In the beginning of the planting season the former or early rain is the first rain that comes to prepare the land for planting and sowing of the seed. It is this rain that is the signal for the Farmer to begin his ploughing and plant his seed. In ancient Palestine, ploughing is done after the former or early rains have come to soften the earth. These rains usually come in the Fall, the latter part of October or the first part of November to allow the farmers to plough and sow the grains. The two principal grains cultivated in ancient Palestine were wheat and barley. After planting the grains comes the winter rains at the latter part of December and during January and February to make the grains grow.
“He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” Deuteronomy 11:14 ESV:
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. Joel 2:23 ESV:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8 ESV
Finally comes the latter rain, which ordinarily falls in Spring, March and April, and it is this rain that is of so much value in maturing and ripening the barley and the wheat crops for harvesting. Without the latter rain the harvest will not be plentiful, the grains would not be well matured and ready for healthy consumption. The prophecy of Joel mentions all three of these kinds of rain: “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).
After the latter rain comes, the ripe grain is then reap or harvested with a sickle. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of “him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest” (Jer. 50:16). And the prophet Joel commands: “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe” (Joel 3:13). Barley harvest is usually in April and May, and wheat harvest in May and June. Thus, we see that Jeremiah was quite correct in his order of seasons in relation to the harvest time, when he said: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
In Christianity, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a spiritual event of stupendous significance. This is the symbol of the early or former rain that planted the new testament church we have today.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4, KJV)
The tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit poured out without measure, provided the impetuous, the power, to enable the early believers to take the gospel message to the known world in a single generation. This was the arrival of the promised “Comforter” and it was poured out as the “early rain.”
But what is even more precious to believers today, is the promises of a repeat of this gift, only this time, in “latter rain” power. “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahuwah your Eloah: 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, KJV)
Precious promise! An outpouring of the Holy Spirit to purify the soul and life, to get a people ready to meet God in the skies and give them power to take the last warning message to the world. Many believers look to this promised event with longing. They yearn for purification. They want to cooperate with Heaven in taking the Loud Cry (last warning) to the world, and they pray for God to send the latter rain to prepare them for earth’s closing scenes.
They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Jeremiah 5:24 ESV:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” James 5:7 ESV
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 ESV :
So where is the promised latter rain in the church today? Has it come and gone? How do we know we have received it? Have we missed it? “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
“Therefore, the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. Jeremiah 3:3:”
The answer is found in the book of Revelation chapter 14.
It is the only place in the bible God is seated on the clouds with a Sickle in His hand and is asked to reap for the harvest is ripe!! Halleluiah!!! Let’s go to the chapter and hear for ourselves.
Harvesting the Earth and Trampling the Winepress – Rev. 14:14-20
14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man[b] with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.[c]
In verses 14-16, we clearly see God harvesting the vine of the earth into his barn and in verses 17-19 another angel harvesting the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine into the great winepress of God’s wrath. There are two groups harvested, the vine and the grapes!
If God is seen harvesting from the earth because it’s time to reap, in verses 14-16, then it means that the LATTER RAIN has been poured out onto the church before He could harvest. So, we have to go to the preceding verses to see what message is to be proclaimed with the LATTER RAIN (Holy Spirit), since the harvest came after the latter rains had been poured. So, we go to Revelation 14:6-12 there we see the proclamation of the Three Angels.