Possibly from the time of Noah or even earlier — and certainly from the time of Moses — this rule of revival has been recognised in Holy Scripture.3 The New Testament too records this.4
Here, the focus was and is on Pentecost Sunday itself. For it was then that the Church and the world both saw that Christ, the ascended Son of man, had indeed assumed His heavenly session -at His coronation. Here on Earth, the irrebuttable evidences of that cosmic rule were clearly demonstrated in the power of Christ's Spirit exactly fifty days after Calvary.5
Subsequent anniversaries of that demonstration were, ere long, called White Sundays – depicting fields white to be harvested. They were named White Sundays or Whitsuntides, because of the Early Church's soon-established practice of wearing white at those annual commemorations of the fruitful feast of Pentecost.6 See Rev. Professor Dr. Otto Zoeckler's great article Pentecost — in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge.7
Thus, in the Early Christian Church, each year during the 'merry month of May' — there was a ten-days-long anniversary of the triumphs of our ascended Christ. This commemorated those unique events which had occurred once and for all — between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday itself. The annual anniversary was called White Sunday Time — an expression soon shortened to Whitsuntide.
Indeed, in the northern hemisphere — where by far the majority of the world's peoples have always lived — this is the time farmers sow their seed. Furthermore, it is done with the expectation — that the fields will soon be "white" and "all ready to harvest."8
Whitsuntides, then, are the subsequent anniversaries of that (ten-days-long) unique Feast of Pentecost which commenced immediately after Our Lord's ascension into Heaven. That occurred precisely forty days after Calvary, as described in the first two chapters of the book of Acts. At that first and unique New Testament Feast of Pentecost, the Church grew massively.9 Thereafter,
– 7 –
that growth was steadily augmented10 in the Apostolic Church.11
That growth — especially annually at Whitsuntides — was sustained. Year after year, it continued — also in the early centuries of the Patristic Church. On this, see: Tertullian; Hippolytus; Origen; Eusebius; Athanasius; the Apostolic Constitutions; Jerome; Chrysostom; Augustine; and Leo the Great. Sadly, however, during the mediochre Middle Ages, the Church lapsed into stagnation.
Christianity only really revived, with the arrival of Calvin –alias 'The Theologian of the Holy Spirit' — at the time of the Protestant Reformation. On this, see especially our two monographs — (1) John Calvin and the Infilling with the Holy Ghost; and (2) Rev. Dr. Andrew Murray — was he a Calvinist, or a Pentecostalist?
It was particularly that later Calvinist, Rev. Dr. Andrew Murray, who recognised the abiding indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the daily life of the Christian. From 1860 onward, Murray then resurrected the discontinued 'Annual Harvest' — as the Apostolic Church's ten-day Pentecost Feast.
That 'resurrection' is a thrilling story. For it gave birth to 140 years of still-continuing annual revivals — from east to west, across a Continent!
Remarkably, it pleased God to 'resurrect' His Pentecost Feasts precisely in the southern hemisphere — where the seasons are reversed, and where few people live. In that 'Deep South' –Christmases can never be white. Yet all southern Pentecost Feasts should, and indeed could, be as 'white' for the harvest as were the Early Church's annual Whitsuntides themselves!
To demonstrate the truth of this, the following suggestions are now being proposed by me. First, prayerfully start reading only the latter part of this book — commencing on page 33, at the heading: The Course of the 1860 Whitsuntide Holy Ghost Revival. Second, prayerfully revise and study the last three sections — Noted Australians Evaluate South African Whitsuntide Feasts (on pp. 48-50); the Summary of Holy Harvests: Annual Revivals At Whitsuntide (on pp. 50-52); and Conclusion: How to Harvest a Holy Spirit Revival! (on pp. 52-55). Next, prayerfully re-read the whole book right through from the very beginning. Then finally, sincerely ask Almighty God to stir us all up, to prevailing prayer — until He visits us with times of refreshing! Acts 3:19.