Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

Today is April 1st on the Roman calendar.

Many people call the first day of April, “April Fools’ Day.” Notice something about it:

Today is April 1 — April Fool’s Day, if you will…in more recent times it’s chock full of good-natured pranks. But watch out; any scams or pranks can end up being costly. Case in point: Back in 2005, KBDS-FM radio conducted an April Fool’s giveaway for a Hummer, but used a play on words to actually give away an R/C model of a Hummer. The winner, Shannon Castillo, was not amused. She filed suit for $60,000, the cost of a new Hummer.

Beware of tax-related fraud and scams

Have you ever pranked a coworker?

Implausible, unexpected event occurred, will have terrible business impact on you

With that in mind, it’ a good idea to be hypercritical of anything you read online today. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-57577203/beware-hoaxes-can-be-costly/

Do you know why April 1st is observed as April Fool’s Day by various ones in the world?

Here are a couple of accounts:

The origins of April Fools’ Day are shrouded in mystery, experts say.

The most popular theory is that France changed its calendar in the 1500s so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of the start of spring in late March or early April.

However word of the change traveled slowly, and many people in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring. These country dwellers became known as “April fools.”

Boese, who has studied the holiday’s origin, disagrees with that interpretation.

“[The French] theory is completely wrong, because the day that the French celebrated the beginning of the year legally was Easter day, so it never really was associated with April first,” he said… http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-april-fools.html

“April Fool’s Day. The first mention of this custom is a curt note in Aubrey: ‘Fooles holy day. We observe it on ye first of April. And so it is kept in Germany everywhere.’ ( Aubrey, 1686, 1880: 10). It must have reached England from Germany or France in the mid-17th century, and quickly became very popular under the name All Fools’ Day; 18th-century writers call it ‘universal’.” [English writer John Aubrey ?] – Oxford University Press 2000 http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O71-AprilFoolsDay.html

“There are several explanations for the origin of April Fools’ Day, but here is the most plausible one. April 1st was once New Year’s Day in France. In 1582, Pope Gregory declared the adoption of his Gregorian calendar to replace the Julian calendar and New Year’s Day was officially changed to January 1st. It took awhile for everyone in France to hear the news of this major change and others obstinately refused to accept the new calendar, so a lot of people continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on the first of April – earning them the name April fools. The April fools were subjected to ridicule and practical jokes and the tradition was born. The butts of these pranks were first called poisson d’avril or April fish because a young naive fish is easily caught. A common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke. This evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continues on the first day of April.” – Dictionary.com by Lexico Publishing Group http://dictionary.reference.com/features/aprilfools.html

So there are a few theories about where “April Fools’ Day” originated.

But, basically because the Roman calendar was adopted, those who had accepted the more traditional (and biblical) notion that the year began in the Spring were made fun of.

Depending on the year, the first day of the year that God is referring to comes in March or April in modern calendars.

The Bible also refers to the first month of the year with the name Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7). The Passover and biblical holy days (some of which are also this month, see Holy Day Calendar) are based upon the calendar that begins on Nisan 1.

Historically calling people fools because they did not change the biblical beginning of the year from Spring to January 1st, apparently did not help people realize when the BIBLE teaches that the year is supposed to begin.

However, unlike most others, now you know.

After sunset on March 13th was the first day of the year on God’s calendar in 2021.

When speaking of the Hebrew month of Abib/Nisan God declared:

2 This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).

But most people do not realize that is what God’s word taught. The first month of the sacred year has various biblical observances.

For example, for 2021, we are currently in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Passover and First Day of Unleavened Bread

We have received mostly positive reports about Passover and the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

Here is a photo and report from Serbia:

Dear Bob,

The Passover and the first Day of Unleavened Bread 2021, has been successfully celebrated in Serbia.

On the Passover night, 4 baptized members kept the Passover in Užice: Slobodan Balović, Filip Zlatković, Maja Zoranović and myself.  Nenad Mijatović, the prospective member from Užice was present and only observed the Passover proceedings.  The fifth baptized member, Aleksandar Stanisavljevic from Belgrade, was unable to come due to his recovery from COVID 19.  He will take the Passover on the occassion of the second Passover, for which purpose I will be travelling to Belgrade.

Since the Passover day also happened to be the weekly Sabbath, we did extensive work on Friday afternoon in terms of cooking.  Since Song of songs is traditionally read among the Jews on Passover, we also covered three chapters of that book.  In the evening we joyously kept the Night to Be Much Observed.  Our prospective member from Kraljevo area was about to join us, so 6 of us kept it in Užice, while we made Skype link with Aleksandar Stanisavljevic who kept it in Belgrade.  A highlight of this year’s Night to Be Observed was a date-based sweet dish called Egyptian charoset.  It is simple to make and it is also traditionally made among the Jewish people in remembrance of the Exodus.

All 7 of us held the services on the first Day of Unleavened Bread.  We were reminded of the greatest miracle – that God Eternal opened our minds to understand His Word and His Plan of salvation.

With best regards,Sasha and others

Here is a photo and report from Ethiopia:

Dear Dr.Bob:This is a picture of the day of (15Nisan/Abib) when we celebrated the feast of Unleavened bread.Second, A man wearing White clothes is a man who brought the cog7day in Ethiopia in the of 1999. This man was the one who baptised me and my wife  in a year 2001. We spent now one month keeping the Sabbath with him altogether the feasts of Passover and the days of Unleavened bread.Thanks,Koang deng.

From Kenya here are three reports:

receive greetings in Jesus Christ. We had a good Passover and have a blessed Days of Unleavened Bread.We will conclude on the following sabbath together with other local churches. The churches of the continuing church in the Rift valley did a good passover too. God bless you.Regards,

Pastor Sawek

dear bob thiel greeting you in jesus name! Passover went well here at bomet kenya 15 people attendet the congregation and we were blessed .

thank you tomas koskei

Pastor Dr Bob,Greetings from kenya.The Passover went well in kenya. I’ve recieved the reports from all congregations in kenya that the Passover was good.The problem in kenya now is covid 19. Most towns and capital of Nairobi are now under lockdown. Pray for kenya because it has become too much in kenya mostly in Nairobi.If incase the country get back to  normal then I’ll organise how I can visit Ethiopia after coming back from Malawi. Right now no move out of kenya. The situation is tough here.I’m planning to visit {a former UCG’ pastor’s} group and talk with the whole congregation again. … After that I’ll visit our congregations  of Muhuru and Gribe. I’m also planning to visit migori congregation to solve some matters there.I’ve tried to call Koang {Deng of Ethiopia} this morning to talk with him and that pastor but his phone is off–{so then I sent him an email}.

Evans.

So, yes, there are a couple of potential leaders (one in Kenya and one in Ethiopia) that have told us that they want to be with the CCOG that Evans Ochieng is hoping to meet with. But, yes, please “brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course” (2 Thessalonians 3:1, KJV). COVID-blamed restrictions have blocked our paths in some ways, so prayers are needed.

Over in the Philippines, our people were prohibited from moving from one province to another last week without having a COVID test because of a last minute government order. This prevented at least 9 from meeting with others as those 9 were not allowed to travel. Hopefully, this will change by Pentecost.

Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread

This coming Sabbath is the seventh day of Unleavened Bread.

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.

Were the Days of Unleavened Bread done away? Consider something else 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 (Synod of Laodicea. Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900). 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.

While some like to allegorize away many portions of the Bible, although there certainly is a spiritual understanding to the Holy Days, there is also a physical one. And the physical observance helps us to better understand the spiritual lessons.

The Days of Unleavened Bread help picture that we Christians are to strive to put sin and hypocrisy out of our lives (cf. Matthew 16:6-12; 23:28; Luke 12:1). By keeping them physically, it helps us to better learn the spiritual lessons that God intended.

Feast of Tabernacles 2021: USA Site and the Philippines

We have a contract to hold the Feast of Tabernacles at the Hilton Garden Inn Pigeon Forge, 2481 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

This is where we are to have daily services.

You do NOT need to stay at this hotel to attend the Feast of Tabernacles.

However, many will find that convenient.

Here is a booking link: https://www.hilton.com/en/book/reservation/deeplink/?&ctyhocn=PGFGIGI&groupCode=CCO&arrival=20210919&departure=20210929&cid=OM,WW,HILTONLINK,en,DirectLink&fromId=HILTONLINKDIRECT

If you prefer not using the internet to book, you are welcome to begin calling to make reservations (865-366-5250).  You will need to mention the group code “CCO” to receive the discounted rates.

Those who wish to stay there can make reservations now if you wish. We plan to provide more information in next week’s Letter to the Brethren.

In the Philippines, we have a hotel in mind, but because of government announcements this week, we are not sure travel across provincial lines will be allowed. Please pray that the government will lift travel and other restrictions related to our expected Feast of Tabernacles’ site there and elsewhere around the world.

Northeast Florida Services: April 10, 2021

Joyce, David, and I expect to be in northeast Florida on April 10, 2021.

We plan to hold services somewhere in the Jacksonville-St. Augustine area.

If you wish to attend, please send me an email: COGwriter@aol.com

Suggested Sabbath and Holy Day Services

Here is a suggested holy day service for the Last Day of Unleavened Bread for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

  • 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.
  • Offertory: Offertory: Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread.
  • 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. Get past the old and new leaven. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

For those interested in two services, here is a suggestion for the second service:

Christians have kept God’s Holy Days for nearly 2000 years.

We also have an offertory message in the Spanish language:

11:48

Mensaje de ofrenda de ultimo dia de Panes sin Levadura

Este es un ofertorio destinado a ser visto en el séptimo y último día de pan sin levadura. En él, el Dr. Thiel revisa las escrituras relacionadas con las ofrendas. También revisa las escrituras relacionadas con dar y la fe. ¿Tienes la fe para dar lo que puedas? ¿Crees que Dios bendice a los que dan, lo suficiente como para mejorar tú mismo? Este mensaje ofensivo cubre estos temas y más. Para enviar una oferta por correo, aquí está nuestra dirección en los Estados Unidos Continuing Church of God 1036 W. Grand Avenue Grover Beach, CA 93433 Para hacer donaciones en línea a través de PayPal, visite: https://www.ccog.org/donations/

We have other messages in the Spanish language–for more, check out the CDLIDDSermones channel.

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 (as my home one is) 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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.

World News Items

We continue to see violence in many parts of the world (e.g., see Myanmar, Indonesia, Virginia Beach, … Violence like the Days of Noah?). God’s word said that violence was a major issue in Noah’s time (Genesis 6:11-13) and Jesus said it would be like the days of Noah when He returned (Luke 17:22-26). While Jesus will not return for at least seven years from now, violence is an end time sign (Matthew 24:6-7; Revelation 6:3-4).

On Tuesday, 23 nations signed a global treaty for cooperation for future pandemic emergencies (see RT: WHO & leaders of 23 countries advocate global treaty to tackle future Covid-style health emergencies; CDC: Impending doom). Originally, this was proposed last year by EU Council President Charles Michel. Since the European Beast gains power near the opening of the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9 and the fourth seal (the fourth horseman) includes death by pandemic (Revelation 6:7-8), it seems that the European Beast leader will be involved in doing something that many in the world will believe will save lives associated with the ride of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse.

The German press ran an article by a Jewish rabbi who was concerned that EU nation regulations may force practicing Jews out of Europe (see Jews and Muslims being pushed out of Europe; Christians to be pushed out of the USA?). Christians need to understand that the more faithful will leave, or be pushed out, of places like the USA and Europe prior to the start of the Great Tribulation. Various regulatory moves in the USA and EU are moving towards that already. The end is not yet (Matthew 24:6b), but is getting closer.

In the USA, its president yesterday issued a proclamation in honor of “Trans Visibility Day” where he praised that abomination (see Joe Biden issues proclamation for ‘Trans Visibility Day’). Such abominations (cf. Deuteronomy 22:5) will be factors in the punishment and fall of the USA (cf. Jeremiah 6:15; Romans 1:18-32).

Concluding Comments

Jesus said:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Brethren, the seven days of unleavened bread picture putting sin out as we strive for the perfection that Jesus told us to seek to attain.

That perfection, that purity, is not limited to eliminating sin, but also to loving others. Including those that hate us.

Do not forget that “the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer