So rejoice, O children of Zion, and delight in the Lord, your God; For He has given you the early [autumn] rain in vindication And He has poured down the rain for you, The early [autumn] rain and the late [spring] rain, as before.
Rain is the life source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops. In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms: the former rain and latter rain. In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. Old Testament Prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joel also speak of both seasons of rain:
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that gives rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserves unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Hosea 6:1-3 (NKJV)
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up.
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
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.
The same message from Joel 2:23 is echoed on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter addresses the multitude in referring to the Prophet Joel:
Acts 2:16-18 (NKJV)
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
To appreciate the promise of God who will send the latter rain when He pours out of His spirit upon all flesh, think of what happened when God first opened the windows of heaven and “poured” out the rain. Genesis 7 gives the account of Noah and the ark when the heavens opened, and it rained for forty days and nights. In the last days when God opens the windows of heaven to pour out of His spirit on all flesh, do you think the outpouring will be any less great than the first time God poured out? God predates Morton salt whose motto is “When it rains, it pours.”
Anyone who is spiritually observant can sense that a great outpouring of the Spirit of God is, in truth, already taking place. In a similar way, one can tell when a torrential downpour is about to occur. The essence of what is about to take place spiritually is seen in the lyrics to a popular ballad from bygone days, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”:
See how the wind begins to whisper.
See how the leaves go streaming by.
Smell how the velvet rain is falling
Out where the fields are warm and dry.
Soon it’s gonna rain, I can see it
Soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell
Soon it’s gonna rain, what are we gonna do?
To answer the question posed at the end of the song, here is my advice: “Pray and get ready for rain!” As Zechariah 10:1 exhorts:
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.
The Book of James also reminds us the importance of prayer in conjunction with the harvest.
James 5:7 (NKJV):
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain.
James goes on to illustrate what can happen when a man of God prays:
James 5:17-18 (NKJV)
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
God still answers prayer. His desire is to bless more than ours is to ask. Let us continue to pray for rain, the latter rain, an abundance of spiritual outpouring, which God promised to send before the abundant harvest toward which we are steadily moving. “Pray, the Latter Rain is on the way!”
We conclude with William Nelson, who offers this passionate plea: “Send the Rain.”