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The Greatest Request (Zechariah 10)

Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.

-Zechariah 10:1

Keith Daniel, a man of God who was mightily used as a preacher and missionary in South Africa, was walking down a dusty road in scorching heat. It had not rained in that part of Africa for a very long time. When cars passed by, he would walk away from the road; the land was so dry that the dust could make a person nearly suffocate. Traveling a long way to preach, utterly exhausted by the heat, he groaned, “Lord, send rain. Send thunder, lightning, heavy rains, as soon as possible.”

Immediately as he said, “In Jesus Christ’s Name,” he saw a strong wind stirring in the land. Within four minutes, the previously cloudless sky was now dark with heavy storm clouds. The wind was so strong he felt he had to hold himself up straight. Witnessing God’s answer, he became frightened at the power of God and began to ask for mercy! He later said, “throughout the whole convention, right through the days and nights, there was this cool, wonderful wind and a slight drizzle.” The people of the area were astonished to see rain after such a long period of drought.

Firsthand accounts like this can amaze us. But if we truly know Him, the living God with all power and authority, we ought to instead be amazed if God ever ceases to do things like this.

Zechariah charged Israel, “Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain.” But this prayer and God’s promised answer were not about physical rain. God longed to restore His people. Like the rain, God’s presence and Spirit were the life-giving source that would restore His people and their land. In those days they were rebuilding the temple and needed the presence of God to dwell there again. For Israel, it would be a “latter rain” in which the “latter glory” was promised to be greater than the glory of the former temple (Haggai 2:9). To ask for rain, to cry out for the Spirit of God to dwell in their midst, was essential.

For Christians today, we know we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a doctrine we uphold. But many have witnessed the glory and the Spirit fading from their lives due to neglect of prayer. Others, through idolatry and sin, quench the Spirit just as Israel did before exile. This is a sorry state, but the cross still offers a wide-open door for all to return wholeheartedly to Jesus and seek the Holy Spirit again in prayer. We must cry out again for the Spirit to fill His temple.

There is a remnant of those who have heard and obeyed God’s call to devoted prayer. But even we who pray need a reminder to ask for the Holy Spirit. Of all the things we request of God, how much priority do we give to asking for more of the Holy Spirit? Jesus told us to ask for this gift; He promised that, just as we do not hurl dangerous poisonous creatures at our children when they ask for something to eat, even more so God does not withhold His Spirit from those who ask! 

The only time someone can ask for the Spirit and not receive it is when their request is mere lip service: we say we want the Spirit but we really want our sin and selfishness. Jesus said obedience to the will of God is the proof of whether the love we confess with our mouth is genuine. We may need to change our approach: instead of merely posturing our bodies for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, knees to the floor and hands cupped toward heaven, let us posture our whole lives for an outpouring of the Spirit, which means surrendering our will and committing to obey His.

The Presence and Spirit of God is our only hope of spiritual life, and is abundant and free. Other requests are not worthy to appear alongside this one, because the Spirit is not a gift from God but the gift of God Himself! If we have any hope of restoration and revival, the Holy Spirit is that hope. If we are thirsty to see a “latter rain” that might even surpass the day of Pentecost, before The Lord returns, then we should start today asking for heaven’s rain, for ourselves and for the land.

-Pastor Alex

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