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The Latter Rain and its Timing

The latter rain will be the focus of this page on Joel 2. The previous page (part 3 of 5 parts on Joel 2) talks about the blowing of the trumpet in Zion in preparation for the Second Coming.

"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)

The Timing of the Latter Rain

Let's consider the timing and nature of the latter rain in connection with other events. There seems to be an order suggested by the use of the terms former rain, latter rain and afterward:

  1. "hath given you the former rain" (v23)
  2. "the latter rain in the first month" (v 23)
  3. "afterward ... I will pour out my spirit" (v28)

Many say that the "latter rain" is the equivalent of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power but the timing suggests that the outpouring of the spirit follows the rains. We need to better understand the meaning of the rains.

In the marginal notes of the King James Version, the phrase "latter rain" is rendered "teacher of righteousness." What is the relationship between rain and "teacher of righteousness"?

"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." (Deut. 32: 2)

"Doctrine" refers to teaching or learning (used as a noun in the KJV). It is described as falling "upon the grass" which is symbolic of people. (Rev 9:4). Zechariah also speaks of the latter rain falling upon grass;

"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." (Zech 10:1)

Isaiah also likens God's word to rain:

"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isa 55:10-11)

Today, people are being told to be expecting the Spirit's power, rather than first receiving the Spirit's truth or teaching to help them grow and mature spiritually that they may "afterward" be used of him to proclaim the truth with power. The early disciples were not agonizing for the Spirit, as they were told to simply "wait" for it as a promise from the Father. (Luke 24:29) They were seeking to be in one accord in Christ, by being settled into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually so that they would be clean vessels to do God's work.

Here is an interesting version of Joel 2:23:

"Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He's giving you a teacher to train you how to live right-Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do." (Joel 2:23, Message)

The Wheat and the Chaff Separated

"And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil." (Joel 2:24)

The (threshing) floors are where the wheat is separated from the chaff.

"Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them (the many nations) as the sheaves into the floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." (Micah 4:11-13)

This is sounding like a world-wide work of harvest or judgment in which God's servants will be involved. It reads like a gathering to a place but this could be similar to "the lake of fire" which can be shown to be not so much a place as an experience - the second death (Rev 20:14).

To "beat" can be "to thresh" which certainly fits the context.

"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (Dan 2:35)

This may point to when this is all going to happen. The breaking of the iron, clay, brass, silver and gold may refer to the breakup of the One World Order that will work to subjugate God's people.

The summer threshing floors are used to take in the bulk of the harvest - the second fruits. Wheat is the larger, later harvest after the barley (first fruits) which is about 7 weeks earlier. Here is another passage suggesting harvest:

"Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff." (Isa 41:15)

"Beat" is from the same original word also translated as "beat" in Micah 4:13. In this verse it is even more obviously referring to threshing.

Promises for the Threshers

"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." (Joel 2:25)

When a year is gone it is gone forever. "Restore the years" could be a way of speaking of making up for lost time in the proclamation of the gospel. The rapidity of the last work could be described using the expression fire in the stubble as in Joel 2:5.

"And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed." (Joel 2:26-27)

In the last days, God will work miraculously for His people and, of course, provide for them for eternity.

"He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." (Isa 33:16)

I like to link the promise of never being ashamed to the word of God which, if we study and treasure its true message, connects us to Him.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (1 Tim 2:15)
In the next and last part of this 5-part study of Joel 2 we will understand more of the timing of the latter rain as we look at a very misunderstood verse - Joel 2:28.  

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