What does the Latter Rain in the Bible mean?


This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic) Français (French) हिन्दी (Hindi) Español (Spanish)

What is the Latter rain in the Bible?

About the latter rain, the prophet Joel wrote, “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 “latter rain” in the above verse is interpreted as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s children. The prophet Joel referred to fact that after planting, a seasonal rain provided moisture for germination and initial growth. This was called the “early rain.” Later, near the time for harvest, another watering was referred to as the “latter rain.” So, while the first rain was important for germination, the second rain provided a nourishment that was important for the harvest.

Biblical writers used the terms “latter rain” and “former rain” to describe the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the church in a dispensational sense. The “early rain” came at Pentecost to give power to the witness of the gospel. Another outpouring of rain, will be coming at earth’s final soul harvest before the second coming of Christ.

What is the purpose of the Latter Rain?

The “latter rain” and the out pouring of the Holy Spirit will be simply to qualify the saints for witnessing. This power for witnessing gives power within, power to proclaim the truth and power to lead sinners to God. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and transformed them from fearful men to brave worriers for Christ. They spoke the truth with boldness in spite of threats, persecution and even death.

Some assume that the purpose of latter rain revival is to provide victory over sin. But this is not so. No one will receive the “latter rain” who do not already have the victory over sin through the “early rain.” Under the power of that spiritual baptism, strength is available for complete victory over every weakness. Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”  (Philippians 4:13).

Witnesses to the world

In contrast with the Great Commission given when Christ first sent out the Twelve (Matthew 10:5, 6), this work of witnessing is to be world wide. Jesus said, “But 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).

The beginning of this universal work started in the book of Acts. And we have the outline for the disciples’ ministry there:  (1) Jerusalem and Judea (chs. 1 to 7), (2) Samaria (chs. 8 to 10), (3) and the uttermost part of the earth (chs. 11 to 28). And this ministry will continue till the end.

Through the faithful followers of Christ, the Lord would spread the work He began on earth, and even “greater works” than those He accomplished (John 14:12). These works will be greater in quantity rather than quality. Christ’s ministry had reached over a relatively small section of the world. But after His ascension, the gospel will reach the whole world.

The Spirit-given witness will be a defining mark of the believers. Christians today are called to give a personal witness to the life and teachings of Christ, so that the Lord would save the world through His grace and to the ministry of the truth in their own lives. This is the most powerful testimony that can be given. Without personal experience, there can be no genuine Christian witness.

The apostle Peter is a great example of witness in the early church. He proclaimed after  healing of the lame man, “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:10).

The end-time sign

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Thirty years after Jesus uttered these words, Paul stated that the gospel had gone to all the world (Colossians 1:23; Romans 1:8; 10:18; Colossians 1:5, 6), confirming the literal fulfillment of this prediction in his day. However, his statement was right but in a limited way and will find a later complete fulfillment.

Christ is coming to harvest the faithful of the world. John the Revelator declared, “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. (Revelation 14:14). Therefore, we need the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to prepare the world to this end time harvest.
In the same way that the former rain fell on those who already knew about the Savior and had a daily connection with Him through the Scriptures, so the latter rain is going to fall on those who will have the mark of God and His seal (Revelation 9:4). These saints are described as keeping the commandment of God and having the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

How to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

About being filled with the Holy Spirit to be part of the latter rain work, the apostle Paul wrote, “That he (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

We become filled with the Holy Spirit by faith. “That that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).

The first step of preparation for being filled with the Holy Spirit anointing is to claim the gift of justification which is accepting Christ and receiving instant justification from all past confessed sins through His blood (1 John 1: 9).

The second step is called sanctification which is a daily submission to God’s will through the study of the word, prayer and walking in the light. When we ask in faith and claim the power to stop yielding to sin, God places His strength in our lives. And in that moment, we can claim deliverance from any habit of sin.

The Scriptures repeatedly confirm that the Holy Spirit cannot be given to those who are disobedient. “And we are his witnesses of these things and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32). When justification and sanctification unite to work in the life, the believer experiences the “blessing of Abraham” in the full sense.

The third step involves an exercise of the same kind of faith for sharing with others the powerful experiences of Justification and sanctification. It consists of actually claiming the promised power to make our words convicting and fruitful to fulfill God’s great commission of sharing the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Subscribe to our Weekly Updates:

Get our latest answers straight to your inbox when you subscribe here.

You May Also Like