Monday, June 11, 2012

The Former and the Latter Rain. . .

Deuteronomy 11:14
That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Jeremiah 5:24
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Hosea 6:3
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.

Zechariah 10:1
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.

James 5:7
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

The Bible speaks in a number of verses of two rains, the former rain and the latter rain. In my mind as I read of the former and latter rain, I think of our present day calendar, centered around the change of the year January 1st, with the former rain coming early in the year, and the latter rain coming later, but in the Bible lands there is a different perspective. Rain in these dry lands, is of far more significance than in middle America where I live. To me rain is a nuisance, an interruption of a picnic day. . .In our land rain, while recognized as necessary, is quite dependable, and therefore we take it for granted.

The Bible lands are otherwise. The Bible divides the year into two primary seasons. . . wet/dry. . .cold/hot. . . winter/summer. In my search of the Bible, I cannot find any mention of the seasons spring or fall. They divide the year, by where it is in relationship to the rains.

Long periods of famine are recorded, when the rains did not come for years upon end. You might think of the Hebrew nation as being herded and brought together. . . forged if you will by dry clouds and clear skies. Joseph’s family went to Egypt to escape the lethal lack of rain. People died. Herds of animals had to be killed. Crops failed. The rains, and the season of rains are watched with huge significance. Rain is not an inconvenience. . . rain is the very foundation of life itself.

In the Bible, the former rain (Hebrew word: יורה yôreh sprinkling; hence a sprinkling [or autumnal showers]: - first rain, former [rain]), is an autumnal rain. . . a rain of the fall. . .The former rain is the first rain of the rainy season. It is a rain which comes in the fall, while the seeds are being sown, for their grain crops. These light initial rains of the season, serve to give moisture to the soil and soften the ground after the heat of the summer, but the benefit of the early rains is not directly tied to the harvest. These fall planted crops grow slowly over the winter, and the harvest is many months away. This is a rain while essential, it is of deferred benefit to the farmer. There is a long interval between this rain and the harvest in the spring.

The latter rain (Hebrew word: מלקושׁ malqôsh the spring rain; figuratively eloquence: - latter rain) is the crucial rain of the spring time. This latter rain comes during the period of fastest plant growth. Without the moisture of this rain, the crops will not fully develop. They will wither and die in the increasing heat of the season. They will not set good heads of seed. The life and strength of the crops, and indeed the bounty of the harvest directly depends upon the spring rain. . .

The Bible often uses physical examples for spiritual lessons. What is the spiritual symbolism of this former and latter rain?

Deuteronomy 32:1-4
Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. (2) 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: (3) Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. (4) He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Moses said that his doctrine (Hebrew word: לקח leqach properly something received, that is, [mentally] instruction [whether on the part of the teacher or hearer]; also [in an active and sinister sense] inveiglement: - doctrine, learning, fair speech.) shall drop as the rain. . .

Again. . . God speaks to us of rain coming down:

Isaiah 55:10-11
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: (11) 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.

In this passage, God tells us that His Word comes down to us as rain. In the preceding section of verses, Moses said that his teaching. . . his words . . . his doctrine came to us as rain.

The doctrine of God was given to us first written on tablets of stone, and told to Moses and to the Hebrew people on the very first Pentecost. . . 50 days from the night of Passover, in the Hebrew people’s Exodus from Egypt. The former rain, the first rain of the spiritual rainy season, the first giving of God’s Doctrine occurred upon that first Pentecost, and likewise similar to the first rains of the wet season, this first spiritual rain was an autumnal rain. . .

God desired a close and special relationship with the Hebrew people:

Exodus 19:5-6
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (6) And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

God wanted each man and woman of the newly freed Hebrew people to be a priest. . . for each of them to directly minister to Him, and for all of the Hebrew people, to have a close, and intimate relationship with Him. . . but alas. . . immediately in the next verse after the giving of the Ten Commandments concluded in verse 17, the people spoke to Moses:

Exodus 20:18-19
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. (19) And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

You cannot be a priest, if you refuse to allow God to speak directly to you. The Hebrew people rejected God’s direct presence. They rejected intimacy with Him. . . God’s pouring out of his doctrine in person, was rejected by the people. They asked that God not speak directly to them. The wanted no intimate and personal relationship with God.

Moses could only transmit God’s rules and commands to the people. A relationship cannot be transferred from one to another, but must be found and developed and deepened individually by each man and woman.

This first rain of doctrine was autumnal. It fell upon lifeless and barren soil. The seeds were planted, but had not yet germinated. This rain did not produce a great harvest. The rains of the autumn soften the ground, and provide deep resources, which are the foundational basis of the water table, and so is this first teaching. . .this first lesson by God given to mankind.

This first giving, without the intimacy of a direct relationship with God, turned into: Spiritual cleansing and atonement for sin by systematic sacrificing of animals. . . Righteousness not based upon a deeply loving relationship with God, but by rule and regulation. It was not the Law’s shortcoming, for if the Hebrew people had accepted God’s direct communication with them, this Law would have served as the framework for God’s relationship with them, and they would have gained the power of that relationship to defeat sin, but He was rejected. The people rejected the relationship, and were left without God's presence. . . they were helpless to overcome sin without the power of God accessible to them, and transforming them, by the renewing of their minds. . . All they had were the rules and commandments of God’s doctrine.

What a contrast between the first and second Covenants. Rather than as a voice coming from the clouds, and writing the Word with His finger on tablets of stone, as in the first giving of the Law of God. For the second giving of the Word, God robed Himself in flesh and personally became the Word in order to deliver it to us in His own person:

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Revelation 19:12-13
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (13) And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

The Word made flesh. . .The people had been terrified and had long ago rejected a thundering voice in the clouds, but as a baby crying in a manger, in this humble, and helpless beginning God would not so easily be rejected. . . a God whose beginnings were seen, born of Mary. . . who walked, and talked, and faced every temptation faced by every man and woman, who was able to heal and forgive sin . . . who came with all the power of the Old Covenant Jehovah, but now robed in the flesh of humanity.

Rather than 40 days on a mountaintop, this second giving took 3 1/2 years. Indeed a short time, but by comparison to the first giving of doctrine, It was a long gently soaking rain. This time rather than spiritually barren autumnal fields, the giving of God’s doctrine came in the spring of the year, with the seed planted and germinated, and fields, deep water given by the long ago foundational autumnal giving of God’s Word on Mt. Sinai, prepared by John the Baptist and readied, and waiting for the life giving moisture of God’s doctrine given again. . . this latter rain of God’s word made flesh.

Rather than being gathered at the base of a mountain, terrified by the power of God as with the first giving, on that first Pentecost, now God Himself having taught the people, and having developed a physical relationship with them. . . having walked, talked, slept, and eaten with them for 3 1/2 years. . . He tells them of the coming display of power, so that this time they will not be terrified:

Acts 1:4-9
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (6) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

His Word. . . the second Covenant was now complete. The Word made flesh had accomplished His mission, and now returned to Heaven. The latter rain of God’s Word had fallen upon the people, they were prepared now to receive the relationship. God’s desire for a nation of priests, each one with a power filled intimate, and deeply resonating relationship with God was now possible:

Acts 2:1-4
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Read again now the verses on the first rain and the latter rain. . .

Deuteronomy 11:14
That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Jeremiah 5:24
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Hosea 6:3
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.

Zechariah 10:1
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.

James 5:7
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

The Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth. . . He awaits His harvest for which, He has labored. He waits without growing weary. It is all within His plan. . .there will be a harvest, from both rains. . . a harvest of both the Hebrew people of the first Covenant. . . the former rain on the first Pentecost, and a harvest of the people of the latter rain, the people of the New Covenant upon whom the Holy Spirit of God fell on the Book of Acts Day of Pentecost will stand before Him without blemish. . .

I love you my God. . .
Thank you my Lord. . .

Thank you for enduring and becoming the Word for us. . .
. . . that we might receive You without fear,
. . . and find salvation in your doctrine,
. . . and in our relationship with You. . .

Thank you my Lord for everything. . .

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