The Latter Rain and the Loud Cry

The Latter Rain and the Loud Cry (Part I)

THROUGH the prophecies of God's Word and the messages directed especially to this people, Seventh-day Adventists have come to an understanding of the nature of the last events of this world's history and their relation to them. . .

-President, White Publications, General Conference, at the time this article was written

THROUGH the prophecies of God's Word and the messages directed especially to this people, Seventh-day Adventists have come to an understanding of the nature of the last events of this world's history and their relation to them. In these events and through the church God will bring a final decisive message to all the nations, after which He will close the judgment in heaven, and will send Jesus to execute that judgment upon the earth's inhabitants, and take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Great and momentous events are these and we tremble to think of their significance to the movement in which we play a part. How much God depends upon us to do our part as He closes out the controversy that has raged almost from the beginning of this world's history between the government of God and the pretensions of the cunning usurper.

Jesus came to make possible our redemption, to meet the just claims of God's law, and to offer through His free grace reconciliation to God and an inheritance of eternal life in the new earth.

But the story doesn't close with the cross and the resurrection. It leaps forward to the culmination of God's plan, when Jesus will have come personally to take control of this world in its last desperate struggles against Satan's power, to seal the saints for eternity and to put an end to sin. Before these climactic events run their course, God's plan involves the preaching of the last message of mercy to the world, offering His salvation, and leading souls to find shelter in His love from the wrath that will follow.

Are We the People?

Can it be that we are all that we represent ourselves to the world to be; that we stand at the very center of the outworking of God's purposes; that we are the ones who understand and interpret to the world the mind of God as revealed in the Scriptures; that we know just where we stand in the flow of time; and that we are God's witness to this last generation? If this is so, then we are under God's constant judgment if we do not exert every power and make every possible preparation to do our part faithfully and promptly.

Wrote the servant of the Lord with a burning pen:

The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish it? He commands His servants to present the last invitation of mercy to the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of their souls. Christ's ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They must perform their duty and leave results with God. --The Great Controversy, pp. 609, 610.

Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. --Ibid., p. 604.

The Lord God of heaven will not send upon the world His judgments for disobedience and transgression until He has sent His watchmen to give the warning. He will not close up the period of probation until the message shall be more distinctly pro claimed. --Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 19.

We are standing upon the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. Strange, eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven. Everything in our world is in agitation. There are wars and rumors of wars. The nations are angry, and the time of the dead has come, that they should be judged. Events are changing to bring about the day of God, which hasteth greatly. Only a moment of time, as it were, yet remains. --Ibid., p. 14.

Outline of Last Events

In his valuable little book Preparation for the Final Crisis, Prof. Fernando Chaij shows in a diagram the closing events, starting with our time and extending to the second advent of Christ and the beginning of the millennium, but not necessarily shown in chronological succession. He lists them as:

1. A reform movement (in the church).

2. The sealing.

3. The latter rain.

4. The loud cry, ending God's work.

5. The shaking.

6. The early time of trouble.

7. The end of probation.

8. The time of trouble; seven last plagues.

9. Christ's second coming. 10. The millennium.

As we study these events we shall focus our attention on numbers three and four above, the latter rain and the loud cry. But these must be seen in the context of all the events that come into the experience of the church and the world in the unfolding of the scroll of the future.

A Reform Movement

What is this reform movement that is called for in the church? What is the situation that cries for reform? On what points is reform to take place? The prophetic picture is clear: The church is Laodicea, and Laodicea is "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). Said Ellen White:

The church is now as a vast hospital, filled with the spiritually sick. --Manuscript 108, 1901.

Concerning the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans she wrote:

They profess to love the truth, yet are deficient in Christian fervor and devotion. They dare not give up wholly and run the risk of the unbeliever, yet they are unwilling to die to self and follow out closely the principles of their faith. . . .

They do not engage thoroughly and heartily in the work of God, identifying themselves with its interests; but they hold aloof and are ready to leave their posts when their worldly personal interests demand it. The internal work of grace is wanting in their hearts. --Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 87, 88. The malady that afflicts this body shows four manifestations:

1. Deficient in Christian fervor and devotion.

2. Unwilling to die to self.

3. Do not engage thoroughly and heartily in the work of God.

4. The internal work of grace is wanting in their hearts.

Laodicea's Greatest Danger

Perhaps Laodicea's greatest fault and most present danger lie in her habit of dallying the time away and neglecting the opportunity to change her thought pat terns and the trend of her life. Laodicea knows the truth, is quite well versed in the doctrine, has the prophecies to stimulate her, and in her heart recognizes that a change must come. But to all this she says, "Later, when God takes direct control will be the time." In so thinking, she condemns herself to sink lower into the morass of self-stupefaction while the crisis of the ages hangs on the horizon.

I was shown God's people waiting for some change to take place a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed, for they are wrong. They must act, they must take hold of the work themselves and earnestly cry to God for a true knowledge of themselves. --Ibid., vol. 1, p. 261.

To the idlers in the Lord's vineyard the Laodicean message is sent. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 3:14, p. 961.

Reforms Will Come

This reformatory movement will be come a reality. There will be those watching souls who receive the counsel of the True Witness, who set about to reform their lives and prepare for the promised blessing. It will be as were the days of Joshua when the people were summoned to prepare for the conquest of Canaan and the call rang out in the camp from the Lord's appointed leader: "Sanctify your selves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you" (Joshua 3:5).

I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement a work of revival going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us. Shall we not heed His voice? Shall we not trim our lamps, and act like men who look for their Lord to come? The time is one that calls for light bearing, for action. --Testimonies to Ministers, p. 515.

The Latter Rain

We now come to a discussion of that experience of the church in the closing work which will literally transform the church, giving it new life and power, making it into a vital instrument in the hands of God to give the world its final gospel message. This experience of the latter rain is gracious and rich, sweet and melting, powerful and moving. It brings to the individual believer a level of Christian dedication in which all barriers to the work of grace in the heart are removed, the Holy Spirit takes control of minds and bodies willingly yielded, and the whole life in word and act makes clear to the world the nature of Christ's righteousness, the efficacy of His redemptive power.

Notice first that the latter rain and the loud cry are so closely related that they are almost indistinguishable.

I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, "It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel." --Early Writings, p. 271.

It is immediately evident that this is not a transformation that men, however dedicated, can bring about of themselves, but one only a power from above can achieve. It is not the power that emanates from men that makes the work successful, it is the power of the heavenly intelligences working with the human agent that brings the work to perfection. A Paul may plant, and an Apollos may water, but it is God that giveth the increase. Man cannot do God's part of the work. --Christian Service, p. 260.

As the Spirit is poured out, the human instrument will receive less attention and the method of the presentation of the mes sage will be less significant than the message itself.

Under the showers of the latter rain the inventions of man, the human machinery, will at times be swept away, the boundary of man's authority will be as broken reeds, and the Holy Spirit will speak through the living, human agent, with convincing power. No one then will watch to see if the sentences are well rounded off, if the grammar is faultless. The living water will flow in God's own channels. --Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 58, 59.

Pentecost and 1844

At two periods of the church's history special manifestations of the work of the Holy Spirit were seen:

1. At Pentecost, after the ascension of Christ to heaven, at the time of His enthronement there, the outpouring promised by Christ was received in full measure. Under the power of this experience the disciples began to preach boldly.

But after Christ's ascension His enthronement in His mediatorial kingdom was signalized by the out pouring of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit was given. Christ's witnesses proclaimed the power of the risen Saviour. The light of heaven penetrated the darkened minds of those who had been deceived by the enemies of Christ. They now saw Him exalted to be "a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." --Christ's Object Lessons, p. 120.

Dramatic was the result of this Spirit-filled witnessing in that pagan world.

The sword of the Spirit flashed right and left. Newly edged with power, it pierced even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow. The idolatry that had been mingled with the worship of the people was over thrown. New territory was added to the kingdom of God. Places that had been barren and desolate sounded forth His praises. --Evangelism, p. 698.

Pentecost is a preview of what may come to pass in the experience of the church in the immediate present and future.

When we bring our hearts into unity with Christ, and our lives into harmony with His work, the Spirit that fell on the disciples on the day of Pentecost will fall on us. --Ibid., pp. 697, 698.

2. In the proclaiming of the Advent message of 1844, especially in the midnight cry of the summer and early autumn of that year, we have another revelation of what may take place under divine endowment, and this record is penned by one who personally lived through that experience and was at its very nerve center.

The message, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!" was not so much a matter of argument, though the Scripture proof was clear and conclusive. There went with it an impelling power that moved the soul. There was no doubt, no questioning. . . .

At that time there was faith that brought answers to prayer faith that had respect to the recompense of reward. Like showers of rain upon the thirsty earth, the Spirit of grace descended upon the earnest seekers. Those who expected soon to stand face to face with their Redeemer, felt a solemn joy that was unutterable. The softening, subduing power of the Holy Spirit melted the heart as His blessing was bestowed in rich measure upon the faithful, believing ones. --The Great Controversy, pp. 402, 403.

The power which stirred the people so mightily in the 1844 movement will again be revealed. The third angel's message will go forth, not in whispered tones, but with a loud voice. --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 252.

Several questions will be raised: If this rich endowment of the Holy Spirit is what we need as Adventists, if the gift is so basic in the life of Christians, if it is the needful experience in finishing the work, why don't we know more about it and why don't we have it?

Is it because of a disquieting sense of unreadiness in our own lives for so complete a commitment of life?

Is it because we have held it away, due to a fear that we will be looked upon as fanatics, and we want to be thought of as normal, balanced people? Was Paul or Peter, or for that matter, Jesus, regarded as a "balanced" man?

Is it because we Adventists are too busy, too involved with plans, traveling, writing, and organizing, when we ought to be more concerned with spiritual preparation?

(To be continued)

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-President, White Publications, General Conference, at the time this article was written

March 1972

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