Study Notes

Zechariah 10:1-1


Turn with me to Zechariah ten, verse one.

The first verse of chapter ten is considered by many commentators as the final verse of chapter nine. Actually, I'm not overly concerned about which chapter it belongs in, because it's going to stand alone in our studies, being the only verse we're covering tonight.

This is for a number of reasons. One is to examine our understanding of God, His methods, and our response to them. Another is to understand the state of God's kingdom today. No doubt we will also add to our Biblical education along the way.

10:1 To Whom?

"Ask rain from the Lord." To whom is the prophet speaking when he says this? This burden - or oracle - of the Lord is speaking to both the Gentile nations and Israel corporately.

Individually, He is speaking to whomever would listen, both in Zechariah's day, and on into the future, since these things were inherently prophetic.

So we would do well to understand that God's first desire was to speak to the Jews - to each one, directly to their hearts. And then we should also consider its impact on us, as individual members of the Body of Christ, the church. Paul said,

Rom. 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

If we have ears to hear, we should be applying the truths we learn to our own walks with God as well.

Ask From The Lord

"Ask from the Lord." Certainly a simple concept. We are free to ask the Lord for things in prayer. Jesus said,

Matt. 7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given to you..."

He was even so bold as to say to His disciples,

Matt. 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."

Pastor Greg and I saw that just this week. On Monday morning, as the search for my missing dog was starting to look hopeless, I prayed an unusually bold and specific prayer from me: "Lord, let him be returned today." Not two hours later, he was in my car and headed home!

Now, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that my usual lack of specific prayers can be attributed to my usual lack of faith.

You see, I often feel like if I pray something specific for someone, and God doesn't bring it to pass, then I've let everyone down. I let the person down by giving them reason to expect the unlikely or impossible. I've let God down because I wasn't praying in His will. To be perfectly frank, it is because I'm thinking that it all falls to me! But in reality, the very reason I'm praying is because it's not up to me! If I could do it myself, I wouldn't be asking for a miracle, would I?

Ask Rain

He says, "Ask the Lord for rain." Why would someone pray for rain? Here in Wyoming, that's a silly question, isn't it? As a matter of fact, unless you've got a giant fresh water river running through town that never runs dry, we all need rain.

But more than rain specifically, this actually helps us to understand generally about asking in prayer.

Rain is a need, not a want. A necessity of life, not a frivolous extra. Jesus taught us,

Matt. 6:8-11 "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.'"

Of course the instruction continues, but here we see that our example for asking in prayer is for our daily bread. Asking for rain is like asking for daily bread. It's not asking for riches and power. Not even asking for our weekly bread. But just enough for today, just what we need for life right now.

At The Time Of The Spring Rain

When are we to ask in prayer?

Zech. 10:1 Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain...

So we are to ask for provision for our needs during our time of need. We ask for today's bread today. We ask for today's provision today. This keeps us close to God, and follows the command that Jesus gave:

Matt. 6:31-34 "Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. {Each} day has enough trouble of its own."

The "Latter Rain"

At this point, I should probably read you our verse from the King James version of the Bible, since it contains a phrase that has begun to be commonly used among Christians:

Zech. 10:1(KJV) 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.

"Latter rain." The "latter rains" are frequently used in contrast to the "former rains," or the "first rains."

The former rains began the growing cycle after planting, while the latter rains were necessary in March and April to finish the growing of the crops for harvesting.

Why would the concept of rain in the springtime be something that Christians would talk about so much? Because of something that has happened in the church somewhat recently - something that has been dubbed, "The Latter Rain Movement."

"The Latter Rain Movement"

The "Latter Rain" Movement originated back in the 1940s. Like so many false Christian teachings which float around the church, it basically takes occult beliefs and practices and gives them "Christianese" names from the Bible to justify them.

The basic understanding that people have of "The Latter Rain Movement" is simply that God is pouring out His Spirit again in these final years of the church just as He did in the first years of the church. The former rains were like Pentecost. The latter rains are like these end-times. We need to pray for God to pour out His Spirit, to send the "latter rain."

Certainly, it sounds like a good concept. How could anyone speak against such a wonderful thing? Why shouldn't we pray for God's Spirit to be poured out? Why shouldn't we believe in a blessing of revival for today?

Although it doesn't make me very popular to point this out, in theory, in doctrine, and in practice, this movement is completely anti-Biblical.

First of all, as you look at the Bible's promises for both the church of our day and the pouring out of God's Spirit in the last days, you see something that no one likes to admit: The Bible doesn't promise the church a revival, but rather an apostasy, a falling away from the faith (2Thes. 2:3, Matt. 13:31-33).

And the promise of the outpouring of God's Spirit in the book of Joel - which is always the prooftext given - happens after the church age. For example, Joel describes a great army from the north coming down to invade Israel, and the Lord supernaturally subduing them. Eight verses later, the Lord says,

Joel 2:28-31 "And it will come about AFTER THIS that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind..."

He goes on to describe that He...

Joel 2:30 "...will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke."

It is then we realize that this pouring out of God's Spirit upon the earth will be during the Great Tribulation, not the church age.

And so doctrinally, we are not told to expect the "Latter Rains" as they are defining them.

There are dangerous doctrines propagated by the Latter Rain Movement as well. Proponents of the movement (which is intricately tied to other movements and theological positions like "Joel's Army," "Kingdom Now," and "Manifest Sons of God") claim that this outpouring of God's Spirit is going to make "super-Christians" like we've never seen before. They will have miraculous powers and ultimately take over the governments of the world to prepare the way for Jesus to come back. They believe that the church will take dominion over all the earth both politically and militarily, finally allowing Jesus to come back. This is clearly contrary to Bible teaching.

Worse yet, as you look at the doctrines and practices more in-depth, you see that its details prove it to be both cultic and occultic.

There is the all-powerful positions of self-appointed apostles and prophets in the movement, who are supposedly blessing those who side with them, and cursing those who speak against them.

There is also the doctrine that the "super-Christians" will progressively attain stages of perfection. They will begin as servants of God, become friends of God, then be transformed into Sons of God, and then climax with becoming gods themselves! This is the same lie that the devil sold to Eve, to the New Age Movement, and the Mormon Church.

How will this incredible, world-wide revival take place, according to them?

"This revival, they say, will come as the result of the Church defeating demonic spirits through prayer, fasting and spiritual warfare, conducted through intense worship and praise, and by rebuking demonic powers and territorial spirits. The restoration of praise and worship, known as the Tabernacle of David, includes dancing, singing, and exuberant praise in tongues. Those who achieve a certain degree of holiness under the direction of the apostles and prophets will eventually overcome all enemies, including death, and will become immortal. There will be a complete conquest of the nations before Christ returns, they say, done by Joel's army - an army of immortal beings - bringing judgment upon the ungodly and all who will not accept the authority of the apostles and prophets." (Oakland)

Those of us who don't subscribe to these ideas are accused of "holding back" the revival. As I refuse to have our church participate in the occultic nonsense of binding territorial demons, casting out generational spirits, and breaking ancient curses, I encounter more and more opposition in our own Christian community - even from churches I expect to be more doctrinally sound!

The "Latter Rain Movement" is claiming to be at the forefront of the end-times revival taking place. I do believe that it is part of the fulfillment of end-times prophecy, but not the one they are claiming. On the contrary, I believe it to be what we read in First Timothy:

1Tim. 4:1 ...the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

To Each Man

As we return to the Biblical standard of the latter rain and look at the rest of our verse this evening, notice the promise:

Zech. 10:1 ...He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.

If we ask the Lord for rain at the time of the spring rain, He will give it to water the crops of all. Jesus taught us,

Matt. 5:43-47 "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more {than others} ? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

When God sends rain, it falls on everyone - both the righteous and the wicked. The showers bring vegetation in the fields of each man. What an awesome picture of the mercy of God!

Next week, we will accelerate our pace through the tenth chapter of Zechariah.

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