day and age, the phrase "Latter Rain" conjures up a wide variety of responses.
Some respond with hopeful enthusiasm over a coming restoration of the "5-fold"
ministry, great moves of the Spirit, revival, and a world-wide end-time
Harvest. Others respond with passionate warnings of deceptions and heresies
of great peril to the unwary Christian.That such a seemingly insignificant
phrase taken from the King James Version of James 5:7-8 would arouse such
opposing passions seems puzzling at first.Yet considering the Latter Rain
movement and its controversies of the 1940’s, one should not be too astonished.
Indeed, the movement is still so polarizing, that discussions with both
Latter Rain detractors and supporters can be rather hostile, making productive
dialogue almost impossible.
of this study though is not to go over old ground. Others have made a thorough
dissection of the historical problems with the Latter Rain movement, and
some have done it very well
. Rather, my purpose is to take a fresh approach of examining this scripture
absent of the unfortunate flotsam attached to it. By doing so, we can avoid
the carnal strife and pride (James 1:19-25; James 3:13-4:10) that so often
accompanies dividing movements and charismatic personalities of the past,
and instead give fresh attention and thorough consideration to the scripture
itself. Certainly, by keeping our hearts innocent and our minds sharp (1
Cor. 14:20), we can reasonably guard ourselves from the tragedies of previous
falsehoods.Our reliance upon our Lord Jesus and His Spirit’s wisdom and
guidance is our greatest security.
Latter Rain Scripture - The Instruction
is the "latter rain" Scripture, held in high regard by some and discounted
by others. I will repeat the King James Version here again, due to the
phrase "latter rain" therein, then in the New International Version, which
will be the version I will use from then on in this paper:
James 5:7-8 (KJV): "Be patient therefore, brethern, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rains."
5:7-8 (NAS): "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See
how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient
he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm,
because the Lord's coming is near."
study, laying a thorough foundation prevents unnecessary and hapless error
later on. Therefore, even if it seems obvious, it is vitally important
to establish the main instruction of this scripture before we look at anything
else. If we do not get that instruction right, any other knowledge we glean
is rendered useless.
look at what is oft repeated in this scripture:
patient (makrothumeo- long suffering, not losing heart) then, brothers
(adelphos- or, "brothers and sisters" or "fellow Christians" for
the Greek word may imply that) until the Lord's coming (parousia).
See how the farmer (husbandman – georgos – a husbandman, tiller
of the soil, a vine dresser) waits for the land to yield its valuable (precious
–timios – as of great price, precious; held in honour, esteemed,
especially dear) crop … and how patient he is ….You too, be patient and
mentions the (second) coming of the Lord Jesus but it mentions it in a
purposeful context, and that is the context of patience. Any farmer waits
until the valuable crop is ready, and this is what the Lord does, and so
must we do also. The Lord is patient and so must we be.
Festivals, the Rains, the Harvests, And The Crops
It is well
known that James The Just, who begins his general epistle by addressing
it to "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations," was a Jew and ministered
He spoke in terms that all Israelites would be familiar with, and is referring
to an agricultural scenario that was well known to them. Those of us who
reside in other parts of the world in other cultures, however, cannot expect
to automatically get as much out of this analogy as James' audience would.
Therefore we must take a little extra effort to fully appreciate what he
has said. A study of Israel's agricultural crops, weather patterns,
and agriculturally based festivals will serve us well then when it comes
to James 5:7-8, so that we can establish what the apostle James really
had to say.
we have established James main instruction, which is to be as patient as
a farmer would be, we can move on to the other parts of the analogy that
James uses in his instruction. Since a "valuable crop" is mentioned along
with the Lord's coming, one can not help but think of a harvest of souls.
Did James, the brother of Jesus, have the following words of Jesus in mind?:
13:24-29: "Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like
a man who sowed good seed in his field.But while everyone was sleeping,
his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the
wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared."The owner's
servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field?
Where then did the weeds come from?'" 'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "'No,'
he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up
the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that
time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in
bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
Perhaps he did, but in order to establish that we must consider many relevant facts.
to the Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
there are three different Hebrew words used to speak of rains of different
seasons. It is uncontested that the Hebrews used one word (moreh)
for the "early" or "autumn" rains, and another word (melqosh) for
"latter" or "spring" rains. So, James is indeed talking about these rains,
and they are mentioned as a matter of importance.There are Israeli celebrations
that are associated with both types of rains, so we will first briefly
explore these celebrations as to their agricultural significance. We will
also take note of a few other festivals since they may relate to other
‘coincidental’ timings of New Testament events.
Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year (Lev. 23:23-25),
and falls in September in the Gregorian calendar. Repentence, prayers for
a fruitful year, the blowing of the shofar, and preparation for the Divine
judgment are the major themes for this holiday.Yom Kippur, or the
Day of Atonement, follows very shortly afterwards. After these two “High
Holy Days” begin festivals that are tied to natural and historical events.The
first is Sukkot, (Lev. 23:39-43), which is also described as the "Feast
of Tabernacles," “The Feast of Booths,” or “Feast of Ingathering” (Chag
Ha-Asif) This feast marks the first rains in October (Gregorian calendar).
These rains are the moreh, or "early" (autumn) rains, already mentioned.See
the description below taken from The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
is one of the three festivals that were celebrated (until 70 CE) with mass
pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem and are therefore known as the "pilgrimage
festivals." On Sukkot, Jews commemorate the Exodus from Egypt (c.13th century
BCE) and give thanks for a bountiful harvest. At some kibbutzim, Sukkot
is celebrated as Chag Ha'asif (the harvest festival), with the themes
of the gathering of the second grain crop and the autumn fruit, the
start of the agricultural year, and the first rains." From "Jewish
Festivals in Israel" posted on the Israel Ministry Of Foreign Affairs website
Sukkot is also called the harvest festival by some, one might assume that
the gathering of wheat is then. It is not. Remember, it is "the start of
the agricultural year…", and not the end of the agricultural year. To understand
how it is that this festival is related to a harvest, we must delve deeper
into the crops expected then during Sukkot, and the crops expected later
after this agricultural start.
to Chag Ha'Asif, or Sukkot, it was "the time for grapes to be gathered
and made into raisins or wine; or olives to be picked and pressed into
oil; and fruits to either ripen, or be eaten or stored,"
This clearly gives us a clue as to what the "autumn fruits" they were celebrating
during this festival (Gregorian calendar--October or Autumn). Indeed, Sukkot
is more specifically known as "The fruit harvest."
our typical Gregorian Autumn time, the Israeli's celebrated the culmination
of the season of certain fruits and olives, and they looked forward to
the beginning of another agricultural season, thanks to the early rains.
In fact, on the last day of Sukkot, called
special sacrifices were given for the benefit of Israel and a special prayer
for rainfall. Clearly this rainful was needed for the new agricultural
is one of the three Pilgrimage(shalosh regalim) holidays.
By Pilgrimage holidays, we mean those holidays in which the Jews were expected
to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for these observances and celebrations
(Deut. 16:16). Of these,
Chag Ha'Asif (Sukkot), has been already
Chag Ha'Matzot (Passover- Passah or Pesach) is celebrated
in our April and is the second of these Pilgrimage holidays. It coincides
with the barley harvest. Chag Ha'Katzir, or the wheat harvest (Shavuot),
is the last one. It is celebrated in the early summer.
the timing of these celebrations or observances, the dates for all three
are described ONLY by the agricultural time of year in which they are celebrated,
i.e. the solar calendar.In other words, they are not consistently celebrated
on a certain date, such December 25th as our Christmas would
be or Jan. 1st as our New Year's Day would be. Instead, they
are tied to the agricultural crops and seasons. Because of this, they are
integrated in diverse ways into family life or community customs and practices.
Even today, "Jewish festivals are the "landmarks" by which Israelis mark
the passing of the year…"
Below are some condensed facts regarding the festivals mentioned thus far:
Sukkot or Chag
also known as the "Feast of Tabernacle," "The Feast of Booths,"
or "Feast of Ingathering," the harvest festival, the fruit harvest (Lev.
23:34)/celebrated in October/ a seven day rejoicing over the harvesting
of certain fruits (like grapes) and olives, and prayer for the early rains
to begin the new agricultural season (Lev. 23: 39-43)/ the first of the
provide proof of what time of year certain crops, especially wheat, were
expected in Israel, unless of course there was a misfortunate drought that
year. If explored thoughtfully by the reader, they will open the reader's
eyes as to the significance of these “early and latter” rains, especially
in regards to prayer.
these three festivals a little more, I will quote from a source on this
Emor details a special agricultural related mitzvah for each of the shalosh
r'galim: Chag ha'Matzot: The Korban Ha'Omer- from the first BARLEY harvest.
Shavuot: The Korban Shtei Ha'lechem, from the first WHEAT harvest. Succot:
Taking the 'Arba Minim', the four species - [the lulav, etrog, hadas and
These mitzvot relate directly to the agricultural season in Eretz Yisrael in which these holidays fall. In the spring, barley is the first grain crop to become ripe. During the next seven weeks, the wheat crop ripens and is harvested. As this is the only time of the year when wheat grows in Eretz Yisrael, these seven weeks are indeed a critical time, for the grain which is consumed during the entire year is harvested during this short time period. The 'arba minim' which are brought to the Mikdash on Succot, also relate to the agricultural importance of the fruit harvest ("pri eytz hadar v'kapot tmarim") at this time of the year, and the need for water in the forthcoming rainy season ("arvei nachal")."
or Pentecost, "marks the peak of the new grain harvest and the ripening
of the first fruits, including the seven species mentioned in the Bible
(wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates)." (quoted
from the Israel Ministry Of Foreign Affairs website).These crops are not
only prominently mentioned in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament,
remember that during the Israeli agricultural year, the Sukkot festival
during the autumn serves to celebrate the end of the farmer's "ingathering"
of certain fruit crops for that time of year. That was the last of the
fruit that was expected for that year, but also the beginning of the agricultural
year for new crops of fruit, as well as grains such as wheat and barley.The
Sukkot festival was an occasion to make prayers for rainfall for the upcoming
agricultural year.The Shavuot festival just after the spring, however,
coincides with the end of the agricultural year, when the wheat harvest
was ripe enough to begin harvesting.The Shavout festival also celebrates
the ripening of the certain first fruits which mark the beginning of the
fruit pickings. These fruits include grapes.
wheat, we all know that wheat is mentioned frequently in the Gospels. These
references would include Matt. 3:11-12, Matt. 13:25-30, Luke 22:31, and
John 12:24, among others. Here is a quote from Jesus regarding wheat in
also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed
on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts
and grows, though he does not know how.All by itself the soil produces
grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest
applicable scripture to our subject is a portion of the vision of the Apostle
John in the book of Revelation (Rev. 14:14-20). Notice the theme of a final
harvest, with both wheat and grapes used symbolically:
looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud
was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp
sickle in his hand.Then another angel came out of the temple and called
in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle
and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth
is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth,
and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven,
and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the
fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the
sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes
from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe."The angel swung his
sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great
winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the
city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses'
bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia." (Rev. 14:14-20)
As we have
just seen, wheat comes into maturation in the Israeli agricultural year
at the same time as grapes begin. It seems no coincidence then that James
uses the same basic "setting" for his inference to the end-times as Jesus
and John the Baptist's did (Matt. 3:11-12). Later, the Apostle John's vision
also used this agricultural analogy. Interestingly enough, agricultural
settings written by both James and John coincide with the same time of
year for Israel's wheat harvest, after the "latter rains" of the Spring.
the application is clear: Agricultural facts proven by Israeli customs
and practices, as well as the Biblical text, support the "latter rain"
scripture of James 5:7-8 as one which is synonymous with a harvest of wheat
in Israel in the natural, and the first harvest of grapes, both of which
are used prominently as symbols in "end-time harvest" of the souls of men
in the Biblical text.
discussing the seasonal festivals of Israel and by considering the many
references to a crop of wheat (souls) made by Jesus in the Gospels, we
have firmly established which particular (valuable) crop James referred
to in James 5:7-8. Certainly it was a crop of wheat the farmer longed for
at the close of the agricultural season -- a crop that could only be harvested
after the "latter" (spring) rains.(Grapes are mentioned in the negative
in Rev. 14:14-20, but the apostle James did not have that vision)
it is of interest to delve deeper.We cannot write a very good play without
the proper setting and props any more than we can use this scripture to
paint the "picture" of the end times that James is trying to convey. Therefore
we must consider both what water meant to the ancient farmer of Israel,
as well as the quality of the land he worked with. It might even be useful
to discover where in the Israel our farmer might find it best to plant
his crop of wheat.
patterns throughout Israel are quite uneven, with some parts getting lots
of rain while other parts get little to none.It is the desert areas of
Israel that greatly influences these patterns of rainfall. The Negev desert
within Israel is a mostly arid zone which becomes drier as one travels
further south. This area is subject to flash floods produced by the winter
rains. Arava is Israel's savannah region, which begins south of the Dead
Sea and continues to the Gulf of Eilat, Israel's outlet to the Red Sea.
The average annual rainfall there is less than one inch and summer temperatures
can soar to 104 degrees F. In contrast, the hills of Galilee enjoy ample
rainfall that keeps this region in greenery year-round, while Jezreel Valley
is the country's richest agricultural area. The northern portion of the
Jordan valley is also extremely fertile. 
Israel does have wetlands to the far north and inland, but these swampy
areas around Hula valley have never been that useful for the agriculture
we speak of here, even after the modern state of Israel made attempts to
make them so.
This quickly covers the various land and rainfall considerations in Israel.
fruits are grown in some regions of Israel, but for our purposes we are
pinpointing the regions that are used for wheat. Coincidentally enough,
wheat and barley are best grown either just south ("negeb"), of
Jerusalem or just north ("tsaphon") of Jerusalem in or near Jezreel
As you might recall in the previous paragraph, Jezreel Valley, which lies
between the hills of Galilee and the hills Samaria, is the richest agricultural
area of Israel. Of interest too, is the fact that throughout history there
has been "so much bloodshed in these plains that both Jezreel and Megiddo
became synonyms for violence and bloodshed, and could even become symbols
for the judgement of God (Hos 1:4-5).The Mountain of Megiddo, in Hebrew
megiddo anglicized into Armageddon, became the ultimate symbol for
warfare and conflict."
We all know how an ‘Armageddon’ battle scene is described in end time visions
such as in Ezekiel, Chapter 39, Revelation chapter 19. Here again is further
proof of just how much our tiny scripture in James can be cross-referenced
to the ‘end’ of the end-times in analogy and symbolism to the great and
terrible Day of he Lord (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10)
Yet as for times prior to this battle to end all battles (Rev. 20:7-9), there is yet another interesting fact. That is, in our modern times, in spite of its small size, the land of Israel boasts one of the "largest and most accessible collections of wild wheat, barley, oat, and legumes in the world.” Indeed, American farmers have benefited greatly from a partnership with Israel. Our agricultural scientists have exported some genetic stocks of wheat from Israel to be grown here in America. Since produce from America's "bread basket" has not only fed America, but has also been exported or donated to many other regions of the world, this means that by proxy, much of the world has benefited from Israeli agriculture. This is because the unique qualities of Israeli wheat were found no where else, genetically speaking.
Pattern of Rain Throughout the Year
agricultural methods of modern Israel make the acquisition and distribution
of water for agriculture much more dependable and efficient than they were
in ancient times. Today we can only imagine the hardships of the ancient
farmers of Israel who, without the more sophisticated irrigation systems
and wells of modern times, had to depend almost entirely on rainfall for
the survival and maturation of their crops.
Wheat production areas were not that far from Jerusalem as we have already stated, and this is the very city in which the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, resided.Let us look then at the specific rainfall patterns in or near Jerusalem. Rainfall averages in Jerusalem begin with a rather scant amount of rain in the month of October -- the beginning of the agricultural year -- at only about .9 inches. The rainfall average then jumps to 2.7 inches in November, and then increases to an average of 4 to 5 inches for the next four months (winter). Rainfall drops to 1.2 inches in April, and then to a scant .1 inches in May, followed by an average of 0 inches through June all the way to October again, when the rains start up again.
These are the specific averages for Jerusalem, but the whole of Israel follows the same approximate rise and fall pattern regardless of the total amount of rain each region might get annually (as mentioned before, the total amounts of rain depends upon each region's proximity to the desert). For all practical agricultural purposes then, it never rains in the summer in Israel. This dry season extends from April to November. As for the short rainy season, this begins in October and ends in early May. Rainfall peaks in quantity in the winter months, which are from December through February.
I have never known a modern
Bible teacher to mention the heavy Geshem or the winter rains when
they are discussing James 5:7-8 and the "end times". This may be due to
the fact that James does not mention them in this short scripture. However,
there are many Old Testament considerations when it comes to the
rains, and there are many New Testament scriptures too that when taken
together, will help us to better understand just how the Lord God used
physical rain to symbolize different types of spiritual rain.
2:23-29: "Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for
he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant
showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors
will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust
and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great
army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are
full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked
wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know
that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no
other; never again will my people be shamed. 'And afterward, I will pour
out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your
old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my
servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."
Here, God is stating that He plans to bring physical rains ("abundant showers”) and then "afterwards", a spiritual one. Although prophesying, dreams and visions were not unheard of for the Jews, but they were also not all that common. Now they would be. God’s prophet Joel is clearly using these rain showers as an analogy to God's promise of pouring out (like the rain) his Spirit, "on all people" (Joel 2:28).
a physical rain will produce an overabundant physical crop, we can presume
that a spiritual rain will result in a very large spiritual ‘crop’ too,
yet Joel does not expound upon this. In the New Testament though,
the prophet Joel's words were repeated by the apostle Peter as an explanation
for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they were all witnessing on the Day
2:15-17: "These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the
morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: "'In the last
days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and
daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men
will dream dreams."
know that James, the brother of Jesus, used his agricultural references
in his James 5:7-8 analogy in a way that his audience should have understood.
We are not only speaking of common Israeli cultural knowledge at the time,
but of common Christian knowledge too. We can propose this because it is
safe to assume that James the brother of Jesus was familiar with the Day
of Pentecost (Acts 2), understood Old Testament prophecy in the same way
as Peter did, and knew the teachings of Jesus when it came to using wheat
as a symbol. He is so confident that his audience also knows
these things, that he doesn’t bother to spell it out in his letter
to his fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.
thing, the ground will be thirsty prior to an outpouring. For another,
we must note something of great spiritual significance that is often overlooked.
That is, God makes this promise of His Spirit to "Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun,
whom I have chosen" (44:2), yet not to the rebellious "Jacob" (Isa.
The Lord God states this last principle more than once in the Old Testament.
Through the prophet Jeremiah he says that He has withheld rain, even the
spring rains specifically, from the land of Israel due to the hypocritical
spiritual prostitutes that he is angry with (Jeremiah 3:1-5).In other words,
He will “rain” upon the righteous and not upon the wicked. Through the
prophet Hosea, who also prophesied against Israel's spiritual harlotry,
God urges His people to "break up your unplowed ground" by sowing righteousness
and seeking Him, until He "comes and showers righteousness on you." (Hosea
four prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and finally Joel, that
the Lord God uses rain in similar analogies. And through them, He has made
it very clear that He has every intention of blessing his “all” his righteous
ones with abundant fallings of His Spirit, while the unrighteous He will
withhold this blessing from.
all of these incidences, it is the hypocrites, the
spiritually ungrateful and lazy, the spiritual prostitutes, and others
know his Word yet are rebellious, that God withholds His “rain”
from. It is not the unbelievers! Notice also that The High Holy Days of
Hashanah and Yom Kippur (days of purification) come
before Sukkot, which marks the first rains of the agricultural
season! Is it any wonder then that in Acts 2:38 the apostle Peter preaches
repentance and baptism so that sins can be forgiven,
one can expect the gift of the Holy Spirit? Peter was inspired by the Holy
Spirit to say these things, and was not a knowledgeable ‘scholar’ of the
Torah like the Pharisees were.Yet he stays within the principal set: a
spiritual revival or an infilling of the Spirit without repentance comes
because of this general pattern of expectation (purification and holiness
before blessing), the early Jewish believers were astonished that the Spirit
would fall upon unbeliever Gentiles while Peter was still preaching the
Gospel to them. The typical ‘formula’ had been suspended in favor of grace
(Acts 10:44-48). In contrast, in Acts 8, the Spirit had not yet fallen
upon believers even though repentence and baptism had already been observed.Again
the typical one, two, three expectation was not forthcoming.
examples mean that the righteousness of a believer does not matter that
much when it comes to the blessed anointing of the Holy Spirit? Of course
not. Even in the Acts 10: 44- 48 incident, Simon the magician, who desired
the Spirit in a twisted misappropriation of what “gift” meant, was rebuked
and commanded to get right before God before he should expect anything
from God at all. It is simply foolish and arrogant to expect a rebellious
believer to be able to receive the “showers” of God’s Spirit while also
in rebellion to His Spirit. As for faith, anyone who rebels against God
can scarcely say he believes in Him all that much, since He has discounted
God’s good concern for him. Since he does not really believe God cares
about him nor does he understand God as Source, he follows after flesh
and the stuff of idols and pride.
Early Rains or The Latter Rains?
age, the Lord promised a new thing of pouring out his Spirit on "all flesh"
through His prophet Joel. Through His other prophets, He made it clear
that this blessing will come to those whom He considers to be righteous,
and it will be of His Spirit.These spiritual 'rains' were a new thing because
they would be on "all flesh" instead of just a handful of holy prophets.Even
sons and daughters and old men will be inspired and will prophesy, and
this clearly began with the Day of Pentecost as described in the books
Day of Pentecost the beginning, or “early rains” of the Christian age?
Most teachers teach it as such. They believe that this Pentecost Day was
the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and was the “early rains” James
referred to in James 5: 7-8. Soon after that (certainly by 300 A.D.),
the Church entered many centuries of a 'dry' period. Now, they say, we
must wait for the “latter rains” to mature the “crop” of “wheat” for the
end of the Age. This makes a whole lot of sense at first. However,
it is erroneous. Their analogy falls apart if one were to apply the typical
rain pattern of Israel to this time-line. If the 'early' or Autumn
rains began on the Day of Pentecost and life for the Church became 'dry'
not too long after, and if Church history were to follow Israel's typical
seasonal patterns, then the season that follows Autumn, or Winter should
be very dry. But it is not. In fact, although the “Gesham” or winter
rains in Israel seem less spectacular because they are somewhat taken for
granted, they are actually more consistent
then the 'early' (Autumn) rains and the 'latter' (Spring) rains!
is, we cannot insist upon a literal interpretation of the seasonal rainfall
analogy to fit into some sort of dispensationalistic theory of when the
“church” began. It just won’t work, because the agricultural and climatic
facts do not line up. True, a greater pouring out of the
Spirit upon a greater number of people occurred on the Christian Day of
Pentecost and afterwards, with the gift of tongues becoming a prominent
feature. But it is not the only time the Spirit “blessed” a believer or
even group of believers! We must completely discount both the Old Testament
and the short time that Jesus was on Earth in order to superimpose this
kind of time line on the James 5: 7-8 scripture.
to compensate for the problem of the Old Testament not being considered,
the entire Old Testament is seen as a “dry” time, much like a dry summer
in Israel, and Jesus is simply not mentioned at all as part of any ‘rainfall’.
Hold on a minute though. Just how much of God's supernatural power was
interacting with the Israeli people during the time of Moses? A whole lot.
Why, if you recall, God Himself visited Moses or resided with the camps
of the Jews quite often, in a Cloud of Glory no less (Exo. 13:21 and many
other scriptures). And what about prior to Moses? Or prior
to Abraham? Surely there is long history of the Earth that could be considered
bone dry, just like a summer in Israel.
our efforts to find holes in a dispensationalist theory of spiritual rains
( which seeks to fit the beginning of the 'rains' only with the beginning
of the Spirit-baptized Church), we must take note of the timing of this
day of this great ‘baptism’ of the Holy Spirit. It was during Shavuot
(Pentecost - celebration of the wheat harvest and first fruits), which
is the beginning of the wheat harvest. This was Spring time, the
maturation of wheat, after the “latter”
(Spring) rains. It is not the Sukkot, at the beginning of the Autumn
rains. If God wants to make a point with timing, could not He have
caused the prophesied great outpouring of Joel to begin with Sukkot,
and not Shavuot? Well of course He could have. But He didn't.
evidence is there to support James' mention of the 'former' or 'early'
rains as meaning the Day of Pentecost? Absolutely none. A time-line
analogy fits much better with the 'early' rains beginning way back with
Moses and Abraham, and the 'latter' rains beginning at the Day of Pentecost,
concidentally during the celebration for the latter rains. "How can I say
that?", you might say. Wasn't it terribly 'dry' for most of the Old
Testament? Wasn't that why God promised the great outpouring in Joel 2:
28 in the first place? And finally, what does that have to do with
the 'end' of the 'end times' anyhow?
Furthermore, you might say, If we were to push the the 'early' rains (Autumn) back way further into history to coincide with the time of Moses, the Gesham (Winter) rains are unaccounted for.
look at some fascinating scriptures in the Old Testament, and cross-reference
them to the New:
16:4: "Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain (matar) down bread
from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough
for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow
uses the general word for rain (matar), meaning rain at any time
of year.This scripture above is a foreshadowing of Jesus' words much later
on, during his temptation from the devil:
4:3-4: "The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell
these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does
not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of
where Jesus was tempted, do we not? In the desert. Satan is essentially
promising Jesus some type of 'manna' out there in the desert, just as the
Lord God promised it to His people through Moses, while they were also
in the desert.
us look at another scripture that uses the general word for rain.
31:30-32:1-2: "And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning
to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel: Listen, O heavens,
and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching
fall like rain (matar) and my words descend like dew, like showers
on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants."
we learn from this scripture? First of all, God says the teachings from
Moses were falling like rain upon the Jews who heard his words. Again we
are reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 4:3-4, above, because He says that
man depends upon, “every word that comes from the mouth of God…” Moses
was speaking from God.
enough, these showers come upon "new grass" upon "tender plants". What
season does that remind us of? Well it is certainly not the end of the
agricultural season, or the middle. These plants are not mature at all,
but instead are just seedlings. This is the Fall season, when the Autumn
(Yoreh) rains, have begun.
coincidence? I think not.
us look at a passage that also describes spiritual rain from God, yet a
more specific word for rain (Geshem).
55:10-11: "As the rain (geshem) and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and
flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word (dabar - speech/counsel/commandment) that goes out
from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what
I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
a minute though, we need to look at this passage in it's context:
55:1-9: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who
have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money
and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor
on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and
your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with
you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness
to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will
summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten
to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has
endowed you with splendor." Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on
him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his
thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and
to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
the beginning of this passage, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to
the waters…" remind you of? Doesn't it remind you of the time when Jesus
stood up at the feast, and announced that anyone who was thirsty should
come to Him, and they shall have "living water" flow from within them (and
by this He meant the Spirit-- John 7:37-38)?
Testament scriptures indicate that God's Word (teachings, commandments
and counsel, even prophetic counsel or timely 'Word' from His mouth) sustain
believers like rain falling to the earth! Though clearly established in
scripture, this characterization of spiritual ‘rain’ is something
I have never heard taught before.
It is absent from typical teachings
about the outpourings of the Spirit. Why? Because for one thing, when we
think of the Day of Pentecost, it is easy to notice the more dramatic events
rather than the less dramatic. We think of a rushing mighty wind and tongues
of fire, miraculous healings or other signs, and a large number of people
being converted, but we don’t always think of Peter’s first sermon any
more than we think of the community of believers afterwards.
all of these were part of, or at least a result of, that particular ‘falling’
of spiritual rain.
think of the ministry of Jesus, either, when we think of spiritual “rain.”
Yet, a look at Psalm 72 may change our minds. This psalm is one of David's
prophetic psalm, prophesying the arrival of Jesus to the world (See also
Isaiah 11:10 and Romans 15:12 for reference to the "Root of Jesse"). It
eloquently speaks of the coming of a righteous Messianic King, who is like
"rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth."
the case for 'rain' used as a prophetic analogy to denote a certain falling
down of the Holy Spirit from the Father by the prophet Joel in Joel 2:23-29,
and its fulfillment in Acts 2:15-17 is clearly made. Nevertheless I see
no indication that when James mentioned the “former” (autumn) rains in
his epistle, he most definitely meant the Christian Day of Pentecost. Instead,
I believe that it is quite obvious that the teachings, instructions and
other works of the prophets of the Old Covenant laid the groundwork for
the prophesied Joel outpouring, just as much as it did for the coming of
Christ. God's Words through Moses were like the Autumn (Yoreh) rains
on the tender shoots of grass. Then throughout His prophets later, God
promised other rains--rains that eventually came and still come today.
Certainly they came with the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon
believers at the Day of Pentecost, and to "all those who are far away..."
(Acts 2:38). Another way might be the foundational Christian truths
It is an agricultural fact that the critical “latter” rains, or Spring rains, are absolutely necessary for the maturation of the grain on a stalk of wheat. Because of this and other scriptures of promise such as Acts 3:17-21, many Christians believe that “times of refreshings” will include signs and wonders and miracles and will increase in the end of the end times. They believe this coming miraculous increase is a necessity in order to bring about maturation of the "crop" .
of both James' obvious reference to a waiting upon Christ's return, and
John's vision in Revelation, they have a point. In fact, if Christians
were to toss aside the dispensationalist time-line in favor of pushing
back the 'early' (Autumn) and Gesham (Winter) rains back further
into the Old Testament, then they may safely say the very 'end' rains might
be very strong indeed. How can that be? Well, just look at the 'former'
rains in this scenario: Moses. How powerful is that? Now look at the description
of the "two witnesses" in Rev. 11: 3-6. How powerful is that? Powerful
there is a very important caution that any Christian who
hopes for manifestations of God's power must consider. If they
do not they are in peril of some serious disillusionment later on! That caution is:
Miracles from God do not guarantee a healthy spirituality at all.
After all, Moses, the Deliver, rescued God's people from Pharoah and slavery,
and wrought signs and wonders and miracles through God to do so, yet these
miracles did not secure the faithfulness of the Israelites in the wilderness
farmer knows that rain is by no means the only component to a successful
crop. Similarly, there are other key components when it comes to
growth and maturation other than the blessings and power of God. This is
acknowledged in Scripture in many different ways. Jesus Himself prominently
mentioned both seed and soil in His parables for growth, and tribulation
or suffering brings about spiritual maturity too (2 Pet. 1:3-9;
"Many texts in the New Testament and in early Christian literature indicate that the Spirit of God was regarded as the common, permanent possession of all Christians. At the same time, many other texts indicate that the Spirit of God was also regarded as God's power bestowed on individuals for special occasions. Although these two ways of conceptualizing the presence of the Spirit (the first type being labeled "dynamistic" and the second "animistic") appear contradictory, they were never so regarded by early Christians…There is little reason to deny that both conceptions of the presence of the Spirit---as general endowment of all Christians and as an exceptional manifestation of divine power in certain situations--are very old, and neither one can claim precedence over the other."
Issues regarding the Holy
Spirit can not be fully addressed here in this text, but I bring them up
to acknowledge an obvious fact: a fundamental acceptance of the various
workings of the Spirit in order to be acceptance of the Spirit. The Holy
Spirit is a powerful creative force. Upon the reforming of the Earth, the
Spirit of God hovered over the watery deep (Gen. 1:2). The Spirit then
came down as 'rain' from God primarily as teachings, commandments, and
timely instructions or "words" through his Prophets of old. Then the Presence
and ministry of Jesus blessed us, freely giving water to all who were thirsty.
We were not orphaned upon His leaving though. This 'rain' as promised by
the prophet still comes from the Father (Luke 11:13; John 14:15-17), and
this "living water" comes as a gift to "as many as the Lord God will call"
Storms and Clouds
is an analogy for the Spirit that comes down from our Heavenly Father above
as a blessing, and it is our task to desire these refreshings, pray for
them, wait upon them, and thank God for them. Our dependence upon God is
total: We cannot conjure up spiritual blessings ourselves. Certainly then,
in no way should we deny any blessings from God or de-emphasize them to
the point of practical extinction in our lives.
God, however, does not always just send “rain” from a safe distance. Sometimes
He has been known to lead in a cloud of glory, make proclamations from
that cloud, or even visit people with a much more “up close and personal”
Presence (Exodus 13: 17-22; 19:16-19; and chapter 40; I Kings 8:10-11;
Matt. 17:5). This manifestation of the Lord’s glory is significant enough
that even our Lord Jesus promised His return in a cloud (Luke 21: 26-27;
that we should be alert to the times and to His coming (Luke 21:29-36).
He in fact rebuked the Pharisees for having enough intelligence to discern
the physical weather while somehow not being able to read the spiritual
12:54-56: "He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west,
immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south
wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You
know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it
that you don't know how to interpret this present time?"
passage, Jesus said that they could tell it was going to rain once they
saw a cloud. Was that an over-simplification designed to make a point,
or was short-term weather forecasting in Israel really all that easy? Well,
it seems that it really is all that easy. The Middle East is "among the
most cloud-free places on Earth."From
that, we can deduce that when someone in Israel sees a cloud coming in,
more often than not it means rain. This is substantiated by the Biblical
account of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:41-45:
Kings 18:41-45: "And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there
is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah
climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face
between his knees. "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And
he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah
said, "Go back." The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small
as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab,
'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'" Meanwhile,
the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and
Ahab rode off to Jezreel."
occasion for several years now, I have had dreams
from God about rain and storms. They began before God gave me new direction
from His Spirit, before I knew anyone else was beginning to have similar
dreams, and before I knew that others were convinced of another coming
revival. Since these dreams carried a broader context than just my own
personal spiritual life (i.e. other Christians or groups of people were
included in the dream), I wondered if large amounts of water could symbolize
anything other than the obvious “living water” of the Holy Spirit. Whenever
I forgot to wonder about what God might be saying to me, in fact, God would
give me yet another dream. These dreams are in part the reason for this
I ended up familiarizing myself with natural weather patterns in Israel,
and because some of my dreams were definitely about storms, I had a question
as to the relationship between the clouds, rains, and storms in Israel.
I wondered if there were any significant differences in the seasons. Most
especially I wondered if the more significant storms come with the Spring
rains as it does here in my part of the world. This may seem like an easy
question to find the answer to, but it was not.
observers (eye witness accounts and descriptions from people who reside
in an area) and ground data collection devices are very often used for
tracking storms, but the tropics of the world produce the largest numbers
of storms, and therefore they get the most interest for storm study. In
other words, arid Israel is just not that much of a storm producer, comparatively
speaking to the rest of the world, and therefore gets little attention.
Therefore my efforts to glean information from the more official sources
was mostly nonproductive. Even reviewing scientific data about worldwide
lightning strikes revealed little as far as a particular seasons in Israel.
I was blessed with detailed descriptions of storms in Israel from an Israeli
"storm-chaser" webpage. As I have just stated, responsible eye-witness
accounts and reports are considered valuable meteorological information
for meteorologists and climatologists. Therefore, I will present this quote
from David Shohami's Isreal Storm Chasing Webpage at http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/1911/info.html,
as my best source regarding Israel's storm patterns:
the storms through Israel's 'rainy' seasons (autumn, winter, and spring),
the winter thunderstorms are both the most frequent and least severe. The
very active cold fronts of winter carry strong winds, thunderstorms and
rain, hail, and an occasional weak tornado. The tornadoes are very short-lived
and when the rain falls, they come in moderate to heavy showers that last
one to three days and sometimes longer. Comparatively, the less frequent
thunderstorms in autumn and spring are also the more severe. These are
defined by a usually inactive Red Sea trough, which originates in tropical
Africa. When the trough becomes active, they bring in hot but humid air
from the Red Sea. The clouds associated with these trough events are usually
Alto-Cumulonimbus, with severe hail and winds. These clouds are rare, but
when they do form, it is a spectacular site.Autumn and spring seasons are
the shortest seasons of all, and the light rains of the summer are rare
without any storms".
we know that with any “early” or “latter” rains, storms are less frequent
yet much more severe. Yet these rains are the most desirable, the
most rejoiced over, and the most prayed for in both Israeli agriculture
and religious observance. The texts of the Bible alone make this quite
clear. This has application to our personal “seasons” with our Lord, revival
or times of ‘refreshing’, and any end-time concerns or studies we may want
to consider. We simply do not get blessing without upheaval, growth without
tribulation and suffering, or a powerful revival without judgment as the
Lord Himself sees fit or deems necessary. Man must make room for a holy
God. Anyone who teaches less or who skips over the sanctification (repentence)
concerns required has misled his hearers.
James 5:7-8: "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."
and Mature Prayer
I understand of Israel's climate, agriculture, and Biblical history of
occasional droughts, early farming communities waited for the autumn rains
because their arrival probably signified a year of no drought. Negligible
rains at the start of an agricultural season would probably spell trouble.
This is why they prayed for God's mercy for the coming agricultural year.
The winter rains continue the growth of the crop of course, but it is a
cold (bitter) time of the year, and apparently a rather wet time of the
year too if you lived in the more fertile land areas. Later, the winter
rains taper off and then the spring rains are most crucial. This is because
now you have a crop that is almost ready to be harvested.
be a little hard to have a valuable crop grow all year long and then not
have anything to show for it. It would be similar to having many acres
of corn stalks that, in the end, did not get enough moisture to actually
produce harvestable corn of the stalk. This practical fact --the timing
of them as connected to the maturation of the harvest--is what made these
rains so crucial to life in ancient Israel. It is no wonder, then, that
Solomon used the spring rain in specific for this proverb:
16:15: "When a king's face brightens, it means life; his favor is like
a rain cloud in spring."
latter (spring) rains then, are important most of all because of their
timing. The "wheat" or Bride, does need her final rains to bring the
grain to the stalk just as she needs the oil for the midnight hour (Matt.
25:1-12) She must have good soil (heart) too (Matt. 13:8). I believe this
is indeed why James spoke of both faith and works, humility, right living,
perseverance and all those things we are to do before the coming of our
Lord. If we do these things and have patience, we will do well and the
"latter rains" will mean something when they come.We will also come through
the less frequent yet more spectacular Spring storms, too.
let me take note that as an integral part of agricultural festivals in
Israel, 'believers' were to celebrate God’s blessings, cleanse themselves,
and pray for the rains of the coming agricultural year. Over and over again,
James emphasizes righteousness, perseverance, patience, and hopeful expectation
(faith) in his entire epistle. As far as prayer, our wait is upon the Lord
and not for 'super-apostles' or 'prophets' who will usher in the spiritual
'rains' any quicker then God intends. There is no advise to give men total
loyalty, and there is no indication that we can force God’s hand to bless
rebellious or proud religious folks with his spiritual ‘rain’. We may conjure
up something else from the hand of the devil, or we may convince ourselves
that we have ‘arrived’ at some religious excitement or spiritual level,
we are fooling ourselves if we have left God behind. We must get
our hearts and lives right before Him, and then wait in hopeful expectation
for the "latter rains" that God will faithfully send.
let us end our study in a poetic tribute to the coming of our Lord Jesus,
of Solomon 2:10-14: "My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains
(geshem) are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season
of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig
tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." My dove in the
clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your
face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is
watch the sky for 'clouds', and wait upon His refreshing ‘rains’ and finally,
Copyright © 2004 Harvest NETwork Ministries/Teri Lee Earl