Often Seventh-day Adventist Christians wonder why the coming of Christ has been delayed. Those in Heaven as well as on earth are disappointed because of how long it is taking for the harvest to get ripe. Mark 4:29 says, “But when the grain ripens, immediately He puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Two harvests are mentioned in Revelation 14:15, 18, 19, a harvest of the wheat and the harvest of the grapes of wrath. It says, “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ ”
The apparent delay is because it has taken longer than the pioneers imagined to get the harvest ready.
Jeremiah 8:20, one of the saddest texts in the Bible, reveals that the harvest time is going to be a time of bitter disappointment to multitudes of people. It says, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” These people could have been saved but they are not, and never will be, because it is too late.
How to Be Ready for the Harvest
All who have claimed to be a Christian have a page in the Book of Life. This records every detail of your life history; every thought, every word spoken, every feeling you have experienced and every action. Things are written on that page that many wish were not there. It is impossible to erase that history personally. It can only be blotted out by the Lord and He has clearly taught how this can happen.
We read in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As well as forgiveness, we also need cleansing.
To confess sins means to go to the Lord or someone else that I have wronged or injured and acknowledge what I have done and take responsibility for it. To labor on the reason for my sin is not confession but self-justification. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they justified what they had done by blaming others even to the point where God was blamed, “The woman You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12).
In similar manner, Adam’s descendants have excused themselves ever since that time. Although they have confessed, confession alone is not enough to have your sins forgiven. You need also to take responsibility for them without blaming your husband, wife, children, parents or even the devil himself.
The New Testament gospel is a system that can give you victory over both inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil. Confession is being able to say, “Lord here I am. I take full responsibility for my sin and I am not blaming anybody—I did it—I am sorry and I want to be cleansed and not live that way anymore. I want your Holy Spirit to come into my heart to change me so that I can live a different kind of life.” This will take humility, something that prevents many people from confessing their sins while continuing to blame others for their own actions.
The Lord will hear that prayer. The Bible says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
This is the first step toward getting ready for the judgment, to make sure of a clean slate.
This is another description of “putting on the wedding garment.” Ellen White says that there will be many who come to the wedding supper without a wedding garment. Sadly they will be told: “From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment’ (Matthew 22:12)? Those thus addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper’ (cf. Luke 14:24).
“As they are separated from the loyal ones, Christ looks upon them with deep sorrow. They occupied high positions of trust in God’s work, but they have not the life insurance policy that would have entitled them to eternal life. From the quivering lips of Christ come the mournful words of regret, ‘I loved them; I gave My life for them; but they persisted in rejecting My pleadings, and continued in sin.’ ” The Upward Look, 301.
Something remained on their record that needed to be removed before the harvest time, but it never came off. Now it is too late.
“Today Christ is looking with sadness upon those whose characters He must at last refuse to acknowledge. Inflated with self-sufficiency, they hope that it will be well with their souls. But at the last great day, the mirror of detection reveals to them the evil that their hearts have practiced, and shows them at the same time the impossibility of reform. Every effort was made to bring them to repentance. But they refused to humble their hearts.” Ibid.
What was their problem? They were not humble enough to set things right. A major temptation of the devil is to tempt people to not confess their sins. He suggests that the Lord loves you so much that He will just turn a blind eye to your faults—but it is a lie of the devil! God will fulfill His word.
Now is the hour of probation. Now is the day of salvation. Now is God’s time. If He is speaking to you right now, just say, Lord, by Your grace I am going to make things right.
When this understanding came to me with force when I was 19 years old, I had to confess some things to people. I was unsure of how in the world I could do this, but I knew I had to do it. I had once gotten out of a ticket by telling a lie. I called the authorities involved and told them what happened and that I was willing to pay any fine.
If the Holy Spirit prompts you, don’t delay. Write down a list or whatever you need to do and tell the Lord that by His grace you are going to make these things right, either by telephone, letter, or some other means.
Salvation was provided at a cost that we cannot comprehend. It is of infinite value, for those who are saved will have everlasting life. They will live as long as God lives. This gift is worth any correction that you may have to make. If you have said or done something that has injured or wronged somebody else, you need to confess to them as well as to the Lord.
Many people will neglect the necessary preparation and are getting ready to have a bitter harvest.
“Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings; in the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish [things will seem to be going great]; but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow” (Isaiah 17:10, 11).
By falling for the devil’s lie that someday the Lord will still save you in spite of unconfessed sins, you will be very disappointed.
Jesus said there will be a harvest at the end of the world. However, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ ” (Matthew 7:21–23)!
Many of these people hold high positions both in the church and in the world. Remember, the higher the position one holds, the harder it is to be humble and make things right.
“Christ tells us how in the last great day ministers, elders, evangelists, physicians, teachers, will confront Him with their claims. They will plead how they have led the singers in their songs of praise, how they have waved the palm branches, how they have spoken of Him before thousands. ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name,’ they say, ‘and in Thy name done many wonderful works?’
“But Christ says, ‘Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. O that you had known, even in the day of your visitation, when like sweetest music, mercy’s voice fell upon your ears, the things that belonged unto your peace. But you were not ready. If you had been faithful to the warnings of the word; if you had dismissed Satan, instead of linking your arm in his; if you had preserved untarnished the principles of right; if you had obeyed My commandments, broken with ungodly advisers, scorned their impious bribes, which tempted you to worldly honor; if you had lifted the cross, and followed Jesus in self-denial, I could have welcomed you into My presence. But you have not cared for My society, and now you have no power to go from the snare.
“ ‘I offered you My saving grace but you refused it, and chose the side of the enemy, even as the priests and rulers did. You refused to be touched by My dying agony on the cross, and mocked at My humiliation. So will I refuse to acknowledge you. I weep for your future, but you have not cared to weep for yourselves. I was pledged to bear you and care for you, even as a father beareth and loveth his own son that serveth him. But you would not harmonize with Me.’ ” Pamphlet 58, 3.
Have you ever met anybody who believes themselves to be so intelligent that they insist that things have to be done their way? It is interesting to read the different categories of people that lack humility because they are wise, intelligent and powerful in this world. Ministers, elders, evangelists, physicians and teachers are just some of those who will self-righteously claim to have taught thousands of people.
What do you do when you hear a “thus saith the Lord” that conflicts with one of your strong-held beliefs? Do you correct your thinking and change direction or do you dismiss the conviction and continue in your familiar path?
“The precious invitation was often given, ‘Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me, and he shall make peace with Me’ (Isaiah 27:5). But you would none of My counsel. You have caused many to follow your sinful ways, and now your punishment has come. You will receive as your works have been. You must lose everlasting life. You have chosen your own ways, and with such ways, such sentiments, such characters, you could not enter the gates of the Holy city.
“What a scene is this! I pass over the ground again and again, bowed down in an agony that no tongue can express, as I see the end of the many, many who have refused to receive their Saviour. Justice will take the throne, and the arm strong to save will show itself strong to smite and destroy the enemies of the kingdom of God. Christ will lay bare the motives and deeds of every one. Every hidden action will stand out as clearly before the doer as if proclaimed before the universe.” Ibid., 4.
Not just what we do but why we did it is taken into consideration in the final account. The unseen watcher sees and records all in the books of record.
The children of Israel were given a special religious service associated with the harvest. Before the Israelites could harvest their grain they had to present the first fruits, which were the pledge of a coming harvest. In 1 Corinthians 15:20 it says: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead is absolute proof that if you die in Christ, you will rise from the dead when He comes again. The resurrection of Christ is one of the most indisputable facts of history. There are very few things that have ever happened in our world that we have as strong a historical record of as the resurrection of Christ. The fact that Christ was raised from the dead is proof that if I die before He comes again, if I am in Christ, I will rise again. The harvest time is going to be a wonderful time if you are saved.
The Latter Rain
What is the latter rain? In Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 506, we are told: “The latter rain, ripening earth’s harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man.”
I am sure all would agree that the church is not ready for Jesus to come right now. In Joel 2:23, we are told: “Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down to you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”
This refers to the first month of the Jewish year when the winter wheat was planted. Passover was the 14th day of the first month. The 15th day of the first month was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and the 16th day of the first month was the day when the wave sheaf was presented, which was the beginning of harvest. The first month was harvest time. Notice, there are people who are approaching the harvest that need more than the latter rain. No one is ready for the latter rain until they have received sufficient of the former rain.
“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.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 506.
James 5:7 says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”
A crop must have both the early and latter rain for an abundant harvest.
The Former Rain
“The work that God has begun in the human heart in giving His light and knowledge, must be continually going forward. Every individual must realize his own necessity. 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. Then the human agent had only to ask for the blessing, and wait for the Lord to perfect the work concerning Him. It is God who began the work, and He will finish His work, making man complete in Jesus Christ. But there must be no neglect of the grace represented by the former rain. Only those who are living up to the light they have, will receive greater light. …” The Review and Herald, March 2, 1897.
Are you living up to all the light that you know? The important thing is not how much light you understand, but are you living up to what you understand. If you are living up to the light you understand, the Lord will give you more light. But if you are not living up to the light you have now, why should the Lord give you more?
“Only those who are living up to the light they have, will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.” Ibid.
The question for each to inquire of themselves is, “Am I living up to the light that I have?” Ask the Lord to help you to live up to the light that you understand. The heathen who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ are better in God’s sight than Christians who do not live up to the light that they have.
At the time of the harvest every plant reaches full maturity and goes to seed and at that time the wheat and the tares are separated. There is a huge misunderstanding by many Adventists world-wide about the separation of the wheat and the tares.
Many people think that the separation of the tares happens when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. The harvest is not a one day event but happens over a period of time at the end of the growing season. It is during that period of time that the wheat and the tares are separated.
Ellen White wrote in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 995, 996, “I see perplexities on every side. As character develops man and woman will take their position, for varied circumstances brought to bear upon them will cause them to reveal the spirit which prompts them to action. Every one will reveal the character of the bundle with which he is binding himself. The wheat is being bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now pulling apart, and the tares are being bound in bundles ready to burn. Decided positions will be taken. Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character is considered faultfinding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof. Like the enemy who rebelled in heaven, they do not like to hear, do not correct the wrong they have done but become accusers, declaring themselves misused and unappreciated. …
“Now is the time of trial, of test, of proving.”
“God has been pleased to show me that men who ought to know the voice of the True Shepherd will be more ready to accept the voice of the stranger and follow in unsafe, forbidden paths because of the stubbornness of their human nature.
“Dark hours of trial are before the church because they have not obeyed the warnings and reproofs and counsel of God. What a bewitching power comes upon human minds to do contrary to the oft repeated will of God.
“Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test, the last proving, comes, so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd. …” Ibid., 1002.
That is one of the most amazing statements in the Spirit of Prophecy. The people who would ignorantly lead God’s people in wrong paths before the great and final test comes are going to reveal their true character. So, if you are a true child of God you will know not to listen to whatever these false shepherds have to say. Remember, those people may be ministers, evangelists, physicians, elders or teachers.
She continues: “The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty because of uncertain voices.” Ibid.
Will you make a covenant with the Lord to receive the former rain? The reception of the former rain occurs as the Holy Spirit impresses upon your mind what you need to do based upon the word of God and you respond by doing it.
Remember, the harvest time is coming soon and it is going to come whether we are ready or not. That is why the Lord has given us this instruction to help us to get ready and be prepared to receive the latter rain. We all need to follow instructions if we are to receive the gift of salvation. Not one who takes the Bible and accepts it just as it reads will be lost. Jesus wants to save you, but He cannot unless a full surrender is made to Him.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.