1. GOD’S COMPASSION
a. Explain God’s goal for every human He has created. 1 Timothy 2:3–6.
“God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish; but His forbearance has a limit, and when the boundary is past, there is no second probation. His wrath will go forth and He will destroy without remedy.”—The Youth’s Instructor, March 28, 1905.
b. Why couldn’t the Lord permit the people of Israel to take direct possession of the promised land? Hebrews 3:7–11.
“God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached went not in ‘because of unbelief’ (Hebrews 3:19).”—Evangelism, p. 696.
2. REASONS FOR THE APPARENT DELAY
a. As believers, what danger do we face today? Hebrews 3:12, 13.
“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.”—Evangelism, p. 696.
b. Why does it seem that the Lord is delaying His coming? 2 Peter 3:9.
“The long night of gloom is trying, but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come, so many would be found unready. God’s unwillingness to have His people perish has been the reason of so long delay.”—Ibid., p.694.
“In mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning and find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out.”—The Great Controversy, p. 458.
c. Who is in a position to relieve much of the spiritual gloom that envelops our planet? 2 Peter 3:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 15:34.
“The Lord in compassion is seeking to enlighten the understanding of those who are now groping in the darkness of error. He is delaying His judgments upon an impenitent world, in order that His light bearers may seek and save that which is lost.”—The Review and Herald, March 31, 1910.
d. How can we hasten Jesus’ coming? 2 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 24:14.
“By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 633.
3. EXTRA POWER TO SPEED THINGS ALONG
a. How will the sharing of the gospel reach its climax in the last days? Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 611. 612.
b. What is needed to be entrusted with the latter rain—the outpouring of God’s Spirit without measure? Joel 2:17, 18; Acts 3:19, 20.
“I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.”—Early Writings, p. 71.
“The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 507.
“For the baptism of the Spirit every worker should be pleading with God. Companies should be gathered together to ask for special help, for heavenly wisdom, that they may know how to plan and execute wisely. Especially should men pray that God will baptize His missionaries with the Holy Spirit.
“The presence of the Spirit with God’s workers will give the presentation of the truth a power that not all the honor or glory of the world could give. The Spirit furnishes the strength that sustains striving, wrestling souls in every emergency, amidst the unfriendliness of relatives, the hatred of the world, and the realization of their own imperfections and mistakes.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 22.
4. THE OMNISCIENT KNOWS BEST
a. Even as we advance in the knowledge of God, what information does He still reserve the right to withhold from us, and why? Acts 1:6, 7.
“God has not revealed to us the time when this message will close, or when probation will have an end. . . . Let us not seek to know that which has been kept secret in the councils of the Almighty.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 191.
“There will never again be a message for the people of God that will be based on time. We are not to know the definite time either for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or for the coming of Christ. . . .
“ ‘The Lord showed me that the message must go, and that it must not be hung on time; for time will never be a test again. I saw that some were getting a false excitement, arising from preaching time, that the third angel’s message can stand on its own foundation, and that it needs not time to strengthen it, and that it will go with mighty power, and do its work, and will be cut short in righteousness.’ ”—Ibid., p.188.
b. Why should we be satisfied with God’s wisdom in this matter? Deuteronomy 29:29.
“The preaching of a definite time for the Judgment, in the giving of the first message, was ordered of God. The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment. The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and close of the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary to sustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the present truth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies. The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great advent movement of 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upon a date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they will be led to rest in a false security, and many will not be undeceived until it is too late.”—The Great Controversy, p. 457.
5. THE IMPENDING PROCLAMATION
a. What declaration is soon to be pronounced from Heaven, and why is this of such solemn importance to every mortal? Revelation 22:11.
“Many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. . . . [Revelation 22:11 quoted.]”—Early Writings, p. 71.
“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent efforts they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.”—The Review and Herald, January 17, 1907.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What should we learn from the delay in Israel’s entrance into Canaan?
2. Who is the chief culprit in delaying today’s entrance into heavenly Canaan?
3. How is the latter rain related to this event, and what enables it to come?
4. Explain the main purpose of the latter rain and the timing of it.
5. What do I need for God to be able to trust me with this refreshing?