Let the Rain Fall
As I told you before, I am convinced there is a need — a hunger — for real, honest, Christian relationships because, frankly, people are tired of playing church. They want the real thing. Look what J. B. Phillips said about the early church:
“It is heartening to remember that this faith (of the early Church) took root and flourished in conditions that would have killed anything less vital in a matter of weeks. These early Christians were on fire with the conviction that they have become, through Christ, literally sons of God. They were pioneers of a New Kingdom. They still speak to us across the centuries. Perhaps if we believe what they believed, we might achieve what they achieved.”
Remember the old song from B.J. Thomas, “Raindrops are Falling on My Head?” Maybe that is what is happening in The Church. Let me explain. Back in the early days, the Promised Land God gave to the Israelites was kind of like Kansas: plenty of rich soil, bountiful harvest, productive farm land.
Today, much of it is more like Arizona: dry and dusty. Although, God promises it will someday be just like Kansas again. You see, in Israel, there used to be two rainy seasons each year: the early rains and the latter rains. The early rains started in the fall, somewhere around November, with some preliminary showers. Then intermittent rains lasting two-or-three days each. These continued through December and through the rest of winter. Then in the springtime, with the approach of harvest, heavy rains returned, and these were the latter rains of in-gathering. In other words, the early rains prepared the soil to receive the seeds, and the latter rains came just before harvest time.
Two rainy seasons a year were Yahweh‟s reward for good behavior (Deuteronomy 11:13-14) and made the place like Kansas. Bethlehem means House of Bread and was part of the wheat and barley fields harvested so richly by Boaz. However, Yahweh kept warning the Israelites that if they continued in their deliberate sin, He would withdraw the spring rains (Jeremiah 3:3 and 5:24-25). They did. So He did.
Consequently, the land became a rocky, dry Arizona. The big difference will come when the Lord makes the newly in-gathered Jews the center of His world of righteousness and justice (Ezekiel 34:11-13) and returns the land of Israel its spring rains (Ezekiel 34:26). That’s when the earth will truly yield its crops (Ezekiel 34:27) just as He intended from the beginning. Israel will once again be good pasture for God‟s Jewish people (Ezekiel 34:14).
Very soon, there is going to be a great world revival and a turning to God. The Jews are going to be the worlds “Big-Shots” with everyone hanging onto them to learn about God. The prophet Joel tried to comfort Israel with this same prediction:
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord, for He has given you a teacher for righteousness. He sends you abundant showers both autumn and spring rains as before and afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on earth, blood, fire, and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” —Joel 2:23, 28-32
The amazing thing is that 10-days after Jesus’ ascent to heaven, on the day of Pentecost, the early rain of the Holy Spirit revival descended. They were great. Three thousand people accepted Jesus in one day and those powerful moments; the Church was born. Peter stood up and deliberately linked what was happening with Joel‟s prophecy.
What the Lord has done is what He does so often: He blended two events into one and you cannot separate them except by hindsight. For over 2,000 years now we have seen occasional showers of the Holy Spirit, little glimmers of revival here and there, some of them quite noteworthy, to be sure, but nothing like what is going to come!
The Bible predicts an even greater outpouring compared to what happened after the ascension of Jesus. That one only affected one city, Jerusalem. This one will affect the whole world (Matthew 24:14). The first affected a few thousand people. The latter revival will affect untold billions (Isaiah 45:22-23). Sure, it was an authentic rain, but small compared to the spring rain that will come, the rain that we are on the brink of right now.
Throughout the Bible, Yahweh manifested Himself in the earth as fire and lightning, cloud, wind and rain. However, never all four at the same time! He will in this hour! Tell me, what is it called when you have rain and clouds and wind and lightning? It is a storm. A flood of spiritual power is coming. Yahweh is about to manifest himself as a cyclone of sweeping spiritual power.
D.M. Patton wrote, “vastly more was wrapped up in the descent of the Holy Spirit than the Church has yet experienced, or than the world has yet seen; and the Spirit himself thus reveals that while the Christian centuries are ‘the last days’ and Pentecost began the wonder, we today, standing in the last of the last days, are on the edge of a second and more tremendous upheaval of the Holy Spirit.”
There has never been such a renewed interest in the lifestyle of the early Church or such zeal in patterning after it as there is today. We are tired of playing church, the dead formalism. We are tired of the crusting over of tradition and pomp and rote. We are eager to recapture the simplicity, and reality of authentic Christianity, and I am convinced that Jesus wants his church back.
In this study we are going to look very carefully at chapters 2 through 7 of the book of Acts, particularly Acts 2-4. In there we have a description of the believers in the first fullness of the Holy Spirit, living exactly as He led them to without any outside interference.
It was pure in-the-Spirit-living. None of them was perfect. They were people just like us. They had diapers to change; noses to wipe; jobs to work, and everything else we face. They were simply blessed to live during the drenching of the early rains of the Spirit. How much more of a blessing will it be for us, in the latter outpouring? Every time I read the story of the early church and read the testimonies of men and women of that time, I long to identify with them. I long to be a part of the same people movement which rediscovers authentic Christian lifestyles. So hang on, folks, we are going to get wet„ cuz right now we are just getting started.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.