Letter to the Brethren: June 1, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of Central California.

We just got back from Europe last night and are preparing for the upcoming Day of Pentecost. Pentecost will begin at sunset June 3rd and run through sunset June 4th this year.

As happens each year, this means that there will be two Sabbaths in a row.

Partially because of this, I thought for those of you who would be watching the online messages that it would be good to have different speakers this weekend. So, the suggested messages for this Sabbath are from Jay Chiang of China who gives some scriptures and some speculations about Asia in prophecy and John Hickey of New Zealand who gives his comments on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. The Pentecost sermon is from me, but the offertory is from John Hickey.


Tomorrow, June 2, 2017, at 10:30 CDT I am scheduled to be on Jeff Crouere’s show Ringside politics with a punch program. That would be on WGSO 990 AM, New Orleans, Louisiana. Jeff Crouere was an at-large delegate to the 2016 Republican Convention and a supporter of Donald Trump. I have been on his show twice before. He is likely to ask me about Donald Trump as well as prophetic matters. I will likely cover some positive and negative things about Donald Trump as well as how some of his actions are affecting end-time prophecy, particularly with Europe.

More From Malawi and Mozambique

Radson Mulozowa , our host from Malawi sent more about the situation there and Evangelist Evans Ochieng’s latest visit to his region:

Pastor Dr Bob.Greetings From Malawi And Mozambique.I Thank God For The
Visit Of Pastor Evans And Grantone .It Was Precious Visit And Many
Things Are Happening. Pastor Evan Arrived On 18 May And Was Welcomed By
Wedson Matiya (of Mozambique) And Priscilla At The Airport Because By That Time I Was
Admitted At The Hospital Due To Celebral Malaria.  I Was Discharged The
Evening Of The Same Day. On Friday We Went To Mozambique Together To
Meet Brethren.Though It Was Impossible To Enter Mozambique With A
Minibus And Leaders From Malawi Without Passport.By God’s Grace I
Talked To Them And They Allowed Us.Everything Went Well And The
Attendance Was 104. I Gave Funds To Mozambique Leaders To Come To
Malawi . Am Receiving Calls To Visit Mozambique And Teach The Newly
CCOG Brethern. Pastor Get To Know That The Work In Mozambique Am The
One Supervising Because Matiya Said Him Alone Cant Manage Since
Mozambique Is Big. I Thank Pastor Evans For Boosting The Work,am Proud
Of The Work.There Is A Need Of Frequently Visit To Mozambique To Equip
The Brethren.

On Sabbath We At Migowi With 74 Brethern.We Thank God For Chiefs Who
Has Joined Us And The Wonderful Service.We Had Brethern From
Liliongwe, Blantyre.Zambia. Zomba.Matekenya.Balaka Who Has Shown
Interest To Join CCOG. To Mention Few.Many Door Are Opening Following
The Visit Of Ps Evans.Pastor Evans Promised Them That I Will Visit
Them Soon To Teach The Brethren Who Could Not Make To The Conference.
About Zambia Work There Is A Need For Agent Visitation Early June
Before Evans Visit.So That I Can Supervise The Work And Start
Registration Programme. We Have Managed To Get A Place For Feast Of
Tabernacle 2017 At A Hotel Called Thamangani With Evans. Its A Nice
Hotel .The Owner Has Agreed And Pastor Evans Will Give More
Details.The Work In Both Countries Is Powerful Which Need Your Prayers

Much is going on in Africa.


We are also still attempting to figure out matters related to Uganda. We sent some funds to see if paying ‘fines’ will get Sabbath-keepers that recently claimed to be with us out of jail. The funds arrived there today, and I was told that they are trying to get those jailed released.


It is almost time for us to pack to go to Serbia. We are planning to conduct Sabbath services in Belgrade, Serbia on June 17, 2017 and to see some of the brethren there. If you wish to attend, please conduct Elder Aleksander “Sasha” Veljic. His email is aveljic@protonmail.com.


Most who profess Christ know something about Pentecost. Many properly consider it the start of the New Testament church.

After Jesus died, His disciples were told to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit:

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

So they waited and:

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

Notice that statement emphasizes that fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. The Bible is making it clear that the events that follow were directly related to the fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. And, it happened to the disciples because they were all observing it together.

Here is what happened then:

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. …

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. …47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:2-4, 38-42, 47).

They received some of the power of Holy Spirit. And this is considered to be the start of the Christian church by the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, most Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Church of God groups. So the Holy Spirit was given at a certain time (the same time that many of the Jews observed Pentecost) and that Jesus’ disciples were still observing it.

That was not a coincidence.

Is There More to Pentecost?

Many do not realize that Pentecost represented more than the giving of the Holy Spirit and the start of the New Testament church.

Looking at passages in Old and New Testaments provides more information about this day and its meaning.

The Feast of Pentecost was kept by Christians after the initial one, but with no mention of speaking in tongues. The Apostle Paul continued to keep Pentecost decades after the Pentecost mentioned in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Notice what he wrote, about 56 A.D.:

8 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8).

This shows that Paul knew when Pentecost was, that he felt that the Corinthians must know when Pentecost was, and that the Ephesians would have known when Pentecost was. Thus, it apparently was being observed by Paul and the Gentiles in Ephesus and Corinth.

In another year, the Apostle Paul also wished to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost, around 60 A.D.:

16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16).

Thus, Christians in Jerusalem were still observing Pentecost and Paul was observing it too. Otherwise, there would be no obvious reason why Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

The term Pentecost is a Greek term meaning 50th. That term is derived from the following Hebrew description of calculating the date:

15 And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The Day of Pentecost has several names, and because of that, some have been confused about it. Its other biblical names include: the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks and the day of firstfruits.

Jewish Traditions and When is Pentecost?

Singing often accompanied the holy festivals of God, which started at sunset:

29 You shall have a song As in the night when a holy festival is kept, And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the Lord, To the Mighty One of Israel.  (Isaiah 30:29)

Modern Jews tend to call Pentecost by the term Shavuot.

Some have been confused when Pentecost is. Many Jews do not keep it on the same day that the Continuing Church of God keeps it.

The Jewish Sadducees correctly said “that Pentecost would always fall on Sunday,” however “[i]n post-Talmudic and geonic literature … Pentecost falls on the 6th of Siwan” (Pineles, “Darkeh shel Torah,” p. 212, Vienna, 1861; Pentecost. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906). The date many Jews now use (which is in post-Talmudic literature which was put together after the Old Testament and is not scripture), is a later change and not the biblical date. We in the Continuing Church of God observe the biblical method.

Notice also the following from former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks:

The Pharisees, who believed in the Oral Law as well as the Written one understood “the Sabbath” to mean, here, the first day of Pesach (15 Nisan). The Sadducees, who believed in the Written Law only, took the text literally. The day after the Sabbath is Sunday. Thus the count always begins on a Sunday, and Shavuot, fifty days later, also always falls on a Sunday. (Sacks L. Judaism: A Thought for Shavuot. Arutz Sheva, June 3, 2014.)

Christians should remember that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for relying too much on the oral law over the written law (Mark 7:5-13). Jesus told them they were “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:13).

And, as shown below, Pentecost refers to the time of counting fifty as being associated with firstfruits:

16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD (Leviticus 23:16-17).

When you count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath, you find that Pentecost is always to come on a Sunday. Pentecost runs from sunset Saturday until sunset Sunday.  Irenaeus, who claimed to have met Polycarp of Smyrna wrote that the apostles kept Pentecost on a Sunday (Fragments of Irenaeus, 7).

Can Holy Days Be Kept Outside of Jerusalem?

Some have indicated that the biblical Holy Days cannot be kept now as they would require that everyone would go to Jerusalem.

But that was not the case historically, even with Jesus.

Towards the start of His ministry while in Nazareth, Jesus spoke on the “day of the sabbaths” (Luke 4:16). Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks/Sabbaths (Deuteronomy 16:10,16). That Luke meant the plural can be confirmed by looking at the actual Greek term. The actual word (not the Strong’s grouping of like words) for sabbaths, σαββάτων, is plural (σαββάτω, as in Luke 14:1, is singular). The passage is literally translated as follows:

16 And He came into Nazareth where He was brought up. And according to His custom, He went in on the days of the sabbaths, into the synagogue, and stood up to read. (Luke 4:16, Green)

So, this helps show that one could keep a Holy Day, as Jesus did, in a location other than Jerusalem. He also seemed to possibly keep another holy day in Galilee in Luke 6:1-2 (Green JP, Sr. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, third edition. Baker Books, 2002).

Perhaps it should be mentioned that when the Samaritan woman indicated that worship should possibly be restricted to the Jerusalem area (John 4:19), Jesus said that there was not a Jerusalem worship restriction:

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)

The New Testament clearly shows that Holy Day or other worship is not restricted to Jerusalem (see also Matthew 10:23; 23:24).

World News Items

While we were in Europe, the G7 conference occurred.

Because of changes from the Donald Trump Administration, international concerns were raised.

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is upset with US President Donald Trump as is her political rival:

Merkel Furious With Trump After “Unprecedented” G-7 Failure To Reach Consensus On Climate Change

Merkel who had hoped to leave the Saturday summit with the G-7 agenda endorsed by everyone, including Trump, was furious at the US president.

“The whole discussion about climate has been difficult, or rather very unsatisfactory”  German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Saturday. “Here we have the situation that six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one. That means there are no signals until now whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris Agreement or not. We have therefore not talked around it but made clear that we the six member states and the EU remain committed to the goals of the agreement.”

The unhappy German continued: “The fact that we have not been able to make progress here is of course a situation in which you have to say that there is no common support for an important international agreement. This Paris Agreement is not simply any old agreement, but it’s rather a core agreement.”

She concluded by noting the unprecedented breach of agreement within the ranks, perhaps a first in G-7 history “There is right now no agreement. But we have made very clear that we are not moving away from our positions.” http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-27/merkel-furious-trump-after-unprecedented-g-7-failure-reach-consensus-climate-change

The declaration released by the Group of Seven (G7)  leaders admitted that the US was still “reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics.”

All other six leaders pledged their commitment to the Paris deal. An official announcement is yet to be made.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the talks on climate as “very unsatisfying,” adding that “there are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.”

Merkel said that the Paris agreement was so important that there should be no compromises on it. …

“Europe, Canada and Japan stood up today and made a stand, revealing again how far Trump is out of step with the rest of the world on climate change,” said Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace’s international executive director, adding that the clean energy revolution was unstoppable. “Leaders must now keep resolve and ensure that the G20 signals even greater climate ambition. 05/27/17 http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-g7-climate-talks-with-trump-very-unsatisfying/a-39008318

May 28, 2017

​​​​​​MUNICH (Reuters) – Europe can no longer completely rely on its allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, pointing to bruising meetings of G7 wealthy nations and NATO last week.

Merkel did not mention by name U.S. President Donald Trump, who criticized major NATO allies and refused to endorse a global climate change accord, but she told a packed beer tent in Munich that the days when Europe could completely count on others were “over to a certain extent”.

“I have experienced this in the last few days,” she said. “And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands – of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.” https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/28/after-summits-with-trump-merkel-says-europe-must-take-fate-into/22113540/

Merkel warns US, Britain no longer reliable partners

28 May 2017

Europe “must take its fate into its own hands” faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.

“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she added.

While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, “we have to fight for our own destiny”, Merkel went on.

Special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, she said. https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/merkel-warns-us-britain-no-longer-reliable-partners

Trump’s actions have ‘weakened’ the West, German foreign minister says

May 29, 2017

(CNN)Germany’s foreign minister launched a scathing criticism of Donald Trump on Monday, claiming the US President’s actions have “weakened” the West and accusing the US government of standing “against the interests of the European Union.”

Just 24 hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Europe could no longer completely rely on traditional allies such as the US and Britain, the country’s top diplomat, Sigmar Gabriel, went a step further.

“Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,” Gabriel said.

“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union. The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker.”

Germany and other European nations were unimpressed with Trump’s performance at both the NATO and G7 summits last week, where he refused to endorse NATO’s collective defense principle or the Paris climate agreement. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/29/europe/angela-merkel-uk-amber-rudd/

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader and Merkel’s campaign rival, Martin Schulz, appeared to echo the chancellor’s words late on Sunday, calling on closer cooperation between European states following Saturday’s deadlock at the G7.

“Europe is the answer,” Schulz said. “Closer European cooperation on all fronts is the answer to Donald Trump. Above all, we cannot let ourselves be subjugated to Trump’s rearmament policy.”

Schulz, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2012 to 2017, said European states must take a decisive approach to dealing with Trump, whose presentation and attitude in Brussels and Taormina he compared to that of a dictator. 05/28/17 http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-europe-can-no-longer-rely-on-us-and-britain/a-39018097?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Friends/allies of the USA are deciding that they need to go a different way (cf. Lamentations 1:1-2). Notice also the claim that “Europe is the answer.”

Consider also that the comments from Germany’s chancellor have been called “a watershed” moment in a Twitter post by Richard N. Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations:

Richard N. Haass ✔ @RichardHaass

Merkel saying Europe cannot rely on others & needs to take matters into its own hands is a watershed-& what US has sought to avoid since WW2

8:08 AM – 28 May 2017

The rift between the USA and Europe on climate and other matters is not a surprise.

More and more leaders in Europe are now willing to publicly state that Europe needs to take care of itself and not rely on others.

The USA has been encouraging Europe to spend more on defense for years, but since the election of Donald Trump, more in Europe are agreeing.

The Bible, of course, has long prophesied that a successful militaristic will rise up (Revelation 13:1-4) and  defeat the USA (Daniel 11:39), its Anglo-Saxon descended allies (cf. Daniel 8:23-25), and a coming Arabic power (Daniel 11:40-43). Chancellor Merkel’s comments are leading to something that she likely has not considered.

On other world news matters, my prayers go out to the families of those affected by the flood in Sri Lanka that has killed over 200 people as well as those affected by terrorism in places like Afghanistan.

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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Asia’s Role in the Coming Kingdom of God. 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: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. 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 new 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 BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Suggested Pentecost Services

Here is our suggested format for Pentecost services this Sunday:

For those who wish two services, here is a second suggested service:

Another possible sermon recommended for this day is Pentecost: Its Biblical Meaning and Date.

Concluding Comments

The Book of Acts teaches:

1  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1)

Brethren, while we cannot all be in one place this coming Pentecost, please pray that we will be in one accord.

Participating in and/or watching our messages should help us learn and unite together.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.