Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. Zechariah 10:1 NIV
Ancient Israel had an agricultural economy. God used agricultural symbols as illustrations so the people could understand the point He was making. Rain was important at the beginning of the planting season (the fall in Israel) to sprout the seed so it could grow. The rain at the end of the season was needed to ripen the grain. God brought the showers of rain to sustain the people.
When applying the former and latter rain to a spiritual lesson, we go to Acts 2:1-13. Jesus had instructed His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until He sent the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5. On the day of Pentecost came, all the disciples were together. Suddenly a wind swept over them and filled the house. There were what seemed to be tongues of fire on each of them. They were given the gift of speaking in other languages so they could share the Gospel with people of other lands. This is often referred to as the former rain. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave power to the Gospel message that it could turn the world upside down.
If the former rain took place at Pentecost, when will the latter rain take place? It takes place just before Jesus returns to prepare the harvest of the Gospel for Christ’s return. How can we receive the latter rain of the Holy Spirit? We each have received the former rain of the Holy Spirit to awaken us to know God. It has given us the desire to believe in Jesus. We each need the latter rain to go forward to preach the Gospel to the world and continue turning it upside down.
What do we need to do to receive the power that the Holy Spirit wants to give us?
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:32 NIV
If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable. Proverbs 28:9 NIV
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever– John 14:15-16 NIV
What is the condition to receive the Holy Spirit? Outward manifestation is of no avail if we are in willful disobedience. The “genuine” Holy Spirit is given to those who are in a relationship with God which places a heavy emphasis of obedience.