“Early and Latter Rain” - Notes on James 5:7-12
In this passage, James changes gears from rebuking wealthy oppressors who live for their own wanton pleasure to exhorting his oppressed fellow believers to “be patient.” (On a side note, this passage is a timely message for us as we continue to face the effects of Covid-19, the rise of government restrictions, the movement towards loss of religious freedom, and the worsening of moral values in our society.)
In view of the reality of trials in this life, James’ message is repeatedly addressed to fellow believers -“brothers and sisters.” As those who belong to Christ, we are told to be patient, which means that we are “not to lose heart.” Rather, we are “to bravely persevere in enduring misfortunes, troubles, or ill-treatment” until the coming of the Lord! The basis of James’ exhortation is the fact that Christ's coming is near. It is for certain. It is "at hand!"
As an illustration, James reminds of how "the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains." He also adds that we are to "establish” our hearts. By God’s grace, we are to make the heart stable, firm, strong, constant, steady, or unshakeable. This exhortation is a clear contrast to the world's teaching to "follow your heart." In Scripture, we are reminded that the heart is deceitfully wicked. Thus, we are to keep it with all diligence and ask the Lord for cleansing. As we respond to God's call to repentance unto salvation, it is undeniably true that we are given a new heart. God’s Spirit, indeed, indwells the believer! Nevertheless, despite this fact, the truth remains that we still struggle with our flesh or “the old self,” as the apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 4. For this reason, we do not rely upon ourselves but upon Him who saves to the uttermost! For further study, consider 2 Peter 1:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 5.
Sometimes, we are tempted to question God about the oppression of His people. Why does He even allow it? The Lord is clear. He calls his people to be patient, for He will return for them. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” (Romans 8:18). Read through the Scriptures and the message is indisputable-- through suffering we learn obedience. Through suffering we grow. Through suffering, we follow in the steps of Christ, “for it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).
Beloved, we assured of His coming! Therefore, we can bravely persevere. He will return for His own and judgement will finally come upon the wicked. God the righteous and just one will make all things right. Praise the Lord for Revelation 21:1-4!