Preparation for the Latter Rain

 From Elder Meade MacGuire 

Review and Herald, June 10, 1902

"Christ had an infinite variety of subjects from which to choose in His teaching, but the one upon which He dwelt most largely was the endowment of His Holy Spirit."

John 14:1-3.

Before departing, Jesus promised to return.

Matthew 24:3.

He gave signs by which His people could know the generation of His coming and the end of the world.

Matthew 24:33-35.

He identified the generation which would not pass.

Acts 2:17-21. Joel 2:23.

The Scriptures tell us that before His coming there will be a special manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit similar to that which came on the day of Pentecost.

Revelation 18:1-4.

It is this outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will attend the Loud Cry, and lighten the earth with God's glory.

The Loud Cry is a Message. The latter rain is the Holy Spirit, which comes to give power to that message.

Early Writings, p. 85.

"At that time the Latter Rain, or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out."

Acts of the Apostles, p. 54.

"It is true that in the time of the end, when God's work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God's church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early or former rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.

"But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of Man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest 'in the time of the latter rain'. In response 'the Lord will make bright clouds and give them showers of rain'. He will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former and the latter rain."

Revelation 14:6,7.

For about (159) years we have proclaimed this great three-fold Message - that the hour of God's judgment has come, and that the Lord is coming in this generation. We expected Him to come many years ago, and urged people to prepare at once to meet Him. Now we are face to face with the solemn question which should grip the heart of every believer - Why has not the latter rain been poured out, and the work finished? Some assume that the Lord has a certain date determined beforehand for the finishing of the work, and when that time arrives it will be done. However, this is not in harmony with the teachings of the Bible or of the Testimonies.

Jonah. Hezekiah. 2 Kings 20:1-6.

We are definitely told in the Bible and the Testimonies that the coming of Christ has been delayed, and the reason for the delay.

Review and Herald March 19, 1895.

"The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church is looked forward to as in the future; but it is the privilege of the church to have it now. Seek for it, pray for it, believe for it. We must have it, and heaven is waiting to bestow it."

Review and Herald October 6, 1896.

"If those who claimed to have a living experience in the things of God, had done their appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would have been warned ere this and the Lord Jesus would have come in power and great glory."

Australian Union Record, October 15, 1898.

"If Gods people had the love of Christ in the heart; if every church member were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of self-denial; if all manifested thorough earnestness, there would be no lack of funds for home and foreign missions; our resources would be multiplied; a thousand doors of usefulness would be opened, and we would be invited to enter.

"Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving the message of mercy to the world, Christ would have come o the' earth, and the saints would ere this have received their welcome into the city of God."

That the coming of the Lord has been delayed, and that His people are responsible for the delay is further illustrated in the experience of ancient Israel.

Great Controversy p. 457-458.

"The history of ancient Israel is a striking illustration of the past experience of the Adventist body. God led His people in the Advent movement, even as He led the children of Israel from Egypt. In the great disappointment their faith was tested as was that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea. Had they still trusted to the guiding hand that had been with them in their past experience, they would have seen of the salvation of God. If all who had labored unitedly in the work in 1844 had received the Third Angel's message and had proclaimed it in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord would have wrought mightily through their efforts. A flood of light would have been shed upon the world. Years ago the inhabitants of the earth would have been warned, the closing work completed, and Christ would have come for the redemption of His people.

"It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness. He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, happy people. But they could not enter in because of unbelief'. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the promised land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, other were raised up to do the work."

God led them those 40 years by pillar of cloud and fire and fed them angels food. It was still His movement but they should have been in the land of Canaan.

Testimonies Vol. 6 p. 450.

"Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would ere this have come to the earth, and the saints world have received their welcome into the city of God. "

General Conference Bulletin March 30, 1903.

"The lesson of this record is for us. The Lord had prepared the way before His people. They were very near the promised land. A little while and they would have entered Canaan. They themselves had delayed the entering . . . Had they put their trust in God they could have gone straight in. God would have gone before them. . . Brethren and sisters, from the light given me I know that if the people of God had preserved a living connection with Him, if they had obeyed His word, they could today be in the heavenly Canaan."

Manuscript 4, 1883.

"For 40 years did unbelief, murmuring and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow, so many years."

If the full significance of these words should penetrate our minds it would bring a mighty awakening and revival. The very fact that Jesus wanted to come and would have come so many years ago, but we were not ready, should startle us. We might be in heaven today. How much longer must the Lord wait for us?

Naturally the younger people will say, I am glad He did not come fifty years ago for I was not born then. Suppose He should be delayed another fifty years - would not the young say the same? Such reasoning would postpone His coming indefinitely.

Naturally we look at such matters from our personal standpoint, but we need to see it from God's viewpoint also.

Education p. 263.

"Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the Gospel, think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God."

If we really love God, what shame and horror we shall feel to think that the coming of Christ and the end of sin have been delayed so many years, while God has continued to suffer the agony revealed to our dull senses at the cross.

Matthew 25:1-5.

The Savior gave this parable to represent the two classes in the church at the time of His coming. It states that the "Bridegroom tarried", which is in harmony with the preceding statements. It also states that His people "slumbered and slept", though unprepared for His coming.

The reason for the delay is made very plain in the Bible and Testimonies. How could the latter rain be poured out upon the sleeping virgins, or upon the churcl in the Laodicean condition?

Testimonies Vol. 1 p, 486.

"God's people are not prepared for the loud cry of the third angel. They have a work to do for themselves, which they should not leave for God to do for them. He has left this work for them to do: It is an individual work; one cannot do it for another."

Testimonies Vol 8 p. 21.

"Christ declared that the divine influence of the Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. But the promise is not appreciated as it should be; and therefore its fulfillment is not seen as it might be. The promise of the Spirit is a matter little thought of; and the result is only what might be expected, spiritual drouth, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Minor matters occupy the attention, and the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in its infinite plentitude."

Early Writings, p. 71.

"I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful, and were looking to the 'time of refreshing' and the latter rain to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord, and to live in His sight. 0, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a Holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets, and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it, and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father."

Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.

"Every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will-not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God."

How sad to think that the coming of our Savior is delayed because we are too occupied with other things to study and become enlightened regarding the necessary preparation for the latter rain, which is so plainly revealed in His instructions to us.

Appeal to Our churches in Behalf of Home Miss. Work p 21.

"Isaiah says, 'Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward'. Ye churches of the living God, study this promise, and consider how your lack of faith, of spirituality, of divine power, is hindering the coming of the kingdom of God. Were every one of you a living missionary, the gospel would be speedily proclaimed in all countries, to all peoples, nations and tongues."

Some seem to believe that the latter rain is now falling in far-away places; others believe it is falling everywhere, though not in its fullness. Is it possible that God has left this matter of such vital importance to His people, and the finishing of His work, in such obscurity that many sincere, honest souls are confused and do not know what to believe? When we study the plain statements of the Bible and Testimonies, all this uncertainty will be cleared away.

Testimonies to Ministers, p. 506.

"In the East the former rain falls at the sowing time. It is necessary in order that the seed may germinate. Under the influence of the fertilizing showers, the tender shoot springs up. The latter rain, falling near the close of the season, ripens the grain and prepares it for the sickle. The Lord employs these operations of nature to represent the work of the Holy Spirit. As the dew and the rain are given first to cause the seed to germinate, and then to ripen the harvest, so the Holy Spirit is given to carry forward from one stage to another the process of spiritual growth. The ripening of the grain represents the completion of the work of God's grace in the soul. By the power of he Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ.

"The latter rain ripening earth's harvest represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of Man. 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 sheaves to perfection."

There are three ways in which we may apply the expressions - early and latter rain:

1. Dispensationally - Pentecost and the end.

2. Generation - l844 and the end.

3. Personal - Conversion to the Advent Message, and the end.

Test. to Ministers and Workers p. 507.

"Many have in a great measure failed to receive the former rain. They have not obtained all the benefits that God, has thus provided for them. They expect that the lack will be supplied by the latter rain. When the richest abundance of grace shall be bestowed, they intend to open their hearts to receive it. They are making a terrible mistake. . .

"At no point in our experience can we dispense with the assistance of that which enables us to make the first start. The blessings received under the former rain are needful to us till the end. Yet these alone will not suffice. While we cherish the blessing of the early rain, we must not, on the other hand, lose sight of the fact that without the latter rain to fill out the ears and ripen the grain, the harvest will not be ready for the sickle, and the labor of the sower will have been in vain. . .

"If we do not progress, if we do not place ourselves in an attitude to receive both the former and the latter rain, we shall lose our souls and the responsibility will lie at our own door."

This makes it plain that the latter rain will not be received nor benefit any who have not obtained the necessary experience under the early rain. A certain Christian character must be attained or the latter rain will be of no avail.

The illustration makes this plain. If the grain is sown in October but no early rain fell, the crop could not be ready for the harvest at the time of the latter rain in March.

It may be well to notice some events which we are told will take place before the latter rain is poured out. Then we shall notice the immediate effect of the outpouring of the latter rain.

Early Writings, p. 261.

"I saw that God has honest children among the nominal Adventists, and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out of these churches, and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel, is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches."

Early Writings, p. 269-271. The SHAKING.

Also Great Controversy, p. 621; Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 209-216.

The "shaking" is followed by the outpouring of the Spirit and Loud Cry.

Testimonies Vol. 6, p. 400-401.

"As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. . . Those who have had great light and precious privileges but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us. . .

"But on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together, and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say, 'I am of Paul, or I of Appollos, or I of Cephas.' The testimony of one and all will be, 'I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Savior'. . . The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the Third Anger angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord."

The following paragraphs will make it plain that there need be no uncertainty on the part of those who have prepared for the latter rain, when it is falling.

Great Controversy p. 612.

"Servants of God with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand."

Early Writings p. 278-279.

"A compelling power moved the honest, while the manifestation of the power of God brought a fear and restraint upon their unbelieving relatives and friends, so that they dared not neither had they the power to hinder those who felt the work of the Spirit of God upon them. . .

"Mighty miracles were wrought, the sick were healed, and signs and wonders followed the believers. . . I saw that this work will close with power and strength far exceeding the midnight cry. Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction."

Some seem to think the latter rain has been falling for many years. We have no information as to how long this experience will continue, but we have this statement in

Early Writings, p. 277.

"This message seemed to be an addition to the third message joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel's message in l844."

The midnight cry, beginning in July and closing in October 1844 continued about three months. G.C. p. 604. E.W. P. 85, 86.

Let us now return to the question - Why has not the latter rain come? The promise is made in Joel 2:23, but that promise is evidently the climax of an experience to which God summons His people from the first verse of the chapter. This chapter is a brief outline of God's program for the finishing of His work.

Joel 2:1, and Revelation 3:14-18 call for Alarm and revival and Reformation.

Joel 2:12,13, - victory over sin - Righteousness by Faith.

Joel 2:15-17, 18, 23 - Latter Rain and Loud Cry.

Joel 3:9-12 - God summons all the nations to prepare for war - to awake and prepare for the final struggle. It is amazing to see how the world has responded. Millions did not want war - yet some mysterious power impelled them.

Why do not God's people respond as earnestly, and follow His instructions as definitely as the heathen nations?

Let us now notice some statements regarding our present condition.

Early Writings p. 119

"I saw that the remnant was not prepared for what is coming upon the earth. Stupidity, like lethargy, seemed to hang upon the minds of most of those who profess to believe that we are having the last message. My accompanying angel cried out with awful solemnity, Get ready! Get ready! Get ready! for the fierce anger of the Lord is soon to come. His wrath is to be poured out unmixed with mercy, and ye are not ready. Rend the heart and not, the garment. A great work is to be done for the remnant."

Testimonies Vol 4, p. 600.

"We are upon the enchanted ground, and Satan is continually at work to rock our people to sleep in the cradle of carnal security. There is an indifference, a lack of zeal, that paralyzes all our efforts."

Testimonies Vol 5, p. 310.

"You should keep off from Satan's enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God."

Testimonies Vol 9, p. 123.

"We must no longer sleep on Satan's enchanted ground, but call into requisition all our resources, avail ourselves of every facility with which providence has furnished us."

Early Writings p. 120.

"I saw that God's people are on the enchanted ground, and that some have lost nearly all sense of the shortness of time and the worth of the soul."

Early Writings p. 60.

"Said the angel, 'remember thou art on the enchanted ground.' I saw that we must, watch and have on the, whole armor, and take the shield of faith, and then we shall be able to stand, and the fiery darts of the wicked cannot harm us."

Great Controversy p. 601.

"We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God. We have not a moment to lose. Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan's enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make you his prey."

Review and Herald March 22, 1887.

"If we have any regard for our souls salvation, we must make a decided change. We must seek the Lord with true penitence; we must with deep contrition of soul confess our sins, that they may be blotted out. We must no longer remain upon the enchanted ground."

Testimonies Vol 6 p. 31.

"The time in which we live is a time of intense excitement. Ambition and war, pleasure and money making, absorb the minds of men. Satan sees that his time is short, and he has set all his agencies at work, that men may be deceived, deluded occupied, and entranced until probation shall be ended, and the door of mercy be forever shut."

Enchantment - Magic, sorcery, witchcraft, spell, charm, fascination. Thus we can see the problem which the church faces today. The work can be finished only by the power of the latter rain. That is promised only on definite conditions, which we have not met. The church is represented as ten sleeping virgins, and as Laodiceans who are complacent and self-satisfied though unprepared for His coming. Surely this is the time for the Message of Joel 2 to be sounded everywhere.

Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1890.

"Meetings should beheld in every church for solemn prayer and earnest searching of the word to know what is truth. Take the promises of God and ask God in living faith for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit is shed upon us, marrow and fatness will be drawn from the word of God. When the churches become living, working churches, the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to their sincere request. Then the truth of God's word will be regarded with new interest, and will be explored as if it were a revelation just from the courts above. Every declaration of inspiration concerning Christ will take hold of the inmost soul of those who love Him. Envy, jealousy, evil surmising, will cease. The Bible will be regarded as a charter from heaven. Its study will absorb the mind and its truths will feast the soul. The promises of God now repeated as if the soul had never tasted of His love, will then glow upon the altar of the heart, and fall with burning words from the lips of the messengers of God. They will then plead with souls with an earnestness that cannot be repulsed. Then the windows of heaven will be opened for the showers of the latter rain."

God expects His leaders and workers everywhere to present earnestly His counsel in the Laodicean message, and sound the alarm; but unless we are alarmed, we cannot alarm anyone else.

Testimonies Vol 8, p. 195.

"Those who stand in responsible positions in the work of the Lord are represented as watchmen on the walls of Zion. God calls upon them to sound an alarm among the people. Let it be heard in all the plain. The day of woe, of wasting and destruction, is upon all who do unrighteousness. With special severity will the Lord's hand fall upon the watchmen who have failed to place before the people in clear lines their obligation to Him who by creation and by redemption is their owner."

For more than a century God has been calling for a revival and reformation among His people. When the Laodicean message of Revelation 3 and the alarm of Joel 2 are sounded according to God's purpose, the revival and reformation will come.

Review and Herald, December 15, 1904.

"Leaving the first love is represented as a spiritual fall. Many have fallen thus. In every church, in our land there is needed confession, repentance, and re-conversion. The disappointment of Christ is beyond description. Unless those who have sinned speedily repent, the deceptions of the last days will overtake them. Some, though they realize it not, are preparing to be overtaken. God calls for repentance without delay. So long have many trifled with salvation that their spiritual eyesight is dimmed, and they cannot discern between light and darkness. Christ is humiliated in His people. The first love is gone, the faith is weak, there is need of a thorough reformation.

"My brethren and sisters, humble your hearts before the Lord. Seek Him earnestly. I have an intense desire to see you walking in the light as Christ is in the light . . . You have left your first love. Self-righteousness is not the wedding garment. A failure to follow the clear light of truth is our fearful danger. The message to the Laodicean church reveals our condition as a people."

Review and Herald, June 10, 1902.

"It is not because of any restriction on God's part that the riches of His grace do not flow to men. His gift is Godlike. He gave with a liberality that men do not appreciate because they do not love to receive. If all were willing to receive, all would be filled with the Spirit. By resting content with small blessings, we disqualify ourselves for receiving the Spirit in its unlimited fulness. We are too easily satisfied with a ripple on the surface, when it is our privilege to expect the deep movings of the Spirit of God. Expecting little, we receive little. . . When the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost it was like a rushing, mighty wind. It was given in no stinted measure; for it filled all the place where the disciples were sitting. So will it be given to us when our hearts are prepared to receive it."