Letter to the Brethren: April 25, 2019

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings during the Days of Unleavened Bread for 2019 which run until sunset April 26th this year.

We have back-to-back holy days (Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread and the weekly Sabbath), and yes, we have suggested services for both days.

We sent this Letter to the Brethren out a bit earlier than usual so that those living in the east will get it in time for services in their areas.

We hope and pray you have striven to not only avoid physical leaven, but the spiritual leaven of hypocrisy during these days.

Passover in India, Kenya, and Tanzania

Last Friday, Deacon K. Sani Mao reported:

There were 41 baptized members last evening as we gathered for the Passover. We expect some 60 to 70 at the ULB service tomorrow morning.


Passover 2019 in India

This is the first Passover that this group has had since becoming part of the Continuing Church of God and they look to be growing.

Evangelist Evans Ochieng reported:

The Passover went well in every congregations in Kenya and Tanzania according to the reports that I received from all the congregations in Kenya and Tanzania.

Glad to hear that all seemingly went well.

ULB in New Brunswick and Mexico

Herb Haddon sent the following in from New Brunswick, Canada:


1 UB in New Brunswick

Dr. Thiel

Our happy little throng in New Brunswick celebrating the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

Herb

Although I speak with Herb Haddon fairly regularly, my wife and I have not seen any in New Brunswick since the Feast of Tabernacles in 2015. But we do expect to see them at the Feast of Tabernacles in 2019.

Here is a report from Ishamel Jiminez from Tabasco, Mexico:

It is a pleasure to address you and tell you that the beginning of the holidays was wonderful, it was a Passover with 4 baptized members, and for the night to be remembered the church met and each one took part of the dinner and it was wonderful to enjoy together and in harmony 33 people, and the same for the weekly and annual Saturday unleavened bread, the service was performed and then we had a meal all together in the church, we wish to go ahead in everything and God blessing them, waiting for the plans that you have towards us.

Great to hear from them and all went well.

The Days of Unleavened Bread

Various ones outside the Church of God wonder if the Days of Unleavened Bread were done away.

Consider something that Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

Not Abolished With Old Covenant

Observe that the Days of Unleavened Bread are a PERIOD, having two high-day SABBATHS. And this PERIOD is established FOREVER — while the Israelites were still in Egypt — before the ceremonial law of Moses had been given or written — before God even proposed the old covenant! What the law of Moses, or the old covenant, did not bring or institute, THEY CANNOT TAKE AWAY! In Fenton’s translation, the 17th verse is translated: “consequently KEEP THIS PERIOD AS AN EVER-LASTING INSTITUTION.” The whole period is included.

This ALONE ought to prove that the HOLY DAYS — and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread — are binding today, and FOREVER!

Now, if these texts apply to the 15th, not the 14th, as they assuredly do, and is here conclusively proved, then is the Passover established FOR-EVER? Indeed it is! But THESE texts above refer to the FEAST and not the PASSOVER. In the paragraph beginning Exodus 12:21 the PASSOVER is again referred to, and verse 24 establishes it FOREVER! …

To observe Passover alone, and then fail to observe the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, means, in the symbolism, to accept Christ’s blood, and to continue on in sin — to say …  the LAW is done away, we are under grace, meaning license, to continue in sin!

The seven Days of Unleavened Bread picture the keeping of the Commandments, which is another way of saying the putting away of sin. (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

Early Christians did not believe that the Days of Unleavened Bread were done away. The Apostle Paul endorsed properly keeping the Feast with unleavened bread (1 Corinthians 5:7).  He and others still marked/observed it and observed it outside of Judea:

6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. (Acts 20:6)

If Christians were not keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Holy Spirit would not have inspired this to be recorded like this. Now Philippi was a Gentile town in Macedonia. It was ruled by the Romans–thus keeping these days was NOT limited to a place like Jerusalem. In at least two places in the New Testament, we see that the Days of Unleavened Bread were to be kept in Gentile areas (1 Corinthians 5:7; Acts 20:6).

Consider also the statement “it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread” in Acts 12:3. Since the Gentile author Luke addressed the Book of Acts to another Gentile (Acts 1:1), why would he have mentioned these days if they were unknown to the Gentile Christians and had ceased to exist?

Perhaps it should be added that the spurious 3rd century Epistula Apostolorum claims Jesus taught His followers should keep the Days of Unleavened Bread until He returns. While we cannot rely on that document, it does indicate that some were keeping those days into the 3rd century.

Information from outside the Bible reports that the Apostles Paul, John, and Philip, along with Polycarp of Smyrna and other early Christians, kept the Days of Unleavened bread (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2).

Despite this, Canon 38 of the Council of Laodicea of the fourth century (c. 363-364) prohibited the observation of the Days of Unleavened bread. Those in the Church of God could not comply with many decrees of this Council which went against the Bible and the early traditions of the faithful.

Therefore, various Sabbath-keepers continued to keep the Days of Unleavened bread afterwards (Pritz. Nazarene Jewish Christianity.  Magnas, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 35; Jerome as cited in Pritz, pp. 58,62,63; Ephiphanius. The Panarion of Ephiphanius of Salamis: Book II (sects 1-46) Section 1, Chapter 19, 7-9. BRILL, 1987, p. 117-119) and into the Middle Ages and beyond (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62; Falconer John. A Breife Refutation of John Traskes Judaical and Novel Fantyces, pp. 57-58, as cited in Ball B.  Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009, pp. 49-50).

As we in the Continuing Church of God do not accept that the Council of Laodicea spoke for the true Christian church, we still keep the Days of Unleavened Bread. We eat some unleavened bread for each of the seven days as the Bible admonishes (Exodus 12:15; 13:6; 23:15; 34:18). This bread can be made of different grains/nuts—the use of wheat is not biblically-required.

The Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread

The Bible teaches:

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you. (Exodus 12:15-16)

The seventh day is the 21st of Nisan/Abib.

On the 21st of Nisan/Abib, God had the Red Sea parted (Exodus 14:20-21). God called for the children of Israel to cross on dry land under the cloud (Exodus 14:20-22,29), where they were symbolically baptized (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). They endured their fleeing with their enemies behind them and the waters stopped on both sides of them. During the daylight hours of the 21st, the Egyptian army pursued them and was destroyed (Exodus 14:23-28).

Understand that it was on the Seventh Day of Unleavened bread that the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea and the army of Egypt was destroyed. The Seventh, the last, Day of Unleavened Bread pictures fully leaving the dead works of sin behind.

A Christian sequence of events starts from our acceptance of Jesus, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38-39). Christians endure to the end (Matthew 10:22) attaining to the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6) to be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

The crossing of the Red Sea may have other lessons for Philadelphian Christians. As they flee to a place in the wilderness just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, Satan will be angry with them (Revelation 12:13-16). During the time the Philadelphian Christians are being protected (Revelation 3:7-13), bad things will be happening in the world around them (Revelation 12:14-17). They will often need to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Furthermore, the New Testament also seemingly shows a fulfillment of the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the destruction of the world’s armies who will fight against the returning Jesus (Revelation 19:19-21).

The Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread helps picture the end of the world’s systems and the emergence of the Kingdom of God.

Facebook Promotions

Andre Nelson sent in the following report on his Facebook promotion of our latest animation and a sermonette:

Recent CCOG Ads:

“Did Peter, Paul, & John keep Easter Sunday or Passover?”:

  • # of Views: This Ad received in total 18,929 views from advertising, sharing and regular posting.

  • # of People Reached: Approximately 206,576 people saw the Ad.

“Night to be Observed”:

  • # of Views: This Ad received in total 30,488 views from advertising, sharing and regular posting.

  • # of People Reached: Approximately 255,316 people saw the Ad.

YouTube, itself, shows less than 1,000 total views for the two combined as it does not recognize the Facebook views. So, we reach a lot people with our videos, beyond what YouTube records.

World News Items

A series of terrorist attacks, including by ‘suicide bombers’ hit the island nation of Sri Lanka on Sunday. The terrorists seemed targeted to kill many as several hit at churches who were holding Easter Sunday services. Some high-end hotels were also bombed. While Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, it has significant numbers of Hindus and Muslims. At first, Sri Lankan government officials blamed “religious extremists” for the attacks without identifying them (see Terrorists strike churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing hundreds; What were ‘St. Thomas Christians’?). Later, they specified an Islamic group’s involvement (see Death count rises in Sri Lanka, Jihadist group blamed). Sri Lanka, and the rest of the world, needs the Kingdom of God.

It has been reported that Germany is looking at acquiring bombers that will be able to carry nuclear bombs (see ‘Germany wants nuclear bombers’). It is my view that Europe will likely attack the USA and/or the UK under the guise of a NATO (or some other defense treaty) exercise and use nuclear bombers. It will also willingly use American nuclear bombs against the USA. Having nuclear bombers will make this possible. The Bible clearly teaches that the strongest military power–which at this time is the USA–will be defeated by a European power in Daniel 11:39. Various ones in Europe are taking steps that will lead to the fulfillment of that and other biblical prophecies.

A major international conference related to China’s ‘Silk Road’ project was to begin today (see ‘China’s Belt and Road Continues to Win Over Europe While Technocrats Scream and Howl’). While the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative does not get much media attention in the USA, it looks to have major prophetic implications by making ‘roads’ (some are maritime ports) that some may later use to gather in Armageddon (watch also Is China paving roads to Armageddon?) as well as give the Europeans’ better access to markets in Asia and Africa (watch China’s Silk Road and Babylon the Great).

While we realize that based upon biblical prophecies such as Daniel 11:39 and Habakkuk 2:6-8, that the time will come when the USA will no longer dominate the world, more secular sources are pointing out that major players in the world, like the European Union, Russia, and China are intent on eliminating US dollar dominance (see JR: Dollar Dominance Under Multiple, Converging Threats). Although relatively few in the USA believe it will happen, biblical prophecies show that it will and there are many world events are moving in that direction.

Suggested Holy Day Service

Here is a suggested Holy Day service for this week for our scattered brethren:

For those who wish another, here is a second service suggestion:

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week for our scattered brethren:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Nuclear bombers for the Beast?
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Exodus 26-32: Tabernacle, Golden Calf, and Book of Life. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

The prophet Micah wrote:

2 Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
(Micah 4:2)

Brethren, as we complete the Days of Unleavened Bread and keep this Sabbath, let us go forth as shining examples of those who strive to live according to the law of God and the word of the Lord.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer