Come to the Camp Meeting

Posted Oct 12, 2016 by Lorelle Ebens in The Sabbath Hits: 171

I am looking forward to our upcoming Feast of Tabernacles Camp Meeting. The fellowship we shared when we had our Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread Camp Meeting earlier this year here in Australia, was so special – a taste of heaven on earth.  We also enjoyed a weekend of fellowship in Brisbane around the Day of Pentecost.  For both of these times, we enjoyed fellowship with brothers and sisters from our local area and those who came from quite far away.  The joy of our fellowship included: singing hymns together; eating, talking or walking together; enjoying meetings where we explore topics we are learning more about; and the special times of foot washing and the communion services. There was a general feeling at the end of the camp / weekend that it would be good to stay in this mode of fellowship and not leave to go home – one day this will be a reality, in the great Feast of Tabernacles in Heaven.

Reflecting on these times of fellowship, there is no hint of “legalism” in “keeping the Feasts” that I experienced.  There are no rituals that must be done. There is just an experience of “being there” ready to receive a blessing in these Appointed Times of Refreshing from the Lord.  I came to realise that we, who get so caught up in our day-to-day lives, operating in a world that operates on Satan’s principles of getting our value and satisfaction from “achieving” something, gaining recognition from others for “doing” something, or from “owning” things.  By coming aside from our usual lives to meet together for an extended time, such as a camp meeting, gives us an opportunity to live in a mode where the principles of God’s Kingdom are the basis of all our relationships – getting our value from accepting God’s offer to be His son or daughter through His Son, Jesus. I think we NEED these times, to teach us how to live in God’s Kingdom of relationships being most important, rather than our usual Satan’s Kingdom where getting things done is most important.

So my encouragement to anyone considering seeing what a Feast is like – come and see that the Lord is good.

Here are some passages from Ellen White’s writings where she encouraged members to attend camp meetings:

 It is important that the members of our churches should attend our camp meetings. The enemies of truth are many; and because our numbers are few, we should present as strong a front as possible. Individually you need the benefits of the meeting, and God calls upon you to number one in the ranks of truth.  {6T 38.3} 

     Some will say: "It is expensive to travel, and it would be better for us to save the money and give it for the advancement of the work where it is so much needed." Do not reason in this way; God calls upon you to take your place among the rank and file of His people. Strengthen the meeting all you possibly can by being present with your families. Put forth extra exertion to attend the gathering of God's people.  {6T 39.1} 

     Brethren and sisters, it would be far better for you to let your business suffer than to neglect the opportunity of hearing the message God has for you. Make no excuse that will keep you from gaining every spiritual advantage possible. You need every ray of light. You need to become qualified to give a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. You cannot afford to lose one such privilege.  {6T 39.2} 

     Anciently the Lord instructed His people to assemble three times a year for His worship. 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. And they were to unite in the sacrificial service which pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Thus they were to be preserved from the corrupting power of worldliness and idolatry. Faith and love and gratitude were to be kept alive in their hearts, and through their association together in this sacred service they were to be bound closer to God and to one another.  {6T 39.3} 

     In the days of Christ these feasts were attended by vast multitudes of people from all lands; and had they been kept as God intended, in the spirit of true worship, the light of truth might through them have been given to all the nations of the world. [40]With those who lived at a distance from the tabernacle, more than a month of every year must have been occupied in attendance upon these holy convocations. 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.  {6T 39, 40.} 

     If the children of Israel needed the benefit of these holy convocations in their time, how much more do we need them in these last days of peril and conflict! And if the people of the world then needed the light which God had committed to His church, how much more do they need it now!  {6T 40.2} 

Ellen White encouraged the church to come to a Feast of Tabernacles, when she was in Australia and New Zealand:

December 8, 1893 Come to the Feast.

     "What think ye, that He will not come to the feast?" John 11:56.

     Dear Brethren and Sisters in Australia: The first Australian camp-meeting among us as a people is about to take place. This meeting will mark a new era in the history of the work of God in this field; it is important that every member of our churches should be present, and I urge you all to come. The enemies of truth are many, and though our numbers are few, we would present as good a front as possible. Individually you need the benefits of the meeting, and God calls upon you to number one in the ranks of truth. 

     I am afraid that some will say, "It is expensive to travel, and it would be better for me to save the money, and give it for the advancement of the work, where it is so much needed." Do not reason in this way; for God calls upon you to take your place among the rank and file of his people. You are to be there in person, and to strengthen the meeting all you possibly can. Let no one say, "I will remain at home, and let some one else go;" for we want to see you, and the somebody else as well. Let no stay-away argument be used. We know that the believers in the truth are scattered widely; but make no excuse that will keep you from gaining every spiritual advantage possible. Come to the meeting, and bring your families. Put forth extra exertions, and be at the gathering of God's people.  

     Brethren and sisters, it would be better, far better, for you to let your business suffer than to neglect the opportunity to hear the message that God has for you at this time. You need every ray of light; for you are acquainted with the truth only in a measure, and need to become better qualified to give a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Come with your Bibles in your hands. You cannot afford to lose one such privilege as you are now favoured with, and we entreat you not to disappoint us by staying away from the meeting. We look upon this time as a time when it is important for every one to come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.  {BEcho, December 8, 1893}     

                                 

Appeal to Attend the Camp Meeting--Dear Brethren and Sisters in New Zealand: I have an appeal to make to our churches to attend the coming camp meeting in Wellington. You cannot afford to lose this opportunity. We know that this meeting will be an important era in the history of the work in New Zealand. There should be particular efforts made to get a representation of those who believe the truth to this meeting, for the very reason we are so few in numbers, and the additional help of everyone is called for. The enemies of truth are many in numbers. On such an occasion as this we want to present as good a front as possible. Let not your business detain you. You individually need the benefits of this meeting. . . .  {11MR 7.4} 

     I fear quite a number will say, It is expensive to travel, and I had better save the money to use in advancing the cause and work where it is so much needed. No, no! God calls for you to take your rank and file, and strengthen the work all you possibly can by your personal presence. Let not one say, I attended the camp meeting in Napier, and that will answer; I will remain and let somebody else go. We want you and the somebody else as well. Let no stay-away argument be used. We have need of every spiritual advantage we can possibly have. We know that believers are scattered, but we want you to make no excuses.  {11MR 8.1} 

     The Lord wants you to come to the meeting and to bring your families, except the little ones who would only tie your hands. Put forth extra exertions. Better, far better, let the business suffer than to neglect the opportunity to hear the messages that God has for you at this time.  {11MR 8.2} 

     You need every jet of light you can obtain. You are acquainted with the truth in a measure, but you ought to become better acquainted with the reasons of our faith. Come with your Bible in your hand, for you ought to have a better knowledge of the sanctifying influence of truth upon heart and character. You cannot afford to lose one such privilege as you are now favored with. You must not now disappoint us. We look to this time as important to have everyone come up "to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty" (Judges 5:23).  {11MR 8.3} 

     We see that the forces of the enemy are strengthening, and that the ministers in every place are making earnest efforts to oppose the truth, and more so in Wellington than any place I ever visited. Everything is said to present Seventh-day Adventists as only a few in number, and inferior in every respect, possessing little influence. And shall we not on this occasion represent the believing rank and file the very best that we possibly can? Will our brethren not come up to the feast of tabernacles? How zealously should everyone guard the way that leads to the city of God! If we treat the work as an indifferent matter, and the army of the Lord is not on the ground to represent the cause and work in New Zealand, God will not be pleased with your neglect. Will you plead excuses, and at such a time?  {11MR 9.1} 

 …God holds you personally responsible for the advancement and honor of His cause in this country. Bear in mind God's plan was that His people should assemble together to worship not less than three times a year. The Lord has not signified it to be your duty to do this, but He calls you. He wants you to come up "to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty."  {11MR 10.1} 

… Make every effort to get your friends to come, not in your place but to accompany, to stand on God's side, under God's command. At the very best our numbers will not be large, but if the individual members of the church will come to the Wellington camp meeting, with a mind and will to work to the best of their ability, God will do the rest. We cannot but see the schemes and working of the enemies of our faith. Let the prayers go forth from unfeigned lips, "Hear, O our God; for we are despised." "Think upon me, my God, for good." "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hand." (Nehemiah 4:4;  5:19; Nehemiah 6:9.)  {11MR 10.3} 

… I again urge you for the truth's sake, for Christ's sake, to come up to this meeting. Elder Olsen will be at the meeting and other helpers from America, and we want a heavenly sitting together in Christ Jesus, and a rich reward in blessing will come to the people. I leave these lines with you, and beg of you response. We want to see the salvation of God. There must be a waking up among believers. Each may be so imbued with the spirit of the work that he will be a Nehemiah, possessing holy energy and faith and hope, thus strengthening one another's hands, depending wholly on God, the great and mighty Worker.--Letter 8a, 1893. (Written October 31, 1893, at Gisborne, New Zealand.)  {11MR 12.2}