What is the Latter Rain in the Bible?
About the latter rain, the prophet Joel told the Israelites, God will bring rain for your land. He 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 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.
God promised His people great blessings represented by showers of rain. This was part of His covenant. “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).
“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” (James 5:7).
What is the purpose of the Latter Rain?
The “latter rain” or the spring rain is interpreted as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s children. 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. And another outpouring of rain will be coming at earth’s final soul harvest before the second coming of Christ.
The “latter rain” and the outpouring 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 warriors for Christ. They spoke the truth with boldness despite 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 affirmed this truth, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Witnesses to the world
“‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
In contrast with the Great Commission given when Christ first sent out the Twelve disciples (Matthew 10:5, 6), this work of witnessing is to be worldwide. 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: (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. They will do 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 ascention, 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. The Lord would save the world through His grace and the ministry of the truth in believers own lives. This is the most powerful testimony that can be given. Without sharing the 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
Jesus Christ said, “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). His statement was right but in a limited way and will find a later complete fulfillment. The Lord is coming soon 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 having two characteristics: keeping the commandment of God and having the faith of Jesus (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).
How to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
About being filled with the Holy Spirit to be part of the latter rain evangelism, 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).
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 forgiveness 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 His 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 (Galatians 3:14).
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 claiming the promised power to make our words convicting and fruitful to fulfill God’s great commission of sharing the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 28:19).
In His service,