The former rain moderately - לצדקה המורה hammoreh litsedakah, "the former rain in righteousness," that is, in due time and in just proportion. This rain fell after autumn, the other in spring. See Hosea 6:3.
In the first month - בראשון barishon, "as aforetime." So Bp. Newcome. In the month Nisan. - Syriac.
Be glad then and rejoice in the Lord your God - All things had been restored for their sakes; they were to rejoice, not chiefly in these things, but in God; nor only in God, but in the Lord their God. “For He hath given you the former rain moderately.” The word rendered “moderately” should be rendered “unto righteosness;” the word often as it occurs never having any sense but that of “righteousness;” whether of God or man. The other word מורה môwreh rendered “the former rain,” confessedly has that meaning in the latter part of the verse, although “yoreh” יורה yôwreh is the distinctive term for “latter rain” Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24. “Moreh” mostly signifies “a teacher” (2 Kings 17:28; Job 36:22; Proverbs 5:13; Isaiah 9:15; Isaiah 30:20, (twice); Habakkuk 2:18), which is connected with the other ordinary meanings of the root, “torah, law, etc.” The older translators then agreed in rendering, “of righteousness,” or, “unto righteousness”, in which case the question as to “moreh,” is only, whether it is to be taken literally of “a teacher,” or figuratively of spiritual blessings, as we say, “the dew of His grace.” Even a Jew paraphrases, “But ye, O children of Zion, above all other nations, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God. For in Him ye shall have perfect joy, in the time of your captivity. “For He will give you an instructor to righteosness;” and He is the king Messias, which shall teach them the way in which they shall walk, and the doings which they shall do.” The grounds for so rendering the word are:
(1) Such is almost its uniform meaning.
(2) The righteousness spoken of is most naturally understood of righteousness in man; it is a condition which is the result and object of God‘s gifts, not the Righteousness of God. But “He hath given you the early rain unto righteousness,” i. e., that ye may be righteous, is an unaccustomed expression.
(3) There is a great emphasis on the word, which is not used in the later part of the verse, where rain, (whether actual, or symbolic of spiritual blessings) is spoken of.
(4) The following words, “and He maketh the rain to descend for you,” according to the established Hebrew idiom relates to a separate action, later, in order of time or of thought, than the former. But if the former word “moreh” signified “early rain,” both would mean one and the same thing. We should not say, “He giveth you the former rain to righteousness, and then He maketh the rain, the former rain and the latter rain to descend;” nor doth the Hebrew.
It seems then most probable, that the prophet prefixes to all the other promises, that first all-containing promise of the Coming of Christ. Such is the custom of the prophets, to go on from past judgments and deliverances, to Him who is the center of all this cycle of God‘s dispensations, the Son manifest in the Flesh. He had been promised as a Teacher when that intermediate dispensation of Israel began, the prophet like unto Moses. His Coming old Jacob looked to, “I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord.” Him, well known and longed for by the righteous of old, Joel speaks of as the subject of rejoicing, as Zechariah did afterward, “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; behold thy King cometh unto thee.” So Joel here, “Exult and joy in the Lord thy God, for He giveth,” or “will give thee, the Teacher unto righteousness,” i. e., the result and object of whose Coming is righteousness; or, as Daniel says, “to bring in everlasting righteousness;” and Isaiah, “By His knowledge,” i. e., by the knowledge of Him, “shall My righteous Servant justify many,” i. e., make many righteous. How His coming should issue in righteousness, is not here said. It is presupposed. But Joel speaks of His Coming, as a gift, “He shall give you;” as Isaiah says, “unto us a Son is given;” and that, as the Teacher, as Isaiah says, “I have given Him a witness to the peoples, a Prince and a Commander unto the people” Isaiah 55:4; and that, “for righteousness.”
“It is the custom of the holy prophets,” says Cyril, “on occasion of good things promised to a part or a few, to introduce what is more general or universal. And these are the things of Christ. To this then the discourse again proceeds. For when was ground given to the earth to rejoice? When did the Lord do mighty things, but when the Word, being God, became Man, that, flooding all below with the goods from above, He might be found to those who believe in Him, as a river of peace, a torrent of pleasure, as the former and latter rain, and the giver of all spiritual fruitfulness?”
The early rain and the latter rain - o“He multiplies words, expresssive of the richness of the fruits of the earth, that so we may understand how wondrous is the plenteousness of spiritual goods.” Being about to speak of the large gift of God the Holy Spirit as an “out-pouring,” he says here that “the largeness of the spiritual gifts thereafter should be as abundant as the riches temporal blessings” hitherto, when God disposed all things to bring about the fruitfulness which He had promised. “The early and latter rain,” coming respectively at the seed-time and the harvest, represent the beginning and the completion; and so, by the analogy of earthly and spiritual sowing, growth and ripeness, they represent preventing and perfecting grace; the inspiration of good purposes and the gift of final perseverance, which brings the just to glory consummated; “the principles of the doctrine of Christ” and “the going on unto perfection Hebrews 6:1.
In the first month - This would belong only to the latter rain, which falls about the first month, Nisan, or our April, “the former rain” falling about 6 months earlier, at their seed time. Or, since this meaning is uncertain, it may be, “at the first”, i. e., as soon as ever it is needed, or in contrast to the more extensive gifts afterward; or, “as at first” i. e., all shall, upon their penitence, be restored as at first. These lesser variations leave the sense of the whole the same, and all are supported by good authorities. It is still a reversal of the former sentence, that, whereas afore the rivers of water were dried up, now the rains should come, each in its season. “In the first month,” and “at the beginning,” express the same thought, the one with, the other without a figure.
For no one then needed to be told that the latter rain, if it fell, should fall “in the first month,” which was its appointed season for falling. If then the words had this meaning, there must have been this emphasis in it, that God would give them good gifts punctually, instantly, at man‘s first and earliest needs, at the first moment when it would be good for him to have them. ‹As at the beginning,‘ would express the same which he goes on to say, that God would bestow the same largeness of gifts as He did, before they forfeited His blessings by forsaking Him. So He says, “I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning”; and, “She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she come up out of the land of Egypt” Hosea 2:15; and, “then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old and as in the former years” Malachi 3:4.
Likeness does not necessarily imply equality as in the words, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me” Deuteronomy 18:15; and, “that they may be one, even as We are One” John 17:22. The good things of the Old Testament had a likeness to those of the New, else “the law” would not have been even the shadow of good things to come Hebrews 10:1; they had not equality, else they would have been the very things themselves.: “Christ is the whole delight of the soul, from When and through whom there cometh to those who love Him, all fullness of good and supply of heavenly gifts, represented in “the early and latter rain,” and “the full floor of wheat,” and “the fats overflowing with wine and oil.” It is true also as to the fullness of the mysteries. For the living water of Holy Baptism is given us as in rain; and as in grain, the Bread of Life, and as in wine the Blood.” Before, “the barns were broken down,” since there was nothing to store therein.
As other parts of the natural and spiritual husbandry correspond, and our Lord Himself compares His gracious trials of those who bear fruit, with the pruning of the vine John 15:2; it may be that the “vat” wherein the grape or the olive, through pressure, yield their rich juice, is a symbol of the “tribulations,” through which we “must enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14:22.: “The holy mind, placed as if in a winefat, is pressed, refined, drawn out pure. It is pressed by calamity; refined from iniquity, purified from vanity. Hence are elicited the groans of pure confession; hence, stream the tears of anxious compunction; hence flow the sighs of pleasurable devotion; hence melt the longings of sweetest love; hence are drawn the drops of purest contemplation. Wheat is the perfecting of righteousness; wine, the clearness of spiritual understanding; oil, the sweetness of a most pure conscience.”
On the other hand, there are some who, instead of wisely improving present opportunities, are idly waiting for some special season of spiritual refreshing by which their ability to enlighten others will be greatly increased. They neglect present duties and privileges, and allow their light to burn dim, while they look forward to a time when, without any effort on their part, they will be made the recipients of special blessing, by which they will be transformed and fitted for service. AA 54.1
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. AA 54.2
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 shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain.” “He will cause to come down ... the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain,” Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23. AA 55.1Read in context »
These scenes are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain will be more abundant. The Spirit awaits our demand and reception. Christ is again to be revealed in His fulness by the Holy Spirit's power. Men will discern the value of the precious pearl, and with the apostle Paul they will say, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7, 8. COL 121.1
This chapter is based on Matthew 13:47-50.Read in context »
The first disciples went forth preaching the word. They revealed Christ in their lives. And the Lord worked with them, “confirming the word with signs following.” Mark 16:20. These disciples prepared themselves for their work. Before the day of Pentecost they met together, and put away all differences. They were of one accord. They believed Christ's promise that the blessing would be given, and they prayed in faith. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely; they were weighted with the burden for the salvation of souls. The gospel was to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth, and they claimed the endowment of power that Christ had promised. Then it was that the Holy Spirit was poured out, and thousands were converted in a day. DA 827.1
So it may be now. Instead of man's speculations, let the word of God be preached. Let Christians put away their dissensions, and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them in faith ask for the blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in apostolic days was the “former rain,” and glorious was the result. But the “latter rain” will be more abundant. Joel 2:23. DA 827.2
All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ they are complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence. DA 827.3Read in context »
I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. EW 71.1
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. Oh, 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. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence. EW 71.2Read in context »