The Advent Movement was instructed to, “prophesy again” (Rev. 10:11). In other words, there was “meat in due season” that the “faithful and wise servants” (Matt. 24:45), were instructed to preach to the world. This “present truth” (2 Pet. 12), was/is the three angel’s messages. When the preaching of the three angel’s messages are completed the prophesy informs us of the result:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Rev. 14:12.
The Bible tells the same stories in different ways. Another way, of presenting the result of the three angel’s messages, is informing us about what happens when the seventh trumpet begins to blow. The momentous event to occur under the blowing of the seventh trumpet is that, “the mystery of God should be finished” (Rev. 10:7). Therefore, we need to inquire, what is the ‘mystery of God?’ Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, tells us what the mystery of God is:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:25-27.
Another way the Bible tells us the same thing, is to be told that the 144,000 stand before the throne of God, “without fault” (Rev. 14:5). This is the result of the three angel’s messages – the 144,000, without fault before the throne of God, keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus, because they have Christ in them – and they are about to be ‘harvested’ and taste “the hope of glory.”
The Former and Latter Rain
Another way of telling the same story, is by using physical phenomena, to illustrate spiritual truths. In this case, the concept of the former and latter rains. The physical phenomena of rainfall, in the physical land of Israel, is used as a type, for antitypical applications in Revelation and the Bible in general. Physically, the land of Israel, endures a long, hot and dry summer. The summer heat and the lack of rain, bakes the ground into hardness. Therefore, because the soil is not ready for sowing, the sowing season must await the coming of the rain in the autumn/fall. Like clockwork, after the long hot summer, the rain comes in the month of November. The Bible calls this rain ‘the former rain.’ When the former rain comes and softens the ground, the ground can be ploughed. When the ground is ploughed and watered the seed can be sown. Throughout the winter months, the seed would sprout and grow. In the spring the latter rain would come and the watered plants would ripen to maturity – then the harvest would take place.
In the East the former rain falls at the sowing time. It is necessary in order that the seed may geminate. Under the fertilizing showers the tender shoot springs up. The latter rain falling near the close of the season, ripens the grain and prepares it for the sickle. The Lord employs these operations of nature to represent the work of the Holy Spirit. Ellen White, Last Day Events, p. 183.
This physical reality, that governed the lives of the Israelites, is used to teach them (and us) spiritual realities. Spiritually, the hard ground reflects and symbolizes the hardness of people’s hearts. The former rain reflects and symbolizes the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, is like the rain, it softens and ploughs the heart, so that the seed (the Word of God), can be sown in the heart. The seed sprouts and grows in the heart, and the Latter rain comes to bring the heart to maturity. The Israelites, knew about the physical rain, unfortunately, they knew little about the spiritual application:
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Jer. 5:24.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. Hos. 6:3.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. Joel. 2:23.
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. Zech. 10:1.
In the Christian era, the spiritual application began to be understood. The mighty work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost began to be identified as the former rain. The preaching of the disciples on that day, fell like life giving rain on hardened ground. Hearts were softened:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Acts 2:37.
After, they were “pricked in their heart” the people cried out, “what shall we do?” They cried out, because the seed was sown in their hearts and it was already sprouting, they wanted to know what they needed to do. In other words, the new wine was being drunk, the people wanted to know what the next steps were, the new Kingdom of Christ was up and running, and it has been growing and developing ever since. At the appointed time the latter rain would come and bring the crop to maturity and the harvest would take place. The latter rain, comes when the fourth angel descends from heaven, and adds its power to the preaching of the three angel’s messages:
These scenes (Pentecost) are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain will be more abundant. The Spirit awaits our demand and reception. Christ is again to be revealed in His fulness by the Holy Spirit’s power. Men will discern the value of the precious pearl. Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 120.
As the dew and the rain are given first to cause the seed to germinate, and then to ripen the harvest, so the Holy Spirit is given to carry forward, from one stage to another, the process of spiritual growth. The ripening of the grain represents the completion of the work of God’s grace in the soul. By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ. Ellen White, Last Day Events, p. 183.
The latter rain, ripening earth’s harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man. But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection. Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 506.
The former rain at Pentecost, waters the seed, sown by Jesus, the latter rain, some 2000 years later brings the crop to maturity. This is why after the preaching of the three angel’s messages, and after the people of God are brought to maturity, the very next thing the prophesy presents is the harvest.
The Kingdom Grows and Develops
The Bible tells the same things in different ways. There is another literal phenomenon, used to teach spiritual lessons – the crops growing in the fields. Israel, was by and large, an agricultural economy. Almost everyone was involved with production, from the use of the land. They were all familiar with sowing and harvesting. Therefore, in His parables and sermons, Jesus constantly used sowing and harvesting to teach people that the Kingdom of God, had a beginning, a period of development and an end. The Kingdom, would be sown, it would grow and it would be harvested. There is no better example than ‘the Parable of Seed Growing Secretly:
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. Mk. 4:26-29.
[For a more on the growth and development of the Kingdom see Appendix ‘the Progressive Nature of the Kingdom Principle’ and ‘the Principle of Christian Perfection’].
Christ in You
The Bible tells the same stories in different ways, the growth and development that is expressed in the parables of Jesus, and all throughout the Scriptures, is summarized in the words of Paul: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The wheat growing in the fields is simply a metaphorical illustration, of the people of God ‘growing up in Christ.’ It is the restoration of the image of God in His creation. It is the fulfilment of the words of Jesus, when He said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The authors of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary understood this when they wrote:
The book (of Revelation) is a revelation of Jesus Christ at work perfecting a people on earth so that they might reflect His flawless character, and guiding His church through the vicissitudes of history toward the accomplishment of His eternal purpose. SDABC, vol. 7, p. 724.
Where did the authors of the SDABC get the information to so boldly proclaim such a controversial position? Answer: because they too, understood that the Bible tells the same story in different ways. They looked at the three angel’s messages and they noticed that when the three angel’s messages finish, it is stated:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Rev. 14:12.
In other words, when the three angel’s finish their work, there will be a people standing who are the fulfilment of the promise, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Jesus asked, “Who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17). Answer: the 144,000 are able to stand, because they fully reflect the character of Christ, they keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Christ, they are without fault before the throne of God.
Reaping the Harvest
At the end of the parable of the seed growing in secret, it is stated that as soon as the harvest was ripe, “immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” The same applies when the three angel’s messages cease, and the 144,000 are standing, reflecting the image of Christ, the harvest takes place:
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. Rev. 14:14-16.
Jesus is the sower (see Matt:13:37), and Jesus is the reaper. Jesus reaps what He has sown. He comes back to the earth and ‘reaps’ the rewards of His labour. But there are two harvests, a harvest of the righteous and a harvest of the wicked:
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. Rev. 14:18-20.
The fate of the wicked, is elaborated on, by repeating and enlarging the judgments upon them in the next chapters of Revelation.
The story of the beginning, the growth and the end of God’s Kingdom, is told in many different ways. It is a theme that is repeated and enlarged upon, it is told in type and antitype, it is told in parables and sermons, it is elaborated on in the testimony of apostles and disciples. It is the purpose of the Book of Revelation to finish the story. The Book of Revelation is the crescendo of a long symphony about the triumph of the Kingdom of God.