The 3 ½ years of no rain, and the gospel age
The three and a half years of no rain in the days of Elijah is a type and a figure representing the present age of the Church, or a portion of it. This is represented by a symbolic three years and a half, and the ‘time, times and a half’ of Daniel 7:25 and 12:7, and related prophetic time periods.
The great rain at Mount Carmel after Elijah offered his sacrifice and prayed, ended three and a half years of no rain. Because the time of the Church is represented by a symbolic three years and a half, these events suggest that there will be a dramatic outpouring of the Spirit at the end of the Church age. Several prophecies refer to the holy Spirit being poured out on God’s people when the ‘time, times and a half’ ends.
The Old Testament account does not say that the duration of the drought in Elijah’s time was three years and a half, but that is clearly stated in the New Testament.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. [1 Kings 17:1]
God revealed to Elijah when the drought was about to end.
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. [1 Kings 18:1]
“In the third year” seems to imply that the period for which no rain fell could have been less than three years, but Jesus declared that heaven was shut for three years and six months. He said:
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. [Luke 4:25-26]
James also stated that the duration of the famine was three years and six months. He wrote:
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. [James 5:17]
The significance of the three years and six months of famine is that this period is the ‘time, time and a half’ of Dan. 7:27 & 12:7, which represents the whole church age, and which together with the three and a half natural years of the ministry of Jesus, make the symbolic week, which is the week when Jesus confirms his covenant. [Dan 9:27]
Moses compared his doctrine to rain, and dew.
My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: [Deut. 32:2]
In Isaiah, rain and snow are symbols of God’s word which comes from heaven. Isaiah wrote:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. [Isa. 55:10-12]
During the church age, represented by a symbolic three and a half years, heaven has been shut in a spiritual sense. The two witnesses of Revelation 11 have power to shut heaven, so that it does not rain. [Rev. 11:6] Jesus identified the Spirit, and the Scriptures as two things that will testify of him. [John 5:39; 15:26] They are therefore Two Witnesses. Their power to shut heaven depicts the fact that new revelations and prophecies have ceased. The saints have been scattered in tens of thousands of sects and denominations, and many are captive to false teachings.
In Ezekiel 38, rain, hail, fire, and brimstone are plagues sent upon the invading hordes of Gog and Magog. Hail may represent a strong rebuke.
And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. [Ezek. 38:22]
The saints are told to rejoice because of the rain, which is given in two periods called “the former rain” and “the latter rain.” Prophecies, including the Apocalypse, and the holy Spirit given at Pentecost, may be the former rain, and the interpretation of prophecy, and the Spirit poured out on the Church at the time of the end, may be the latter rain.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. [Joel 2:23]
The latter and former rain is mentioned in a prophecy of Hosea.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. [Hosea 6:1-3]
Zechariah refers to the “latter rain” and “bright clouds.”
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. [Zech. 10:1]
James referred to rain that the farmer waits for patiently which causes the earth to bring forth its fruits abundantly, as a figure of the saints waiting for God’s Word to bring forth the fruit of God’s Spirit in them.
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]
At the end of the time, times, and an half, God’s Spirit will be poured out on the Church, which is desolate, and scattered.
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. [Dan. 12:7]
The antichrist spirit, the little horn of chapter 7, makes the Church desolate, and scatters the saints. This is the abomination of desolation, which has been present since the time of John.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. [Dan. 12:11-12]
Christ is the One who waits. The 1,335 days, which is more than three and a half natural years represents the whole period from Jesus’ resurrection and ascent to heaven to the end of the age. The 1,290 days is the remaining time after sacrifices ceased when the temple was destroyed by the Romans, 70 AD.