Ask for the Latter Rain
WE ARE encouraged to ask for the latter rain, we are to give time and thought in order to understand how it may be received. The promise contained in the prophecy of Joel (chap. 2:28, 29) was not exhausted at Pentecost, of which we are told:
It was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint, and now Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the riches of the Spirit's grace.—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 38.
Above all, we are bidden:
"Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain." Do not rest satisfied that in the ordinary course of the season, rain will fall. Ask for it. ... The convocations of the church, as in camp meetings, the assemblies of the home church, and all occasions where there is personal labor for souls, are God's appointed opportunities for giving the early and the latter rain.—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 508.
The circumstances may seem to be favorable for a rich outpouring of the showers of grace. But God Himself must command the rain to fall. Therefore we should not be remiss in supplication. We are not to trust to the ordinary working of providence. We must pray that God will unseal the fountain of the water of life.—Ibid., p. 509.
We know not the time when the latter rain in its fullness is to fall; this is not revealed to us in the Bible or by Ellen White.
I have no specific time of which to speak when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place —when the mighty angel will come down from heaven, and unite with the third angel in closing up the work for this world; my message is that our only safety is in being ready for the heavenly refreshing, having our lamps trimmed and burning. Christ has told us to watch; "for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man rometh." "Watch and pray" is the charge that is given us by our Redeemer.—Selected Messages, book 1, p. 192.
The Loud Cry, Ending God's Work
It is during the loud cry that the gospel message, preached and carried by God's messengers, will be brought to a close. We have a terse but vivid description of this movement in the chapter "The Loud Cry" in Early Writings, pages 277-279. It is a view that lifts the spirits, that seems to carry one into the very anteroom of God's throne in heaven, to see His mighty hand at work. (From my boyhood I have read this book and have dreamed of the time when I might participate in the experience of helping to sound the loud cry. I am still firmly convinced that these scenes will come to pass, and wish it might be soon.) Note the condensed sentences and see how so much action is packed into the eighty lines of that little chapter. I have put it all into this paper. No study of the loud cry would be complete without it.
I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven, descending to the earth, and again ascending to heaven, preparing for the fulfillment of some important event. Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere, as he cried mightily, with a strong voice, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." The message of the fall of Babylon, as given by the second angel, is repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the churches since 1844. The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel's message as it swells to a loud cry. And the people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet. I saw a great light resting upon them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel's message.
Angels were sent to aid the mighty angel from heaven, and I heard voices which seemed to sound everywhere, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel's message in 1844. The glory of God rested upon the patient, waiting saints, and they fearlessly gave the last solemn warning, proclaiming the fall of Babylon and calling upon God's people to come out of her that they might escape her fearful doom.
The light that was shed upon the waiting ones penetrated everywhere, and those in the churches who had any light, who had not heard and rejected the three messages, obeyed the call and left the fallen churches. Many had come to years of accountability since these messages had been given, and the light shone upon them, and they were privileged to choose life or death. Some chose life and took their stand with those who were looking for their Lord and keeping all His commandments. The third message was to do its work; all were to be tested upon it, and the precious ones were to be called out from the religious bodies. A compelling power moved the honest, while the manifestation of the power of God brought a fear and restraint upon their unbelieving relatives and friends so that they dared not, neither had they the power to, hinder those who felt the work of the Spirit of God upon them. The last call was carried even to the poor slaves, and the pious among them poured forth their songs of rapturous joy at the prospect of their happy deliverance. Their masters could not check them; fear and astonishment kept them silent. Mighty miracles were wrought, the sick were healed, and signs and wonders followed the believers. God was in the work, and every saint, fearless of con sequences, followed the convictions of his own conscience and united with those who were keeping all the commandments of God; and with power they sounded abroad the third message. I saw that this message will close with power and strength far exceeding the midnight cry.
Servants of God, endowed with power from on high, with their faces lighted up, and shining with holy consecration, went forth to proclaim the message from heaven. Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches, as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction. God's people were strengthened by the excellent glory which rested upon them in rich abundance and prepared them to endure the hour of temptation. I heard everywhere a multitude of voices saying, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."--Early Writings, pp. 277-279.
The Ellen G. White literature on the loud cry is extensive and comments are scattered through many books and found in many periodical references. In addition to the Early Writings chapter, we have Chapter 38 in The Great Controversy, "The Final Warning." The following aspects of the loud cry movement should be noticed, as presented in various statements from Ellen G. White's pen:
1. The second and third angels of Revelation 14 are joined by the angel of Revelation 18 in proclaiming the fall of Babylon and calling God's people out of her. See Early Writings, page 277 above, also:
This scripture [Rev. 18:1-4] points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14, is to be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message was first given, in the summer of 1844. --The Great Controversy, p. 603.
The prophecies in the eighteenth of Revelation will soon be fulfilled. During the proclamation of the third angel's message, "another angel" is to "come down from heaven, having great power," and the earth is to be "lightened with his glory." The Spirit of the Lord will so graciously bless consecrated human instrumentalities that men, women, and children will open their lips in praise and thanksgiving, filling the earth with the knowledge of God, and with His unsurpassed glory, as the waters cover the sea. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 18:1, p. 984.
2. The message of the loud cry is Christ-centered, and is the message of the righteousness that is in Christ, received in the life of the believer by faith.
The message of Christ's righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 19.
The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.—Selected Messages, book 1, p. 363. The religionist generally has divorced the law and the gospel, while we have on the other hand almost done the same from another standpoint. We have not held up before the people the righteousness of Christ and the full significance of His great plan of redemption.—Evangelism, pp. 231, 232.
3. The loud cry has a distinct doctrinal and prophetic content, with the Sabbath a principal issue.
But not one is made to suffer the wrath of God until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. There are many who have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them in its true light. He who reads every heart and tries every motive will leave none who desire a knowledge of the truth, to be deceived as to the issues of the controversy. The decree is not to be urged upon the people blindly. Every one is to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. —The Great Controversy, p. 605.
4. The loud cry calls for bold and prompt decisions on the part of all who hear it.
Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth, uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond," shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the Creator's rest day demands obedience and threatens wrath against all who transgress its precepts.—Ibid., p. 604.
The message presented at this time is the last message of mercy for a fallen world. Those who have the privilege of hearing this message, and who persist in refusing to heed the warning, cast away their last hope of salvation. There will be no second probation.—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 19.
5. The loud cry to call God's people out of Babylon is not a call to leave the organized Seventh-day Adventist Church.
When anyone arises, either among us or outside of us, who is burdened with a message which declares that the people of God are numbered with Babylon, and claims that the loud cry is a call to come out of her, you may know that he is not bearing the message of truth. Receive him not, nor bid him Godspeed; for God has not spoken by him, neither has He given a message to him, but he has run before he was sent.—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 41.
6. The loud cry results in a great movement of new believers into the fellowship of the church, and reclaims many back sliders.
When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shep herd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together, and present to the enemy a united front. . . . Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 401.
Many have let the gospel invitation go unheeded; they have been tested and tried; but mountainous obstacles have seemed to loom up before their faces, blocking their onward march. Through faith, perseverance, and courage, many will surmount these obstructions and walk out into the glorious light.
Almost unconsciously barriers have been erected in the strait and narrow way; stones of stumbling have been placed in the path; these will be rolled away. The safeguards which false shepherds have thrown around their flocks will become as nought; thousands will step out into the light, and work to spread the light.—Evangelism, pp. 692, 693.
7. Some will not endure through the testing events and will not receive the testimony of the True Witness and will be shaken out; the church will stand and the ranks will be closed.
The Lord will work so that the disaffected ones will be separated from the true and loyal ones. Those who, like Cornelius, will fear God and glorify Him, will take their places. The ranks will not be diminished. Those who are firm and true will close up the vacancies that are made by those who become offended and apostatize,—Manuscript 97, 1898.
Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been over coming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths.—Selected Messages, book 2, p. 380.
8. In the loud cry all instrumentalities and power of the church are engaged--- ministers, members, children, new converts.
It is not alone by men in high places of responsibility in the ministry, not alone by men holding positions on boards or committees, not alone by the managers of our sanitariums and publishing houses, that the work is to be done which will cause the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. This work can be accomplished only by the whole church acting their part under guidance and in the power of God. --Pacific Union Recorder, March 24, 1904.
Many . . . will be seen hurrying hither and thither, constrained by the Spirit of God to bring the light to others. The truth, the Word of God, is as a fire in their bones, filling them with a burning desire to enlighten those who sit in darkness. Many, even among the uneducated, now proclaim the words of the Lord. Children are impelled by the Spirit to go forth and declare the message from heaven. The Spirit is poured out upon all who will yield to its promptings, and, casting off all man's machinery, his binding rules and cautious methods, they will declare the truth with the might of the Spirit's power. Multitudes will receive the faith and join the armies of the Lord. --Evangelism, p. 700.
9. The loud cry is worldwide in its reach. During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere. --Ibid., p. 694.
The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel's message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted power is here foretold. --The Great Controversy, p. 611.
10. The loud cry displays a compelling power (see Early Writings, p. 278), both in those who deliver it and in those who hear.
As the third angel's message swells into a loud cry, great power and glory will attend its proclamation. The faces of God's people will shine with the light of heaven. --Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 17.
11. The loud cry is not an exhibition of fanaticism.
But ministers who bear the last message of mercy to fallen men must utter no random words; they must not open doors whereby Satan can find access to human minds. It is not our work to experiment, to study out something new and startling that will create excitement. . . .
The Holy Spirit's moving upon the human agents will keep the mind well balanced. There will not be a wrought-up excitement, to be fol lowed by reaction. --Selected Messages, book 2, p. 60.
12. The loud cry has been delayed, and the church should make ready, and move forward into the loud cry.
God calls upon all, both preachers and people, to awake. All heaven is astir. The scenes of earth's history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is dreadful. This death stupor is from Satan. --Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 260, 261.
If every watchman on the walls of Zion had given the trumpet a certain sound, the world might ere this have heard the message of warning. But the work is years behind. While men have slept, Satan has stolen a march upon us. --Ibid., vol. 9, p. 29.
The time has come when through God's messengers the scroll is being unrolled to the world. The truth contained in the first, second, and third angels' messages must go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; it must lighten the darkness of every continent, and extend to the islands of the sea. There must be no delay in this work.
Our watchword is to be, Onward, ever onward! Angels of heaven will go before us to prepare the way. Our burden for the regions beyond can never be laid down till the whole earth is lightened with the glory of the Lord. --Gospel Workers, p. 470.
Be patient, Christian soldier. Yet a little while, and He that shall come, will come. The night of weary waiting, and watching, and mourning is nearly over. The reward will soon be given; the eternal day will dawn. There is no time to sleep now, no time to indulge in useless regrets. He who ventures to slumber now will miss precious opportunities of doing good. We are granted the blessed privilege of gathering sheaves in the great harvest; and every soul saved will be an additional star in the crown of Jesus, our adorable Redeemer. Who is eager to lay off the armor, when by pushing the battle a little longer, he will achieve new victories and gather new trophies for eternity? --Christian Service, p. 275. (Read also Prophets and Kings, pp. 536-537.)
At long last the moment of truth has arrived, the warning message has sounded, Jesus in heaven declares "It is done," probation has closed and the doors of mercy are no longer open. The solemnity of this moment can scarcely be described. All that we can do to prepare people for heaven must be completed before that final three-word sentence is spoken: "It is done."
The One who has stood as our Intercessor; who hears all penitential prayers and confessions; who is represented with a rainbow, the symbol of grace and love, encircling His head, is soon to cease His work in the heavenly sanctuary. Grace and mercy will then descend from the throne, and justice will take their place. He for whom His people have looked will assume His right the office of Supreme Judge. --The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 22:10-12, p. 989.