Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

The Spring Holy Day season is upon us.

Passover and the Night to be Observed went fine here and elsewhere in the USA, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Serbia from reports we received.

Here is a report from Kenya we received today:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Kenya.
I’ve received reports from all our congregations in Kenya that the Passover went well in every congregation.
Also in Ndhiwa it was well done and Sabbath of unleavened bread.
Brethren are still safe from corona virus. We have not get any report from any congregation. We praying for the protection of the ALMIGHTY GOD.
The corona case in Kenya has risen today upto 184. Death 7 recovered 12.
Put us in your daily prayers. …
Evans

Here is a photo from Ethiopia we received today:


Ethiopia Passover 2020

Today is the first day of Unleavened Bread. The Days of Unleavened Bread last until sunset April 15, 2020. Here is a photo from Ethiopia we received today:


First Day of Unleavened Bread service, Ethiopia

For those wondering what it and is not considered to be leavening agents, 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”
Sodium Phosphate
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. Note: Someone asked me about Sodium Phosphate several days ago as it was not in the list we published last week. Since Sodium Phosphate can be used as a leavening agent, we consider it to be leaven.

Done Away or Kept?

Were the Days of Unleavened Bread done away? Consider something else that Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

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 FOREVER? 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.

(It perhaps should be mentioned that one can eat foods other than only unleavened bread during this Feast, it is just that no leavened breads are to be eaten. Also, unlike Passover, the first and last Day of Unleavened Bread are days, like the weekly Sabbath, that one is not to work.)

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.

The Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread

On the 21st of Nisan/Abib, God had the Red Sea parted (Exodus 14:20-21). This year, that date runs from sunset on the 14th through sunset on the 15th.

In Old Testament times, 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.

Food Support for Rift Valley

Pastor Tiongik sent the following:

Receive greetings. We all are greatly thankful. We received the money without any delay nor problem. We had requested to use it to help brethren who may be greatly affected by the pandemic and we may not use it for any other construction projects.
We will use as you instructed for the specific churches of Takitech, Chilani, Motosiet and Kabolecho.
We are to begin this work in this week.
May God greatly bless you.

Pst. Sawek.

We are not sure how much assistance we will be able to give by those experiencing food shortages related to COVID-19, but are glad we were able to provide this support.

Chicken House in Malawi

Deacon Radson Mulozowa sent the following photograph of a chicken house they are building in Malawi:

Apparently, brick is something they use to do that in Malawi. This seemed unusual to us.

Anyway, the hope is that raising chickens and selling the eggs will help provide food and a better livelihood for people there.

Arrest in Malawi

When I checked the coronavirus situation around the world last Thursday, the WHO said there were no cases in Malawi.

However, apparently the first case came up sometime that day.

As it turned out, apparently the government had decided no religious gatherings could take place without gloves and masks.

We received a report that our host of the Mwanwa congregation was arrested as he was not wearing them as he was unaware of the new rule. Our deacon in the area (Radson Mulozowa) said he had to pay a fine to get him released. We are looking more into this.

However, the fact that governments can declare and enforce various rules is why I wrote before that each local area needed to decide about how to meet and that in many areas staying at home was the most viable option.

Second Passover

Because of last minute government restrictions, translation issues, and communications’ barriers, some in parts of Africa were not able to attend a Passover service earlier this week. Those who were unable (as opposed to unwilling) to keep the Passover then, on the 14th of Abib are authorized by scripture to keep the Passover a month later.

This is based upon the following passages of scripture:

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 “Let the children of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it.” 4 So Moses told the children of Israel that they should keep the Passover. 5 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, in the Wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did.

6 Now there were certain men who were defiled by a human corpse, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day; and they came before Moses and Aaron that day. 7 And those men said to him, “We became defiled by a human corpse. Why are we kept from presenting the offering of the Lord at its appointed time among the children of Israel?”

8 And Moses said to them, “Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”

9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord’s Passover. 11 On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. 13 But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the Lord at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin. (Numbers 9:1-13)

Centuries later, basically the entire tribe of Judah all did this one year (and had some from other tribes join them):

1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel. 2 For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. 3 For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 30:1-3)

Groups, such as the Continuing Church of God, observe the Christian Passover.

May 13th, after sunset, is the 14th day of Iyyar on the Hebrew calendar. That would be the time for Passover.

So, if you are baptized and were unable to keep Passover earlier this week, like Numbers 9 mentions, then you can (and should) keep Passover the 13th after sunset. Here is a link to the article: Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened BreadWe also have an online CCOG Passover Service.

There is also a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin LevaduraAlso, last Tuesday, we received a translated Passover service in the Spanish language. Here is a link to the service in the Spanish language: Servicion de Pascua CCOG.

World News Items

Government actions related to the coronavirus have been wreaking havoc on many of the world’s economies (see ‘As the coronavirus triggers a global economic crisis, just how bad could it get?’).  Europe is trying to develop a plan to recover from it (see VOA: ‘US Braces for Worst COVID-19 Weeks’ Donald Trump: ‘There’s going to be a lot of death’ Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We need a Marshall Plan for Europe’). In the US, the approach has been to shut down many businesses and to increase debt (see $2.2 trillion for COVID-19 not enough–Nancy Pelosi wants another trillion dollars of debt). That will not end well.

Additionally, religious services have been curtailed in many parts of the world and religious people have been blamed for the spread of the virus (see BIN: Coronavirus Blood Libel Attempts to Outlaw Religion and Replace it With Spring Break; ¿Quién es el ‘hombre de pecado’?). Europe is disunited in trying to figure out how to proceed (see EU fails to adopt rescue plan, but the ‘daughter of Babylon’ seemingly thinks people should eat worms and bugs). Yet, many governmental actions look to be helping pave the way for the totalitarian Beast of the Sea (Revelation 13:1-10) to rise up (e.g. ZH: “Immunity Certificates” Are Coming – COVID-Survivors To Get ‘Special Passports’ Enabling Return To ‘Normalcy’; ¿Reconocimiento facial y persecución Cristiana?).

While getting haircuts from licensed barbers is no longer legal in many parts of the US (such as here in California), the World Health Organization wants everyone to know that it considers abortion access at this time to be essential (see ‘WHO: Abortions Must Continue even at Expense of Spreading Coronavirus’). It is not good to shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17; Isaiah 59:7-8).

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: YOU Can Overcome Sin’s Deadly Power! 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:  Third Commandment Plus: Words Matter. 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 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. The one suggested is by Louis Rubin: Last Day of Unleavened Bread. 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:

Concluding Comments

The Book of Revelation teaches:

6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9)

Brethren, during the Days of Unleavened Bread, consider that through de-leavening your life spiritually, you are making yourself ready to be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright” for the coming “marriage supper” with Jesus.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer