A Break From Frontier (or Modern) Life

Only those who receive the early rain will benefit from the latter rain

Justin Kim
A Break From Frontier (or Modern) Life
Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash

In the 1800s those on the North American frontier did not have easy access to pastors. There weren’t enough church buildings, either, both in capacity and quantity. Rather than bringing people to the preacher, itinerant preachers went to the people. Camp meetings became a vacation to explore spiritual interests as well as to get a break from the toil of frontier life. Typically there was nonstop preaching from early morning to late at night. With a de-emphasis on formal theology and an emphasis on revival, spirituality, and Bible preaching, many enjoyed this religious phenomenon.

The first Adventist camp meeting was held in Wright, Michigan, on September 1-7, 1868 (read more in Michael Campbell’s article). Four months earlier the General Conference Session convened in Battle Creek, Michigan. But the proceedings were so formal and so church business-oriented that attendees left disappointed. In response, James White proposed the idea for a general convocation of “spiritual feasting” for the people—camp meeting.1

As Rich Constantinescu highlights in his article, Ellen White interestingly wrote this about camp meeting in 1897:

“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.”2

Ancient Israel’s agricultural year consisted of an early (or former) rain and a latter rain. They bookended an intense drought during the summer. The early rain would ensure the crops would survive the drought. But for a bountiful yield, the latter rain was necessary just before the harvesttime. Both were necessary for a productive return.

The Bible likens our spiritual experience, as well as the church body’s experience, to these rains. The early rain was typified at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down upon the early church. For those of us not present then, we experience the early rain when we encounter Jesus at our conversion, whether it be a punctiliar or progressive experience.

The next prophetic event in earth’s time line is not necessarily the second coming of Jesus, but the falling of the latter rain upon His people to prepare for His coming. This means a supernatural occurrence during which the Holy Spirit is copiously poured forth, resulting in power over pride, self, and worldliness. Those waiting for the Advent will be endowed with a spiritual influence to forgive, connect, and unite with other believers. Evangelism, outreach, and witnessing will grow in intensity and in fervency, resulting in more conversions and revival.

Like Israel’s rains, only those who receive the waters of the early rain will benefit from the latter rain right before the harvest, or the second coming of Christ. What is sobering is that those receiving the rain and those not receiving the rain may be in the same room: one praising God and another going about their day as if nothing were happening. One would experience the moving of the Spirit, and another would experience nothing, while sitting in the same pew. One would be convicted by a text of Scripture, while another would yawn in familiarity.

Ellen White connects the evangelistic and revivalist experiences of convocations, home church, personal labor, and even our Adventist camp meetings with God’s opportunities to give both the early rain and latter rain. We don’t all have frontier lifestyles anymore, but why not take time this summer to explore your spiritual interests at camp meeting as well as to get a break from the toil of modern life?

If not, let’s pray to hear God’s voice in convocations, churches, your devotional life, and/or online. But whatever you do, let’s pray for rain, the early and the latter, to prepare for His harvest, His return. 

1 https://adventistreview.org/magazine-article/camp-meeting/

2 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1923), p. 508.

Justin Kim

Justin Kim is the editor of Adventist Review