“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. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7-8)
The use of this phrase “early and latter rain” or “former and latter rain” is not unfamiliar to the people of God. God has used this wording throughout the Scriptures to describe the sufficient provision and blessing He has promised to those who love Him and keep His commandments.
The idea is that God will not just provide a meager supply but an abundant one. His provision will not only moisten the dry ground but will also, afterward, bring another rain to bring forth a great crop. The first rain is in preparation for the second. God gives “grace for grace” (Jn 1:16). He transforms men from “glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18). Those who receive the gospel are an aroma of “life unto life” to God (2 Cor 2:16). In all of these phrases there is an implication of increase and abundance. Grace for more grace; glory to great glory; life to life more abundant.
Consider the promise of this kind of blessing (early and latter rain). The first is found in reference to the promised land but is a foreshadow to the provision of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 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.” (Deuteronomy 11:13-14)
Later, as a result of Israel’s disobedience and stubbornness, God chastened His people by withholding the provision of the first and latter rains.
“Therefore the showers have been withholder, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.” (Jeremiah 3:3)
Yet even still, the Lord held out His hand to this obstinate people with the promise of restoration.
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. The 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.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
In that promise the Lord Himself is identified as the former and latter rain showing the true source and substance of blessing for man. What men really need; their greatest blessing, is not things that spring out of the earth but He which comes down from heaven. “In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and His favor is as a cloud of the latter rain” (Prov 16:15).
Again, God promises a good end to those who wait for Him:
“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).
God is good to His people and purposes to bless them. In Christ, through justification, sanctification and glorification, God has a way to abundant bless His people in righteousness. Their sins have been put away, they have been justified by faith and are being transformed into the image of Jesus. They can rejoice in this salvation and patiently wait for the first and latter rains from the Lord. Be not hasty. Do not fret. Wait for His provision and when it comes…wait for the latter blessing as well.
– brother Pat Woods