Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from Grover Beach, California.
Some years there are more trials before Passover than others.
For my family and the Continuing Church of God, this has been one of them.
Recently, I dealt with many of the CCOG related matters in the sermon: Hierarchical Governance and Corruption. But some still have been “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves” (cf. Acts 20:30).
Here is something from the Apostle Paul to consider:
15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:15-16)
There are many false witnesses (cf. Matthew 26:60) and there are lot of people who seem to prefer gossip to accepting facts (cf. Proverbs 26:16,22).
Oddly, people claiming to be Christians even denounced the leadership of the Apostle John (3 John 9-10).
Throughout history, those of the true church has been spoken against:
22 … for in regard to this sect (Christianity), we are fully aware that it is denounced everywhere.(Acts 28:22b, Amplified)
The old Worldwide Church of God faced various members and former members rebelling against it and making claims against it and its leadership. Trials and being spoken against are a long-used Satanic tactic–however, faithful Christians should be aware of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11b).
As far as trials go, the Bible teaches:
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; (1 Peter 4:12)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Fiery trials, including accusations by detractors, have happened throughout the entire church age.
That said, hopefully you are preparing for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread striving for perfection consistent with what Jesus commanded (Matthew 5:48).
Artist’s portrayal of Peter and John
going to prepare for the Passover
The recommended sermon for this Sabbath is: Passover Preparation.
For those baptized people without a local minister, the Continuing Church of God is pleased to make available its suggested Passover service: CCOG Passover Service available online at its ContinuingCOG channel.
This is a Passover service by the Continuing Church of God. This is intended to be used by scattered baptized Church of God members around the world after sunset on the 14th day of the first month of the biblical calendar, or for those who biblically legitimately missed it per Numbers , after sunset on the 14th day of the second month of the biblical calendar. This service covers footwashing, breaking and consuming unleavened bread, taking wine, and reading words of Jesus as well as additional scriptures. Leaders of the local Passover service (even if there is only one person) should have some unleavened bread, wine, a towel, and one or more water basins available.
Here is a link: Continuing Church of God Passover Service.
A written article, which assists in the preparation for this service, is available titled “Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.”
Here is a link to a service in Spanish: Servicion de Pascua CCOG. A written article, which assists in the preparation for this service, is available in Spanish titled Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Passover and the Days of Unleavened
As many are aware, the children of Israel were specifically told to observe the Passover in the Book of Exodus. Families took a lamb, without blemish (Exodus 12:5), for the sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-4). The lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth at twilight (Exodus 12:6) and some of its blood was placed upon the door of the family’s home (Exodus 12:7).
Those who took the steps God instructed were ‘passed over’ from death, whereas the Egyptians who did not do this were not (Exodus 12:28-30).
As many realize, Jesus kept the Passover annually (Exodus 13:10) from the time of His youth (Luke 2:41-42) and throughout His entire life (Luke 22:15).
Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the month of the first month (Leviticus 23:5; called Abib in Deuteronomy 16:1 or Nisan in Esther 3:7). It occurs in the Spring season of the year.
Although Jesus changed several practices associated with it (Luke 22:19-22; John 13:1-17), our Savior also told His disciples to keep it (Luke 22:7-13). Also the New Testament is clear, that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, killing sheep and putting blood on doorposts (Exodus 12:6-7) is not needed anymore (cf. Hebrews 7:12-13,26-27; 9:11-28).
The Apostle Paul specifically taught that Christians were to keep Passover in accordance with Jesus’ instructions (1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 11:23-26).
The Bible teaches that Jesus “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Thus, God’s plan of salvation through His Holy Days and festivals, including Jesus being the “Passover lamb,” was known before humans were placed on the planet. That is why some of the celestial bodies were placed in the heavens to be able to calculate them!
Pretty much all churches recognize that the Bible teaches that Jesus fulfilled something associated with Passover when He was killed.
We find the operation of this great Sacrifice even discussed in the Garden of Eden. After Jesus was prophesied (Genesis 3:15), God killed an animal (probably a lamb or goat), in order to cover the nakedness (a representation of a type of sin in this incidence) of Adam and Eve with its skins (Genesis 3:21). We also see this principle of sacrifice operating when Abel sacrificed a lamb from his flock (Genesis 4:2-4).
The famous Passover in the days of Moses showed the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12:1-38). Moses recorded God’s instructions about this as well as the calendar (Genesis 1:14; 2:1; Exodus 12:1) and His feasts (Leviticus 23). The Passover basically became the first of these events annually picturing to God’s children His great plan of salvation.
In the Old Testament, the Passover pictured deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and God’s intervention. But, prophetically, it was also looking towards the time that Jesus would come and be our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29; cf. 3:16-17).
On Jesus’ last Passover as a human being, He continued to keep it at the time of the late evening and told His disciples to keep it (Luke 22:14-19; cf. John 13:2,12-15) and on the 14th of Nisan/Abib (cf. Luke 22:14; 23:52-54).
Jesus, however, changed several of the practices associated with its observance. Jesus made the unleavened bread and wine an integral part of Passover (Matthew 26:18, 26-30) and added the practice of footwashing (John 13:12-17).
Jesus in no way taught that it was not to be an annual Passover, nor did He change the time of day of its observation to a Sunday morning like those who follow Greco-Roman traditions do. Even Greek Orthodox scholars admit that 1st and 2nd century Christians kept Passover at night (Calivas, Alkiviadis C. The Origins of Pascha and Great Week – Part I. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1992) like we in the Continuing Church of God do in the 21st century. Passover is only to be taken by properly baptized Christians (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Romans 6:3-10; Exodus 12:48; Numbers 9:14).
It probably should be added that the Church of Rome (as well as many of its Protestant descendants) officially teaches that it keeps Passover, though calling it something different in the English language and not keeping it as Jesus did (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 332).
Wine, Not Grape Juice
Despite the fact that Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:3-10) and the Greek term used in the New Testament (oinos) refers to wine (cf. 1 Timothy 3:8), various ones have claimed that it was grape juice, and not wine, that was used for Passover. The Jews, themselves though, use wine at Passover (Hisrch EG, Eisenstein JD. Wine. Jewish Encyclopedia. 1907, pp. 532-535).
How do we know that grape juice was not possibly used by Jesus?
Grapes are normally harvested around September and Passover is usually in the Roman calendar month called April. In Jesus’ day, they did not have modern sterilization or refrigeration. Hence, grape juice would have spoiled between the time of harvest and Passover.
Others have noted that it was IMPOSSIBLE for Jews to have stored grape juice that long (Cf. Kennedy ARS. Hastings Bible Dictionary. C. Scribner Son’s, 1909 p. 974). Therefore, only wine, which can remain unspoiled for even many years would have been used. (The use of alcohol, like wine, is endorsed during the Feast of Tabernacles in Deuteronomy 26:14, but not required.)
Christians are not to be “drunk with wine, wherein is excess” as Paul wrote (Ephesians 5:18, KJV). Only a very small of wine is normally consumed at Passover (about a teaspoon full or less).
Passover Was on the 14th Not the 15th
Some have been confused about the date of the biblical Passover.
The Bible teaches that it was to be kept on the 14th day of the first month of God’s calendar (Leviticus 23:5).
In the 6th verse of Exodus Chapter 12, it states that the lamb is to be killed “at dusk” (GWT and Jewish Publication Society translations). The 8th verse says that they are to eat the flesh that night. It is to be roasted and eaten that night. And, yes as one who has killed lambs, one can easily kill, roast, and eat a lamb ‘of the first year’ (Exodus 12:5) between sunset and midnight—which is basically what the children of Israel did on the recorded Passover in Exodus 12. And technically, they had until morning to have eaten it per Exodus 12:10. Now the Bible is clear that the angelic Passover occurred “on that night” (Exodus 12:12), the same night of the 14th.
The Bible teaches that Jesus was only to be sacrificed once (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:28; 10:10-14). In the New Testament, it is clear that Jesus kept His final Passover (Luke 22:14-16), and was killed. The Bible shows that Jesus was removed from the stake prior to the 15th. Why? Because the 15th was a “high day” (John 19:28-31), specifically the first day of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:6). Hence, Jesus kept and fulfilled the Passover on the 14th.
Early church history also records that Passover was kept on the 14th of month of Nisan by faithful Jewish and Gentile Christian leaders in the first, second, and third centuries (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24) and that it was kept in the evening (Calivas).
Most leaders who profess Christ claim to observe some version of Passover, though many have changed the name, the date, the time,
the symbols, and the meaning (see Easter section in chapter 10).
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was the Passover lamb sacrificed for us and that we are to keep that Feast with unleavened bread:
7 Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, NAB)
Notice that the feast is to be kept with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The Apostle Paul realized that Jesus was a substitute for the Passover lamb that the Jewish people used. He also taught that Christians should still continue to observe Passover.
But basically how were Christians to do this?
The Apostle Paul explains:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)
So, the Apostle Paul taught that Christians were to keep the Passover in the manner that Jesus observed His final Passover with the bread and wine. And that was at night as remembrance or memorial–a memorial is an annual, not a weekly event.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church correctly notes that “Jesus chose the time of the Passover… took bread, and…he broke it” and also gave it to be eaten.
It is documented in the Bible that Jesus broke unleavened bread and passed it to His followers to eat. Jesus also passed the wine to His followers to drink a small amount. We in the Continuing Church of God pray, break and distribute unleavened bread, and distribute wine for His faithful followers to consume. Yet, the Church of Rome (like many others) no longer breaks unleavened bread (it uses a whole ‘host’) nor does it usually distribute wine for its followers to drink (the distribution of wine is considered optional by the Church of Rome, and it is often not done in Protestant churches).
What About ‘As Often…You Proclaim’?
How often should Passover be taken?
Jesus stated, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
Consider that it is Jesus’ death that this commemorates.
Christ’s death reconciles us to God (Romans 5:10) and Jesus gave His life for our salvation (John 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:5-11). His death teaches us that Christians are not to have sin reign over our mortal bodies (Romans 6:3-12). The Christian Passover is the annual commemoration of Jesus’ death.
Jesus DID NOT say to do this ceremony AS OFTEN AS YOU DESIRE, only that when you do it, you are proclaiming His death. The Greek term for often in 1 Corinthians 11:26, hosakis, is used one other time in the New Testament. It does not mean as often as you desire UNLESS the Greek term for “you desire,” thelo or ethelo, is also present (which it is in Revelation 11:6; the only other place in the Bible this particular term is used). However, since this is NOT present in 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul is NOT telling us to observe the Lord’s Passover as often as WE desire, but that when we are observing it on Passover, it is not just a ceremony, it is showing Christ’s death.
Furthermore, Paul wrote this:
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. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
Paul is clearly teaching that to take this bread and wine, one must examine oneself. The deleavening that is supposed to accompany Passover helps us focus on our faults and sins, and thus helps fulfill this command from Paul to examine ourselves. As deleavening can take lots of effort, this also supports the concept of an annual examination (people were not removing leaven every day or week).
The New Testament records that both Jesus and Paul taught to observe the Passover in the Christian manner. And that was an annual observation.
Footwashing helps show humility and that even the followers of Christ still tend to have areas that need to be cleansed (cf. John 13:10).
Jesus taught that His followers should do this:
13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:13-17)
Relatively few who profess Christianity wash feet like Jesus said to do.
But we in the Continuing Church of God follow Jesus’ instructions on this annually.
Sources Outside of Scripture
It is not just in the Bible that we see that Passover was kept annually by Christians. History records that the faithful kept Passover annually on the 14th from the time of the original apostles and throughout the ages (Thiel B. Continuing History of the Church of God. 2nd edition. Nazarene Books, 2016).
There is some interesting information in the corrupted text known as The Life of Polycarp (this document seems to be based upon writings in the second century, but the extant version we now see contains information/changes that seem to be added in the fourth century; see Monroy MS. The Church of Smyrna: History and Theology of a Primitive Christian Community. Peter Lang edition, 2015, p. 31). What is interesting is that it suggests that the Passover observation in Asia Minor may not have first come to Smyrna from the Apostle John, but even earlier from the Apostle Paul (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2).
The Life of Polycarp suggests that New Covenant Passover with unleavened bread and wine was to be observed during the season of unleavened bread. It states that heretics did it another way. And that writing is also supportive of the idea that the unleavened bread AND wine were taken, and were taken ANNUALLY.
History records that the biblically-listed apostles (including Philip and John) as well as Bishops/Pastors Polycarp, Thraseas, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito, Polycrates, Apollinaris, and others kept the Passover annually on the 14th (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter 24 verses 2-7). The Roman, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Catholics all consider those leaders to have been saints, yet none of those faiths follow their examples on this.
Bishop/Pastor Apollinaris of Hierapolis in Phrygia of Asia Minor wrote around 180 A.D. telling Christians to keep Passover on the 14th:
The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound … and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb.
Jesus ate and kept the Passover on the 14th, was killed on the 14th, and was buried on the 14th. This was not on the 15th, and in the year of His death, this was NOT on a Sunday. Jesus would have taken the Passover just after sunset and would be killed during daylight and be buried before the sun set again (to start a new day).
In the late second century, Bishop/Pastor Polycrates of Ephesus sent a letter to the Roman Bishop Victor when Victor tried to force the observance of Passover on a Sunday instead of the 14th:
Polycrates wrote, “We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’…I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus.
Notice in his letter, Polycrates:
1) Said he was following the teachings passed on from the Apostle John.
2) Said that he was being faithful to the teachings of the Gospel.
3) Relied on the position that teachings from the Bible were above those of Roman-accepted tradition.
4) Said he was being faithful to the teachings passed down to him by earlier church leaders.
5) Showed he was then the spokesperson for the faithful in Asia Minor.
6) Said he and his predecessors observed the time of unleavened bread.
7) Refused to accept the authority of a non-biblical Roman tradition over the Bible.
8) Refused to accept the authority of the Bishop of Rome–he preferred to be separate (cf. Revelation 18:4).
9) Stated that his life was to be governed by Jesus and not opinions of men.
Would you follow the example of Jesus and the Apostles like Polycrates did?
Because early Christians kept Passover on the 14th, they and others who did so were labeled Quartodecimans (Latin for fourteenths) by many historians.
The early Christians realized that Passover had to do with God’s plan of salvation. Notice that by 180 A.D., Bishop/Pastor Melito of Sardis wrote:
Now comes the mystery of the passover, even as it stands written in the law…The people, therefore, became the model for the church, and the law a parabolic sketch. But the gospel became the explanation of the law and its fulfillment, while the church became the storehouse of truth…This one is the passover of our salvation. This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people…This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven. This is the lamb that was slain.
Passover was kept annually on the 14th of Nisan by the faithful and others in later centuries. Catholic scholars (Eusebius, Socrates Scholasticus, Bede) record this occurred in the 4th, 5th, 6th-8th and later centuries. Various Church of God writers have traced its observance from the time of the apostles to modern times (e.g. Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). Thiel B. Continuing History of the Church of God. Nazarene Books, 2016).
Greco-Roman scholars recognize that aspects of Passover, like footwashing, were also observed by those they considered to be early faithful Christians (e.g. Thurston, H. (1912). Washing of Feet and Hands. In The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Passover is the first annual feast listed in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus.
Passover helps picture salvation and grace for Christians. It should be noted that early Christian writings most often refer to it as the Passover and not “the Lord’s Supper.”
While some may ‘spiritualize’ away the necessity of Passover’s observance, leaders considered to be saints by the Greco-Romans and the Church of God did keep it literally.
We in the Continuing Church of God still do so today.
We in the Continuing Church of God keep Passover and include the historical, and biblical, practice of washing one another’s feet.
The Plan from the Beginning
Passover shows that God had a plan before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20) to send Jesus to die for our sins, that God loves us (John 3:16), that God can deliver us, and that His Son suffered and died for us. Passover shows that Christians are freed from sin by His death and not to remain in sin (Romans 6:1-5).
But simply accepting the sacrifice of Jesus is not all there is to God’s plan of salvation.
Various people keep the beginning of God’s feasts of salvation by somewhat recognizing Passover and/or Pentecost, but never go on to know the “depth of the riches” (cf. Romans 11:33) of God’s grace (2 Peter 3:18) pictured by the other biblical feasts.
Christ is not only the author/beginner of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9), but is also the finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 1:1-9). His true followers keep His Spring and Fall Holy Days.
The Night to Be Observed and the Days of Unleavened Bread
The Bible indicates that Egypt was a type of sin from which the children of Israel had to be delivered (cf. Exodus 13:3; Revelation 11:8). The Bible shows that Christians today live in a world which is a type of spiritual “Babylon” (Revelation 17:1-6). The Bible shows that Christians will relatively soon be delivered from it after God pours out His plagues upon Babylon (Revelation 18:1-8). Several of the plagues listed in the Book of Revelation are similar to those once used in Egypt before God’s people were delivered.
The children of Israel left Egypt on the First day of Unleavened Bread.
The Bible, in Leviticus 23:7-8 teaches that both the first and last days of unleavened bread are times for a holy “convocation” (NKJV), a “sacred assembly” (NJB). The evening of the fifteenth of Nisan (which begins that holy day) begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which involved eating (cf. Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:6).
The Bible records the following:
42 It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. (Exodus 12:42, KJV)
This is the observable night of our Lord, when he brought them forth out of the Land of Ægypt: this night all the children of Israel must observe in their generations. (Original Douay Rheims)
For Christians, the Night to Be Observed pictures our taking action to leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8)–this is something that should cause Christians to rejoice.
Historically, the Night to Be Observed normally involved a festive dinner. The dinner normally included, but was not limited to, unleavened bread.
Here is a link to an animation some may wish to watch that evening: Night to Be Observed.
The Bulk of the Jews Call the 15th Passover
Jewish leaders changed the date and some of their practices associated with Passover. Some rabbinical sources suggest this was because they did not want to keep it the same as the faithful Christians (Wolf G. Lexical and Historical Contributions on the Biblical and Rabbinic Passover. G. Wolf, 1991).
But also, probably because of a consumption of a meal on the Night to be Observed and certain traditions, combined with how the Jews tended to deal with the holy days because of the diaspora (the Jews outside the land of Israel) and calendar issues (Holy Days. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906), Jews tend to call the Night to Be Observed the Passover as most Jews keep it the evening of the 15th of Nisan/Abib. Some keep both the 14th and the 15th as Passover.
At the time of Jesus, the Sadducees tended to keep Passover on the 14th and the Pharisees on the 15th (Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser. Why do Jews in America have two Passover Seders?).
Yet, the Bible teaches the two different times are for two different purposes. The Old Testament Passover shows that the children of Israel were protected and did not suffer from the death angel. The New Testament Passover shows, for Christians, that Jesus bore the penalty for our sins Himself through His death.
But, the Night to Be Observed reminded the Jews that they should be thankful for God’s deliverance from the bondage of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:42). For Christians, the Night to Be Observed teaches we are to rejoice and be thankful for the release Jesus provides from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36).
Certain Jewish scholars do realize that the Bible lists Passover as being at a different date than the festival of unleavened bread:
Lev. xxiii., however, seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and (the Festival of Unleavened Bread; ἑορτή τῶν ἀζύμων, Luke xxii. 1; Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 1, § 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. (Passover. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)
Therefore, despite most Jews calling what they keep on the 15th as Passover, the 15th is biblically considered to be part of the seven day festival of unleavened bread. Because Jews tend to emphasize the departure from Egypt and rely on certain non-biblical traditions, they tend to mostly observe only the second date.
Exodus chapter 12 discusses Passover and begins with God instructing Moses and Aaron about what they were to teach the people as well as what was going to happen. This instruction included the taking out of a lamb on the tenth day of this first month, called Abib, and saving it up until the 14th day when it was to be killed at twilight — the beginning of the 14th.
Notice something from the following instructions about the Passover:
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:21-22)
The expression “until morning” comes from Hebrew word meaning “the breaking through of daylight,” “coming of daylight,” or the “coming of sunrise.”
So, Israelites did not go out of their homes until after dawn on the 14th. What happened earlier that night?
29 And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock… 33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” (Exodus 12:29,33)
Moses and Aaron did NOT go out during the night – that is an incorrect assumption that many have:
28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”
29 So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.” (Exodus 10:28-29)
After the death of the firstborn, Israelites had a number of tasks to complete before leaving Egypt. They were to stay inside their houses until morning, the breaking of daylight, burn the remains of the lambs that had not been eaten, go to the villages and cities where the Egyptians lived and ask them to give them silver, gold, and clothing, gather and load up whatever possessions they were to carry and with their herds and flocks travel on foot, for some as much as twenty miles, to Rameses where their organized journey out of Egypt was to begin. Notice:
34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. (Exodus 12:34-39, KJV)
The night to be observed is the night that they left Rameses. The night they actually left Egypt.
After doing what God told them to do, they left.
Exodus 13:18 tells us, “the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” Considering the number of people and the age range, it is remarkable that they were able to accomplish this all by the night after the Passover.
We Christians recognize that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on Passover and that we are to try to live, as He did, without sin and hypocrisy, of which leaven symbolically can represent (Luke 12:1).
The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about this:
And, as the Israelites went out with a high hand (Numbers 33:3), in great exultation and elation over their deliverance from bondage, so does the newly begotten Christian start out his Christian life — up in the clouds of happiness and joy. But what happens?
The devil and sin immediately pursue after the newly begotten son of God — and soon the new and inexperienced Christian finds he is down in the depths of discouragement, and tempted to give up and quit.
Notice Exodus 14, beginning verse 10 — as soon as the Israelites saw this great army pursuing them, they lost their courage. Fear came over them. They began to grumble and complain. They saw it was impossible for them to get away from Pharaoh and his army, because he was too powerful for them. And they were helpless. So it is with us.
Our Strength Not Sufficient!
But notice the message of God to them through Moses: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord … for the Egyptians … ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you”! How wonderful!
Helpless, we are told to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He shall fight for us. We cannot conquer Satan and sin, but He can. It is the risen Christ — our High Priest — who will cleanse us — sanctify us — deliver us — who said He would never leave us nor forsake us!
We cannot keep the Commandments in our own power and strength. But Christ IN US can keep them! We must rely on Him in faith. (Armstrong HW. God’s Holy Days-or Pagan Holidays-Which? Worldwide Church of God, 1976)
Purpose of Festival
But let us learn the full significance of this. WHY did God ordain these feast days? What was His great PURPOSE? Turn now to Exodus 13, verse 3: “…Moses said unto the people, Remember THIS DAY, in which ye CAME OUT from Egypt…” This was the 15th of Abib. Verse 6: “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a FEAST unto the Eternal… This is done BECAUSE of that which the Eternal did [a MEMORIAL]… and it shall be for a SIGN” — (miraculous PROOF of identity) — “unto thee upon thine hand, and for a MEMORIAL between thine eyes” — WHY? –”that the LORD’S LAW MAY BE IN THY MOUTH… Thou shalt therefore KEEP this ordinance…”
Oh, beloved brethren, do you see the wonderful meaning? Do you grasp the true significance of it all? Do you see God’s PURPOSE? The PASSOVER pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that are past. The accepting of His BLOOD does not forgive sins we SHALL commit — it does not give LICENSE to continue in sin — therefore WHEN we accept it, our sins are forgiven only up to that time — PAST SINS.
But shall we stop there? Past sins forgiven. But we are still flesh beings. We still shall suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutch — we have been SLAVES to sin, in its power. And we are powerless to deliver ourselves from it! We have been in BONDAGE to sin. Let us understand the picture — the meaning. (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)
To what degree should Christians put away sin? Completely, as Jesus taught, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Leaven symbolically can be a type of sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Like sin, leaven puffs up.
As seven is God’s number symbolizing completeness, Christians are to follow the Passover with seven days of unleavened bread. The meaning and the symbolism is not complete with just Passover. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s blood for the remission of past sins and the death of Jesus.
Should we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the tree of His death (cf. Galatians 3:13)? No. The seven days of unleavened bread following Passover help picture to us the complete putting away of sin, the keeping of the Commandments — after past sins are forgiven as the result of Jesus’ sacrifice.
The Days of Unleavened bread picture the life and work of the risen Jesus. Jesus ascended to the throne of God where He is now actively at work in our behalf as our High Priest, cleansing us of sin (Hebrews 2:17-18) delivering us completely from its power!
Here is some of what the Hebrew scriptures say about the Days of Unleavened Bread:
15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’” (Exodus 12:15-20)
Leviticus 23:6-8 teaches about it as well. And Deuteronomy 16:16 shows that offerings were expected to be given on the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Fall Holy Days.
Originally, there were no “burnt offerings or sacrifices” when God “brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 7:22). They were added because of disobedience (Jeremiah 7:21-27) and the New Testament is clear that we do not need to have burnt offerings or animal sacrifices now (Hebrews 9:11-15).
As we eat unleavened bread each of the days, we realize that we have to avoid sin that is so prevalent in the world around us.
As far as the sequence of events, Passover was after sunset on the 14th of Nisan/Abib (Exodus 12:6) and the death angel passed-over at midnight (Exodus 12:23-29). During the early daylight hours on the 14th of Nisan/Abib, the children of Israel received gold and precious things from the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36). They left Egypt at night of the 15th of Nisan/Abib (Exodus 12:42; Deuteronomy 16:1).
Later, apparently on the 18th of Nisan/Abib, Pharaoh decided to pursue them (Exodus 14:5). On the 20th of Nisan/Abib, Pharaoh’s armies get near the children of Israel (Exodus 14:9).
Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following report from Kenya:
Pastor Dr Bob,Greetings from Kenya.On Friday I and Joel Owuoti went to meet all leaders in Rift valley. We met in kilgoris Town in Southwest hotel. The meeting went very well. The reason of meeting was mainly concerned about the growth of the church. We discussed a lot of things including the plan for the feast of Tabernacle. We talked much about the current world how people are going away from the Truth because for their own interest and the love of the world. The meeting furthermore explain more good plans that makes CCOG to be steady with good operation and manifesto. Those who attended the meeting were:–Evangelist Evans Ochieng —– in charge of AfricaJoel Owuoti —– Got kacholaTiongik Sawek from chilani congregation.David Cheryot —- Njoro congregationsRichard Ruto — BometStanley kibet —- MauSimon Kirui —— kaplechoCharles ———– molo sirikwaToday I met Ndhiwa congregations to discuss more about what is going on in the church and to prepare for the Passover.The church in Kenya is steady and continue with the program well.Here are some pictures that we took in kilgoris South Rift valley.Evans
Ezekiel Ombaso Oanda sent me the following messages related to what happened in Kenya in his area last week:
At church today. Some people are coming from far distance … Finally we had ten of them who were baptized today in the name of Jesus Christ. Praise God for this fruitful day.
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. (Luke 15:7)
So, there has been a lot of joy in heaven recently.
Suggested Sabbath Day Service
Here is a suggested Sabbath day service 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.
- The suggested sermonette is: European Babylonian Singularity. Other sermonettes are available at our Prophecy channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/prophecy/
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- The suggested sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The suggested one is: Passover Preparation. Other sermons are also available at the COGTube channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/cogtube/
- 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.
World News Items
There was another mass shooting at a school in the USA that made the news (see MS: Transgender shooter in Tennessee shows that professing Christians are not safe and Nashville shooter and the ‘Trans Day of Vengeance’). Sadly, as we warned in a video years ago (watch High School Shootings: 7 Failed Solutions.) the political leaders of the USA do not have solutions to also prevent mass shooting.
We keep seeing reports popup every now and then claiming that the Shroud of Turin actually could be the burial cloth of Jesus (see NewsMax claims proof of the ‘Shroud of Turin’ and its magazine cover asserts it shows ‘The Real Face of Jesus,’ however … ). However, that is not possible because 1) Jesus was not as tall as the Shroud points to and 2) because His burial would have involved strips of cloth, not a single cloth (watch also Could the Shroud of Turin Be Real? 12 Reasons to Consider). That said, as more and more Protestants join Roman Catholics who believe the Shroud is real, this is helping further along the ecumenical agenda that the Vatican has.
On his first state visit out of the UK, King Charles III is currently in Germany hoping to mend fences with the European Union and the UK brought about by the British exit (known as Brexit) from the EU (see King Charles in Germany: a prelude for the fulfillment of prophecies in Hosea?). A few weeks back, in anticipation of that visit, we also made the following sermonette video: King Charles Setting Prophetic Stage?
The Apostle Paul wrote:
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘ (Revelation 3:7-13)
Brethren, strive to live as a Philadelphian Christian and do not let talebearers or others take your crown.
Pastor and Overseer