Are we seeing the Latter Rain that the book of Joel predicted?
There are three facets to keep in mind to have a correct interpretation of Acts 2:17 which refers to Joel 2,3.
All three need to be accurate to determine if in fact it this outpouring has taken place.
1.Time- this occurs in the tribulation period near the end, so it is impossible for this to be happening now.
2.Place- It begins in Israel specifically Mt. Zion (Jerusalem).
3. Recipients- It is to the Jewish people primarily for them to be saved. If this is not taking place with all three elements then it has not happened as the Scripture records and it is not fulfilled prophecy.
Latter Rain adherents have a movement that believes in a last day’s revival unlike any other in history. This revival is for the church. They incorrectly apply eschatological passages specifically for Israel to the church. The common mistake is taking the scripture in Acts 2:17 which says: 'God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh,' to substantiate what is happening in the new revivals today. This is not the meaning of this verse and cannot be applied today for the above mentioned reasons.
If we go back to the book of Joel (2:28-32), we find that the timing of these events are just before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord, which is the day he comes back (Armegeddon). The location where this takes place is the land of Israel. The people being referred to are the Jews. Peter himself is in Jerusalem and speaking to the Jews at Pentecost. (Joel 3 states: 'for behold in those days and in that time...' It then goes on to speak of Armageddon and judgment). This is also mentioned earlier in Chapter 2:10-11. So we see that this is speaking specifically to the Jewish nation concerning a future event. What Peter is referring to in Acts 2 does not include all of what is to happen in Joel 2. It is partial fulfillment at Peters time and a complete fulfillment will be at a later date. There is a main similarity that Peter explains, to say this is what Joel spoke of- it has to do with the pouring out of the Spirit (a manifestation of the Spirit among the Jewish brethren).
We should also notice that Peter quotes Joel, mentioning that the sun is darkened and the moon is turned to blood-red: 'Blood and pillars of smoke before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the Lord'. This is referring to a specific time - a future event. Those at Pentecost were experiencing a glimpse, a taste of what would happen by the Spirit at the end of the tribulation period, which would bring revival to Israel as a nation.
All of the book of Joel is uniquely linked to the national salvation of the Jews preceding Christ's return it is referring to the Tribulation period. In verse 23, we find the phrase 'the latter rain' that has been used and is still being ascribed to revival: '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 is in September, the first month of the fall feast days (V.24). “The threshing floor shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.' The fall feast days begin in September in the Jewish calendar, it is a harvest time.
In Joel 2:27, the phrase 'former rain' is used in the spring, and the 'latter Rain' denotes the autumn. Joel is saying that at this time, both of these rains will occur together. God will pour out His provisions on their crops, thereby giving Israel abundance and restoring the material blessings to their nation which will prove that God is with them again, and that their shame has been removed. The meaning conveyed here is physical rain needed to restore wheat, wine, and oil. What's even more important is that the latter rain is in the first month. In Israel you have two rainy seasons called the former and later rain. At the end of the spring rain you had a harvest that was for grain, at the end of the Autumn season you had a harvest which was for fruit. But you also have a long hot summer in Israel. Israel basically has two seasons Israel is agriculturally reliant on its water supply because it doesn’t rain in summer. To understand this now spiritually. The former rain, the latter rain are two rains and they correspond to the 7 feast days given in Lev.23. In the first portion, the former rain, 4 feasts of Israel were fulfilled in the spring season by Jesus' first coming, the last feast was Pentecost. The last three feasts come after the summer season of planting. They will be completed by his 2nd coming, as He literally comes to earth to bring his kingdom and rule to the nations.
The clock is now stopped and we are in the time of the Gentiles and it corresponds to the summer period on the Jewish calendar, the in between time of planting for the last harvest. It is a time of working and plowing the ground getting the land ready for the next harvest. The rain comes and stops, the rain comes in the beginning and in the end the 2nd rain is greater because it is both the former season and latter season together. Many Jews were saved in the beginning of the Church and many more will be saved in the end as Romans 11 says. This is the spiritual application of former and latter of the two rains. It is the latter rain that is so abundant that it is like two seasons put together. This Spirit is poured out on Israel. On Pentecost three thousand were saved at this first harvest, after this he says (v. 28), He pours out His Spirit on all flesh. What flesh? Specifically Israel's for their salvation. The Spirit is poured out and all of Israel will be saved. In Acts 2: The words 'your sons, your daughters, your old men, and your young men' are all referring to the fact that God is speaking to Israel then and also in the future. When Peter quoted this, it was to the Jews who were there in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. The future fulfillment also refers to the Jews in Israel. This is not applied to the unsaved Gentiles but to all the flesh of Israel (Rom. 11:25).
Zech.12:10: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son.”
The timing of this event is in the tribulation v.31 before the great and awesome day of the Lord. In Rev.6:12 it relates this event with the sixth seal of the tribulation. V.32 it is the remnant that calls upon his name.
Joel 3:1 says “in those days” and “at that time.” This describes the time period which ends with Armageddon, as all the nations are gathered into the valley of Meggido for judgment. In vs.12-15 he enters into judgment which is found in Rev.14:18. In Joel 3:13 he puts in the sickle for the harvest (Rev.19:15). v.15 the sun and moon grow dark and the stars become dim (also found in Mt.24:29, Rev.6:12 ). It is in these days that the complete fulfillment will occur.
The only way one can apply this to any revival today in the church is to spiritualize or allegorize this passage, removing it from its intended context. Which is exactly what we find these teachers for the new revival doing, as they apply it to themselves. Joel’s book is about the tribulation period and Israel, so there is no justification for putting his prophecy as being fulfilled before the tribulation or toward the Church today.
For more in depth info go to www.letusreason.org/Latrain2.htm