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Letter to the Brethren: March 28, 2024

Letter to the Brethren: March 28, 2024

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

We hope and pray you are well.

We have been looking into ways to possibly expand our radio presence in Europe as well as hopefully adding another language.

Another 20 translations of our English booklet titled: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God were paid for this week. The work of reaching the world with a witness of the good news of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14) continues.

Dealing with Deaths

Several of us have been dealing with more death issues than usual recently.

A few weeks ago my wife and I attended the funeral of my geographically nearest relative. She was a smoker and basically died of lung cancer. She would have been 85 tomorrow. That said, she had long been my favorite relative outside my immediate family, and according to some of her children, she felt the same way about me. Anyway, she was nominally Roman Catholic, and at the funeral the priest mentioned purgatory, which, of course, does not exist (see also Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). Purgatory was essentially a replacement for what early Christians believed after the Roman Catholic Church dropped the teaching of apocatastasis (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

We received the following Thursday afternoon March 21st:

We just received a notification from Steven Sookal that Sasha died yesterday.

Thank you all for the prayers you prayed for him.


Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Veljic was troubled (cf. Acts 9:5) and recently had two strokes and then went in and out of a coma. He seemingly was the first person from an eastern block communist country (when it was then called Yugoslavia) to attend Ambassador College in the 1990s. He was mentioned in the March 1, 1994 edition of old Worldwide News for being part of an Ambassador Foundation project in Ukraine. My family and I attended part of the Feast of Tabernacles with him in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2018

After leaving WCG, Sasha was once part of UCG, then COG aic, then independent, then CCOG, and then left to become the leader of ‘Hope of Israel.’ Sasha never married, but often lived with his mother until she died a few years ago.

This week, the niece of a member died. I did not know her, but the member I have known for some time. She also lost her sister a few years ago.

Then there are wars, food shortages, and deaths impacting people in many lands including Israel, Gaza, Russia, Ukraine, the Congo, Somalia, Haiti, etc.

Furthermore, on Tuesday, a cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge and reportedly six people likely died (see Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses, government rules out terrorism, former general won’t).

Strangely, also on Tuesday, my wife saw a notification on social media that a younger dear friend of hers had been killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. What was strange was:

  1. My wife received notification when the most recent post at the COGwriter Church of God News site was: ‘Expect that you will see deep fake ads, social media posts, and links’.
  2. My wife later found out that this accident did not happen, her friend was alive, and somebody put out a fake post on social media.

Yesterday, deacon Koang Deng sent the following email from his home of Gambella (Ethiopia):

A residents got death today in Gambella.We missed the life of childrens and elderly people today.

In this morning, the bus overturned on road after it started travel from gambella to another district.

The cause of death come after the bus was attacked by those who are enemy of these people.Tribals conflict overcome the power of the government of Gambella.Please, pray for those in Gambella.Koang.

Now as far as death itself goes, I recently made a post titled: Why Do Christian People Die?

Plus, this week’s recommended sermonette is: Why Do People Die?

Spring Holy Days

Remember that the Spring Holy Days are getting closer.

Artist’s portrayal of the Apostles Peter and John
going to prepare for the Passover (Wikipedia)

Passover this year will be after sunset on April 21st.

The Night to Be Observed is after sunset April 22nd, with the First Day of Unleavened Bread starting then until sunset April 23rd. The Last Day of Unleavened Bread will be from sunset April 28th to sunset April 29th.


Instead of keeping the biblical Spring holy days, many instead keeps comprised days, with one of the biggest being Easter, which many Roman Catholics and Protestants will observe Sunday morning, March 31, 2024.

Many people do not realize that Easter (Ishtar/Eostre) was supposed to be Passover, moved to Sunday because of cowardice and for hatred of Jews (Ibid, pp. 101-103).

Notice what respected Protestant scholar J. Gieseler reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John. (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig.  A Text-book of Church History. Harper & brothers, 1857, p. 166)

Although Christians kept Passover on the 14th of Nisan, because of wishing to distance themselves because of early second century revolts by the Jews in the eyes of the Roman authorities, many of the Greco-Romans in Jerusalem, Rome, and Alexandria (but not Asia Minor) decided to switch Passover to a Sunday. At first, they kept a version of Passover and it was not kept as a resurrection holiday.

Notice also the following from G. Snyder:

The first Christians celebrated the death of Jesus with a Pascha meal (eucharist) on the lunar date of the Jewish Passover (note 1 Cor. 5:7-8).

At first there was no annual celebration of the resurrection. Eventually, in the gentile world, the day of resurrection was added to the Pascha festival. That day was Sunday. (Snyder GF. Irish Jesus, Roman Jesus: the formation of early Irish Christianity. Trinity Press International, 2002, p. 183)

Because some in Asia Minor and elsewhere did not go along with date change to Sunday, the Mithras worshiping Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea, which declared Sunday for the Greco-Romans. Constantine himself then declared:

Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. (Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18).

Christians should not hate Jews nor not observe God’s Holy Day, just because many Jews make an attempt to do so.

Jesus never indicated that the Jewish race was detestable (He was a Jew) nor that He changed the date of Passover. Yet sun-worshipping Constantine concluded otherwise.  And the Sunday observance is now known as Easter. But because sun-worshiping practices and the avoidance of practices that were considered too “Jewish” is really why Easter is observed when it is.

Many of the its practices like Easter eggs, the Easter rabbit, and Easter fire came from paganism according to Roman Catholic sources (e.g. Holweck F. G. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Robert Appleton Company. 1909).

The Anglican bishop J.B. Lightfoot wrote:

…the Churches of Asia Minor…regulated their Easter festival by the Jewish Passover without regard to the day of the week, but…those of Rome and Alexandria and Gaul observed another rule; thus avoiding even the semblance of Judaism. (Lightfoot, Joseph Barber.  Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: A Revised Text with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations. Published by Macmillan, 1881, pp. 317, 331)

And the name Easter? This is a respelling of the sunrise goddess Eostre and ‘queen of heaven’ Ishtar.

Eostre: Goddess of the Dawn
(Wikipedia source)

Here are some Roman Catholic reports on Easter and Eostre:

The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity…Anglo-Saxon, eâstereâstron; Old High German, ôstraôstraraôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh. (Holweck F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York)

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ”Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old time observance. (Bede, originally c. 8th century. The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool University Press, 1999, p. 54)

Notice also:

Ostara (sometimes spelled Eostara or Eostre) is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring. Her sacred symbols are eggs and hares. Not surprisingly, She’s a Maiden Goddess rather than a Mother or a Crone. (O’Gaea, Ashleen. Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara: Lore, Rituals, Activities, and Symbols. Career Press, 2004, p. 149)

Here is some on Istar:

Ishtar, she was both fertility and a war goddess. … Easter or Astarte is in effect the same worship of an old Babylonian sex cult instituted by Semiramis the warrior queen who had a lust for blood. (Kush H. Faces of the Hamitic People. Xlibris Corporation, 2010, p. 164)

Ishtar was seen as the personification of the planet Venus, and together with Shamash, the sun god, and Sin, the moon god, she formed an astral triad. (Littleton CS. Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, Volume 6. Marshall Cavendish, 2005 p. 760)

The Bible warns against serving the ‘queen of heaven’:

17 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. (Jeremiah 7:17-19)

The cakes were similar to ‘hot cross buns’ (Platt C. The Psychology of Social Life. Dodd & Mead, 1922, p. 71).’  The queen of heaven’?

Jeremiah 7…Cakes to the queen of heaven (v. 18). Probably a reference to the Babylonian fertility-goddess Ishtar, goddess of the planet Venus. (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Christians should not have named a holiday after a Gentile pagan goddess whose practices the Bible condemns. Yet, most who profess Christianity do not seem to have a problem with that.

While Easter normally begins with some type of sunrise service for the more observant, Passover, which is what Easter is supposed to represent according to Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars, was to be kept in the evening.

There is a lot of unbiblical and anti-biblical symbolism involved with Easter.

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

Russia just had its worst terrorist attack in a while with over 100 killed (see ‘Islamic State’ killed at least 133 in Moscow–will Islamic terrorists kill more in the USA, UK, and Canada?).

Unless one or the other of them drops out or is otherwise replaced, it looks like the November 2024 US presidential election will mainly be a choice between current president Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump. Interestingly, the UK Economist reported that both–for different reasons–will be bad for the economy of the USA (see The Economist: Trump and Biden are both threats to the USA economy).

The USA took the rare step of not vetoing a resolution that was against Israel and Israel took a rare step by canceling a meeting with the USA. While in Iran, a Hamas spokesman indicated that this shows that Israel is losing more support (see VOA: Hamas Leader Speaks in Iran of Israel’s ‘Political Isolation’). There is a rift developing between the USA and Israel. Isaiah 22:6-9 tells of an attack against Judah and the City of David by an Iranian/Syrian confederation. In verse 8 scripture states that the “protection of Judah” will be removed.  The perception of less USA protection of Israel may embolden Iran to attack. If so, this would seem to ultimately lead to the confirmation of the peace deal of Daniel 9:27. So, this situation is something to watch.

We continue to hear more reports of hunger around the world. The president of Malawi (where we have thousands of supporters) declared a state of emergency for 23 regions on Saturday. There are also severe hunger issues in Haiti, protests in Cuba,  etc. (see MS: Is The Black Horse Of Famine Getting Ready To Ride Too?; COGwriter: The ride of the 3rd horseman may already have begun!). Jesus predicted famines (Matthew 24:4-8) and some have been popping up.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul warned:

19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Corinthians 10:19-22)

Brethren, the Apostle Paul is referring to not compromising the Passover (where one should partake of the cup of the Lord and related bread of His table) with pagan elements.

That is, however, what Easter is.

We should remain separate from its celebration (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:17).


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer