SEALING, THE LAW AND THE LATTER RAIN
God’s seal is closely linked with His law: “Seal the law among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The essence of the law is not a list of rules, but is summarized in the two great commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, see also Matthew 22:36-40). Thus the law is a reflection of God’s character of love, and it is sealed in the minds and hearts of those who enter into the new covenant experience—“I will make a new covenant…I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:8-10).
Revelation 14, which describes the 144,000 and their ministry, shows that they have God’s law sealed in them: “Here is the patience of the saints, here are those that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). This verse makes it clear that the keeping of God’s commandments is integrally related to “the faith of Jesus.” Righteousness by faith does not simply result in a new status (saved), but in a new life of loving obedience to God's will.
The parallel passage in Revelation 12:17 emphasizes that it is the Holy Spirit, received by “the faith of Jesus,” which empowers the 144,000 to “keep the commandments.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit is what it means to be sealed. “God…has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit” (2 Corinthians 1:22). “You were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). People have been receiving the Holy Spirit since the beginning of the church (and even in Old Testament times).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> But the sealing of the 144,000 will be a mass outpouring of the Holy Spirit, similar (but on a much greater scale) to what happened on the Day of Pentecost. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).
The experiences of the Day of Pentecost and the similar but greater outpouring at the end of time are the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the former and the latter rain. “For He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain” (Joel 2:23). In Palestine the “former rain” came in October and allowed the newly planted seeds to sprout and take root. They would grow slowly through the winter despite setbacks from storms and frost, but in March the “latter rain” would come, drenching the earth and giving the moisture needed to bring the plants to maturity for the harvest. The former rain represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Day of Pentecost that established the Christian church. Throughout the long “winter” of church history the church has continued to grow and expand despite the “storms” that have beset her.
But in the “latter days” God will send the “latter rain”—an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring the church to maturity.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Empowered by the Holy Spirit the church will preach the gospel and demonstrate the loe of Jesus to a world tht is starving and desperate, battered and abused by the enemy. This is God's fervent desire. He wants nothing more than to save as many as can be saved and bring sin to an end. So why doesn't God send the latter rain now?
The Holy Spirit is given "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry" (Ephesins 4:12), in other words, to empower God's people to effectively share the good news that they have received with others who do not know God. But God is not interested in giving spiritual gifts and power to people who only know Him superficially at best. The outpowering of the Holy Spirit in the former rain is the model for the latter rain. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years, but by the time of His sacrifice they still had not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> And no wonder; thir "gospel" was, "Jesus is going to help us get rid of the Romans and I will be the greatest in the kingdom." Even after Jesus had risen from the dead, walked with them for forty more days and was ready to return to heaven they were still asking, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). It was not until they "continued" 10 days "with one accord in prayer and supplication…in one place" that they were "filled with the Holy Spirit" and powerfully proclaimed "the wonderful works of God" (Acts 1:14, 2:1-11).
God characterizes the church today as Laodicea, bankrupt without the gold of faith, naked without the white garments of Christ's righteousness, blind without the eye salve of Spirit-empowered discernment. The lukewarm Laodicean church will never receive the latter rain because God will not empower their "gospel" of self-centered complacency. The latter rain does not transform our priorities; it empoweres our priorities which have been "transformed by the renewing or [our] minds" (Romans 12:2).
The latter rain will come when God's people realize their spiritual poverty and seek His Spirit and power with the same determination that the disciples did before the Day of Pentecost. “I [the Lord] will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. ‘Come, and let us return to the Lord…Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the Latter and Former Rain to the earth” (Hosea 5:15-6:3).
Now, at the end of the age, it is time for God’s people to come together in prayer, learning to love one another and the lost people around them, and pleading for His power. Then the 144,000 will be “sealed in their foreheads” and go out to give the last message to the world. “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain.” “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Zechariah 10:1, Hosea 10:12).
Continue to next section: IN HEAVEN WHILE ON EARTH
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>The law summarizes God's character and the character He wants to develop in His children. The negatives “Thou shalt not…” (Exodus 20:1-17) reveal that sin has no part in His character. The positive summary “Thou shalt love…” (Matthew 22:37-40) show that His kind of self-sacrificing love reaches out and embraces His creation in order to help and save them.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>God’s sealed people are called “the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ”. The “testimony of Jesus” is defined in Revelation 19: 10 as “the Spirit of prophecy”. Having the “Spirit of Prophecy” (the Holy Spirit) is thus integrally connected with keeping the commandments. As long as the law is external, on tables of stone, it serves only to condemn the sinner, reminding him of the death he deserves; it is “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7). But “what the law could not do…God did by sending His own Son…that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>See for example Exodus 31:3, Numbers 11:25, Judges 6:34, 1 Samuel 10:10, 16:13, 2 Chronicles 15;1, 20:14, 24:20, Psalms 51:11, Isaiah 63:11, Daniel 5:11.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>In Ephesians 4 Paul lists the gifts of the Spirit that are given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”, that we “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-14). The division and disunity that still exists within the Christian Church shows that this is a promise that still awaits its fulfillment in the future.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given" (John 7:38,39).