This is an attempt to answer my friend John Mark’s question concerning the timing of the outpouring of the latter rain, the will of God, versus the Christian’s demand of it. Below is Mark’s question in capitals:
WHAT MAKES US THINK WITH THE ISSUE OF THE LATTER RAIN, HE [GOD] WILL POUR OUT HIS SPIRIT SUBJECT TO OUR PERSISTENT REQUEST AND NOT BY HIS [GOD’S] TIMELINE?
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 39).
Why should there be a former (early) rain? Former rains prepare crops to sprout leaves, gain roots, develop strong stalks, and to bring up fruits. Latter rains are torrent of rain, strong and powerful. A flimsy rooted plant is likely to break down by it. Latter rain precedes imminent harvest. Former rains prepare the plant for the latter rain. From this agricultural imagery, the Christian missiology demanded the Spirit’s power to launch the Christ’s movement. What happened on Pentecost was former rain. It planted the church and keeps it moving. The Spirit continues to shower over the church for missions. We are within the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
It is this promise we need right now! The Spirit’s outpouring on Pentecost, known as the former rain, is our greatest and urgent need right now! The latter rain will pour when the time is due. Just as in agriculture, rains come in their season. God’s children will not weary themselves to ask for the latter rain. The prerequisite is the former rain. Know that it is not another Spirit that will come down from God. It will be the same Spirit manifesting itself in double-action or in “full view”. That means, without the former rain, latter rain is impossible!
The former rain is necessary for the development of Christian ethics and values. We need to develop the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23). Fruits only sprouts out during the early rain. If these fruit of the Spirit are not manifested in our Christian experience, then we must be driven to ask God for enough rain. The fruit of the Spirit are the evidence of our corporation with the Spirit. It is the incarnation of the risen Lord—Jesus Christ. The church cannot accomplish anything without the Holy Spirit. As long as the mission of the church is not ended, each one of us needs the Holy Spirit. It is within this framework that God prepares the church to receive the latter rain.
The outpouring of the latter rain will be necessitated by various end time phenomena, where God’s children would need to take a stand in finishing their mission.
What we must all take note is the fact that the manifestation of the latter rain is unlike Pentecost. Though hearts will shine and enlightened by God’s truth, only those who have prepared themselves by the former rain, can receive the latter rain. As Ellen White pointed out, “But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection.”1
Yes, it will be the mighty work of God. The latter rain will fall in its season. While some may be in an expectation of an ecstatic grandeur of the Spirit’s activity, it will far be the opposite. God’s Spirit will move individuals in a calmly but courageous manner. Their intellects shall be perfected, alert and succinct in truth. Their hearts shall reflect the humble Spirit of Christ, purging themselves from all corruptible behavior. They are people prepared to finish God’s work to meet their savior. Since they are already charged with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will use them until the end. They shall stand every test and temptation.
I will conclude by pointing to the promise of God. The Holy Spirit is a promise, and God will grant it in its season. His promises do not fail and it’s part of His executive will. His will works in hearts prepared for it. When the 70 years of the Jewish captivity was due, Daniel prayed having understood the promise of God concerning Judah. However, he pleaded on behalf of the whole nation, confessing sins, and a preparedness to receive God’s deliverance. Likewise, we need preparedness knowing God’s promise concerning the out pouring of the latter rain. Ellen White says: “It is God who began the work, and He will finish His work, making man complete in Jesus Christ. But there must be no neglect of the grace represented by the former rain. Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.2
At this point, and in answer to your question, I’ll say the only qualification for the latter rain is the former rain. Persistent prayer must be sought for the former rain, the most important and our urgent need! Preparedness is an active process of a Christian lifestyle; prayer is indispensable. The latter rain will fall in its season because God is faithful.