Eschatology (the study of future events) cannot be considered one of my fortes. Honestly, I leave the predictions, insights and interpretations up to many other ministers who have the grace and revelation to share their findings. My earliest experiences in church surrounding the Rapture, Great Tribulation and Millennium Reign were typically accompanied with a great deal of fear and intimidation. Fiery messages, illustrations and even rumors of government checks bearing “do not cash without the mark of the beast” engaged the fearful audiences, me included. The way they preached those sermons in my childhood, I thought I would have no chance of graduating high school – let alone any dream of anything beyond my schooling.
Although I agree with much of what I was taught through those messages as a child, the sense of fear and hopelessness left a bitter taste in my spiritual mouth. The Rapture seemed to be conveyed as a rescue mission. The central theme became “darkness and evil of the world would become so strong that the Lord would need to rescue the Church from the grips of the enemy.” This notion goes emphatically against Scripture! If anything, the Rapture is the crowning of the greatest outpouring any generation has ever witnessed in the history of mankind!
With this notion in mind, let me draw your attention to a particular verse.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” James 5:7
Notice three things:
1) Coming of the Lord
2) Fruit of the earth
3) Early and latter rain
Following the timeline set in James 5:7, we will witness 1) the Rain of fresh demonstrations of God’s Spirit which creates 2) a great Harvest of people experiencing salvation through Jesus, and then 3) the appearing of Jesus, which is the coming of the Lord! Rain, Harvest, Coming of the Lord. This sounds exciting for the Church. Let’s take a little deeper look.
This may a gross oversimplifying of future events for any theologians out there, but this wraps it up for me. Prior to the Coming of the Lord, He will gather the Harvest unto Himself. The Harvest can be defined as a massive number of people coming to salvation and confessing Jesus as Lord. This event stands paramount at the purpose behind the age long dealings with mankind. The plan of redemption, with all its complexities, boils down to God pursuing friendship with mankind.
God set out in the Garden of Eden to befriend man. He created him to have fellowship. God desires to reveal Himself in and through His creation. From our limited perception of experience, this may seem preposterous that the God of creation would desire an intimate relationship with each person on planet earth. But, that is exactly the case! God sees such value and worth in you, that He was willing to give His only begotten Son in exchange for spending eternity with you.
With that thought in mind, the Heavenly Father plans an all-out, spiritual fireworks show in the final days to demonstrate His love and power. Is it any wonder that He would wait until there are more than seven billion people on this blue marble? This is the day of God reaping the harvest to Christ’s suffering! He plans an assault on the forces of darkness, but not directly from Him. He plans to demonstrate His multi-faceted wisdom through the frailty of the Church! The world may be getting darker and darker, but the Church is arising in the full manifestation of God’s glory and shining His love to a hurting humanity!
The mission of the Church started with, and will always be, reaching people with the Gospel. That mission has undergone brutal misinterpretations and private promotions. Yet, the mission remains the mission. Go tell people how much God loves them and the lengths He went to show it. If you tell them, God will confirm that Word with accompanying signs, wonders and miracles. If they are sick, He will heal them. In these final hours that mission will be exponentially multiplied throughout the world. The message is singular. The Harvest will be global.
Before the Great Harvest there will be rain – specifically early and latter rain. Rain throughout Scripture represents the outpouring of God’s Spirit and increase. Spoken as a promise by God to agricultural communities, rain became the sign of favor and blessing. Before the days of modern irrigation, societies depended heavily on rain to do two essential things:
1) Moisten the soil to receive seed in planting season
2) Peak the ripeness of the crop in harvest season
Spiritually speaking, the rain of God’s Spirit softens the hardest heart for God’s Word and awakens the soul that has slipped into complacency. Spiritual rain speaks of renewal! That may be somewhat vague still. Simply put, it is fresh demonstrations of God’s power. Pentecostals and other spirit-filled groups call it revival, move of God, etc. It happens when the Holy Spirit invades the mundane and energizes a mass of people to personal, spiritual vibrancy.
Gordon Lindsay once wrote, “It was evident that faith in God cannot be transmitted from generation to generation without fresh manifestations of the power of God.” If we are going to affect the present hyperactive, technological generation with Gospel faith, it will take leaders and laity alike experiencing new levels of the power of God. We must not be hesitant to move further out in God and discover the wonders of His person and the accompanying heavenly realities.
We are inundated with Bible teachers, pastors and ministers. With great education, eloquence and efficiency they communicate in Christian lingo. We do not need a new definition of the Gospel. We need a new demonstration of the power of that Gospel!Pastors and ministers fear offending and confusing a community out of step with God and His anointing. The concern should be why they are out of step in the first place. Our programs and slick presentations may cater to the minds of men, but it will be at the expense of their heart! We need RAIN!
If you ever experience Rain from Heaven, nothing else will satisfy. Prophets of old pointed to these encounters with God in the form of rain.
“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
Hosea describes God’s response to those who pursue Him as rain. Again, the terms former and latter rain defines the way He will visit the earth. Earth represents people. God does not visit the land, per se. People interest Him! God desires to visit people in order to reveal Himself in personal ways. He will come unto us in fresh demonstrations of power to awaken, revive and energize us to spiritual vitality! Glory!
“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
Another prophet, Zechariah by name, instructs us to pray for this rain when we notice the season for rain. Too many believers think that if God wills it, then it will be automatic. Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth. We are encouraged to entreat His involvement. Intercession must be made to invoke the wave of revival! Without prayer, fresh demonstrations will bypass us when they are actually intended for us!
“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
Of all the “rain” Scriptures, this is one of my favorites. First, the Prophet Joel encourages us to be glad and rejoice in the Lord. Why? He claims all of the previous dealings of God were simply “moderate” rain. Now, if the Lord calls all the previous miracles in your life “moderate rain,” then we truly are headed for exciting times, because the tone changes to a downpour of former and latter rain. It’s time to rejoice in anticipation of coming rain!
I want you to note one more thing about this verse. The term latter rains depict spring rains. Former rains are the autumn rains. The Prophet Joel foretells of both rains showing up in the first month. For us in America, the first month of the year is right smack in the middle of winter – when everything is dead. (You know where I am heading with this)
Typically, once you plant there is a long waiting period of growth – not much rain. You could even call this the dry season of summer. Then, autumn comes with rain that peaks the crop for harvest. How can God give both rains for seed and harvest at the same time?HE IS TAKING OUT THE DRY SEASON OF YOUR LIFE! God is moving us into a time where the long waiting period is removed and harvests become sped up.
Right in the middle of the deadness of our situation God promises He will pour down both the rains that prepare the ground for seed and the rains that ripen the harvest! If you are facing a crisis, you may pray one moment and then turn around to see the answer. If you are broke, you may give in the morning offering only to see the return on the seed in the evening. When everything seems hopeless, that is the time God steps in to not only deliver in the dynamic sense, but also to deliver in the extraordinarily speedy sense! God is speeding things up!
I know things in the world are becoming tense and even fearful. Governments of men are clashing. Economic crises loom. Darkness seems to be growing at an alarming rate on so many fronts. But, that’s why I do not look to the headlines to gauge the activity of Heaven.We must not take our cues from the realm of natural senses. We must fix our gaze on the God of our salvation and look to Him to intervene upon our behalf!
What do I see on the horizon? I see rain in the forecast! As one prophet of old said, I hear the sound of the abundance of rain!