“Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zechariah 10:1
“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 is a most important subject now at the end of the world. But few in Adventism have a clear understanding of what it is, when it is given, and God’s purpose in giving it. The latter rain must be recognized by those who will receive it (Testimonies to Ministers pg. 507). But erroneous ideas on this subject are preparing many to fail to recognize and ultimately reject it. The rejection of the latter rain will leave them unprepared to stand through the closing scenes of this world’s history, and a recipient of the Mark of the Beast. But those who prepare their hearts by obedience to the truth will recognize, and receive, the latter rain. They will receive the seal of God, and partake of the special honour of being part of the remnant God will use to call his children out of Babylon.
This article will seek to illuminate some key concepts within this vast subject.
The Latter Rain is the Outpouring of God’s Spirit
The first question to be answered is “what is the latter rain?” The latter rain at its most basic level is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
“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
“Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: 4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. 5 One shall say, I am the LORD’S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Isaiah 44:2-5
The Spirit of Prophecy describes it as a token of “divine favour”, “spiritual grace”, and the “outpouring of the Spirit”:
“It is true that in the time of the end, when God’s work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God’s church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.
“But near the close of earth’s harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest “in the time of the latter rain.” In response, “the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain.” “He will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain,” Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23.” Acts of the Apostles, 54.2-55.
The outpouring of the Spirit is given to cause individual Christians (represented as the grass – Zechariah 10:1, Isaiah 44:3-4) to grow. The growth of the grass represents growing into the fullness of Christ; coming to reflect His character fully (Ephesians 4:14-15, 2 Peter 3:18). Therefore if the early rain symbolizes the imparting of God’s Spirit to cause the seed to bud (or produce conversion and repentance), the latter rain represents the giving of God’s Spirit to perfect the Christian and cause him to bear fruit.
The Holy Spirit is given at every stage of Christian development – “first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear” (Mark 4:28). But the latter rain represents that special outpouring of grace that without, no seed can be perfected (James 5:7). And once the fruit of a Christlike character has been reproduced in His people, He will come to claim them as His own:
“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” Christ Object Lessons, 69.1
The Latter Rain is a Message
The latter rain is the outpouring of God’s Spirit; but it is communicated through a message. Deuteronomy likens it to doctrine:
“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:” Deuteronomy 32:1, 2
Solomon describes God’s act of pouring out His Spirit as making His words known to His people:
“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” Proverbs 1:23
Consider Isaiah 55:10-11:
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
The 28th chapter of Isaiah conveys this understanding as it states that the “refreshing”, which is the latter rain, is communicated by bringing “line upon line” and “precept upon precept” from God’s word (Isaiah 28:9-13, Acts 3:19, Great Controversy pg. 611).
The Latter Rain Message in 1888
In 1888 God tried to pour His Spirit upon His people. He attempted to do this through the message of Righteousness by Faith preached by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. The Spirit of Prophecy is clear that this message was the latter rain message for that time:
“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” 1888 Materials, 1336.2
However the 1888 Message was rejected by the leaders of the church at that time, and the latter rain was withheld:
“…An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth[that the law in Galatians is the moral law], lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren Waggoner and Jones. By exciting that opposition, Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” 1888 Materials, 1575.2
So what is the latter rain message now at the end of the world? This question is answered in the section entitled “The Latter Rain in our Day.”
The Latter Rain and the Angel of Revelation 18
Revelation 14:9-12 sets forth the three angels messages. However Revelation 18:1-3 brings to view another angel, a fourth angel that lightens the earth with its glory. This angel joins the first three and its message is both a repetition and an expansion of that of the Second Angel.
“I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven, descending to the earth, and again ascending to heaven, preparing for the fulfillment of some important event. Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere, as he cried mightily, with a strong voice, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” The message of the fall of Babylon, as given by the second angel, is repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the churches since 1844. The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry. And the people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet. I saw a great light resting upon them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel’s message.” Early Writings, 277.1
“The latter rain is to fall upon the people of God. A mighty angel is to come down from heaven, and the whole earth is to be lighted with his glory.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891 par. 11
The Angel of Revelation 18:1-3 brings the latter rain which empowers God’s people to give the third Angel’s message with a “Loud Cry.” The Midnight Cry given by the Millerites in 1844 is a type of the more extensive and worldwide movement under the Loud Cry of Revelation 18:
“The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel’s message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted power is here foretold. The advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel’s message was carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are to be exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the third angel.” The Great Controversy, 611.1
The movement brought to view under the angel of Revelation 18:1-3 is also typified by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost:
“The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost. As the “former rain” was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the “latter rain” will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:3. “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.” Joel 2:23. “In the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.” “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17, 21.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are “the times of refreshing” to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.” Acts 3:19, 20.” The Great Controversy, 611
First the Sprinkling and Then the Full Outpouring
Another fact not readily understood about the latter rain is that it comes in two parts. It is first “sprinkled” upon God’s people preparatory to their receiving the full outpouring. This two step process can be seen in Revelation 18 where we read of the Angel that lightens the earth with its glory (verses 1-3). But this Angel is followed by “another voice” which follows the Fourth Angel’s declaration that Babylon has fallen with a call to come out of her (verses 4-24).
This two step process for the giving of the latter rain can also be seen in the history of Pentecost. After His resurrection, Christ breathed the Holy Ghost upon His disciples:
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” John 20:21, 22
The Spirit of Prophecy states that this was as a few drops before the showers of Pentecost:
“The act of Christ in breathing upon his disciples the Holy Ghost, and in imparting his peace to them, was as a few drops before the plentiful shower to be given on the day of Pentecost.” Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 3, 244.1
This “sprinkling” of the Spirit led the disciples into an experience. This experience is illustrated in the first chapter of the book of Acts:
“Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.” Acts 1:12-16
The disciples were in “one accord in prayer and supplication.” The once discordant group, wracked by jealousies, surmising, and striving for the supremacy, became united. They were led to pray and to study the prophecies (Acts 1:16). They were thus prepared to receive the full outpouring of the Spirit which came on the day of Pentecost:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
So the latter rain comes in two parts. This is an important point to understand because many Seventh Day Adventists are waiting for the latter rain to be given at the passing of the national Sunday law. They do not know that the latter rain is given in measure shortly before that event. And this sprinkling must be received if they are to be prepared to receive the full outpouring. They are waiting until the Sunday law to begin a work that they should already have started. Thus the closing scenes will find them unprepared and they will receive the Mark of the Beast.
The Latter Rain in Our Day
The latter rain is poured out to prepare the grain (God’s people) for the harvest. The harvest is the end of the world (Matt 13:39). We are living in time of the end; therefore we can now expect to receive the latter rain which will prepare us to give the Loud Cry.
But does inspiration provide any addition information as to when exactly the latter rain shall fall? Consider the following:
“How comes the word that I have declared that New York is to be swept away by a tidal wave? This I have never said. I have said, as I looked at the great buildings going up there, story after story, ‘What terrible scenes will take place when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Then the words of Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled.’ The whole of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is a warning of what is coming on the earth. But I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York, only that I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God’s power. From the light given me, I know that destruction is in the world. One word from the Lord, one touch of his mighty power, and these massive structures will fall. Scenes will take place the fearfulness of which we can not imagine.” Review and Herald, July 5, 1906 par. 14
When the “great buildings” in New York are thrown down, it is then that the latter rain will begin to be shed upon God’s people. The latter rain is first sprinkled before being poured out fully and it is poured out fully at the Sunday Law. So the Angel of Revelation 18 which descended when the great buildings in New York were thrown down brought not the full outpouring, but the sprinkling which precedes it. The great buildings in New York were thrown down on September 11, 2001. This fact is universally understood as the event marked a turning point in the history of the United States and in the history of the world.
The Spirit of Prophecy points out that it is in connection with such crises that the light (or message) for that time is given:
“There are periods which are turning points in the history of nations and of the church. In the providence of God, when these different crises arrive, the light for that time is given. If it is received, there is spiritual progress; if it is rejected, spiritual declension and shipwreck follow. The Lord in His word has opened up the aggressive work of the gospel as it has been carried on in the past, and will be in the future, even to the closing conflict, when Satanic agencies will make their last wonderful movement…” Bible Echo, August 26, 1895 par. 11
The Angel of Revelation 18 joins and empowers the Third Angel’s Message. The Third Angel’s Message is Daniel 11:40-45.
But the light received on 9/11 was an increase of knowledge pertaining to Islam (the Third Woe of Revelation 9), its role in bringing about the formation of a New World Order and in marking the commencement of the sealing of the 144,000.
These facts can be more clearly comprehended when the repetition of sacred history is understood. God’s people at the end of the world are repeating the history of the Millerite movement between 1840 and 1844 (see Millerite Parallel Chart).
This is the time period in which the First and Second Angels Messages were first proclaimed. The Third Angel, we are told, is to run parallel to the First and Second:
“God has given the messages of Revelation 14 their place in the line of prophecy, and their work is not to cease till the close of this earth’s history. The first and second angel’s messages are still truth for this time, and are to run parallel with this which follows. The third angel proclaims his warning with a loud voice. “After these things,” said John, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.” In this illumination, the light of all the three messages is combined.” 1888 Materials, 804.3
Given that the First and Second Angels messages also represent the history that took place in connection with these two messages, it follows that the Third Angel, if it indeed runs parallel to the First and the Second, represents a repetition of the history of the First and Second.
During the history of the Millerites the fulfillment of a prophecy pertaining to Islam (391 year and 15 day prophecy of Revelation 9:13-15) acted as a catalyst to empower the movement. Following the fulfilment of this prophecy the work of proclaiming the First Angel’s message rapidly progressed.
“In the year 1840 another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of theOttoman Empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown “in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;” and only a few days previous to its accomplishment he wrote: “Allowing the first period, 150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascended the throne by permission of the Turks, and that the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found to be the case.”—Josiah Litch, in Signs of the Times, and Expositor of Prophecy, August 1, 1840.
“At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. (See Appendix.) When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the advent movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and in publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.” The Great Controversy, 334.4-335.1
As we look to the history of the Third Angel’s message, it will be a prophecy pertaining to Islam that will empower the final movement of God’s people. It cannot be a prophecy pertaining to the Second Woe of Revelation 9 as this Woe has already been fulfilled. It must pertain to the Third Woe which entered the stage of prophetic history on September 11, 2001.
Preparing for the Latter Rain
Are we ready to take part in the glorious work of the third angel? Are our vessels ready to receive the heavenly dew? Have we defilement and sin in the heart? If so, let us cleanse the soul temple, and prepare for the showers of the latter rain. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will never come to hearts filled with impurity. May God help us to die to self, that Christ, the hope of glory, may be formed within!
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” Testimonies for the Church Vol. 5, 214.2
The passage above emphasizes the importance of sanctification of the mind and obedience to the truth as preparation to receive the latter rain. The latter rain will “never come to hearts filled with impurity.” But it is a sad truth that the vast majority of God’s professed people will not engage in this heart work. By continuing in sin; indulging the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – they disqualify themselves to receive the latter rain which would prepare them for the seal of God.
That the latter rain will be not be recognized by the majority of God’s people is illustrated in the Manna test given to Israel in the wilderness. The manna, the bread God rained down from Heaven, is a symbol of the latter rain. How did Israel respond to this heavenly bread?
“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.” Exodus 16:14, 15
They said “it is manna,” meaning “what?” or “what is it?” They did not recognize it. And in the course of time they came to reject it. What did they want in its stead? They lusted after leeks and onions of Egypt – worldly, false or man-pleasing doctrine.
“The mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” Thus they manifested their discontent with the food provided for them by their Creator. Yet they had constant evidence that it was adapted to their wants; for notwithstanding the hardships they endured, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 379.3
Many, having drunk deeply of the cisterns of the world and of Babylon, will declare that the messages God gives his people in the sprinkling of the latter rain are false. Because it does not come in a manner befitting their preconceived notions and ideas, they will brace themselves to resist it.
“There is to be in the churches a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but it will not move upon those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord, and opened the door of the heart by confession and repentance. In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it. Because the Lord does not work according to their ideas and expectations, they will oppose the work. “Why,” they say, “should not we know the Spirit of God, when we have been in the work so many years?”–Because they did not respond to the warnings, the entreaties of the messages of God, but persistently said, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing…” Review and Herald, December 23, 1890 par. 18
Similar lessons can be gleaned from the experience of 1888. It was the leadership of God’s people who were first and foremost in rejecting the light from Heaven. But not satisfied to reject it themselves, they moved to prevent others from receiving the message. So it is today. Satan seeks to control the leaders of the church because he knows that if he can achieve this, he can deceive many who trust implicitly in these men and who will not seek an understanding of God’s word for themselves.
In light of these solemn truths, the question to ask is not “who among the leading brethren believe these things?” This was the attitude of the Pharisees towards Christ – “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him” (John 7:48)? The question to ask is “does the message stand the test of scripture?” If not, then it must be rejected and its error explained from the Bible. If it is true, then our duty is to accept it. And if we accept it with sincerity we will be led to share it with others.
The latter rain is the outpouring of God’s Spirit. It is given in order to prepare His people to receive His seal and stand in a time of trouble such as never was. The latter rain is also a message. God tried to give the latter rain to his people through the message of righteousness by faith, but this message was rejected and the latter rain was withheld. The latter rain comes in two parts. It is first sprinkled before being poured out fully at the Sunday law. This two step process is exemplified in the history of Pentecost and in Revelation 18 were “another voice” is heard following the pronouncement in verses 1-3. It is the sprinkling of the latter rain which prepares God’s people to receive the full outpouring at the Sunday law. The sprinkling began on September 11, 2001 when Radical Islam entered onto the stage of prophetic history. The light unsealed at that time is an understanding of Islam, its role in the creation of a New World Order and its marking the commencement of the sealing of the 144,000. The latter rain message will not be recognised by those who have not prepared their hearts to receive it. But God will have a people who will prepare their hearts by confession and repentance. They are the Remnant He will use to give the Loud Cry, and call His children out of Babylon.