The subject of the fifth parallel between the two advent movements is the early rain, which followed the second cleansing of the temple. Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after His resurrection. The events of the remaining ten days up to Pentecost are of great interest and importance to us. It was the time when the disciples were to complete their character preparation and come into unity to receive the gift that Jesus had promised them—the Holy Spirit in the early rain. Without this gift, they would not be able to carry the gospel to the world. From the time Jesus first called His disciples, it was His purpose to bring them into unity with Himself and into harmony with one another. Thus, they could receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and take the gospel to the world.
“The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. . . . These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil; but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgment. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center.” The Desire of Ages, 296.
It was during the ten days prior to the Day of Pentecost that they were to finish their work of coming together in unity. This is the fifth event in the life and ministry of Jesus that has a specific parallel in the second advent movement.
We should study very carefully what was involved in the preparation the disciples made during the ten days prior to Pentecost. This experience of the disciples has its parallel in the second advent movement and is paramount to the restoration of the family of God to the Holy City.
“It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 507.
The importance of this work is emphasized in the phrase that it must be done “in greater degree.” This statement makes it very clear that the early rain experience of the removing of sin must be completed before we can receive the latter rain. We are also told that it must be done now, that is, at the present time.
Let us, in our imagination, join the 120 disciples during the ten days prior to Pentecost and participate with them in their work of character preparation for the early rain. We want to know how the disciples prepared to receive the Holy Spirit, for this is the preparation we must make in order to receive the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. The important points of this preparation are found in The Acts of the Apostles, 35–37, and in The Desire of Ages, 827. These points are summarized here.
The Disciples’ Preparation
- met together.
- humbled their hearts in true repentance.
- confessed their unbelief.
- meditated on the pure, holy life of Christ.
- desired to reveal Christ’s character in their lives.
- prayed for a fitness to lead sinners to Christ.
- put away all differences.
- put away all desire for supremacy.
- came close together in Christian fellowship.
- carefully searched their hearts.
- cried to the Lord for spiritual anointing.
- were of one accord.
This list reveals the thoroughness of the work that the disciples attained in putting away sin before they received the Holy Spirit in the early rain. It would seem important that we inquire of ourselves, How thoroughly are we preparing to receive the Holy Spirit in the latter rain? The end result of the disciples meeting together was that they were of one accord. Are we meeting together to humble our hearts and put away our differences so that we can be of one accord?
Purpose of Early Rain
Since the disciples completed the work of character preparation before they received the Holy Spirit, what then was the purpose of the early rain on the Day of Pentecost?
“The Holy Spirit, assuming the form of tongues of fire, rested upon those assembled. This was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the disciples, which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which they had heretofore been unacquainted.” The Acts of the Apostles, 39.
“They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were laboring. . . . From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.” Ibid., 40.
These statements tell us that the work of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was to enable the 120 disciples to speak in the foreign languages represented among the people so the gospel could go with power to all nations. It does not say that the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost had anything to do with the disciples’ character preparation or with their coming into unity. This work had to be completed before they could receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early rain.
In reference to the second advent movement, Ellen White makes the following comment concerning the work of the Holy Spirit just before the close of probation:
“It is with an earnest longing that I look forward to the time when the events of the day of Pentecost shall be repeated with even greater power than on that occasion. John says, ‘I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.’ [Revelation 18:1.] Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue. God can breathe new life into every soul that sincerely desires to serve him, and can touch the lips with a live coal from off the altar.” Review and Herald, July 20, 1886.
This reference explains that the latter rain has the same purpose for us as the early rain had for the disciples. It is to give us the power to give the final warning in the languages of the people. The latter rain is not to provide character preparation for the people of God. This work must all be completed before the Holy Spirit comes in the latter rain.
Let us take a closer look at the early rain character preparation in the second advent movement that will prepare the people of God to receive the latter rain.
“By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ. The latter rain . . . represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man. But unless the former rain has fallen, . . . Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 506.
There are two significant points to notice in this statement:
1 The former rain (early rain) must fall before the latter rain can do its work.
2 It is during the early rain that we are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ.
How much variance and lack of unity can exist if we are wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ? So we see that it is in the early rain experience that all differences, strife, and dissension must be put away, if we would receive the latter rain.
We can now identify the place of this early rain experience on the Second Advent Time Line. We need to understand that this Table does not adequately represent the relationship between the present time and the early rain. One does not follow the other. To correctly picture our position at the present time, the Early Rain would need to be listed with the time when the independent movement is rejecting the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, because these two conditions are both occurring at the present time.
In our previous study of the third parallel, we learned that it is at the present time that the great majority of the independent movement is rejecting God’s instruction in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, which calls for unity among His people. The great weight of evidence of this fact is seen in the variances, in the diverse winds of doctrine, and in the lack of unity among ministries, churches, and people.
It is also in the midst of this departure that a small group of people is beginning to respond to God’s call for them to come into unity in preparation to receive the latter rain. The question each one of us needs to ask ourselves is, Which group does my attitude reveal that I am in? Am I responding to God’s call to come into unity, to put away all variances, divisions, and every kind of strife that currently exist among us?
In heaven there is complete unity. When the people of God enter the Holy City, they must have this same heavenly unity. This work is not done for us when Jesus comes. It is not done for us at the close of probation nor even during the latter rain. This coming into unity is a work that we must do now before we can receive the latter rain.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 214.
It is our work during the early rain to prepare our characters to receive the seal of God. This requires that all our sins be removed during the early rain experience. We will then be ready to receive latter rain. Now is the sealing time for the people of God who, when the latter rain falls, will give the final warning to the world.
“We may be sure that when the Holy Spirit is poured out those who did not receive and appreciate the early rain will not see or understand the value of the latter rain.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 399.
“Many have in a great measure failed to receive the former rain. . . . They expect that the lack will be supplied by the latter rain. When the richest abundance of grace shall be bestowed, they intend to open their hearts to receive it. They are making a terrible mistake. . . . The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.” Ibid., 507.
“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.” The Desire of Ages, 827.
“It will never do to cease our efforts. If we do not progress, if we do not place ourselves in an attitude to receive both the former and the latter rain, we shall lose our souls, and the responsibility will lie at our own door.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 508.
How Is It With You?
How is it with us today? Are we meeting together as did the disciples? Are we putting away our differences, variances, pride of opinions, envies, jealousies, etc., until we are all of one accord? If we do not place ourselves in an attitude to fully complete this work, we will not receive the latter rain, and we will lose our souls.
“Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.” Ibid., 507.
So it was in the early rain; no one recognized the work of the Holy Spirit except the 120 who were ready to receive Him. The next few paragraphs have some pertinent counsel for us.
“Many fail to meet their high responsibilities and privileges. . . . Cannot we pray over this matter more earnestly, that the Holy Spirit of God may quicken the discernment of his people to see that by putting away envy, evil surmisings, jealousy, they may answer the prayer of Christ, that his disciples might be one, as he is one with the Father? Can it be that the senses of those who claim to believe the truth are paralyzed? Do they not see that they deny Christ? Do they not understand that they scatter from him in acting as though it was a light matter to disagree and engage in controversy? Brother looks coldly upon brother, minister distrusts minister. The church seems to have lost the blending attribute of love, and its members unite no better than ropes of sand. And yet the great crisis of the day of God is at hand.
“What is the reason of this selfishness and bigotry? What means this self-satisfaction, this disposition to tear down and not build up? The truth is not sanctifying the soul, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Many cling to their independence, choosing their own way, but not the way and will of God. The truth is believed in theory, but not received in the love of it, and the soul is left as cold as an iron wedge. Those who are sanctified by the truth will be one in Christ Jesus. The cleansing blood of the Lamb of God cements hearts together. The branches are united in the vine.” Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.
“When the Spirit of God, with its marvelous awakening power, touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure and position and power are seen to be worthless. . . . Then humility and self-sacrificing love, so little valued among men, are exalted as alone of worth.” The Desire of Ages, 135.
“The latter rain is to fall upon the people of God. A mighty angel is to come down from heaven, and the whole earth is to be lighted with his glory. [Revelation 18:1, 2.] Are we ready to take part in the glorious work of the third angel? Are our vessels ready to receive the heavenly dew? Have we defilement and sin in the heart? If so, let us cleanse the soul temple, and prepare for the showers of the latter rain. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will never come to hearts filled with impurity. May God help us to die to self, that Christ, the hope of glory, may be formed within! . . . The day of judgment is upon us.
O that we may wash our robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. [Revelation 7:14.]” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.
“Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.
We must come up to the high standard that God has set for His people. We must work diligently now to come into unity. We must put away all differences, strife, and division, and be of one accord, if we would one day enter that glorious city.
The very next significant event to happen before the close of probation is the coming of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. Brothers and sisters, I believe that we have only a very short time to complete this work. Let us pray earnestly about this matter so that we may be of one accord when the refreshing from the presence of the Lord comes. We can then cooperate with the glorious work of the angel of Revelation 18 to give the last message of warning and mercy to the world.
Let us be faithful in this preparation now, so we may be among the redeemed who wait at the entrance of the Holy City to receive the emblems of victory from the hand of our precious, glorious Redeemer.
Maurice Hoppe is Director of Revelation Ministry which is dedicated to helping people prepare for the soon coming of Jesus. His special emphasis is the closing scenes of this earth’s history, the parallels between the first and second advents, and the need for unity among the people of God. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or at: P. O. Box 184, Days Creek, OR 97429.