“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. 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 2:21-23
In the early verses of this chapter we see a depiction of a land laid waste by relentless attacks from the enemy. It seems as though all hope is lost, the ground lay barren, the walls are down, the food stores are gone, the beast of the field (the sheep and oxen) cry out for help. All because of the onslaught of the enemy and selfish devourers.
All hope seems lost, what good can come from all this waste? Yet in verse 21 everything turns around with the sounding of this one prophetic proclamation!
“Fear not oh land, for the Lord will do great things.”
The land is still ravaged, there is nothing yet to see, but a cry went up, and in response to the cry a Word came down, and as soon as that prophetic Rhema Word was spoken it released promise, and the promise released hope, and hope stirs faith, and faith opens the gates of grace, and grace brings life!
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12
When God speaks, it is assured, for His Word will not return void. Once He speaks it, it’s already released and nothing can stop it for He knows the end from the beginning and would not speak that which would not be so. If He said that it will be, it will be! Therefore you can stand in faith for it, no matter what comes against it, no matter how impossible it seems, no matter how barren the land looks, remember that God specializes in bringing dead things back to life. So how does He bring a seemingly dead promised land or territory that has been trampled under foot by the enemy to its utter ruin to life? By sending the rain.
Whether it be a home, church, a ministry, a school, a geographical region, or a nation, there is no territory that God cannot take, there is no land that He cannot make fruitful, just pray for rain.
When someone, or some flock finally gets desperate enough for change, gets hungry enough for the truth and cries out, truly faithfully cries out, God will answer their cry. And His answer was, “I’ll send the rain“.
“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.” – Joel 2:17-21
Yes the enemy had done great things, but the greatest that the enemy can do cannot compare to the least of what God can do. Therefore when God promises to do great things in response to the enemy doing his own great things, you can rest assured that God is preparing to release the greater things!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” – John 14:12
Now let’s talk rain. In Israel the rains come twice a year. The former rains come in October right before their planting season. This rain comes to soften and prepare the ground to receive the seed. The former rain comes moderately, or just as much as is needed to prepare the ground for the seed and no more, less it spoil the young plant. After this season of moderate rain and seed sowing, there is a season of dryness that only sees random sporadic showers only every now and then as the plants grow. However, in April the latter rains come. These rains are greater then the former and serve to cause the plant to put on fruit and bring in a mighty harvest!
Scripture parallels these outpourings of rain to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The former rain can be paralleled to the day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit was poured out to prepare the soil (the hearts of men) to receive the seed (which is Jesus and His Words according to Galatians 3:16 and Matthew 13).
Now though they both give access to water, understand that rain is different then springs and wells. Jesus said that for those who thirst and would ask to drink of Him, He would give them springs (or wells) of living water within them that they never need to be thirsty again. This is a personal indwelling of His Holy Spirit that allows the believer to draw up the words, gifts, power, and revelation of the Holy Spirit of God for themselves even in times of external drought. For there is indeed a famine in the land, but not one of food and water, one for the word of God. However, rain does not have to be drawn up it just pours out. It is not hidden, it is external for all to see and it falls on all manner of plants, including the tears. So while the well within the believer pours out of the believer to further their believing, the rain pours down on everyone causing dry parched ground to spring to life and ushering in new believers. The well sustains you through the dry season but when the rain comes, fruits manifest, and the harvest becomes plentiful! So pray for rain!
Even though that internal well of the Holy Spirit is available to any believer that ask it of Christ, there have only been a few actual outpourings of this Holy Spirit rain through history and they have all been utterly astonishing. After the outpouring at pentecost (the former rain) the few scattered showers of this Holy Ghost rain have come to be known as the great Revivals of the past such as the Hebrides, Welch, and Azusa Street Revivals. Yet there is still a latter rain coming and the latter will be greater then the former for the latter rains purpose is to bring in a great final harvest of souls for the Kingdom.
“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.” – James 5:7
Now let’s make this personal. We can clearly see this prophetic parable for its over all message, yet I also see this same cycle of seasons play out in the lives of God’s faithful servants and the ministries (or lands) they labor in. Many have experienced such devastation from the onslaught of the enemy. The devourer came in and wrecked their lives and stripped them bare. Then in desperation they cried out and God answered. He spoke hope, life, and a promise to them. Then He sent His Holy Spirit to rain personally upon the garden of their heart and planted His truth in it. In this season they see such mighty moves of God both toward them, and through them toward others. The rain is falling. Everything they need just seems to fall into place. This is their former rain. However too much rain on a plant that is too young to handle it will only serve to spoil and kill the plant. So the former rain is given moderately. Then out of nowhere the dry season comes. It’s not so easy now but the plant is growing even though it seems at times that it might die, God sends a sporadic shower every now and then just as needed and the plant gets stronger and stronger. The plant might even question at times what it has done to chase the rains away, how ridiculous a notion that a tiny plant could run off the mighty rains, not understanding that “to everything there is a season.”
Finally when the plant is strong enough to take the weight of the real outpouring, the latter rains come in their proper season, the plants stand strong in the midst of it, and their fruit fully comes to bare as the harvest begins. At last, the fruit they bare in this mighty harvest is then spread out abroad to start new fields in new lands laid waste by the enemy that they too may become fruit and bare harvest in their seasons, if only someone will cry out in desperation and be faithful to pray for rain, both the former and the latter. And as soon as God speaks the promise of a harvest, proclaim it and stand on it! Even while the ground is yet dry, for you always hear the Spirit of God before you see it manifest. This is why we walk by faith and not by sight, faith in what He says, not in what we see! So pray, listen, and stand in faith, because though I see clear skies and dry ground, what I hear is the sound of an abundance of rain!
“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai 2:9
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.” – 1 Kings 18:41