What is meant by the latter rain recorded in the bible?
The bible often predicts the Holy Spirit as “rain”, which includes autumn and spring rain (Deut 11:14).
Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon men and started His work (Acts 2:1).
The Holy Spirit comes from the Father; heaven and earth were created through Him, and so was the building of the church. On Pentecost, the Spirit was poured down like rain, anointing the believers waiting in Jerusalem. That was called baptism by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). The bible often predicts the Holy Spirit as “rain,” which includes autumn rain and spring rain (Deut 11:14) to meet the needs of agriculture
(Jas 5:7, 18).
According to this revelation, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was autumn rain while the descent of the Holy Spirit at present is spring rain (latter rain). Spring rain is followed by summer. Jesus prophesied: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its loaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near right at the door.” (Mt 24:32-33) The fig tree refers to the kingdom of Israel which has been restored and is budding and leafing. We know that the coming of the Lord is near. Now it is the time of the spring rain which will be followed by summer. In the past winter, the sky was shut (Lk 4:25; Jas 5:17). Revelation 11:6 predicted that after the apostolic times, for more than two hundred years, the church deviated from the truth and took part in the wrong practices of the Roman religion. From that time on, the Holy Spirit stopped its descent.
What is the prophecy in the Bible concerning the sky being shut that no rain fell?
This was an important transformation. In the Old Testament, God gave the reasons:
1. Deuteronomy 11:16-17 says, “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and He will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.”
2. Jeremiah 5:24-25: “He gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest. Your wrong doings have kept this away: your sins have deprived you of good.” Jeremiah 3:2: “You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen.”
Although the above verses were spoken to ancient Israelites, they are also an indication of the reasons why the Holy Spirit stopped descending on the New Testament church. During the reign of Ahab, King of Israel, it did not rain for three and a half years because Ahab had been deceived and deviated from the right way, worshipping and serving Baal the false God. He did more to provoke the Lord to anger than all the other kings of Israel before Him (I Kgs 16:32-33). The prophecy was fulfilled in Ahab and replicated in the times of Roman religion when people went astray and worshipped false gods. The rain did not fall for natural reasons. God wanted rain to fall in due time but the church followed wicked ways and so the work of the spirit left the church.
The latter rain of the Holy Spirit descended
Jesus said, “Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (Jn 16:7).
The Spirit sent by Christ continues the work of Jesus in the world as the Father sent Jesus to do His work (Jn 9:4).
Can we pray for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. How can we receive it today?
The Bible teaches us the following:
1. To receive the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth ( Jn 14:17), we need to believe in and obey God through the perfect gospel of salvation (Acts 5:32). Prophet Hosea says, “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” (Hos 6:3). Here, the prophet assures us that God will come to us as surely as the dawn and the rain. All that He requires of us is that we pursue to know Him through His word and to obey it.
2. We need to ask God for His Spirit (Lk 11:9–13). Zechariah says, “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” (Zech 10:1). The Bible also encourages us with the example of Elijah who prayed for rain during a time of spiritual and physical drought and was answered by God (1 Kgs 18:41–45; Jas 5:17–18). Elder James reinforces the importance of asking by reminding us, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask” ( Jas 4:2).
3. To receive the Holy Spirit, we need to remove any impurities from our hearts, such as indifference, complacency and pride. This is because they will act as obstacles in our communication with God (see Lk 18:9–14). The Book of Proverbs reminds us saying, “Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov 1:23).
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