What is the Latter and Former Rain in Hosea 6:3?
Hosea 6:1–3 predicts that the people of Yisrael would return to YAHUAH after a period of judgment. In that day, the people of Yisrael will say,
“Come, and let us return to YAHUAH;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of YAHUAH.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth”.
The “latter” and “former” rains are called the “winter rains” and “spring rains”.
YAHUAH had “torn” and “stricken” His people—i.e., Hosea predicts that YAHUAH will discipline them (Hosea 6:1)—because they were unfaithful to the covenant they had promised to keep (Exodus 24:3, 7).
While the judgment would be certain and severe, YAHUAH would demonstrate His grace and restore the people. He would heal them and bandage their wounds (Hosea 6:1). He would come to them like a refreshing and nourishing rain (Hosea 6:3).
He would come like the latter and former rain, which would seem to refer to the early rain after planting and the later rain at harvest.
Because of YAHUAH’s promises, His people could know with certainty that YAHUAH would keep His word—that He would indeed come to them as the latter and former rain to restore and refresh. While the context doesn’t specify when this restoration would take place, the passage seems to be pointing forward to the salvation that would be provided through the Messiah: YAHUAH would revive them after two days and raise them up on the third day (Hosea 6:2). This prophecy seems to correlate directly with the events of YAHUSHA’s death, as He died, was buried, and then rose again on the third day (see 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3–4). Paul mentions that Messiah’s resurrection on the third day was “according to the Scriptures” (or writings). While there may have been a written gospel account by the time Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians (Matthew and Mark may have written by that time), Paul is probably referring to the Hebrew Scriptures and may have had Hosea 6:2 in mind.
If Hosea’s prophecy of revival in the two days and raising on the third day (Hosea 6:2) is pointing forward to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, then the immediately following context that YAHUAH would visit the people of Yisrael as the latter and former rain is likely also a picture of how refreshing and nourishing that event would be for the people under YAHUAH’s judgment.
In Hosea’s time, there was coming a somber judgment because of the people’s disloyalty to YAHUAH and their transgressing of the covenant. But there was also a coming day of restoration for Yahudah (Judah) (Hosea 6:11). YAHUAH would come to the people as latter and former rain.
It is important to note that YAHUAH doesn’t ignore sin, and His Set-Apart (Qodesh) standard is high—perfection, in fact (see Matthew 5:48). When YAHUAH restores the people of Yisrael, He first deals with their sin problem. The Messiah would die as a sacrifice to pay for sins;
YAHUAH would forgive their sins as part of a Renewed Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). That blessing of forgiveness from sin through the sacrifice of the Messiah would be not just for one nation but for all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3b).
YAHUSHA The Messiah would be like the latter and former rain for Yisrael and Yahudah (Hosea 6:3), and He would also be the water of life for all who would believe in Him (John 4:13–14).