Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.

Before going further, some of you may be interested in hearing that three people in the USA who had requested prayers in the past week or reported on Monday and Tuesday that the prayers were answered. Two had to do with health, and one had to do with personal finances. Yes, God hears our prayers.

Feast of Tabernacles 2020

The Feast of Tabernacles for 2020 is almost upon us. Services are to begin the evening of October 2nd and continue until the Last Great Day which is October 10th. It is a time we can meet as brethren each Fall as well as learn and exhort one another.

Notice also the following:

10 …”At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

Notice that this reading of the book of the law was to happen every seven years. Although this has been overlooked by most COG groups, in the CCOG we did this in 2013, and thus are intending to do it seven years later, which is this year, in 2020.

The Feast of Tabernacles, itself, pictures a culminating event in God’s plan. After Jesus died for our sins to redeem humankind, and after He sent us the Holy Spirit and picked out a people for His Name.  After His return those called, chosen, and faithful (cf. Revelation 17:14) in this age are to become kings and priests to reign with Him on earth (Revelation 5:10). This will result in the commencement of the establishment of the millennial Kingdom of God on earth.

The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the spiritual and material abundance that will occur during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ when people will keep God’s laws without Satan’s deceptions (Revelation 20:1-6). This is in contrast to what is happening now in a world deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). Satanic deception, which will be gone then (Revelation 20:1-3), is part of why most who profess Christianity have been misled by ‘nice’ false ministers as well as why many of those ministers have been misled (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Jesus himself, kept the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, and also taught it per John 7:10-37.

Here are some instructions about it from the Hebrew scriptures:

33 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it.

41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, (Leviticus 23:33-35,41-42)

13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, … 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:13-17)

God had ancient Israel dwell in booths/tabernacles (‘sukkos’ in Hebrew) in the wilderness for decades before they entered the promised land. Those booths, in a sense, pictured that they were only heirs to the promised land. Even during the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is ruling over mortal nations, the mortal people will be only heirs to the Kingdom. They must overcome and grow in knowledge and wisdom to inherit the promises.

God says of Ephraim (sometimes portraying a type of all Israel in scripture) that they will “dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the feast” (Hosea 12:9, Douay-Rheims). Israel, in the wilderness, was a type of all people who must go through trials and tribulations to inherit the promises (1 Corinthians 10:11). They were sojourners, waiting to inherit the promises of God.

We Christians are to realize that we have no permanent city in this age and look to the one to come (Hebrews 13:14). The staying in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles helps remind us of that.  Christians should attend church services, if possible, each day of the Feast of Tabernacles to learn (Deuteronomy 31:10-13; Nehemiah 8:17-18) being living sacrifices, which is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

The Feast of Tabernacles is a time to rejoice (Deuteronomy 14:26; 16:15). The use of the related tithe (commonly called “second tithe”) shows that this is to be a time of abundance (Deuteronomy 14: 22-26), but also that the ministry should be taken care of in this age (Deuteronomy 14:27). The Feast of Tabernacles helps picture the time of millennial abundance.  This gives us a glimpse into the time after Jesus returns.

The millennium represents the seventh day of God’s 7,000 year plan. Interestingly, every seven years, the book of the law was commanded to be read at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). This helps picture that the law, including the Ten Commandments, will be kept in the millennium, as the Bible shows the law will be taught then (Isaiah 2:2-3; more on the commandments can be found in our free online booklet The Ten Commandments). It is living according to God’s laws that will bring blessings and abundance during the millennium.

We Christians now await the coming millennium and the change that occurs at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52), which is also called the first resurrection:

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

The Bible show that after Jesus gathers the Church to Himself, and after He is seated on His throne where we will be ruling with Him, He will gather the nations before Him and say to the Christians:

34 Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:34).

Now, those who keep the Feast of Tabernacles look forward to this as it helps picture the millennial kingdom.

In the early second century, Papias of Hierapolis said:

[T]here will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth.

The observance of the Feast of Tabernacles is a shadow of the coming millennial kingdom of God that faithful Christians have kept since New Testament times.

The Feast of Tabernacles is essentially a ‘pilgrimage’ (Psalm 84:1-5) period, meaning it usually involves travel outside of one’s normal community. Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with humans when He was here (As the Greek word ἐσκἠνωσεν in John 1:14 can be translated per Green JP. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Baker Books, 1996, 5th printing 2002, p. 282).

While some falsely claim that the Feast of Tabernacles from the past through current times must only be kept in Jerusalem, this is in error. The children of Israel were not even in Jerusalem for centuries after the commands for its observance in Leviticus 23 were recorded—hence Jerusalem was not an initial option for them. The Bible shows the Feast of Tabernacles can be kept in cities other than Jerusalem (Nehemiah 8:15; cf. Deuteronomy 14:23-24). During the second temple period (530 B.C – 70 A.D.), Jews often kept it elsewhere (Hayyim Schausse noted, “Sukkos was a great festival even outside of Jerusalem.” Schausse H. The Jewish Festivals: A Guide to Their History and Observance, 1938. Schocken, p. 184).

It may also be of interest to note Polycarp of Smyrna in the 2nd century (Life of Polycarp, Chapter 19.) and certain others in Asia Minor in the late 4th century kept the  Feast  of  Tabernacles  in  Asia  Minor, not  Jerusalem.  This is confirmed by sources such as the Catholic saint Jerome (Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 – 1542A) and research done by the 20th century Cardinal Jean Danielou (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, pp. 343-346).

A nineteenth century anti-millennial scholar named Giovanni Battista Pagani wrote the following about the Egyptian Bishop Nepos of the third century and those who supported the millennium:

…all those who teach a millennium framed according to Jewish ideas, saying that during the millennium, Mosaic law will be restored…These are called Judaical Millenarians, not as being Jews, but as having invented and upheld a millennium according … The principal authors of this error were Nepos, an African Bishop, against whom St. Dionysius wrote his two books on Promises; and Apollinaris, whom St. Epiphanius confound in his work against heresies. (Pagani, Giovanni Battista. Published by Charles Dolman, 1855, pp. 252-253)

It should be of interest to note that neither Bishops Nepos nor Apollinaris were Jews, but were condemned for having a religion that had “Jewish” beliefs. And since Apollinaris is called a Catholic saint, it should be clear that the respected non-Jewish Christian leaders in the early third century clearly did hold to ideas that were condemned by the allegorists. The fact that they held to “Mosaic law” is evidence then that they both understood the meaning of and kept the Feast of Tabernacles, but with a Christian emphasis.

The Greco-Roman bishop & saint Methodius of Olympus in the late 3rd or early 4th century taught that the Feast of Tabernacles was commanded and that it had lessons for Christians:

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord, …it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord … For like as the Israelites, having left the borders of Egypt, first came to the Tabernacles, and from hence, having again set forth, came into the land of promise, so also do we. For I also, taking my journey, and going forth from the Egypt of this life, came first to the resurrection, which is the true Feast of the Tabernacles, and there having set up my tabernacle, adorned with the fruits of virtue, on the first day of the resurrection, which is the day of judgment, celebrate with Christ the millennium of rest, which is called the seventh day, even the true Sabbath. (Methodius. Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 9)

The Catholic priest and scholar Jerome said that Nazarene Christians kept it and that they believed that it pointed to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 – 1542A). This keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles by Nazarene Christians in the late fourth century was also confirmed by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint Epiphanius of Salamis.

Mainly based upon New Testament scriptures, Christians keep the Feast of Tabernacles a bit different than the Israelites did.

Records indicate that the Feast of Tabernacles seems to have been kept in Europe during the Middle Ages (Ambassador College Correspondence Course, Lesson 51.  “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place …” Rev. 12:6. 1968) as well as specifically in Transylvania in the 1500s (Liechty, pp. 61-62), at places without palm branches. There is some evidence to suggest that it was kept in the Americas in the 1600 and 1700s (where there also would not have been palm branches). It was kept by the old Radio Church of God and Worldwide Church of God all around the world in the 20th century.

We in the Continuing Church of God continue to keep it in places around the world and we also teach that the Feast of Tabernacles points to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom of God.

The Feast of Tabernacles has been observed by many modern Christians in either tents or motel/hotel rooms functioning as “tabernacles”—temporary dwellings— and not just in palm-branch huts that the Israelites normally used. The New Testament shows that Christians have a different tabernacle (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11-15), which is consistent with not having to personally to build a palm-booth. The Bible shows that the children of Israel dwelt mainly in tents per Exodus 33:8 (and sometimes other apparently temporary, per Deuteronomy 4:45-49, homes) while they were in the wilderness for forty years and that God considered those as “tabernacles” per Leviticus 23:43. Living in tents or motel rooms is a similar type of temporary dwelling/tabernacle today.

The Bible shows Christians need not make animal sacrifices/offerings (Hebrews 9:9) like the burnt offerings which the children of Israel used to provide during the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36-37). Instead, we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1)—which normally includes regularly attending church services during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Some may wonder why attending services is done for all the days at the Feast of Tabernacles, yet this is not required for the Days of Unleavened Bread. The basic scriptural reason is that the command says, ”You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days … Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses” (Deuteronomy 16:13,15), but that is not so stated related to the Days of Unleavened Bread—the commands for it says to eat unleavened bread for seven days in Leviticus 23:6 and Deuteronomy 16:3, as opposed to observe the feast for seven days (we make a ‘sacrifice’ the seven days of unleavened bread by eating unleavened bread on each of the days). The Bible also says to be in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:42), but does not state this related to the other Holy Days.

Since Satan will be bound for the millennial reign (Revelation 20:1-2), there will be less deception then. Going away for the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and meeting daily helps picture a time when the world will be quite different than it now is.

“Your Kingdom Come!” (Matthew 6:10).

Bible prophecy shows that the Feast of Tabernacles will be kept in the millennium:

16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19).

So the Bible teaches that God will expect all to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the future. Even Catholic commentators recognize that God’s plan includes the Feast of Tabernacles. A Catholic commentary on passages in Zechariah 14 states:

In the mean time such as before persecuted the Church shall be converted, & with great devotion will celebrate the festivities, and exercise religious rites to Gods honor: and shall merit great rewards. (The Original And True Douay Old Testament Of Anno Domini 1610 Volume 2, p. 824)

The kingdom of God will replace all the kingdoms of this world (Revelation 11:15), and this festival helps picture this by separating (cf. Revelation 18:4; 1 John 2:18-19) Christian pilgrims (1 Peter 2:1-12) from their usual routine.

The keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles gives us a glimpse in this age of what will happen in the future millennial kingdom. The Bible also shows that later, “the tabernacle of God” will be on the earth “and He will dwell with” us (Revelation 21:3).

Keeping the Feast of Tabernacles now is a foretaste of things to come in the Kingdom of God.

Different Sites, Different Recommendations

While ALL CCOG sites need to cover the Book of the Law in 2020, there are different ways this is expected to be done.

Sites with live sermon speaker (USA, Serbia, Africa, and India) are to have sermons that will, by the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, have covered the entire Book of Deuteronomy.

Those sites that do not have sufficient internet connections (such as the Philippines and parts of Africa) should watch the sermon DVDs that were sent a couple of weeks ago. In some cases, those sermons should be translated live into local languages. If the DVDs do not arrive (and they had not arrived in Ethiopia when I last heard), please at least have someone read the entire Book of Deuteronomy in the local language during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Sites that understand English and have sufficient internet connection (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) should watch the 2020 ‘Book of the Law’ sermons if possible. However, because of time zone and other issues, they will not be able to start until a day or two after the Feast of Tabernacles begins. They should watch at least three of the following first four to start the Feast (sunset Friday through sunset Saturday), as well as the final two below for the Last Great Day (and yes, with the ‘Book of the Law’ sermons, this adds up to 9 sermons in 8 days):

2020 Feast of Tabernacles Opening Night Message

Offertory – Feast of Tabernacles

Christian Feast of Tabernacles

Behind The Work 2020: Into East Africa

Last Great Day Offertory

Last Great Day: God is impartial and has a plan for all

For those not able to physically attend, if they have sufficient internet access (and understand English), they should follow the same guidelines (plus probably also read the article How to Keep God’s Festivals).

In the event we are unable to upload one or more Book of the Law sermons from 2020, the related one(s) of the following from 2013 can be watched:

Anyway, yes, we expect Philadelphian Christians to hear the ‘Book of the Law’ read during the Feast of Tabernacles in 2020.

San Antonio Festival Site

In the USA, at this instant, we are not aware of travel restrictions to stop people from attending the Feast of Tabernacles–though some states might make travel through them more difficult.

In the USA, we are scheduled to meet at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas called the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade located at 9821 Colonnade Boulevard San Antonio, Texas 78230. Here is a photo from its website:

Omni Hotel, San Antonio

No, you do not have to stay at the Omni, but many will find it convenient. In addition to our meeting there, it has two restaurants, one lobby snack bar, and may even have food available at its pool. If you stay here, they have said that they have a complementary airport shuttle.

Unlike much of the State of California, Texas does allow indoor dining. However, because of COVID, masks are required to enter until you sit down at the table as well as to enter hotels.

Please do not let COVID-19 fears or threats stop you from planning on coming. As mentioned before, we have a back-up plan for a location about an hour north of San Antonio if the hotel has to cancel because of governmental orders. And if the hotel has to cancel, they also have agreed to cancel your reservations as well. But at this point we have no indication of any pending cancellation–so yes, we plan to meet at the Omni October 2, for services beginning at 7:30 pm.

We intend to hold the Feast of Tabernacles in the countries we have indicated before (there could be changes, however). Information on the planned locations is included in our article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2020. However, there may be changes in how we can conduct services. But so far, we expect to hold services as normal, but with covering the Book of Deuteronomy in most of the sermons.

In so much as is possible, people should try to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

World News Items

Jesus told of a time of wars and rumors of war (Matthew 24:6-8). What has been going on between Azerbaijan and Armenia the past several days, sadly, is consistent with that (see Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting over the region known as Nagorno-Karabakh).

In the USA, the presidential debate on Tuesday has sparked both domestic and international criticism (see ‘Trump, Biden Clash in Chaotic, Contentious Debate’). The USA is losing respect around the world, and its presidential debate is another reason why.

Speaking of presidential matters, ‘third temple’ advocate Yehuda Glick is interested in becoming the president of Israel (see ‘Third Temple Activist Runs for President of Israel’). If he gets that position, this does not mean that a ‘third temple’ will be built in Israel, but it possibly could be a factor in ultimately seeing the resumption of animal sacrifices. Since the Bible teaches that those sacrifices will be stopped (per Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), we know that they must start first.

Over in Switzerland, they held an election and decided to continue to allow European Union related immigration and travel (see ‘Switzerland Voters Reject Limiting Immigration from EU’–a move closer to the Gad prophecy?). The Bible shows that Switzerland, which has stayed out of the EU, will be essentially overwhelmed by it (see Genesis 49:1-2, 19).

Speaking of the EU, it is launching a legal challenge against the UK as it does not agree with its recent “Internal Markets Bill” (see https://www.dw.com/en/eu-launches-legal-action-against-uk-over-brexit-bill/a-55115589). This will increase tensions between the UK and EU in the short run, and ultimately we will see the end of the UK at the hands of the coming European Beast in the long run (cf. Isaiah 17:3a; Daniel 8:24-25).

Concluding Comments

Moses wrote:

2 … The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. (Leviticus 23:2)

34 … The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. … 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. (Leviticus 23:34-35,41)

Brethren, keep God’s Feast of Tabernacles.

As the Apostle Paul declared, by all means keep this coming feast (Acts 18:21). Please plan to do so if possible.

The existence of COVID-19 is NOT a biblical reason not to keep it. Though if you have COIVD-19 or are otherwise a carrier of a contagious disease, obviously you should not attend.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer