Letter to the Brethren: October 3, 2019

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.

The Feast of Trumpets is past, but the Day of Atonement is coming up soon. It begins sunset October 8th. So if you need to, you should arrange to be off work and/or school from sunset October 8th to sunset October 9th. Our office will be closed during that time.

Since we videoed the sermon for the Day of Atonement last Sabbath, we did not make another sermon then. So, for this upcoming Sabbath, we are suggesting a sermon by Steve Dupuie.

Feast of Trumpets

Aleksandar “Sasha” Veljic sent the following report from Serbia:

We are preparing for the Feast as we are able…
We have celebrated the Feast of Trumpets with joy on the appointed time.  It was a historic occasion since we held the services for the first time in my home library.  Five of us attended, 4 baptized members and one prospective member.  We also got together during the night before, shortly after sunset, to fellowship and to listen to Herbert Armstrong’s last Trumpet message from 1985.  Shortly after sunset, I played the shofar sound from youtube, so we had that wonderful sound around the house on the high day.
The Feast of Trumpets service was also marked with another historical thing.  Namely, we video recorded the service for the first time and so now we have a message in Serbian expounding on the significance of that day.  My message was centered on your notes about the connection between the Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets.  …
It was a memorable Feast of Trumpets for us here.
With best regards,
Sasha

Glad that the Feast of Trumpets went well there. It was fine here as well. For any who may understand Serbian, here is a link to Sasha’s message: Dan truba i Knjiga života pouka 2019

Rift Valley Kenya Report

Pastor Tiongik Sawek sent in the following report related to the Sabbath before the Feast of Trumpets:

REPORT FROM KENYA, SOUTH RIFT BOMET

I great you in the name of Jesus Christ. On Friday we went back to Bomet, I, David Langat and the elder from Chebirbelek, Paul Mutai. I waited Evangelist Ochieng in Bomet Town where we travel to Kiromwok where the Sabbath meeting was held, we had a blessed Sabbath meeting there. We receive a warm welcome from the Brethren’s more so when we interacted with them face to face. I was given a chance to speak to the congregation and I taught them on the book of Mathew 10:12-13 and Hebrews 13:1.

Thereafter during the afternoon session I invited Evangelist Ochieng to give out his sermon, whereby he stressed that “those who follow the Ten Commandments and observe the ordained feast of the Lord will automatically receive Christ on his return”. He told them not behave like SDAS’ or the Sunday brethren’s who pretends to be following the bible truth but in the real sense they are not. He also strengthen them to refrain from lying and follow the truth. The brethren’s also requested him to visit them again for they were indeed very happy.

Evangelist further extends his assistance by giving out support of iron sheets to the Brethren’s for the completion of roofing and covering of the wall after noticing that the building was halfway roofed and was wrapped with a tent. He promise them of having the floor plastered after completion of roofing. The Brethren’s felt thankful to Evangelist Ochieng and the entire ministers for the continuing of Church of God. The visit of Evangelist Ochieng was wonderful and was like the first visit to Chilani where he also did wonderful task including assistance of windows and other needy people. We are therefore in need of him in Chilani and requesting him because it has been a long since he visited.

Indeed we the Brethren’s of the rift valley were greatful for these deeds. The local churches of Chebirbelek, Chepkosa, Kiromwok will assemble in one place in the forth coming feast of tabernacle. In Mau, Olmekenyu, Kewet, Mosonic and Sagamian will also assemble in one place. Takitech, Motosiet, Cheramgoi, Kabolecho, Ilkerin and Chilani and also Chebunyo will assemble in one place.

Since there will be more Brethren’s in Chilani it’s our humble request to you and to Evangelist Ochieng if possible we get few mattresses and blankets as there will be elderly Brethren’s during the prayers. After the feast of terbenacle we shall visit the Maasai community since we had received an invitation from them together with Angata Baragoi. As we expect either one or three of the Maasai community during the Chilani meeting.

Pray for us also as we too pray for you.

Regards

Pastor Sawek.

Evangelist Ochieng was able to spend some time there, and that is helpful since most in that area did not have a prior COG background. I knew that we had some interest from the Maasai, when I was last in Kenya. It is nice to know that there is sustained interest with them.

Day of Atonement: Satan Gets Banished

Here is something from the Book of Leviticus regarding the Day of Atonement:

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32).

7 ‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall afflict your souls; you shall not do any work. (Numbers 29:7)

Fasting is historically mainly how the phrase “afflict your souls” has been interpreted by the Jewish and Church of God communities (this is also verified by such passages as Psalm 35:13; 69:10 and Isaiah 58:5) to mean fasting, unless one is somehow ill, and thus is already afflicted. Evening to evening means from sunset to sunset.

The New Testament itself calls the Day of Atonement, “the Fast” (Acts 27:9), which not only indicates that the Apostle Paul was keeping it (which he would be per statements in Acts 21:18-24; 28:17), but that Greek-named Theophilus (the Christian which the Book of Acts was addressed to in Acts 1:1), also must have been or another term would have been substituted.

Observant individuals affiliated with the Churches of God will fast from sunset this night until sunset the next night (if they are physically able–nursing mothers, small children, pregnant women, and various afflicted others are not expected to fast–this is consistent with Jewish practices in this area as well). In this fast we go without food or drink.

Oddly, one Protestant report claims that one reason Christians do not need to keep the Day of Atonement is because there is no Jewish temple today (Cocherell BL. SHOULD THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST FAST ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?). Yet, the biblical reality is that the children of Israel kept the Day of Atonement for centuries before there was a temple and the other reality is that the New Testament shows that Christians are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

In the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement included a ceremony where the Azazel goat was sent to the wilderness (Leviticus 16:1-10). Christians see this sending of the Azazel goat away as picturing the time during the millennium when Satan will be bound and sent away for a thousand years in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-4). This means that Satan will not be able to tempt and deceive during that time. The Azazal goat was not slain, nor is Satan pictured being slain.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, a goat is not sacrificed by Christians to observe this day (cf. Hebrews 10:1-10).

Yet, although Jesus was our Passover lamb sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7-8) and He was slain only once (Hebrews 9:28), we also see a time other than Passover where Jesus is ceremonially slain.

Why?

Many have speculated, but there could be clues along with the fact that this sacrifice happens before the release of the second goat.

The original Passover only resulted in the children of Israel being passed over for their sins. In this age, those who are true Christians claim the sacrifice of Jesus on His final earthly Passover for paying the penalty for our sins. But real Christians are a small minority of the population of the world (Luke 12:32; Romans 11:5).

Since the Bible calls Satan “the god of this age” who has “blinded” the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), most have been blinded and have not yet been covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet this covering will happen for nearly all who will be called–either in this age or the age to come (Matthew 12:32). Showing the sacrifice, ceremonially after the church age ends, helps demonstrate that the sacrifice of Jesus was not just for those called in the church age, as God’s plan includes offering salvation to all, and not just today’s elect.

By showing the sacrifice prior to the other goat being released, this shows that Jesus was not taking away the sins of Satan.

Jesus took the penalty of all human beings. But it doesn’t apply to humans until after God calls us and grants us repentance (John 6:44) and we come to be willing to repent and we come to believe. Not only in Jesus, but we believe the Son and we believe the Father, that is, we believe what They say. Also, we prove it by repenting, being baptized, being granted the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and actually trying to live as They would have us live (cf. 1 John 2:6).

Historically, we see that the Day of Atonement was kept in the 4th century, because of sermons from John Chrysostom who preached against it (John Chrysostom. Homily Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2).

This observance can also be seen in Canon 69/70 of the Syrian Apostolic Canons near this time which tried to ban it (Seaver JE.  Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (300-438), Issue 30 of University of Kansas publications: Humanistic studies. University of Kansas Publications, 1952, pp. 34-35).

A Muslim document, dated from the period of the fifth-tenth century, states that Jesus and His disciples kept the fast on the same days as the Jews. It indicates that Judeo-Christians were still keeping the Day of Atonement while the Greco-Romans came up with a 50 day Lenten-fasting period that Jesus did not keep (Tomson P. Lambers-Petry L. The Image of the Judaeo-Christians in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature, Volume 158, 2003, pp. 70-72; Stern SM. Quotations from Apocryphal Gospels in ‘Abd Al-Jabbar. Journal of Theological Studies, NS. Vol. XVIII, (1) April 1967: 34-57).  Reports from other historians support this view (e.g. Pines, pp. 32-34). Furthermore, we see historical reports that it was still being kept in Transylvania in the 16th century (Liechty, pp. 61-62).

The old Radio Church of God observed the Day of Atonement (and the other Holy Days) throughout the 20th century. We in the Continuing Church of God continue to observe it today.

Bible News Prophecy Magazine

We have sent out the English and Spanish editions of the Bible News Prophecy magazine for October-December 2019.

  

Those who live in Africa should get them from the Kenya office.

We also are sent out the book Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation to our supporters.

While we have had an online version of that book available for many months, it recently underwent its final editing and was just printed (and most copies arrived in the office on Friday and the rest this Tuesday).

This is the longest book the Continuing Church of God has published thus far. It is hoped that those outside of the CCOG will realize that there are hundreds of scriptures that support the view that God will offer salvation to all–to the elect in this age, and to all others in the age to come.

Related to that, I also mailed a copy of this book to a former president of the Church of God (Seventh Day)-Denver at his request. He has told me several times over the past decade that he wished this doctrine was true, but he was not sure that the scriptures proved it to be so. When we spoke last Friday, he said he was looking forward to receiving and reviewing this book. Hopefully, he will be able to see that scriptures do support God’s plan to offer salvation to all.

That same former CG7 president read another CCOG book I sent him earlier this year titled Proof Jesus is the Messiah.

Feast of Tabernacles and St. Louis Parking & Optional Activities

As mentioned last, Feast of Tabernacles’ services will begin the evening of October 13th and run through (including the Last Great Day) October 21st, 2019.

Here is a link to: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2019.

The St. Louis site is at The Westin St. Louis Hotel, 811 Spruce Street. If they valet park your car it is $30.00 per night plus tax and tip. Self-Parking for overnight guests is free. For those who attend the Feast site, but do not stay at the hotel, we have arranged to give all who tell us in advance of the Feast, free parking stickers.

We do have an optional activity in mind for after services on October 16th in St. Louis. That would be going to the Saint Louis Zoo, Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110. Admission to the zoo is free (though you have to pay to park if you drive). But they do sell optional items (like a mini-train ride, watch certain shows, etc.). Also, traditionally many of us get together for a dinner, and while a location would need to be determined, it would probably be around 6:00 pm somewhere in St. Louis–you would pay for your own meal and drinks.

You can click here to view an online St. Louis Visitors’ Guide or click here to get a free printed St. Louis Visitors’ Guide mailed to you from the local tourist bureau.

World News Items

In Hong Kong, there have been more protests and violence (see ‘Hong Kong Protesters March in Defiance Ahead of National Day’). On Tuesday, China celebrated its 70th anniversary of becoming communist with a military display (see ‘China parades its latest missiles in challenge to US, others’). Hong Kong will one day unite with China, despite the protests–and sooner than 2047. As far as China’s military, it may one day be used against New Zealand and/or Australia (watch Are Chinese threats against Australia for real? and also Australia and New Zealand: Origins and Prophecy).

In the USA, the left and right leaning media has been focused on Ukraine and the possible impeachment of its President Donald Trump (see Newsweek: Trump’s ‘Civil War’ Quote Tweet Is Actually Grounds for Impeachment, Says Harvard Law Professor).

Over in the UK, Brexit is still a major issue (see BBC: ‘Boris Johnson: No-deal only alternative to Brexit plan’ AP: ‘EU makes appeal to US: let’s avoid another tariff war’). Presuming it happens relatively soon, Brexit and trade policies from the USA could weaken the EU economy for a time (see Brexit and Donald Trump: The one-two punch to the economy of the EU? and NBC: U.S. hits Europe with tariffs in retaliation over Airbus, Boeing case ).

Partially because of both Brexit and Donald Trump, Europe is looking to be friendlier with Russia (see ‘What’s Right About France’s Overtures Toward Russia?’). While Europe still has major issues with Russia, many in Europe trust Russia more than the USA at this time. Europe continues to work on technology, which will likely help make it the military power that Revelation 13:3-4 and Daniel 11:39-43 points to (see KATRIN: Another European technology project with military potential). As far as Russia goes, I believe that it will assist the European Beast power in the future when it goes against the USA (Daniel 11:39) and at least some of its British-descended allies (cf. Daniel 8:24-25; Isaiah 17:3).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: 10 German ‘New World Order’ Moves. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Is World Government the Solution? Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Day of Atonement Service

The Day of Atonement begins at sunset October 8th this year.

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for the Day of Atonement this year:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Offertory, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one: Atonement Offertory: Jesus Was the Atoning Sacrifice
  • Announcements (if any) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Atonement, Fasting, and Jesus. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel, especially if you wish two services today.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

For those wishing a second service for the Day of Atonement, here is another possibility:

The next annual holy day will be the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins at sunset on October 13th this year.

Concluding Comments

Brethren, those who can fast, need to fast with the right attitude:

1 ″Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression,And the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him,And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you take away the yoke from your midst,The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought,And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:1-14)

Brethren, the Day of Atonement is nearly here: keep it as God wants you to.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer