"And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil" (Deuteronomy 11:13-14).
The planting and harvest seasons in Israel were just the opposite of ours. The first rains, which softened the ground, fell from October to the end of December, just before planting season. The last rains fell from March through April, just prior to harvest, and those rains ripened the harvest.
It is important to note that these two outpourings always had to do with the harvest: "That thou mayest gather in . . ." (verse 14). And, beloved, if you want to judge any move of the Holy Spirit to discern if it is of God or of flesh, then use this criterion: The Spirit's work is always focused on the harvest of souls!
No matter what kind of manifestations you see in a so-called revival, it is not a true move of God unless it is focused on the harvest. The Holy Ghost rains always fall to produce an ingathering of souls.
God poured out His Spirit in the former rain at Pentecost to prepare and soften the ground for the gospel seed to be sown. Spirit-filled sowers were sent out from the Upper Room that day into all the world—to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
The church has now seen almost 2,000 years of sowing and growing—and it is harvest time! All who have died in Christ up to now represent the firstfruits, or the early harvest. But Zechariah prophesies a final harvest and that is the reason Jesus has not yet come (see Zechariah 12:10). The Lord has been waiting patiently for His final, mighty harvest of the earth!
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (James 5:7).