HISTORICAL FOUNDATION OF THE SOLEMN ASSEMBLY
Not only were solemn assemblies a common feature of Biblical revivals, but they also played an important role in the life of believers in America’s formative years. The Sprague Collection of Early American Pamphlets at the
Our forefathers believed that God was offended by sin. They were deeply troubled, both by the existence of sin in their own lives and by the presence of unconfessed corporate sins in the churches and in their nation. They regarded natural calamities as manifestations of God’s displeasure and allowed such events as earthquakes, fires, volcanoes, epidemics, floods, and droughts to prompt them
Misuse of the Solemn Assembly
Like any other God-ordained means of grace, the solemn assembly has the potential of being corrupted. The severe denunciations of Isaiah 1:10-15 clearly show God’s contempt for solemn assemblies that have lost their heart and have become mere form and ritual: “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, their incense is an abomination to Me. New moons and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the Solemn Assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts. They have become a burden to Me, I am weary of bearing them…”
But we must not think professing American Christians have abandoned the solemn assembly because of its perpetual misuse and abuse. More accurately, by downgrading God to a being scarcely a half inch bigger than man, humans have assumed gigantic proportions in their own eyes. Unschooled in the long history of the Christian church in America, many have become indifferent, feeling at liberty to and indifferent neglect major portions of Scripture. Consequently, the solemn assembly has fallen into oblivion at the hands of a proud people who refuse to acknowledge their own corporate sins – especially those “sins of the heart—” unbelief, arrogance, and rebellion. Such factors have created a nation ripe for destruction.
Getting the Foundation in Place
One’s view of the solemn assembly will be affected to a large degree by his understanding of the righteous judgment of God. As noted above, all Old Testament revivals have been preceded by some form of judgment. It must be understood that these righteous judgments are the result of unconfessed corporate sins. When the people of God sin against Him and do not repent, they
That there has been a very great increase of immorality, and
As soon as this increase in immorality/spiritual decline becomes evident, the Church that is biblically sound and spiritually alive will not foolishly blame the
1. A Solemn Assembly is to be a time when all regular daily work is set aside. This is clearly the instruction given in Leviticus 23:34-36, Numbers 29:35 and Deuteronomy 16:8. While Scripture is certainly in favor of hard work, the Word also makes it absolutely clear that all work must be subjugated to spiritual concerns. Just as man is to
2. Solemn Assembly is a time when the entire body of people affected by the righteous judgment
3. A Solemn Assembly is a time of fasting. Rather than wondering about the physical significance of fasting, professed Christians would do well to recognize its immediate spiritual importance. Ordinarily, we realize that the proper care of our bodies is a responsibility we assume before God. But there are issues vastly more important than the care of our bodies. When a believing people undertake a fast, they are acknowledging before God that urgent spiritual concerns take precedence over the normal concerns of the physical. In short, fasting is an outward means of demonstrating inward humility before God, acknowledging the discovery of all sins that have provoked His judgment. The believer who fasts in a solemn assembly demonstrates by their actions that they are putting away these
4. A Solemn Assembly is a time for sacrifice. Numerous Old Testament passages dealing with the Solemn Assembly make clear that solemn assemblies involve some form of sacrifice (see Numbers 10:10 and 15:3). One of the greatest blessings God has given to mankind is the gift of time. What sacrifice could be more significant than the sacrifice of our own time, in order to participate fully in God’s commanded method of reversing a righteous judgment against a church or nation?
5. A Solemn Assembly is of protracted duration. While most professing Christians may content themselves with hour-long “worship” services, the call to a Solemn Assembly is a call to spend an extended period of time seeking God’s face. In many of the passages where Solemn Assemblies are described, the assembly met for days on end – even for seven or fourteen days. On other occasions, however, it would appear that a full day was sufficient. In 2 Chronicles 7:8-9, it is noted that the feast was observed for seven days and then on the eighth day a Solemn Assembly was observed. It was at this Solemn Assembly that God said, “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (verse 14). No Solemn Assembly would be worth the name if it did not allow at least an entire day for the great task of humiliation, prayer, repentance
6. A Solemn Assembly is a season of earnest prayer. Churches
7. A Solemn Assembly is a mandatory occasion for corporate repentance. In preparation for the people to repent, the
8. A Solemn Assembly includes preaching the Word. It provides the opportunity for Spirit-led, anointed preaching, and for searching the truths of Scripture to deeply touch afresh the lives of God’s people. In Solemn Assemblies where a single day is allocated, it is not uncommon to have at least one or possibly two such sermons preached. These messages should be specifically aimed at the issues of the day, at assisting the people to
9. A Solemn Assembly involves the family unit. It is a most wonderful opportunity for children to see their parents and elders demonstrating Christianity at its deepest corporate levels. Since the entire family is summoned, the youth and older children have the special privilege of being touched by the solemnities of the day. In some churches, outside
10. A Solemn Assembly is about hearing from God. A solemn assembly opens the way for God to respond to His people at a level He cannot possibly do when they are living in neglect of His Word or in direct violation of His commandments. Historically, God has responded to Solemn Assemblies by sending fresh waves of blessings, both into the personal and corporate lives of believers, and, on some occasions, glorious revivals have even resulted.
(an excerpt from The Solemn Assembly by Richard Owen Roberts)