Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

The Holy Day season is here. The Feast of Trumpets was last Sabbath.

Here is a photo and report from Ethiopia related to the Feast of Trumpets:

Dear Brethren and Sisters.

 This is a very blessing day we had celebrated yesterday that i want to show you.

The photo is very poor enough but we all gives thanks to those who follow the day promised by Great GOD.
I hope, We all doing well of that Feast.
Again, let we wait every things he planned for ours and of those who will be saved later, And this is a very great master plan.
Thanks,
Deacon Koang Deng.
Gambella, Ethiopia.

Here are two photographs and a report from Wiclif Sang of the Bomet-Kiromwok, Kenya congregation:

Receive divinely greetings from the church in the name of YAHWEH.

We are happy to check on you and inform you that we are doing well.
Attached are some pictures taken in our church last Saturday {the Feast of Trumpets}.
Be blessed.

This group came with us a year or so ago. They were previously some type of Church of God, Seventh Day–and we are working to teach them “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). We provided assistance to purchase some of the materials to build the facility they are now in as they were meeting under a tree prior. So, it is nice they could meet inside for the Feast of Trumpets this year.

Day of Atonement

Next week, the Day of Atonement is to be observed from sunset the 27th through sunset the 28th of September.

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. Information on the planned locations is included in our article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2020.

Most of the Greco-Roman churches do not keep the Day of Atonement.

Here is something from the Book of Leviticus:

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 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).

The Day of Atonement was kept in the 4th century according to John Chrysostom who preached against it (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2).

This 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 anti-Semite John Chrysostom specifically attempted to stop people from keeping the Day of Atonement in the late fourth century (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2). However, those trying to be faithful continued to do so throughout history.

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.

Feast of Tabernacles

Remember that 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. Information on the planned locations is included in our article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2020.

Regarding the site in San Antonio, I signed a new agreement with them on Monday which will mean that we are to be able to stay in the same meeting hall (with a slightly odd configuration) for the entire Feast. Originally, we were going to have to switch halls as they had a conflict with another group (which subsequently cancelled).

World News Items

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday night. Justice Ginsburg was a major pro-abortionist (see Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies on Rosh Hashana, but Jewish tradition on that being righteous is in error) and pushed for making homosexual ‘marriage’ legal (see, from 2015, Justice Ginsburg: Americans are ready for homosexual marriage to be a Constitutional right). US President Donald Trump has said he would nominate a woman to replace her (see Trump Says He Will Nominate a Woman to Succeed Ginsburg on Supreme Court). But the pro-abortionists, pro-LGBTQ agendaists, and Congressional Democrats are staunchly opposed to this yet to be named woman. This is one more area of major division in the USA.

Speaking of division, there were violent protests last night related to a shooting by police earlier this year (see 2 Officers Shot During Louisville Protests Over Charges in Police Shooting of Black Woman)–many cities in the USA have been full of violence (cf. (Ezekiel 7:23)–this will not end well (cf. (Ezekiel 7:24).

It is not just the USA that has division. Much of the world is becoming more polarized (cf. AP: Born to prevent war, UN at 75 faces deeply polarized world; WCG: The United Nations at 40). Although it needs the Kingdom of God, most of the world refuses to repent.

Over in Europe, France’s president Macron called for more unity and said more of the states in the EU are willing to support a European army (see https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1338934/Emmanuel-Macron-news-Eu-army-Vladimir-putin-world-war-3). The Bible says the world will marvel at the military power of the coming European Beast in Revelation 13–we are getting closer to that time.

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: Moving Towards Marxist Morality. 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: The Books of the Old Testament. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

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

For those wishing a second service for the Feast of Trumpets, here is another possibility:

The next annual holy day will be the Day of Atonement, which begins at sunset on September 27th this year.

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 on Fasting

How does one “afflict” one’s body on the Day of Atonement?

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. (Isaiah 58:3)

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. (Ezra 8:21, KJV)

The Day of Atonement is perhaps the most unusual Holy Day, as far as what God expects us to do. It is the one day of the year on which God commands us to fast — to abstain from food and water (cf. Exodus 34:28).

What does it mean “afflict your soul”? The word afflict (Hebrew anah) is translated “humble” in Psalm 35:13, where David said, “I humbled myself with fasting.” So, biblically, afflicting oneself often means to fast.

This fasting is for 24 hours, from sunset on the ninth day of the month to sunset on the tenth day, from “evening unto evening” (Leviticus 23:32).

Fasting involves avoiding both food and water for those whose health can handle it. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and others who needed to, though, were still encouraged to drink water on the Day of Atonement and babies would nurse, etc. And we follow the same practice today.

As far as children go, in our family my wife and I tended to ease our children into it, based upon their age and health. First, we always would prohibit any type of desserts and similar snacks on the Day of Atonement. One certainly is not afflicting one’s soul by consuming sweets or ‘junk food.’ We also would tend to have them have dinner before Atonement and after Atonement, so they would generally be eating less during the actual Day of Atonement. We later, as they were older, would then prohibit fruits. Finally, when they were ready and basically asked to fast, then they would avoid all food and drink as we, their parents, did.

Fasting can be done improperly, but it should result in humbling oneself to draw closer to God and His righteous ways:

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?
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. (Isaiah 58:4-12).

Fasting should result in us wishing to help others.

Furthermore, fasting on the Day of Atonement is a vivid reminder of the state of mind necessary for salvation — of the humility, the godly sorrow, the earnest seeking after God and His way — a condition to which this world will have been brought by catastrophic events culminating in Jesus Christ’s return.

Those who will not be putting their health at risk who wish to be faithful Christians should fast on the Day of Atonement.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer