Spiritual Convocations

Divine opportunities

Rich Constantinescu
Spiritual Convocations
Photo by Isaac Mehegan on Unsplash

He seemed “too cool for school.” The first time I saw Brother Andrew he was wearing dark sunglasses and standing at the back of an outdoor convocation. Whenever I saw him, he was standing at the back and wearing dark glasses. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to be alone or was simply disinterested.

One night a couple friends and I gathered at my home for our daily meeting to ask for the Holy Spirit, when Andrew entered, wearing his usual dark glasses. As we were recounting the promises of God Andrew wistfully interjected, “I wish I could read the Bible.”

Though he exercised, drank water, and ate a plant-based diet, Andrew said that piercing migraine headaches limited his reading, hearing, and sleeping. He thought this was his thorn in his flesh (see 2 Cor. 12:7, 8), but I was not convinced. I advised him not to assume God’s answer, but to go to a camp meeting and determine to seek God until He answered “yes” or “no.”

Andrew moved from the area, and I didn’t see him until the next summer. One sunny Sabbath day, as I was walking in the mountains, a group of chattering, joyous hikers exited the forest, led by Brother Andrew. His dark glasses were absent, while a bright smile lit his face. He told me, “I followed your advice and went to a camp meeting this summer. I decided to pray until God answered. He did, and took my headache away.” Praise God!

Historical Precedent

Large spiritual gatherings have facilitated God’s teaching and blessing throughout sacred history. After God delivered Israel from Egypt, He gathered them at Mount Sinai to receive His instruction and blessing (Ex. 19:17, 18). Prior to entering Canaan, Moses gathered Israel on the plains of Moab to repeat to them God’s law (Deut. 1:5). Before Joshua died, he gathered Israel to Shechem to renew their covenant with God (Joshua 24:1).

The law God gave at Sinai, confirmed by Moses and Joshua, required every male Israelite to convene at the sanctuary three times yearly for instruction and blessing. Their commitment to these meetings comprised a month of each year. “To these holy convocations the children of Israel came, bringing to the house of God their tithes, their sin offerings, and their offerings of gratitude. They met to recount God’s mercies, to make known His wonderful works, and to offer praise and thanksgiving to His name.”1

God desired to bless His people at these meetings. “The Lord saw that these gatherings were necessary for the spiritual life of His people. They needed to turn away from their worldly cares, to commune with God, and to contemplate unseen realities.”2 In the following centuries spiritual leaders called additional convocations to instruct and reform Israel. In the united kingdom of Israel, these gatherings were led by Samuel, David, and Solomon. In Judah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Nehemiah, and Ezra led in organizing gatherings for national revival and reformation. Elijah called a most successful convocation in northern Israel.

While the significance of the specific ceremonies connected to the sanctuary have passed with Christ’s death, our attendance at spiritual gatherings remains important today. The Lord Jesus Himself often gathered people to heal and teach them. Great numbers followed Him who “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14, TLV)3 in Galilee. The apostle Paul warned the early church against neglecting sacred assembly, “as is the manner of some.” He counseled them to meet more frequently, “as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).

Christ promised His church that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20, KJV). He is present in our gatherings through the Holy Spirit, His Ambassador (John. 14:16-18). Where Christ is, through His Spirit, every blessing awaits. Christ will bless His gathered people now, as in former years (Mal. 3:4).

In Recent History

Camp meetings greatly advanced the development of the Advent movement as they united its adherents and extended its influence. Francis D. Nichol noted that the first Millerite camp meeting in 1842 “may be regarded as the commencement of a new era in the second advent cause.”4

In 1868 James White reasoned that as the “Second-Advent camp meetings in 1843 and 1844 were one of the grandest means of disseminating light relative to the Advent hope and faith, and imparted life and strength to the great Advent movement,” Seventh-day
Adventists should also have “a general Convocation, free from business sessions, where ministers and people could devote their entire time and energies to the spiritual interests of the assembly.”5

As the camp meeting rapidly became “one of the most important agencies in our work,”6 Ellen White noted that “the convocations of the church, as in camp meetings, the assemblies of the home church, and all occasions where there is personal labor for souls, are God’s appointed opportunities for giving the early and the latter rain.”7

God still meets with His people today. It is our privilege to place ourselves in the path of His ready blessing. Convocations, such as camp meetings, are divine opportunities for us to receive His Spirit. Will you make every effort to appear before the Lord in sacred assembly with His people? With God’s help, I will also!

1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 6, p. 39.

2 Ibid., p. 40.

3 Bible texts credited to TLV are from the Tree of Life Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

4 Francis D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1944), p. 109.

5 James White, in Review and Herald, July 14, 1868.

6 E. G. White, p. 31.

7 Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Mar. 2, 1897.

Rich Constantinescu

Rich Constantinescu, an ordained minister, is president of Revival Plan.