Letter to the Brethren: September 10, 2020

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.

The State of California has been burning (from fires mainly attributed to lightning strikes) and there have been record temperature highs (see New heat records set as many parts of California burn). My wife Joyce and I were in heat as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit a few days ago (42 degrees Celsius). A record temperature, about 12 miles north of our office, of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) was recorded on Sunday. There are also wildfires in Washington and Oregon (see CBS: Wildfires and weather extremes: It’s not coincidence, it’s climate change; COGwriter: Sin can cause ‘climate change’ ).

Although no fires are near us, there has been a lot of ash falling from the sky from some faraway fire(s).

Feast of Tabernacles and COVID

We continue to make plans for the Feast of Tabernacles this year.

In 2020, Feast of Tabernacles’ 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.

The Apostle Paul, after the Christ’s death and resurrection indicated that it was important to keep the Feast–and this looks to have been the Feast of Tabernacles:

21 I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.

So, the Apostle Paul traveled to keep the Feast. Jesus kept God’s Feasts (Luke 22:8,14-16) and also traveled to do so (John 7:11-39).

If you have not yet committed to going to a CCOG Feast of Tabernacles’ site this year, have you looked at every possible means to do so?

Hopefully, you are.

Consider that the Bible teaches:

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).

We in the Continuing Church of God did so in 2013, and are to do so at all of our festival sites in 2020–as that is seven years later. We are the only COG I am aware of that will be doing this in 2020.

That being said, we are aware of travel restrictions in Canada, Australia, Africa, and elsewhere because of COVID regulations.

Yet, the Bible teaches:

29 … We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

Jesus taught:

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. (Matthew 10:16-17)

So, sometimes we need to use a lot of wisdom to obey. But we still are to obey God.

In Kenya, we have had to limit the number of people at the festival sites because of COVID rules. So did we tell people not to attend the Feast of Tabernacles?

No!

Instead, we ended up increasing our number of sites by 50% or so in Kenya. Plus we hope to have one of our first sites in Mozambique (previously, some from there went to Malawi for the Feast of Tabernacles).

Australia Feast

Because of COVID related rules, Australia has travel restrictions within its own country which makes travel difficult and almost impossible. Jamie Stonham has volunteered to coordinate a small site at Boomerang Beach on the North Coast of NSW (New South Wales). It will be a site watching video sermons that we have for the Feast in 2020, plus a chance for fellowship. If you may wish to attend, please send him an email at jamie.stonham@gmail.com

Feast of Tabernacles and Canada

Here is something related to Canada:

As of this date, everyone who enters New Brunswick from Ontario or Vancouver if permitted to enter New Brunswick, must quarantine 14 days.

In Canada, you must first ask to enter, get approved for your reason for coming, and get approved for a two-week quarantine plan you are to propose. This may not  look feasible for most non-New Brunswick residents. Others in Canada may wish to see if they can fly to San Antonio, Texas in the USA. However, be aware that it is currently the case that Canadian officials will insist you are quarantined at home or elsewhere when you return to Canada.

The Apostle Paul said to imitate him as he imitated Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). Both kept the Feast of Tabernacles, even when it was difficult for them to do.

You should, if you can, attend the Feast of Tabernacles as well.

For more on the site in Canada, you can contact Herb Haddon. His email address is hwhaddon@gmail.com

San Antonio Festival Site

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

As mentioned before for the USA, we have an agreement with 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

Should you stay there, the daily room rate is $119 per night, plus applicable taxes. You can call 1800TheOmni to make a reservation–tell them it is for the Feast of Tabernacles.

The hotel provided a link to book directly online. Here it is: https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-antonio/meetings/feast-of-tabernacles-10022020

While you do not have to stay at the Omni, many will find it convenient. In addition to our meeting there, it has two restaurants, one lobby snack bar, and even food available at its pool.

Unlike 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.

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. And if the hotel has to cancel, they also have agreed to cancel your reservations as well.

If you plan to attend in San Antonio and have not already done so, please send me an email. Please do not assume that I know. Please do not delay. My email address remains COGwriter@aol.com

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.

USA Donation Receipts

Last week we sent our donation receipts to donors in the USA that we have mailing addresses for. We have decided to send them out three times per year in 2020 as opposed to the four times we have done in the past years. If you need a receipt and have not received one by next week, please send me an email: COGwriter@aol.com

World News Items

China has been in the news for many reasons, including concerns that it might use its so-called ‘nuclear-option’ and drop its vast holding of US Treasury notes (see ‘China may dump U.S. Treasuries as Sino-U.S. tensions flare’). Because of the economic impact of China, the Philippines is trying to inch closer to China, while hoping to keep positive relations with the USA (see ‘China or US ? Philippines Inches Toward a Neutral Foreign Policy’). Bible prophecy tells of a time when the ‘kings of the east’ will get together in a temporary confederation–since this confederation would be expected to include the Philippines and China, the inching closer we are seeing now is consistent with that.

While much of the world has various restrictions many claim will be lifted once an “effective COVID-19 vaccine is in place,” this is complicated by the fact that there seem to be 12,000 mutations of it (see ‘The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter?’). Disruptions to food supplies because of COVID-blamed decisions has impacted many areas. The United Nations has pointed to at least five potential areas for famine related to the coronavirus pandemic policies (see ‘First famines induced by the Coronavirus pandemic are already at the world’s doorstep, UN warns’). Jesus warned of pestilences, famines, and sorrows (Matthew 24:7-8), and we are seeing sorrows and potentially famines because of how the world has responded to COVID-19.

Some suspect that COVID-19 will be used as an excuse to change many aspects of the world’s economic scene (see Thoughts on Covid-19: The Great Reset, by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret’). The Bible tells of a totalitarian leader that is in power after the pale horse of death and pestilence of Revelation 6 is released. Some steps taken, as well as proposed, by governments during this COVID-19 time are consistent with some that the European Beast will one day take (e.g. Revelation 13:16-18).

Currently, the European Union is upset with what is going on with negotiations with the United Kingdom related to Brexit (see ‘EU says Britain must respect Brexit deal down to the letter’)–the British Exit for the EU. The UK wants to retain its sovereignty, whereas the EU wants to control standards for goods. The Europeans will not ‘forgive and forget’ Brexit, and will one day takeover the UK (cf. Daniel 8:24-25).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

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.

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 feasts. They are commanded assemblies–holy convocations.

As the Apostle Paul declared, by all means keep this coming feast. Please plan to do so if possible.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer