They say your body can be in need of water without your realizing it. That is, you can be physically dehydrated and not know it. The same can be true for the church. People might think they have the Holy Spirit, but do they? Or, if they do, can they have more? We pray for the Holy Spirit. What is it?
The Holy Spirit is a person, one of the three persons of the one God. The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside the believer at the believer’s invitation. He gives us the power we need to be overcomers through Jesus. He gives us clarity of thought, discernment, an ability to understand what we should do in the times of intensity just ahead.
The Holy Spirit is a gift made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross for us and His Father’s acceptance of that sacrifice on our behalf. With the Father’s acceptance of Jesus’ sinless life and death for us, Jesus asks that the Father send us the Holy Spirit. This is a gift. One our own we are weak. We need God’s help. We need and want His Spirit to dwell in us, and help us to walk in the right way through all the challenges of life.
Who can receive the Holy Spirit? The Bible answer is in Acts 5:32: “we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
But that is no surprise. What does the Bible teach about God’s end-time people? We are described as those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
So I ask a question. If God’s end-time people keep His commandments, are they obeying Him? Yes. If they are obeying Him, will they have the Holy Spirit? Yes. If they have the Holy Spirit will they have the latter rain? Yes.
Wait a minute. The latter what?
The latter rain. There is a phenomenon spoken of in the Bible we call the latter rain. This is a supernatural endowment of power given to God’s faithful servants in the closing period of our work just before Jesus comes.
But we might not understand how significant this is or what is meant by the picture God is painting for us through His Bible writers. The planting and harvest seasons in Israel were just the opposite of ours. The first rains fell from October to the end of December, just before planting season. These rains softened the ground. And the last rains fell from March through April, just prior to harvest. Those rains ripened the harvest.
I have here all the Bible passages which directly mention the latter rain. Do you want to know more?
Before we study those together, let me share something from Ellen White’s book Testimonies to Ministers:
In the East the former rain falls at the sowing time. It is necessary in order that the seed may germinate. Under the influence of the fertilizing showers, the tender shoot springs up. The latter rain, falling near the close of the season, ripens the grain and prepares it for the sickle. The Lord employs these operations of nature to represent the work of the Holy Spirit. As the dew and the rain are given first to cause the seed to germinate, and then to ripen the harvest, so the Holy Spirit is given to carry forward, from one stage to another, the process of spiritual growth. The ripening of the grain represents the completion of the work of God’s grace in the soul. By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ.
The latter rain, ripening earth’s harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man. But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection.
There is to be “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” There must be a constant development of Christian virtue, a constant advancement in Christian experience. This we should seek with intensity of desire, that we may adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 506).
Now, let’s study the Bible and look into what we are told there. Our first stop is the first mention of this in the Bible: Deuteronomy 11:13-17.
‘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. ‘And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, “lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.
If we want the latter rain, if we truly, actually, meaningfully want it, there are conditions. Earnest obedience to God is loving God and serving Him with all my heart and all my soul. This is necessary. If we obey Him, in His power honestly living up to all the light He has given, then He will send the rain in its season. So first is the former or early rain. That is what gets the early stages of spiritual growth started.
Notice that to have a successful harvest, you need both the former or early rain and then the latter rain. People want to jump over the first rain and get straight to the latter rain. But effort is involved. If we are too lazy there will be no crop. Notice also the warnings given in Deuteronomy. If our heart is deceived, if we turn aside and serve other gods, God will shut up the heavens so that there be no rain.
Another passage is Proverbs 16:15, which simply says that having the king’s favor is like a cloud of the latter rain. Many today are mostly indifferent about having the favor of God their king. But He is the source of all blessing, and our need is so very great.
“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the LORD. “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed. Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth? Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, As you were able.”
The book of Jeremiah records God’s strong and relentless attempts to bring His people back from their unfaithfulness. The institutions God had set up to keep the nation spiritual—its prophets, its priests, its princes, and its king, had all gone into apostasy. The people were infatuated with material things and the nation appeared prosperous. But their compromises soon led to open apostasy and unfaithfulness. After they rejected all God’s entreaties, God caused the nation to be carried away to Babylonian captivity. It was an across-the-board reset.
This passage comes before all that but it shows us what happens when that condition of obedience is lacking. “Therefore the showers have been withheld.”
“Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying, ‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: Do you not fear Me?’ says the LORD. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it. But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you.
Open and indifferent sinning prevents the latter rain. Our sinning prevents God from doing the good that He would do for us.
Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.
God disciplines us with a purpose. The prophet Hosea likens receiving God’s help to the latter rain. His point is the necessity of our receiving His help. He wants to give us the latter rain but He withholds it for our own good. When we return to Him there He is waiting to give us this necessary and precious gift.
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
God will ripen His harvest. It is not a matter of if, but when. God will send the latter rain. He will send the former rain. He will give His people what they need to grow to a ripe spiritual harvest. But first there is a season of rebellion, backsliding, departure from God. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. But ultimately there will be a harvest of ripe wheat.
Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone. For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. “My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle. From him comes the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. They shall be like mighty men, who tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle. They shall fight because the LORD is with them, and the riders on horses shall be put to shame. “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the LORD their God, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.
God is sending the latter rain. We need to seek for it, ask for it. Although things often appear hopeless we will be as His soldiers in the battle, and all victorious in the end. Although leadership goes far astray, God has His ways of dealing with errant leadership. Our part is to labor on, and live and give the third angel’s message faithfully, in spite of all the departures we see, and stand in our part of the battle line.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
James calls us to persevere. As the farmer labors and waits, labors and waits, we are to labor and wait. We are to do our part. Those who would lead us into apostasy will not prevail. We are not to lose heart, not to lose hope. We are to persevere, and we will see the salvation of God.
Visions for the Last Days
Ellen White was given an interesting vision about the shaking and the latter rain. Here is part of it from page 270 of Early Writings:
I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people. I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified. Said the angel, “List ye!” Soon I heard a voice like many musical instruments all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard, seeming to be full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, “Look ye!” My attention was then turned to the company I had seen, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying in agony of spirit. The company of guardian angels around them had been doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, now shone with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy. The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their places were immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks.
A few paragraphs later in the testimony she wrote this:
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 Shaking 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.”
The scenario we face is thus marked out. The “shaking” we are going through is just one of many. Often God has had to initiate a sorting among His people. Those of us who want to be right can be right. But we will have to put in some effort.
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