The Former and the Latter Rains
What are the Former and the Latter Rains?
"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.” (Joel. 2:23)
In Israel there are two seasons of rain in a year. The Former Rain is for planting, and it falls in the Autumn months. The Latter Rain is for harvesting and it falls in the Spring months.
For descriptions of the Former and Latter Rains please refer to: Easton's Bible Dictionary
What is God’s Purpose in giving
the Former and the Latter Rains?
"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.‘” (Deut. 11:13-15)
God’s Purpose of giving the Former
and Latter Rains is for His People
to keep His Commandments
"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Lev. 26:3-5)
What happens if the People do
not keep God’s Commandments?
"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: . . . The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (Deut. 28:15-24)
God’s Withholding of Rain as
Judgment for the People’s Sins
"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.” (Deut. 11:16-17)
God actually Withheld the Rain
when Elijah was the Prophet in Israel
King Ahab followed his wife Jezebel to serve and worship Baal by setting up an altar and he made a wooden image for the false god, thus provoking the LORD God to anger. Elijah prophesied there would be no dew nor rain in the land, so God actually withheld the rain in Israel for three and half years (1 Kg. 16:29-33; 17:1; Lk. 4:25; Jas 5:17).
What is the Spiritual Symbolism for Rain?
God comes to us “like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.” (Hos. 6:3) The former and latter rain is the spiritual symbolism of God’s blessings and revival through the mighty outpouring of His Spirit on Zion – Israel and the New Testament Church (Joel 2:21-32; Acts 2:14-21; Isa 44:3).
Significance of the Former and
the Latter Rains on the Church
The Former Rain refers to the time of the Early Apostolic Church with the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit when the Gospel seeds were first sowed in the world (Acts 2:1-21).
The Latter Rain refers to the End Time when the Apostolic Church is restored with the outpouring of God’s Spirit for the Final Harvest of souls in the world.
The Former Rain
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
One Fold, One Shephard
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (Jn. 10:16)
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh . . . That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel . . . And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross ,” (Eph. 2:11-16)
Prophecy of Corruption in the
Church after the Former Rain
"And again He said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." (Lk. 13:20-21)
A woman symbolizes the Church (Eph. 5:30-31). Leaven is a fermented substance which is a symbol of any evil influence, if remain, can corrupt the whole body of believers (1 Cor. 5:6-13). Jesus warned His disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees (Mt. 16:5; Lk. 12:1).
What Does the Dry Period between
the Former and Latter Rain Signify?
In Israel there is a period of transition between the Former and the Latter Rains. God withheld rain in the time of the latter rain when His people disobeyed His commandments (Jer. 3:1-3). When Israel left God, He sent rain in one city and withheld rain in another city (Amos 4:6-9). This signifies the Holy Spirit, who has always been in the world, would become inactive in the apostate church, but would still be active in other churches that kept God's commandments (1 Jn. 3:24); 1 Cor. 12:3; Mt. 13:58).
According to church history in 313 A.D. after Christianity was officially accepted by the Roman emperor Constantine, he had compromised with many truths, and brought pagan doctrines into the Roman Catholic Church which had spiritually fallen. The Holy Spirit had left this church.
Emperor Constantine Changed God’s
Sabbath Day of Worship to Sunday
Emperor Constantine had been an avid sun worshiper, and so were the Romans. They worshiped the sun on Sunday. After Constantine became a Christian he wanted to make it easier for the Romans to also convert and become Christians, so he made a law to officially make Sunday a day to worship God. That is how the Roman Catholic Church and other churches violate God’s Sabbath Commandment.
Roman Catholics Have Changed the
Christian Way of True Water Baptism
The Roman Catholic Church also
Taught Their Believers to Worship Idols
The Second Commandment forbids bowing of knees before any image or person (Ex. 20:4-5)
Is the Roman Catholic Pope
One of the Antichrists?
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” (Rev. 13:18)
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The Roman Catholic Pope is not an Antichrist.! All Catholics believe in Jesus Christ. Only Islamic terrorists are Antichrists. They are all out to kill Christians.
Where Were the True Believers during
the Time When the Church Had Fallen?
God had always preserved a remnant consisting of true believers in every age (Isa.1:9). When Israel served and worshiped the false god, the True God told Elijah: "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Rom. 11:3-4 ref. 1 Kg. 19:10-18) Even when there was no rain (Holy Spirit being inactive) God still preserved 7,000 remnants who were true believers.
“Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Rom. 11:5)
Prophecy of a Spiritual Revival
in the Time of the Latter Rain
"And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea, And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur." (Zec. 14:8) Living Waters symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39).
Beginning of the Latter Rain
On January 1, 1901 a group of students at the Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A. prayed for the Holy Spirit. After Pastor Charles Parham laid hands on them they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues and in various languages. One student, Agnes Ozman, spoke and also wrote Chinese for three days. University language experts verified what they spoke in prayer were correct.
The Latter Rain Fell Wider
From Topeka this phenomenon became known as the Pentecostal experience of speaking with tongues. This movement was spread by William J. Seymour in Houston, Texas. He then moved to Los Angeles, California to set up the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street. During the 1906 Great Revival hundreds of missionaries came from all over the world to receive the Holy Spirit, then returned home to preach that message. That was how the Latter Rain fell wider.
The Latter Rain Fell in China
After receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking with tongues in Los Angeles in 1907, an American missionary named Bernt Berntsen went to Shanghai, China in 1908 to set up the Apostolic Faith Mission there.
Zhang Ling-Sheng, a Presbyterian deacon, went to the Apostolic Faith Mission in Shanghai, but did not receive the Holy Spirit there. On returning to Shandong he prayed for two months. On December 21, 1909 he received the Holy Spirit and also God’s revelation to observe the Seventh Day Sabbath.
True Jesus Church Was Established
during the Time of the Latter Rain
Zhang Ling-Sheng preached Baptism of the Holy Spirit and worshiped on the Seventh Day Sabbath in his home and called their assembly Jesus True Church.
Paul Wei, a member of the London Missionary Society, had a serious illness but could not find any cure. He went to the Apostolic Faith Mission in Beijing in 1916, and Elder Xin Shengmin laid hands on him and he was miraculously healed.
Paul Wei received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. In March 1917 God instructed him to pray and fast (no food and drink) for 39 days and nights, after which he was told to receive the Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ with head bowed in the likeness of His death with complete immersion in the living water. He began to baptize believers in this mode and originally called the congregation International Reformation Jesus True Church, but at the end of 1917 the Holy Spirit guided the name to be changed to the True Jesus Church.
Paul Wei met Zhang Ling-Sheng with Barnabas Zhang in Tianjin in the Spring of 1918, and after much prayer they decided to work closely together in the True Jesus Church.
The Latter Rain Continues to Fall
“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.” (Zec. 10:1)
What is given in this presentation is liken to only a bucketful of water that is collected in a heavy downpour of rain. The Latter Rain will continue to fall until the Lord’s Second Coming.
This Article is based on the Sermon preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on June 2, 2012.
For comments please write to:
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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