The True Former and the Latter Rain
The first Pentecost was the birth of the Church and
marked the event of when the Holy Spirit was first given. It was directed
towards the Jewish people who were to bring the gospel to the nations.
While this has become a cliché for the so-called new revival, there are
numerous differences between then and now. The Holy Spirit came like a
mighty rushing wind at this first assembly. We don't see this repeated at
any other time in Scripture so we should not expect to see this today.
Also, the shekinah glory appeared over each person in the upper room in
the form of a visible presence. We should not expect to see that today
either, because it was never repeated in the New Testament. It was a
singular act showing a physical manifestation that the Spirit was first
given in the upper room to a gathering of a faithful remnant.
The believers spoke in other tongues. Others heard them
in their own languages giving praises to God. This was a sign for those
who were unbelievers. It was then that Peter gave a bold sermon on what
this relates to.
Peter has just stood up among the 11 who were accused
of being drunk and states that they are not drunk. Their accusers who
were mockers were mistaken because they heard them speak in other
languages. Yet we hear from promoters of the new revivals, that these
people were drunk in the Spirit, acting like drunks. Peter says that they
were not drunk, meaning they were not acting like that. He then relates
this to the prophet Joel. If one examines the context more carefully,
this takes on a completely different meaning.
Today the Latter Rain adherents believe in a last day’s
revival unlike any other in history. The Bible speaks more specifically
on a great falling away instead of a harvest in the last days. This
movement is an outgrowth of the restoration kingdom now movement and
claiming to bring restored truth to the earth. It is mostly anti-Israel
and applies eschatological passages for Israel to the church. This
involves numerous false teachings such as the manifested Sons of God
doctrine, that certain
believers will not die but be made immortal in these last days. That
there will be an army led by new prophets and apostles into the greatest
manifestations of spiritual gifts the church has ever seen. Miracles will
be greater than even the apostles.
A common mistake is taking the scripture in Acts 2:17 which says: 'God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.' This verse is being used to substantiate what is happening in the new revivals today. This is not the meaning of this verse and cannot be applied today. The question that needs to be asked is when does this prophecy occur?
What exactly did Peter mean when he said this and
quoted Joel 2:28? Peter says in his Kerygma in Acts 2 quoting from Joel 2
and purposely stops because the later part of this verse
and next chapter is for a different time period. 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. The location where
this takes place is Israel. The people being referred to are the Jews.
Peter himself makes perfectly clear who he is speaking to and where he
is. (Also 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 2:10-1 1. 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 happened in Joel
2. This is known as the law of double reference in which a prophecy has a
partial fulfillment at that time and a complete fulfillment at a later
date. This can be classified as a literal prophecy with application (a
pre-fulfillment). There is a similarity in one point of the text, yet he
quotes all of it from Joel. This one point of similarity has to do with
the manifestation of the Spirit. What Peter said is this is “like that”
(Acts 2:16) not this is that! In Acts 1:4-5, we read about the promise
that Jesus told the disciples: “John baptized you in water but you will
be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now...” This promise that
Jesus made to the disciples was followed not many days later with the
fulfillment of the promise of the prophet Joel. If one looks carefully at
Joel and then at what took place in Acts 2, we see that it was not
fulfilled in a completely literal sense at that time. Ex: They did not
prophesy or dream dreams. 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'. So this is clearly referring to a specific time and a
future event. None of these natural phenomenon’s had occurred in Acts 2
but had some similarities. Those at Pentecost were experiencing a glimpse
of what would happen by the Spirit at the end of the tribulation period,
which would bring revival to Israel as a nation. This would be a greater
harvest in number and in spiritual manifestations will be given to people
of all ages both men and women alike.
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 feasts begin in September in the Jewish calendar.
In Joel 2:27, the phrase 'former rain' is used in the
spring, and the 'latter Rain' denotes the autumn. Joel is saying that in
the Millennium, both of these rains will occur in the first month. 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.
Truly 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. Truly the meaning conveyed here is physical rain needed
to restore wheat, wine, and oil. 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 three feasts will be fulfilled by his 2nd
coming as he literally comes to earth to bring his kingdom and rule the
Israel is Gods timepiece for nations. The clock is now stopped and is known as the time of the Gentiles and it corresponds to the summer period on the Jewish calendar. It is a time of working and plowing the ground getting the land ready for the next harvest. Now this idea of why the rain comes and stops and the 2nd rain is stronger than the first rain. The rain comes in the beginning and the end, it shows us why so many Jews were saved in the beginning of the Church and why so many 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, this first harvest takes place 7 weeks after Passover and it is the grain harvest. On Pentecost three thousand were saved on this day as the first harvest. But we are looking at these feasts Jesus fulfilled in his first coming Passover/unleaven bread, first fruits and weeks. In between is the summer season the church age the time of the Gentiles and grace. There is very little rain for Israel. In the Jewish calendar the latter rain corresponds to the autumn feasts of Trumpets, day of Atonement, the feast of Tabernacle (booths).
After this he says (v. 28), He pours out His Spirit on
all flesh. What flesh? Specifically Israel's for their salvation.
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,” 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). 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.
They are called Gods army but this does not mean they
are his people. In the same way Cyrus was called Gods shepherd Isa.44:28
he was given all the kingdoms of the earth Ezra 1:2, 2 chron.36:23,
He was called God's anointed Isa. 45:1:”Thus says the LORD to His
anointed, to Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar was also called Gods servant
Jer. 43:10: “ 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I
will send and bring Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant,
If we go back to Joel 2:20 it refers to the defeat of
the Northern Army, God himself removes it. “His stench will come up and
his foul odor will rise because he has done monstrous things.” They will
be judged and destroyed in the tribulation (Many refer this passage to
Joel's Army as an army doing God's will through signs and wonders from
the Latter Rain being poured out on them). However, the context in which
we read about Joel's Army clearly shows that this army is destructive to
Israel (vs. 3, 5, 6), and God will destroy it. So why would anyone want
to be part of this army. V.25 This army is described as locusts that have
brought ruin. In v.28 we find it is after this army marches and is
destroyed, that God will pour out his Spirit. This all occurs just before
the end of the tribulation. Peter inserts “in the last days” for his
application of this verse. Why? Because he stops before v.32 of Joel “
And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD
shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be
deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD
calls.” So there is an ultimate fulfillment to occur for this prophecy
that happens in Jerusalem to the Jewish people who are saved from this
destructive army which marches through their land. It is Gods way of
humbling them and bringing them to repentance.
Joel 3:1 says “in those days” and “at that time.” This describes the time period which ends with Armageddon, as he gathers all the nations 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 judgment of the nations begins after the Tribulation ends, just before the Lord sets up His millennial reign (Mt.24 continues into Mt.25 where he separates the sheep from the goats). Only at this time will peace between the nations occur. While there is typology we do not use it to interpret doctrine it is to illustrated it. Doctrine is to interpret typology. Keeping those things in the context in which they were written is most important. If one is not within the sphere of the author's original meaning, then the Word is no longer communicating truth. The only way one can get around this context is to spiritualize or allegorize this passage, ripping it from its intended context. Which is exactly what we find these teachers for the new revival doing, applying it to themselves. While there is a spiritual application we find it is to Israel and to the unsaved, giving it no application for the church today.
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 being about the Church. The Church today is trying to either make his kingdom on earth now with ruling Apostles and Prophets, or waiting patiently for Christ to bring the kingdom to earth, with him physically being there to rule. Personally I’ll wait for the real thing!
Information Sheet LET US REASON ministries by Mike Oppenheimer