THE EARLY AND THE LATTER RAIN
[Joel:2:21-32] ; [Acts:2:1-47].
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
I The Prophecy of Joel
1. A time of praise and rejoicing shall come, [Joel:2:21], [Joel:2:23], [Joel:2:26]; [Acts:2:46], [Acts:2:47].
2. The promise of the former and the latter rain is the cause for rejoicing, [Joel:2:23].
3. It shall be a time of boldness -– “My people shall never be ashamed,” [Joel:2:26], [Joel:2:27]; [Acts:4:13]; [Acts:14:3].
4. There shall be a generous outpouring of the Spirit of God, [Joel:2:28], [Joel:2:29]; [Acts:2:4].
II The Day of Pentecost
1. “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” [Acts:2:16].
2. Sanctification had made them of one accord, [Acts:2:1]; [John:17:11-23]; [Hebrews:2:11].
3. The Holy Ghost is given, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, [Acts:2:2-13].
4. Under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches with boldness, [Acts:2:14-36].
5. Holy Ghost conviction brings three thousand souls to repentance, [Acts:2:37-47].
6. The Holy Ghost continues to be outpoured and the same evidence follows, [Acts:10:46]; [Acts:19:6].
III The Early and the Latter Rain
1. The natural early rain came at seedtime, [Deuteronomy:11:14]; [Hosea:6:3]; [Joel:2:23].
2. The latter rain came just before harvest, [Joel:2:23]; [Jeremiah:5:24].
3. The spiritual Latter Rain fell in the first month -- “Abib” of the Jewish calendar, our April, 1906, [Joel:2:23]; [James:5:7]; [Acts:2:39].
Natural and Spiritual
In chapter 2, verses 21-27, Joel is speaking of the natural blessings God pours out; but the spiritual is exemplified by the natural. Many times in the ministry of Christ upon earth He took some of the natural things round about Him to illustrate the beauties of spiritual blessings. In Palestine the early rain was for the purpose of preparing the soil for the seed; the latter rain was for the purpose of bringing forth the ripening of the harvest. The promise of these rains referred both to the natural and the spiritual blessings that God was to pour out upon His people.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” (Joel:2:28, 29).
We can see that there was to be a distinctly different manifestation from any that had before taken place in God’s dealings with His people. In olden times there were only certain ones designated to spiritual offices. The priests had to be born into the family of Aaron in order to fulfil the office, and they served in their regular order. Prophets were definitely called of God. But God here designated a time in which He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. Sons and daughters, man-servants and maid-servants should all prophesy, or proclaim the truths of the Gospel and the knowledge of God. This was to be a glorious time! In Acts:2:16 we read that Peter on the Day of Pentecost stood up and proclaimed. “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
With One Accord
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts:2:1).This verse reveals a very important truth. We are told in Hebrews:2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” They see eye to eye, and are of one mind and heart and of one accord in the Gospel. Only sanctified people are truly and genuinely of one accord. Jesus prayed for His disciples that they might be sanctified and made one. [See [John:17:1-26].] That prayer had been answered – they were already sanctified wholly.They were all in one accord and in one place.
There are some who accept the doctrine of sanctification, but they have called sanctification the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Scriptures tell us that sanctification is the purging, cleansing, purifying work that takes place in the life after salvation. It is a definite, instantaneous experience in which the inbred sin is destroyed. Just as salvation instantly transforms the life, forgives and removes the outward acts of sin, so sanctification removes the “Adamic nature,” or inbred sin.
The coming of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was the fulfilling of the promise that Jesus gave His disciples when He said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Power! Power is the essential – steam. What would be the use of machinery, equipment, polished shafts, without motive power? Did you ever see a new locomotive, standing on the track? There it stands in perfect condition – the gears, the shafts, the piston, and everything polished to the last degree but no water in the boiler, no fire in the fire box. Put water in boiler and the fire in to the fire box, and soon the old steam gauge goes around to two hundred fifty, three hundred pounds or more, and the locomotive not only moves out but it moves everything that is attached to it. If we get the power from on High, we will not only move ourselves but we will move that with which we come in contact. May God give us that power today!
Our own mind and our own strength are absolutely useless until we receive the enduement of the Spirit’s power; then all our talents, our genius, all that we have will work in perfect harmony and accord with the Spirit of God. The same Peter who had denied his Lord, but had found his way back to God, after the outpouring of the Spirit preached that wonderful sermon with the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. Three thousand souls were converted.
For Us Today
Some have declared that the baptism is not for us today; that it was only for the establishment of the Church. Peter preached that “the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts:2:39). That includes everyone down to the present day who will meet God’s conditions.
Others say that we may receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost but that the evidence of speaking in tongues is none essential. We read that on the Day of Pentecost they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
It was the evidence of speaking in tongues that proved to the Jews that God had poured out His Spirit also upon the Gentiles of Cornelius’ household ([Acts:10:44). God is still baptising believers today and the same evidence is given – the speaking in tongues.
There is a definite distinction between the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the Bible evidence of speaking in tongues, and the diversified gifts of the Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, of course. “Tongues” is one gift, healing another, prophecy another. Teaching is another, evangelism another, faith another, and so on. But there is a distinction between those gifts designated in Corinthians by Paul, and the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. If not, the hundred and twenty believers in the upper room would have had different kinds of gifts. When the Comforter came and the baptism was poured out upon them, they all received the same evidence.
All Were Jews
Some claim that speaking in tongues was necessary to make the men from the various countries - Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Libya, Egypt – understand the message. [Acts:2:5] tells us that they were all Jews, and, as such, undoubtedly understood their mother tongue. Therefore the different languages spoken were for a sign and were not essential for making the Jews understand. Peter’s sermon and explanation were not in many languages, but in one. The people heard it and understood it.
There are many fanatics who have brought reproach upon the Latter Rain Gospel by false tongues and manifestations. People lay themselves open to such false tongues and manifestations when they seek for the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire without first having been sanctified wholly. The devil has always had a counterfeit for those who are not willing to obey all the Word of God. However, the true baptism stands in spite of the devil’s counterfeit.
The Early Rain
True to the prophecy of Joel, God poured out His Spirit on all flesh in the days of the Apostles. This was the spiritual Early Rain that God had promised. The Day of Pentecost was the beginning, or seedtime, of the Christian Church. God poured out His Spirit, and the disciples went everywhere preaching the Gospel. The Church was established and flourished for a time; then there came a “falling away” and a spiritual drought.
The Latter Rain
Before the second coming of the Lord and the harvest time it was necessary that the Church be revived. God had promised the Latter Rain.
“Be patient therefore, brethren, 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 rain” (James:5:7).
In April, 1906, there were many true children of God in Los Angeles, California, in many of the churches, praying for the outpouring of the Spirit and for a world-wide revival. A minister coming from the Welsh revival to Los Angeles at that time stirred these people to pray. There were praying bands in the different churches there, and probably all over the world at that time, praying for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as well as for a revival. But there was one little company of sanctified people who had appointed a ten-day tarrying meeting for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. They were in one accord, and they expected that when they received the Pentecost experience they would receive the sign of speaking in tongues, as in [Acts:2:4]. The Lord put His seal upon this company.
Joel prophesied that the Latter Rain would be given in the first month. The Jewish first month is “Abib,” or our April.
On the 9th of April, 1906, the power fell in a cottage meeting on Bonnie Brae Street where the little company was assembled. A number received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. The mighty power of God was manifested. This was noised abroad. Hungry souls came until the cottages could not hold them. Then they rented for a meeting place an old barnlike building on Azusa Street; it was humble, but it was the place where the Holy Ghost was received.
God is still baptising believers in the same way. The Early and the Latter Rains have been given. The harvest time is upon us. The Husbandman who has waited long for the precious fruit of the earth will not wait much longer. Jesus is coming soon!
1. What preparation is necessary in order to be a candidate for the baptism of the Holy Ghost?
2. Give Scriptural proof that speaking in tongues is one of the evidences of receiving the baptism.
3. Is speaking in tongues positive proof of receiving the baptism?
4. What passage of Scripture lets us know that the baptism is for us today?
5. When was the spiritual Early Rain? Latter Rain?
6. What is meant by “the latter rain in the first month”?
7. How does Joel compares chronologically with other Old Testament writers?
8. Is the evidence of speaking in tongues on receiving the baptism the same as the gift of tongues?
9. For what purposes were the natural early and latter rains given?
10. How many were converted on the Day of Pentecost?
11. How many received the baptism on the Day of Pentecost?