Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities Region of California.

The Spring Holy Days will begin in several days.

Passover, which is for baptized members only, should be observed shortly after sunset on the Roman calendar date of April 7th. The Night to Be Observed begins at sunset on the Roman calendar date of April 8th and starts the Days of Unleavened Bread? which lasts until sunset April 15, 2020. COVID-19 is causing complications for us in various parts of the world.

Anyway, as far as how to keep these days, we have long had an article available: Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.

For a step-by-step video for baptized Christians to keep Passover in English after sunset on April 7th, check out the following: CCOG Passover Service.

Here is a link to a video many people may wish to watch after sunset the 8th of April: Night to Be Observed.

Services and COVID-19

Government threats related to COVID-19 have affected religious gatherings around the world.

In Kenya, the government has threatened jail for such gatherings.

Despite that, last week, services were held in our largest Kenyan congregation without government interference. But we are looking on using radio there so that people will not need to gather in large groups.

In Malawi, since that government allows up to 50 people to gather together, we have simply had multiple services on the Sabbath to essentially be able to comply.

In Asia, services were actually conducted over cellular telephone using WhatsApp last Sabbath.

In general, however, we are advising that people meet in their homes.

As far as illnesses go, our policy has always been, and still remains, if you have a contagious disease, you should not attend church services.

In this time of COVID-19, if you think you may have a fever, you should not attend services. If you are not feeling well, please stay home. Do not go to someone else’s home when ill.

As far as ‘social distancing’ goes, church leaders in their respective countries and local groups need to decide the relative safety of holding Sabbath services (though in some places landlords and/or government officials may be placing their own limits–the early Christian church met in houses and that is one thing that can be done when meeting halls are not around and/or there are governmental restrictions) as not only are they closer to their situation, they can react to local conditions in a timely way.

If any person is not comfortable being in a group at this time, they may wish to stay in their own home. And, of course, we do have services available online which is what most native English speakers we have are doing already.

While we cooperate with government authorities when we can, we do not believe that government authorities should interfere with the ability to hold holy convocations or other biblical observances.

As the Apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Hence, yes, we believe that true Christians should, for example, keep Passover next week. Though in most areas, it may be wise to have only very small groups meeting together.

Leaven and Unleavened Bread

Prior to sunset, April 8, 2020, all leaven needs to be removed from our homes.

Why?

In the world, sin and hypocrisy is prevalent.

Likewise, in the world leaven is all around.

Not only is it in baked goods, it is now in many other products. Leaven spreads and most of the items it becomes part of crumble. In the Bible, leaven normally pictures malice, wickedness, and hypocrisy (1 Corinthians 5:8; Matthew 16:6,12; Luke 12:1), while unleavened bread pictures sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8).

The Old Testament states, “no leaven shall be seen among you” (Deuteronomy 16:3), whereas the New Testament states, “His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) and that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

Leaven pictures the teachings of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6,12; Luke 12:1) whom Jesus called hypocrites (Matthew 15:7; 23:23,25,27,29). They claimed to be God’s leaders and teachers of His way, but they were often teaching traditions of men that Jesus condemned (Matthew 15:1-9).

Notice the following:

1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:1-2)

According to Strong’s, the Greek word Jesus used that was translated as hypocrite means, “an actor under an assumed role.” The Pharisees were false religious leaders who pretended to keep God’s law, but really did not (Matthew 15:3-9)–they were bearing false witness and they endorsed their false traditions.

Do you have any false traditions you follow? False traditions from other religions or even your own excuses as to why you cannot change and become ‘de-leavened’ is certain areas? Examine yourself.

Notice that leaven is a symbol of false doctrine and hypocrisy that Jesus warned against:

6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”

8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6-12)

Consider also something else that Jesus taught:

13 ‘Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye shut up the reign of the heavens before men, for ye do not go in, nor those going in do ye suffer to enter. 14 ‘Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye eat up the houses of the widows, and for a pretence make long prayers, because of this ye shall receive more abundant judgment. 15 ‘Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye go round the sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and whenever it may happen — ye make him a son of gehenna twofold more than yourselves. (Matthew 23:13-15, Young’s Literal Translation)

It is unrepentant sinners that will experience the second death with Gehenna fire (see also The Second Death). Leaven, in those passages, is being used by Jesus to represent the seriousness of sin.

Jesus further described the Pharisees by saying, “you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28).

Jesus thus tied leaven (the Pharisees’ sinful teachings, Matthew 16:12) to false religion (being hypocrites) and sin (since “sin is lawlessness,” 1 John 3:4).

Jesus also tied the Pharisees’ problems in with pride (cf. Mark 7:5-23):

14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:14-23)

Pride puffs people up. The Apostle Paul specifically used the expression, “puffed up with pride” (1 Timothy 3:6) when he warned against a novice becoming an ordained church leader. He also warned that instead of mourning (repenting) the Corinthian Christians were wrongly puffed up (1 Corinthians 5:2).

Leaven puffs bread up. Pride puffs people up.

The pride of many prevents many from keeping God’s Holy Days. They, instead of the Church of God, are judges on the Holy Days. They do not understand the following (which is often mistranslated, so a more accurate translation of this is shown below):

16. Therefore, do not allow anyone to judge you in eating or in drinking, or with regard to a festival, or new moon, or the Sabbaths, 17. Which are a foreshadow of the things that are coming, but the body of Christ. 18. Do not allow anyone to defraud you of the prize by doing his will in selfabasement and the worship of angels, intruding into things that he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his own carnal mind 19. And not holding fast to the Head, from Whom all the body, being supplied and knit together by the joints and bands, is increasing with the increase of God. (Colossians 2:16-19, A Faithful Version)

16 Therefore let NO MAN JUDGE YOU in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; 17 for those things are a shadow of the things to come, BUT THE BODY OF CHRIST. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:16-19, NKJV modified by Dr. Thiel to better align with the actual biblical text)

So, people who are spiritually puffed up are unwilling to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread (more on translations of Colossians and other information about God’s Holy Days can be found in the free online booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

Physically, leavening agents include yeast, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and baking powder. The following lists may be of assistance:

The Following is a List of Leavening Agents

Active Dried Yeast
Ammonium Carbonate – also known as “Hartshorn”
Ammonium Bicarbonate
Baker’s Ammonia
Baker’s Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda
Dipotassium Carbonate
Potassium Bicarbonate
Potassium Carbonate
Sodium Bicarbonate – also known as “Saleratus”
Sourdough Starter Yeast
Monocalcium Phosphates (Ca(H2PO4)2)

The Following Are “Not” Leavening Agents

Autolyzed Yeast
Brewer’s Yeast
Corn Starch
Egg Whites
Polysorbate 60
Potassium Bitartrate (Cream of Tartar)
Sorbitan Monosterate
Tartrate powder
Torula Yeast
Yeast Extract

Physically, leavening agents “puff up” grain containing products and make them look larger than they would be otherwise.

People often want to look more influential, etc. than they really are.

Notice what God really wants:

8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Satan’s problem was that he refused to walk humbly. He was the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14–he had it all–but his pride got in the way (cf. Ezekiel 28:17). Humans often let their pride get in the way (Proverbs 29:33–and pride puffs people up (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6). Most will not do what God says as their pride and human reasoning, influenced by Satan, gets in the way.

Consider also:

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he. (Proverbs 16:18-20)

Do you really trust God and not yourself? Can you humble yourself and really change your faults? You can with Jesus’ help (Philippians 4:13).

Do not be among those to whom God says:

3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, (Obadiah 3)

Humble yourself and change.

23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility. (Proverbs 18:12)

33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility. (Proverbs 15:33)

God wants you to forsake pride, accept His teachings, be humble, and THEN He will grant honor. Many do not have the faith to truly humble themselves as the above suggests:

8 Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

Many claim to believe in Jesus, but are unwilling to truly humble themselves before God–such humility takes faith.

Consider also that the Bible teaches:

15 On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses (Exodus 12:15).

Those who attempt to obey God follow this and remove all leavened breads, crackers, etc. from their houses, clean out their toasters, and otherwise remove physical leaven from their lives just prior to the start of the Days of Unleavened Bread each year. Most do not have the humilty to do this, and many that do seem to let pride get in the way of removing their own sins.

We are always to be examining ourselves.

Since the physical removal of leaven involves work, and the term for day in Exodus 12:15 is Miyowm (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.) which is different than the Hebrew term for day, Uwbayowm, in Exodus 12:16 (despite the fact that Strong’s uses the same number, 3117, for both words)–this suggests that the removal should be done before the start of the first day, which is a holy convocation.

And this is consistent with other statements in Exodus such as for all of the “seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses” (Exodus 12:19) and “Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters” (Exodus 13:7). The only way for no leavened bread to be seen in one’s quarters for those seven days is if it is gone prior to the start of those seven days.

Here is some information on unleavened bread that provides details that many have wondered about:

Just what is leaven? Which foods are to be avoided during the Days of Unleavened Bread?

God uses leaven to typify sin (I Cor. 5:1-8). Sin puffs up just as physical leaven puffs up (verse 2). Unleavened bread is a type of an unleavened life.

To understand exactly what is included in the leaven we are to avoid during the Days of Unleavened Bread, let’s first notice some of the Hebrew words translated “leaven” in the Old Testament. Mechametz refers to leavening agents — substances used to puff up or produce fermentation, causing dough to rise. Yeast, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and baking powder are such substances.

Another Hebrew word rendered “leaven” is seh-ohd. This literally means “sourdough,” a naturally fermenting yeasty batter that was the most common leaven of the Israelites, and which is still often used to cause baked goods to rise and become light in texture.

These leavening agents cause foods to become chametz. This Hebrew word is translated “that which is leavened” in Exodus 12:19. It is also translated “leavened bread” in a number of places. It refers to all foods that leaven has caused to rise, including bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies, some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also make use of leavening agents. If you are in doubt about any product, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper.

Instead of eating leavened bread, we have the positive command to eat unleavened bread (Ex. 13:6). We may also eat unleavened pies and cereals together with all the meats, drinks, fruits and vegetables we normally consume.

Most stores carry a variety of unleavened breads. Always check the ingredients on the label to be sure. Or, you may enjoy making your own.

Some have asked about using egg whites in baking. Egg whites should not be used as a substitute for leaven, in a deliberate attempt to circumvent the spirit-of the law. On the other hand, beaten egg whites used in meringue on pies and other desserts do not constitute a leavening agent. They have not been used to puff up any product baked of flour or meal.

Others have noticed the term “yeast extracts” on the labels of certain foods and have wondered if they should be avoided. These are derivatives of yeast that cannot be used as leavening agents. It would therefore be permissible to use a product containing yeast extracts provided, of course, that it does not contain any actual leavening agent. Some people also buy brewer’s yeast from health food stores. This form of yeast is totally dead and should not therefore be considered as leaven. It should also be mentioned that cream of tartar, by itself, is not a leavening agent either.

Occasionally a question comes up about beer or other fermented drinks. There is nothing in the entirety of Scripture to indicate any restriction on the kind of beverages we consume during the Days of Unleavened Bread — no mention of these being the “Days of Unleavened Beverages.” The fact is that in all cases where the Days of Unleavened Bread are mentioned, the reference is always to the example set by the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt without any leaven in their dough (see Exodus 12:39). There is no reference to the invisible yeast or result of it in either beer, wine or other beverages.

Naturally fermented wine was customarily consumed by the Israelites at God’s festivals. If God had intended a ban on fermented beverages during the Days of Unleavened Bread, it would undoubtedly have been mentioned. In fact, such mention would have been necessary. Yet the command adds no more than is found in Exodus 13:6-7: “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread … and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.”

If you are unsure about any particular food and unable to find the answer, you should refrain from eating it, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).

If partway through the Feast you find some leavened product that somehow escaped your scrutiny, put it off your property immediately. This is a type of those hidden sins that we don’t always discover upon conversion. We must keep on putting out sin (leaven) until the process is complete, as is signified by the very fact that there are seven — the complete number — Days of Unleavened Bread.

God intended the Days of Unleavened Bread to be a type to remind us that we are to be unleavening our lives spiritually by putting out the spiritual leaven of sin — not for seven days only, but throughout our entire lives! “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:8). (Questions and Answers. Good News magazine, March 1981)

Unleavened bread is bread made without leavening agents. Many types of flatbreads, including corn tortillas, are often a type of unleavened bread.

Unleavened bread does NOT need to be blessed by a Jewish rabbi nor follow Jewish rules that are found outside of scripture. And for those with dietary concerns, only a very small amount needs to be eaten each day. But eating some every day helps us to remember these days and look to remove sin from our lives.

Now, Christians realize that we are to examine ourselves prior to taking Passover:

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

But our examination is not to be limited to the time just prior to Passover. Notice something else that the Apostle Paul wrote:

5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you are disqualified (2 Corinthians 13:5).

During the Days of Unleavened Bread, as we avoid consumption of leaven and eat unleavened bread we should continue the examination of judgment of ourselves:

31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Corinthians 11:31)

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

We need to use God’s standards, but many excuse themselves and use the wrong standard:

7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed — 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:7-12)

We need to use God’s standards, and not our lowered ones, to examine and judge ourselves. The Days of Unleavened Bread is a good time to do that.

If everything in your life is not going as you hoped, perhaps you are not looking hard enough. Some, intentionally or unintentionally, seem to blame God. But that is not what Christians should do:

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!

15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

25 As He says also in Hosea:

“I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” 26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,’ You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”

29 And as Isaiah said before:

“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:14-29)

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. After we repent, we still have not attained perfection, and still need to examine ourselves.

God gives you seven days of unleavened bread for you to more thoroughly look to put spiritual leaven, sin and hypocrisy, out of your life.

As far as unleavened bread itself goes, in different cultures, bread may be made of various grains or other vegetable products. You do NOT have to have matzos every day.

Unleavened Bread Recipes

There are many types of unleavened bread. You can make some if you wish.

My wife Joyce tends to bake more during the Days of Unleavened Bread than she normally does the rest of the year.

Here is one of several recipes that she thought she would share:

Lemon Ricotta Bars

For the Crust:

2 cups organic flour
3/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks (or 12 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter

For the Filling:

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup organic sugar
5 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup organic flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
powdered sugar for dusting the finished bars

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Make the crust:  Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  (You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.)  Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then set aside to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

3.  Make the filling:  In a blender, combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, flour, lemon zest, and salt.  Blend until smooth, then taste to make sure it is sweet enough for you.  If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more sugar.

4.  Pour the filling over the baked crust and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the filling is just set.  Allow the bars to cool, then cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Store leftovers in a sealed contained in the refrigerator.  Yields 20-40 bars depending on size.

Here is another:

Sesame Crackers

2 cups unbleached organic flour
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Mix together flours, cut in butter.  Add milk, honey and sesame seeds to make stiff dough.  Roll thin and cut with knife into squares.  Placed on greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with milk and prick with fork.  Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes or until desired brownness.

Here is a third:

Caramel Toffee Bars

1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar, packed
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add yolk and vanilla to creamed mixture.  Mix flour into the mixture.  Mix in walnuts if desired.  Put into 13 x 9 inch pan.  Pat out in pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 8-12 oz. package of chocolate chips over top of crust.  As soon as it’s softened, spread over top and smooth out.

Here is a fourth:

Unleavened Bread

4 tablespoons honey
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups milk
6 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Blend honey, oil and milk.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Knead lightly.  Roll on floured board with rolling pin. Place on cookie sheet. Cut in squares.  Make a few holes in each piece with fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

There are other recipes. You can also see those received from Elder Alexsandar Veljic: Unleavened Bread recipes. This was also translated into Spanish as well: Recetas de Recuerdo.

Bible News Prophecy

The April – June 2020 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine has been printed and mailed to our nearly all of English-reading subscribers as well as Spanish-reading ones (Noticias de Profecía de la Biblia Abril-Junio 2020).

A reader found an error that we have fixed on the online version. In the article related to Acts 2:17-18, instead of saying “but at least once to a woman (Matthew 2:11-12),” this has been corrected to state “and possibly at least once to a woman (cf. Numbers 12:6; Judges 4:4-14).”

We apologize for the error, but corrected it as quickly as we could online.

World News Items

In the US, instead of a two-week ‘social distancing’ policy that was supposed to end Monday, the US added another month (see ‘In Turnaround, Trump Extends US Coronavirus Social-distance Guidelines Thru April 30’ ‘Coronavirus Stimulus Offered By House Financial Services Committee {Almost} Creates New Digital Dollar’ ‘666’). The economic costs to the US and many other parts of the world for this will be high.

Many in the US (see ‘US jobless claims hit 3.3 million, quadruple previous record;’ ‘Coronavirus causes gun sales surge amid fears of civil unrest;’ ‘Modeling study suggests 18 months of COVID-19 social distancing, much disruption’), Australia, and other parts of the world have lost jobs (see Forbes: Donald Trump And The Fed Are Destroying The U.S. Dollar; VOA: COVID-19 Crisis Could Cost Australia 1 Million Jobs).

Because of COVID-19 the Vatican told Roman Catholics that they do not have to go to a priest to confess their sins (see ‘Pope: Catholics may now Confess Directly to God without a Priest Present’). Of course, auricular confession to a priest was never a biblical requirement and is simply another of the non-biblical traditions Rome has pushed over the years.

Unclean meats and virus handling practices in China have been implicated as the cause of the current coronavirus (see “Tucker Carlson Airs Report Claiming Coronavirus ‘Probably Originated From A Laboratory In Wuhan’ ” Horseshoe Bats and Pangolins). The world is now paying a massive economic cost for its consumption of animal prohibited in scripture for human consumption (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14).

Over in Europe, Hungary has given what could be considered as dictatorial powers to its leader because of COVID-19, whereas Poland seems to be increasingly monitoring its citizens’ movements via their cellular telephones (see ‘Dr. Ron Paul hits nail on the head in no-nonsense coronavirus interview’ “EU Leaders Aghast As Hungary’s Orban Given Sweeping ‘Emergency Powers’ To Fight Coronavirus”). Yes, the time will come when European leaders will give their power to the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13). Seeing what we have seen with COVID-19 shows that this may be an easier development than many would seem to think.

While Iran and the USA battle the coronavirus, they continue to also antagonize one another (see VOA: Iran, US Heat Up War of Words on Iraq Despite Virus Pandemic; BIN: Will Iran’s Continued Lies Over Coronavirus Lead to Popular Unrest or Nuclear Breakout?). With sanctions, the drop in oil prices this year, civil discontent, and COVID-19, Iran’s leader may be getting more desperate. So desperate in fact, that Iran could move to fulfill prophecies related to an attack on Jerusalem in the relatively near future (cf. Isaiah 22:6-11). Once that happens, it looks to be a prelude leading to the temporal peace deal of Daniel 9:27.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 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: ‘Get Ready: The World is About to Need You’. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • 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: Really examine yourself before Passover. 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 (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.

Holy Day Services

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

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

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Brethren, despite COVID-19, purge out the old leaven, and let us keep the Feast!

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer