the Creator, there are those who are members of one or another church and who call themselves by the name of Christ. To define who there is who will preach the end-time message, we must go a step further, and exclude those who are not members of God’s end-time church. These are those who call themselves Christians and are members of a church community, and about whom Jesus himself says the following in Matthew 7:21-23. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Only those who meet the requirements God sets will be allowed to preach the end-time message, and these will do so with anointing and empathy. These are referred to as follows: Revelation 12:17 which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ*; Revelation 14:12 they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and * Revelation 19:10 those who have the testimony of Jesus … … For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Ellen G. White says of this particular people that they had put on the full armour of God, and freed themselves from the earthly ties that bound them. I heard those clothed with the armour speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, “It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel, (Early Writings 271.2).
In The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White tells of a result of the end-time preaching that will surpass anything that has been of revivals throughout history, and she refers to what happened in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in the year 31. She says. The work will be similar to that of the day of Pentecost. As the “former rain” was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the “latter rain” will be given at its close, for the ripening of the harvest. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. 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 last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved, (611.1).