The Former Rain and the Latter Rain of the Messiah
“The former rain and the latter rain” is the designation of the coming of Yeshua the Messiah for His first and second comings. His first coming “the former rain”, although highly expected, was obscured in the Torah and the Prophets for a good reason. Not even the principalities of this world knew about it; if they had known, they would have never crucified Him.
However, His second coming “the latter rain” is plainly revealed in the Scripture and is not secret to anyone. Yeshua Himself said, “You will find for Me in the Torah and in the Prophets …”
The prophecy of “the former rain and the latter rain” began in Gen 3:15, as “you shall crush His heel” refers to “the former rain” or the first coming of the Seed of the woman, when the Son of man was to suffer for the transgression of mankind or as we know Him as the suffering Messiah, and “He shall crush your head” refers to the latter rain or the second coming of the Seed of the woman or the conquering Messiah.
And I put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel. (Gen 3:15)
And we further read in the Torah concerning “the former rain and the latter rain”.
And it shall be that if you diligently obey My commands which I command you today, to love Yehovah your Elohim and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I shall give you the rain for your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, and you shall gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil. (Deu 11:13-14)
In the renewal of the Covenant with the new generation at Mount Nebo, Mosheh told Israel that if the nation would serve YHVH in love and faithfulness, He would give the land former and latter rain in its due seasons, and with that a plentiful supply of food (see Lev_26:3-5 and for the further expansion of this blessing, Deu_28:1-12 and Deu_11:16-25)
However, if their heart would turn away from Him to serve idols, His wrath would burn against them, and He would shut up the heaven, that no rain should fall and the earth should yield no produce, and they would speedily perish (Lev_26:19-20 and Deu_28:23-24).
But, did Mosheh our teacher spoke of and meant only the former rain and the latter rain of their seasons, or he spoke prophetically.
The former rain or the first rain of the season is the Hebrew word יוֹרֶה yoreh. As an agricultural term, this is the rain that falls after the sowing season (the season of Sukkot), which thoroughly sates the soil and the seeds; this is the first rain after the sowing. Another word for the former rain is moreh, as seen in Joe 2:23.
The latter rain, מַלְקוֹשׁ malkosh, is the rain that falls just before the harvest time (Pesach) in the spring to fill the grain on its stalks (see also Rashi on this). This is the second rain just before the gathering of the harvest, hence the latter rain. Malkosh comes from the verb lakash “to gather”, “to reap”, lekesh, “the crop”, hence: malkosh means “latter rain” before the reaping of the crop, and the related word is mekoshesh (a reaper).
However, as we will see below, the different words for the former rain and the latter rain are not simply a product of agricultural importance, but rather they refer to much more than just rains, since the common Hebrew word for a rain is מָטָר matar. There must be something more to it than that.
What is even more interesting is that the Hebrew word תורה torah, commonly rendered as “law” more properly means “instruction” or “direction”. This word is derived from the root ירה yarah which means “to point at” and its application is quite broad, but in our study we will use it to mean to instruct or teach in the sense of pointing out the direction or teaching a teacher gives his disciples to follow.
The noun derived from the root yarah is מורה moreh, meaning a teacher, one who points out the way. Or in other words, the torah is the teaching of the teacher, moreh, or the way pointed out by the teacher.
Therefore, the Torah of YHVH is not “law”, as many are misled to believe, but the Instruction, the Direction, of YHVH for us to follow. The Torah contains laws, but the overall meaning of it is to give the direction for righteousness to pursue (see also Rom_2:13). Hence, we found that moreh means a former rain, but also a teacher.
Now, let us read another reference to our words in question.
Come, and let us turn back to Yehovah. For He has torn but He does heal us, He has stricken but He binds us up. After two days He shall revive us, on the third day He shall raise us up, so that we live before Him. So let us know, let us pursue to know Yehovah. His going forth is as certain as the morning. And He comes to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth. (Hos 6:1-3)
What is very interesting to note here is that the Jewish midrashim states that it is the Messiah who speaks in Hosea and we with certainty know that the Rabbis meant none other than Yeshua the Messiah.
To support the Midrash, we do not need to go any farther but to link these first verses of chapter 6 with the last one of chapter 5 which states thus,
I shall go, I shall return to My place, until they confess their guilt and seek My face, in their distress diligently search for Me, [and say], (Hos 5:15)
The separation of these three verses from the preceding and last verse in chapter 5 is in dissonance with the natural and plain reading of the text, which is so obviously clear when Hos 5:15 and Hos 6:1-3 are read together.
Many of the early Christian commentators have found in these verses a prediction of the death and resurrection of the Messiah on the third day. Although, we can completely agree that such an allusion is plausible, we cannot depart from the meaning of the message in its own plain context, namely that the message primarily stands up for the ingathering of Israel out of the Roman exile in 2,000 years, and on the third day (after the manner that a day is as a thousand years before YHVH), which will be the seventh, Sabbath, millennium, the Messiah will raise Israel up so that all Israel will live before Him in the Kingdom of Elohim.
Therefore, “after two days’ and “on the third day” refer to the speedy ingathering and certain revival of Israel which is set before us simply and plainly. So, the message speaks of the spiritual and moral restoration of Israel to life, which has the element of the reawakening from the dead. And, in this sense, Hosea may be reckoned among the prophecies of hope of a life after death, which we find also in the prophecy of the dry bones in Eze_37:1-14.
And indeed, in The Messiah Texts, Jewish author Professor Raphael Patai echoes the understanding that Israel would be abandoned for 2000 years:
And when the flames engulfed the Temple, three young priests went up to its roof and threw the keys of the House of Elohim to heaven. A hand reached down and took the key. And the priests said, “How long, O Adonai, how long?” And a heavenly voice issued and said: “Not longer than two days, My children.” Then they knew that the exile of the Sh’khinah and the dispersion of Israel would last two millennia, for it is written, “A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday” (Psalm 90:4). And they said before Him: “Master of the Universe! How can Israel endure two thousand years of suffering?”…
Nearly 700 prophetic passages in Scripture teach that the faithful remnant of Israel will be Elohim’s people when Messiah reigns from Jerusalem in the Day of YHVH. From Hoshea 5:15-6:3, we know that the time of the great healing of Israel will be preceded by two days, i.e. 2,000 years, of trials (Read more) until the beginning of the birth pangs of the Messiah (see Mic_5:3).
We keep on reading in Joel, in order to get closer to the truth, as follows,
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He giveth you the former rain את־המורה in just measure* לצדקה, and He causeth to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, at the first. (Joe 2:23 JPS) * KJV has it, the former rain moderately.
There has been a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of this verse. Most of the Jewish and Christian commentators have taken moreh in the sense of “teacher” but others: in the sense of “former rain”. However, although moreh (in Deu_11:14 and Jer_5:24 is called yoreh) is unquestionably used in the sense of former rain, since it is a very natural to signify such, we cannot ignore its other application, moreh, as discussed above.
We should note in this verse that moreh has that the article placed before it, hamoreh “the rain”, and that neither moreh nor yoreh (former rain), nor the corresponding malkosh (latter rain), ever has the article. And seemingly no reason can be discovered why moreh should be defined by the article here if it signifies only a former rain.
That it can signify something more than just a former rain can be derived by what is following after it: the word לִצְדָקָה l’tsedakah, “for righteousness”, which is quite inapplicable to former rain, since it can mean neither “in just measure” (JPS), nor “moderately” (KJV), as tsedakah is only used throughout the Scripture in the moral sense of righteousness and only here in Joe 2:23, the translators have decided to render it in just measure or moderately.
Again, moreh and yoreh do mean “former rain”, but in Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM) we have the reason to believe that all those commentators are incorrect to think exclusively, in the sense of either former rain or teacher, but inclusively, i.e., both “former rain” and “teacher” as two layers of the same prophecy in Joel.
So, what does the phrase אֶת־הַמּוֹרֶה לִצְדָקָה former rain or teacher for rightlessness mean, but to refer to the Messiah, to whom Mosheh had already pointed as the prophet whom YHVH would raise up to them, and to whom they were to listen to (Deu_18:18-19). (Read more)
Moreover, this simple interpretation of “the former rain” is faithful to the context of the prophecy in Joel, since the prophet speaks of both the material blessings in Joe_2:23-27 (the former rain and the latter rain) and spiritual blessings in Joe_2:28-32 (the awaited Messiah), blessings which YHVH is conveying to His people: the gifts of the pouring out of a plentiful rain and of the teacher for righteousness.
With all that being said, moreh “teacher” and mekoshesh, “reaper” lead us to make the following conclusion.
The first coming of Yeshua the Messiah (metaphorically “former rain”, “the first rain”) was to teach repentance to the House of Judah and the House of Israel, because the Kingdom of Elohim was at hand in the former rain. But His second coming (metaphorically “the latter rain”, “the second rain”) will be to reap the harvest (also metaphorically speaking).
In other words, Yeshua first came in the former rain as the Teacher for Righteousness (HaMoreh of YHVH), and He will come again in the latter rain as the Reaper for Justice (HaMekosheh of YHVH) to redeem the remnant and punish the wicked.
An excerpt from the present author’s article “The Revelation of the Seven Trumpets. The Greatest Prophecy Ever Told, Few Can Hear“, Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM):
The Seventh Trumpet and the Third Woe: In the seventh month, on Yom Teruah, the seventh messenger sounds. And the seventh thunder speaks its words and loud voices in the heaven say,
“The reign of this world has become the reign of our Master, and of His Messiah”.
And the Dwelling Place of Elohim is opened in the heaven, and the Ark of His covenant is seen. And there come to be lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail. And on a white cloud is the Son of Elohim, having in His hand a sharp sickle.
(The First Sickle: gathering the resurrected). And another messenger comes out of the Dwelling Place, crying with a loud voice to the One sitting on the cloud,
Send Your sickle and reap, because the hour has come for You to reap, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.
And He thrusts His sickle on the earth, and the earth is reaped and a great crowd of all nations, in the twinkling of an eye, is standing before the throne dressed in white robes. He descends from heaven and the dead in Messiah rise first. Those who are alive are caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet Him in the air (1Th_4:16-17).
And another messenger comes out of the Dwelling Place holding a sharp sickle.
(The Second Sickle: judging the world). And another messenger comes out from the altar, having authority over the fire, and cries to him,
Send your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth because her grapes are ripe.
And the messenger thrusts his sickle into the earth and gathers the vine of the earth and throws it into the great winepress of the wrath of Elohim (Joe_3:12-13 and Rev_14:14-20). The wrath has come, and the time of the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to the prophets and to the believers, and to those who fear His Name, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.
And if this interpretation is correct, then we can re-translate and re-interpret prophetically Joe 2:23 regarding the former rain and the latter rain, still staying faithful to the Hebrew text,
And you children of Tsion, be glad and rejoice in Yehovah your Elohim, for He shall give to you the Teacher for Righteousness, and cause the rain to come down for you, the Teacher and the Reaper, in the first (month).
And indeed, again staying faithful to the overall context of the prophecy regarding the Messiah, Yeshua came in the season of the former rain in autumn, when He was born on the first day of Sukkot. He taught the Kingdom of Elohim until the season of latter rain before the first harvest, when He was crucified. But because not all Israel hearkened to Him, the following 2,000 years of the Age of the Messiah has been lost to us, as the Rabbis taught. Nonetheless, He will come again for the final Harvest on Yom Teruah.
For more insight on what the Rabbis of blessed memory taught about Yeshua the Messiah, the reader is encouraged to refer to the series “Did Israel Reject the Messiah?” and more specifically “Revealing the name of Yeshua secretly guarded by the Rabbis“.
In conclusion, we can sum up everything we have learned so far in the words of Ya’akov the Righteous the brother of Yeshua,
So, brothers, be patient until the coming of the Lord. See, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the former rain and the latter rain. You too, be patient. Establish your hearts, because the coming of the Lord has drawn near. (Jas 5:7-8)
The apostle clearly speaks of the coming of our Lord Yeshua as likened to the “the former and the latter rain” in the Torah and in the prophets, because His coming has been drawing near.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.