By Francis Frangipane
The phrase "latter rain" can mean different things to different people. To its critics, it is a movement that promotes doctrinal heresy. To many others, however, the phrase "latter rain," though slightly antiquated, is a term used by the King James Bible to describe the final, worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit before Christ returns.
Although I do not personally use the term "latter rain," I do believe in this last great move of God. In fact, I have held this vision since 1970. Admittedly, my faith was tested during the 1970s, when many church leaders were predicting the end of the world. Frankly, not many actively believed there would be a great harvest during the seventies and eighties. However, in 1990, with the stunning collapse of Soviet communism, an accelerated era of worldwide evangelism truly began. Since then, the Holy Spirit has brought hundreds of millions into the kingdom of God.
Thus, in spite of wars and other difficulties, my focus remains fixed on the great work of the Holy Spirit in these last days. The last great outpouring will not end until the Spirit of God has been poured out "upon all mankind" (Acts 2:17). "All" means all. It means God is serious about reaching Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religions. Indeed, the Lord is so passionate about the lost that He says He will "grant" undeniable "wonders in the sky above" and incontrovertible "signs on the earth" (see Acts 2:19-20). I wholeheartedly believe that, during this last great move, we will see the true church united, many believers raised to Christlike maturity and a great harvest.
So, you decide: Is the doctrine of worldwide evangelism a heresy? Or is Christ-centered unity among believers a false doctrine? Is reaching for Christlike purity and power a deception?
Remember, I am not saying life will get easy. The truth is, many already are dying for their faith. Yet, "those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting" (see Psalm 126). Jesus said the harvest was plentiful (Luke 10:2). And, I agree with those who warn of the spread of the apostate church; there is, indeed, deep darkness upon the earth. But it is in these very conditions that the Lord commands us to arise and be radiant with His glory. His promise is that nations shall come to our light and kings to the brightness of His rising (see Isaiah 60:1-3). The end of the age is a time of both darkness and light (see 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). We must see both.
The Bible and the Latter Rain
Still, the issue is not what I say about the latter rain or what the critics say, but what does the Bible teach? The phrase "latter rain" comes from several places in the Scriptures; the most prominent perhaps is from the book of James. Speaking of the Lord's return, the apostle writes:
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8 NKJV).
James is talking specifically about "the coming of the Lord." Many first century Christians expected the Lord to return in their lifetimes. They experienced the initial outpouring of the Spirit; they saw miracles, growth and multiplication. Yet, still the Lord did not come. Thus, James encourages the church to "be patient," saying there is something yet to come for which God is waiting. In this verse, the apostle frames all of church history metaphorically between two seasons of spiritual outpouring, which he calls the "early and latter rain." Agriculturally, it was understood that the early rains awakened the newly planted seeds and initiated the process of growth. Then, after several dry months, the latter rains came that revitalized the harvest and brought it to maturity (see also Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1, all King James version).
You see, God had much more on His heart than the early Christians anticipated. The church saw a limited outpouring that fell upon a smaller world. The truth was that both the world and the final outpouring is proving to be much larger.
Bible Scholars and the Latter Rain
It is important to note that a number of Bible scholars also support the idea of a second outpouring. John Wesley interpreted James 5:7, saying, "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit - Which will recompense his labour and patience. Till he receives the former rain - Immediately after sowing. And the latter - Before the harvest." Wesley wrote, "the latter" rain came "before the harvest" (or the end of the age).
Go to Crosswalk.com, click on "study helps" and research this yourself. Look at Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's commentary on James 5:7. They explained: "The early rain fell at sowing time, about November or December; the latter rain, about March or April, to mature the grain for harvest. The latter rain that shall precede the coming spiritual harvest, will probably be another Pentecost-like effusion of the Holy Ghost" (Crosswalk.com).
This isn't Charismatic chaos! It New Testament theology, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown are distinguished, time-tested scholars who wrote their Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible in 1871.
Plainly, we are to expect a special outpouring. This is not "manifest sons" doctrine nor "kingdom now" theology. This doesn't mean there aren't churches in all forms of apostasy; nations will still be judged at the end of the age. We are simply stating, according to the word of God, that between now and when Jesus Christ returns, there will be another great outpouring, and that we are in the beginning of that outpouring now.
Do Not Be Afraid
My friends, the enemy has put a blockade of false warnings, fear and accusation around one of the most powerful end time realities: the final work of the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel worldwide! I am not saying we should be naive or blind to all that is wrong in the church, but neither should we be blind to what God is doing
To have faith for this outpouring is not heretical, even if it seems like heresy to those in unbelief. Therefore, do not fear being labeled a "heretic" when you speak of your vision. Pray for your nation with confidence, without intimidation, knowing that the reality of the latter rain is occurring even as we speak. Remember, hundreds of millions have come into the kingdom of God over these last years - revival can occur in your nation as well! Consider the growth of the church in China, from ten million in 1974 to over 100 million today. We are in the time of outpouring, beloved, whether critics agree with it or not!
The world only sees the headlines from hell, yet the gospel of the kingdom is advancing. God will not stop until "all nations" hear the gospel.
In truth, a time is coming when, as suddenly as the Soviet Union collapsed, so the stronghold of Islam will crumble as well. God has determined to reach to the Muslim world, and once again, "wise men from the east" will come looking for Him who was born King of the Jews. Yes, even radicalized Muslims will look upon the Son of God and, in their new found freedom, they will love Christ most fervently. Indeed, the Lord shall even reveal Himself to key Islamic rulers, individuals whose influence will draw multitudes closer to Jesus Christ.
"Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand" (Isaiah 52:15).
Whether the breakthrough occurs in the immediate years, or tarries beyond a decade or more, an awakening is destined for the Muslim world. Just as the Lord has promised, He will pour out His Spirit upon all mankind (see Acts 2:17). Thus, the last, great outpouring shall reach all cultures of the world, and "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).