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Letter to the Brethren: February 15, 2024

Letter to the Brethren: February 15, 2024

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.

It is raining today and we continue to have issues as the roof of our office building was blown off by a tornado last week (see also Letter to the Brethren: February 8, 2024). But, we must persevere one day at a time as Jesus said (Matthew 6:34) as we seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

Related to reaching more of the world with the good news of that kingdom, we received another 20 translations of our English booklet titled The Gospel of the Kingdom of God this week. These translation are helpful to support the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, Romans 11:25 (see What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?), the Ezekiel warning (see What is the Ezekiel Warning?), as well as the short work of Romans 9:28 (see also Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word).

Last month, we started contacting places to possibly hold the Feast of Tabernacles for the USA in 2024. We finally have received some proposals from Corpus Christi this week and are reviewing them. But we have seen nothing that will definitely work yet.

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Most in the world do not believe in observing the biblical holy days God commands in the 23rd chapter of the Book of Leviticus, like the Feast of Tabernacles .

Instead they prefer ones based on non-biblical traditions.

Yesterday, many observed something called Ash Wednesday at the start of some called Lent.

Although the word ‘Lent’ means Spring season, it is now mainly observed in the Winter right after Mardi Gras (which we discussed in the Letter to the Brethren: February 8, 2024).

The World Book Encyclopedia states the following about Lent:

Lent is a religious season observed in the spring…It begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays, and ends on Easter Sunday (Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed. 1966).

What about Ash Wednesday?

Well, it is not an original Christian nor biblical Holy Day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Ash Wednesday The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century.

On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead (Thurston H. Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907).

So, the Church of Rome adopted it officially in the 8th century. Obviously, then, this was not an original Christian practice.

It should also be noted that the idea of placing a cross of ashes on the forehead came from sun god worship and other forms of paganism:

Mithratic…initiates…would henceforth have the Sun Cross on their foreheads. The similarity to the cross of ashes made on the forehead on the Christian Ash Wednesday is striking. Some have suggested this to be an example of the early Christians borrowing from the Mithratic cult; others suggest that both cults were drawing upon the same prototype. (Nabarz P. The mysteries of Mithras: the pagan belief that shaped the Christian world. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2005, p. 36)

Ash Wednesday This allegedly Christian festival came from Roman paganism, which in turn took it from Vedic India. Ashes were considered the seed of the fire god Agni, with the power to absolve all sins…At Rome’s New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. Then as now, New Year’s Eve was a festival for eating, drinking, and sinning, on the theory that all sins would be wiped out the following day. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshippers’ sins in with him into death. Therefore the carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was associated with the Saxon god Tiw. In French the carnival day was called Mardis Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” the merrymaking day before Ash Wednesday. (Walker B. The woman’s encyclopedia of myths and secrets. HarperCollins, 1983, pp. 66-67)

It has become fashionable in certain Protestant circles to observe some version of Lent like many Roman Catholics do.

The Roman Catholics tend to have a 40 lenten period, whereas the eastern Syriac rite uses 50 days.

The Bible tells of a 50 day period to count, which is where we get the name Pentecost. But that is NOT observed like Lent.

Around the fourth-sixth centuries, the Greco-Romans were keeping some type of a 50 day fast that had resemblance to the Islamic fast of Ramadan (Pines, p.32). In time, this changed to a forty-day abstinence by the Roman Catholics of one or more (normally food) items.

Early Christians, of course, did not keep Lent as even the Roman Catholic saint Abbot John Cassian in the fifth century realized:

Howbeit you should know that as long as the primitive church retained its perfection unbroken, this observance of Lent did not exist. (Cassian John. Conference 21, THE FIRST CONFERENCE OF ABBOT THEONAS. ON THE RELAXATION DURING THE FIFTY DAYS. Chapter 30)

Thus, he admitted that Lent was added and that the original faithful did not keep it.

The Apostle Paul invoked keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Yet he did not do so for something called Lent. However, because the Days of Unleavened Bread involve a seven-day “fast” from leaven, around the time many call Easter, it may be that some associated with Rome and Egypt felt that an abstinence period would be appropriate, but the amount of time, as well as what they abstained from, varied.

Socrates Scholasticus wrote in the 5th century:

The fasts before Easter will be found to be differently observed among different people. Those at Rome fast three successive weeks before Easter, excepting Saturdays and Sundays. Those in Illyrica and all over Greece and Alexandria observe a fast of six weeks, which they term ‘The forty days’ fast.’ Others commencing their fast from the seventh week before Easter, and fasting three-five days only, and that at intervals, yet call that time ‘The forty days’ fast.’ …  some assign one reason for it, and others another, according to their several fancies. One can see also a disagreement about the manner of abstinence from food, as well as about the number of days. Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction… Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority… (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Volume V, Chapter 22)

The apostles most certainly did not have differing fasts with differing requirements (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10; 11:1).  The forty-day Lenten fasts are not like the forty-day fasts mentioned in the Bible which involved absence from all food and water (Exodus 34:28; Luke 4:2).

Concerning Lent’s origins, notice what one scholar wrote:

A Lent of forty days was observed by worshipers of the Babylonian Ishtar and by the worshipers of the great Egyptian meditorial god Adonis or Osiris … Among the pagans, this Lent period seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual (usually spring) festivals. (Bacchiochi S. God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 1. Biblical Perspectices, Berrian Springs (MI), 1995, p. 108)

It is likely that the idea of a forty-day fast came from Alexandria in Egypt or from Greece and is related to the pagan goddess Ishtar. Since the Babylonians took over the Greeks and the Egyptians, that may have been when they started this practice.

Since early Christians did observe the Days of Unleavened Bread, repackaged pagan fasts were apparently substituted in various ways by the Greco-Romans.

Notice that the Apostle Paul warns against being involved in pagan observances (note: the NJB is a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible):

14 Do not harness yourselves in an uneven team with unbelievers; how can uprightness and law-breaking be partners, or what can light and darkness have in common? 15 How can Christ come to an agreement with Beliar and what sharing can there be between a believer and an unbeliever? 16 The temple of God cannot compromise with false gods, and that is what we are — the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, NJB)

19 What does this mean? That the dedication of food to false gods amounts to anything? Or that false gods themselves amount to anything? 20 No, it does not; simply that when pagans sacrifice, what is sacrificed by them is sacrificed to demons who are not God. I do not want you to share with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons as well; you cannot have a share at the Lord’s table and the demons’ table as well. 22 Do we really want to arouse the Lord’s jealousy; are we stronger than he is? (1 Corinthians 10:19-22, NJB)

Whether from Egypt, Roman paganism, or other demonic sources, the one place Lent did not come from was the Bible. Nor did it come from early traditions of the first followers of Jesus.

Some think they are strong enough spiritually so they can mix paganism, but they are really arousing God’s wrath according to the Apostle Paul.

These are not biblical holy days, but pagan ones.

More on holidays and holy days can be found in our booklet: Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?

Baptisms in Malawi, War in the Congo, War in South Sudan

Jesus said:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Related to that as we get closer to the end of the age, Malawi pastor Radson Mulozowa sent the following photo and report related to 15 baptisms last Sabbath:

This morning I visited chileka and after the service I conducted baptism.I have baptism 15 brethren. From chileka I proceeded to mwanza for evening service. I will sleep heretomorrow I will conduct baptism here in mwanza

Best regards


And then on Sunday, there were more baptisms:

Today I have baptised 6 brethren in mwanzaBefore baptism we gathered for a service and I talked about where are we in prophecyI also talked about the danger of early marriage after seeing the problem of youth going into marriageBest regardsRadson

Jesus said:

7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. …

10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:7,10)

So, there should have been more rejoicing this past week or so.

This morning, I also received a report from pastor Sosten Libungwa where he mentioned that we have three more church congregations in Malawi.

Received the following email yesterday from Moise Nshimiyimana from Rwanda:

Dear Pastor and Overseer of CCOG,Greetings from Rwanda and Congo . The Church is in good condition in Rwanda and Congo except the problem of war they have in the suburbs the city of Goma where they live , even every day I try to talk with them . …Best regards ,Moïse .

Remember to pray for the protection for the brethren around the world, including Africa.

Deacon Koang Deng sent the following report today:

Dear Dr. Bob:Greetings to you all.A very great thanks to our God, of doing his great plan for the previous mission of South Sudan a head of all obstacles happened this month.Last week, the war was broke out between the government force of South Sudan and rebel force on a way we did entered into that area where our members living.But we heard that, no war reached on that place but the problem will be happen because, there will be no way of food transportation from Ethiopian into that county.The government soldiers block the way of transportation of food and none food items.We see that, there will be more hungry in that area, unless there be urgent peace on that area.Our God will do it.Best regards,Koang.

We are looking into how we may be able to assist those in South Sudan. Please pray about that.

Suggested Sabbath Day ServicesHere is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

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 mobile 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

Along with nations in India and the Middle East, the Europeans are pushing for trade and infrastructure via the ‘India-Middle East-European Economic Corridor’ and the EU’s ‘Global Gateway’ (see More action on India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, which is a subset of Europe’s ‘Global Gateway’ program). While this has been officially encouraged by the USA, the corridors do NOT include the USA. Europe is working on setting the stage to become the trading power that the Bible warns about in the 18th chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The apparent effects of the white horseman’s ride continue to be seen in various parts of the world. The World Council of Churches recently graduated another class of ecumenical leaders whose vision is NOT the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, but to push for a Babylonian type of unity that the Bible opposes (see WCC’s Ecumenical Institute graduates students in Ecumenical Studies, yet it is WCC and Pope Francis who are inflexible towards original Christianity).

As far as the ride of the second horseman (Revelation 6:3-4) goes, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has said, “We no longer live in times of peace” (see Olaf Scholtz says ‘Europe must enter a large-scale war economy’ while Germany increases its military spending). 

Former US President and current presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, stated last Saturday that he once told one or more leaders in a major European nation that the USA would not defend them if attacked as they have not fulfilled their financial obligations to NATO (see BBC: Trump says he would ‘encourage’ Russia to attack Nato allies who do not pay their bills). The Europeans do not like this (see CNN: Trump’s incendiary NATO remarks send very real shudders through Europe).

While previous US presidents have attempted to pressure the Europeans to spend more on their militaries, none have been as bold or abrasive as Donald Trump. More in Europe are now pushing for more military power, including their own nuclear weapons (see Olaf Scholtz says ‘Europe must enter a large-scale war economy’ while Germany increases its military spending).

The biblical reality is that Europe will end up with a “great army” (Daniel 11:25) with “many ships” (Daniel 11:40), and will one day conquer the USA (Daniel 11:39). The more Donald Trump makes threats as he has, the more motivated the Europeans are becoming to set themselves up as a major military power–which will happen per Revelation 13:3-4 and Daniel 11:39-43.

Concluding Comments

As the Apostle Paul wrote:

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Yes, brethren strive to be complete in God and live in peace, and thus have the God of love with you.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer