“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.”
James now uses an illustration from free enterprise, a farmer who invests seed to gain an eventual harvest (his capital gain). The farmer waits patiently through the winter months, the rainy season for his harvest. Just as the farmer waits patiently for the latter rain so the Christian waits for the coming of Christ (Ga 6:9; 2 Ti 4:8; Ti 2:13).
waiting patiently for it
The word “patiently” here has to do with patience with people, not patience with circumstances. James challenges his readers not to let the repressive rich land owners get them down.
The word “waiting” primarily means to take or receive from, thus to await, expect. The idea is to reach out in readiness to receive something – to expect. This farmer continues to remain in an expectant state until an anticipated event. It is a long time before his crop comes in. He must be patience about the harvest. The application for the believer is that he must rise above the circumstances and not lose heart. He needs to move along without letting situations stumble him.
1 Th 1:10 “…and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
until it receives the early and latter rain
The “early” rains came in late October and early November. The “latter” rains came as the crops matured in late March and early April just before the harvest. In Palestine, rains occur primarily November through March. The summer months are often without rain. The farmer works toward the harvest; he does not simply indulge the present. The Christian anticipates the return of the Lord, the rapture of the church.
Ro. 8:18-19 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
The farmer waits until he “receives” the early and latter rain. Those rains are the necessary groundwork before the harvest. The early rains fell at the time of seed sowing. The latter rain matured the grain for harvest. In the mean time, the farmer waits through the winter rainy season. The slow germination and ripening of crops is a good example for patience in waiting for the rapture.
The attitude of expectancy toward the rapture shapes our values and decisions in time.
The farmer waits patiently in anticipation of the harvest. If we do not accept the purpose of the first coming of Christ to save us, there is no reason to anticipate His coming again. Christians, however, anticipate His coming because they previously believed His first coming. They believe that is their true harvest.
2 Ti. 4:8 “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Anticipation of something “precious” eases the anxiety of waiting. The coming of Christ makes the present manageable. “It may be today – glad day.” That is how the believer rises above the circumstances and does not lose heart. He moves along without letting situations stumble him.
2 Co. 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”