Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.
We have been working on many matters, including those related to the Spring and Fall Holy Days.
We continue to go through the open door of radio when we have the opportunity.
A short radio interview is scheduled for March 29, 2017 at 10:45 am Central Daylight Time on station KORN 1490 am, out of Mitchell, South Dakota with Randall DeWitt. But it will be recorded then and played later. I plan to let everyone know when, which I probably will not find out until March 29th, if not later.
We continue to work on the new CCOGAfrica.org website. There is more there now than last week.
We want to include more information than we currently have on each of the congregations and have asked Evans Ochieng to collect more information for us.
Many are interested in Africa and as we add more information, we should be ready for a major increase in interest as internet access is starting to become more widely available in Africa.
The Journal: News of the Churches of God
The latest issue of Dixon Cartwright’s The Journal: News of the Churches of God came out late Friday. It contained a shortened version of article that I wrote about the Africa Conference 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Journal: News of the Churches of God is mainly read by people with a Church of God background. Those who look at the article should get a witness related to CCOG and fruits associated with it (cf. Matthew 7:16-20; 28:19-20).
We are also in the process of submitting a listing of most of our intended Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for 2017 to The Journal, which we should do next week. We have had visitors at our sites in the USA and Canada in the past because we list the sites (for free) in The Journal: News of the Churches of God.
Holy Days and Florida
The Spring Holy Days are right around the corner, with Passover being after sunset on April 9th in 2017.
My family and I expect to be in Florida for the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, which will be April 17, 2017. We also plan to be in Florida for Sabbath services on April 22, 2017. Please pray that we may find an acceptable and reasonably priced location to hold services those two dates. This would be on the eastern side of that state, probably near West Palm Beach or Boca Raton. If you are in Florida and may wish to attend, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
On other Holy Day matters, we have been working on the “Behind the Works” video sermon for 2017.
Days of Unleavened Bread
During the Days of Unleavened Bread, we gather (where possible) the first evening and observe “The Night to Be Observed.” The next day we observe a ‘holy convocation’ (Leviticus 23:7). We attend weekly Sabbath services during those days (cf. Leviticus 23:3). As well as a ‘holy convocation on the seven day of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:8). And if we are baptized and keep the Passover (Leviticus 23:5), we will have had some type of convocation in up to 5 of the 8 days (including Passover).
For a time, the old Radio Church of God had the Days of Unleavened Bread observed in a similar manner to the Feast of Tabernacles. By that, I mean, that it was a pilgrimage festival where church services were held every day, and in that way, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) during the Feast of Tabernacles.
In time, the old Radio Church of God stopped doing that for the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Some have wondered if that was the right decision and have indicated that it is wrong to not require Christians to attend church services for all seven days and/or keep these days as a pilgrimage festival.
Here is one passage some cite (and there are several similar passages in the Bible):
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. (Deuteronomy 16:16)
Now let’s realize that the Days of Unleavened Bread are one of three sets of Holy Days.
Like the Day of Pentecost, which is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 16 and Numbers 28, the Bible does not mandate that we stay in temporary dwellings during them.
This is NOT the same as the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, for which temporary dwellings are mandated for (Leviticus 23:42).
In Ezra 6, it teaches that those who were no longer captives kept the Days of Unleavened Bread, but that passage does not indicate at all that they made a separate pilgrimage to do so, only that they were in Israel, and being free from their captors, they were able to. Nor is a pilgrimage mentioned in Ezekiel 45 where the Days of Unleavened Bread are also mentioned.
It should be pointed out that the “three times a year” to appear before God actually means to attend church services on the days He designated during those three seasons.
It also should be pointed out that the Feast of Trumpets was considered to be under the rubric of the “Feast of Tabernacles” in the Bible, which can be shown below:
1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. 4 They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. 5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. (Ezra 3:1-6)
Also, notice that it was not a pilgrimage time for most of the children of Israel, as Nehemiah later points out related to another year:
7:33 When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.
8:1 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. (Nehemiah 7:73-8:2)
Despite the Feast of Trumpets, which comes the first day of the seventh month, being considered as part of the Feast of Tabernacles’ season, the children of Israel were in their cities and were not then traveling to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Days of Unleavened Bread are NOT a mandated pilgrimage time. One should attend services on the Holy Days, but extensive travel to do so is not taught as necessary in the Bible.
As far as attending services, here is what the Bible actually teaches:
3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'” (Leviticus 23:3-8)
Notice that while God’s people are to attend services on the weekly Sabbath, the first day of unleavened bread, and the seventh day of unleavened bread, there is not a biblical mandate to attend the remaining days. However, since we are to avoid eating leaven and should eat unleavened bread each of the seven days, we are reminded about the days during each and every one.
Why is attending services done for all the eight days at the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, yet this is not something required for the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover?
Well, another scriptural reason is that the command for the Feast of Tabernacles says, ”Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses” (Deuteronomy 16:15; cf. 16:13; Leviticus 23:33), but that is not so stated related to the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Tabernacles is also referred to as the ‘pilgrim feast’ in the Book of Psalms (42:4).
The commands for the Days of Unleavened Bread say to eat unleavened bread for seven days in Leviticus 23:6 and Deuteronomy 16:3, as opposed to a command to observe the feast for seven days. Those in the Continuing Church of God are to avoid leaven as well as eat some unleavened bread each of those seven days.
The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the new world of the millennium. 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).
Yet, for the Days of Unleavened Bread, we more closely realize that in this present world, Satan, and sin are all around us. By consciously avoiding leaven (a symbol of sin and hypocrisy during the Days of Unleavened Bread), while being exposed to the world and eating unleavened bread daily, this helps us better grasp how much we need to be careful in how we normally live.
While it is certainly not wrong to attend church services, when available, each of the seven days of unleavened bread, it is not biblically-required. Therefore, we do not insist upon it in the Continuing Church of God.
World News Items
We continue to see more spats between US President Donald Trump and others (see Europe torn, but may Donald Trump help it unify?, WikiLeaks releases more–what about Obamagate?, and Berkeley turns violent against Donald Trump supporters: Is violent protesting being advocated?). Jesus said, “every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). We continue to see more divisions in the USA.
Of course, the USA is not the only area with problems. European leaders are trying to figure out how to unify while realizing that not all European nations are ready for that–yet unity for all of Europe is still their goal (see Jean-Claude Juncker puts forth five scenarios for Europe’s future: Which does the Bible point to? and Does a ‘two-speed Europe’ show that PCG and LCG are right?). Despite expected problems of unity (Daniel 2:41-43), Europe will reorganize and unite (Revelation 17:12-13).
Over in Russia, some are questioning an upcoming Disney movie as ‘homosexual propaganda to children’ which is against Russian law (see Russia may consider Disney’s next ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as homosexual propaganda). Russia has been the strongest nation in the world to try to slow down the LGBTQ agenda that keeps rising up in the West.
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:Electrical End of the USA? Other sermonettes are available at the BibleNewsProphecy 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: Laying on of Hands and Succession. 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.
Notice the following from the Book of James:
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:8-12)
Brethren, notice that the commandments for loving one’s neighbor is called the “royal law” and the “law of liberty.” We all need to better keep God’s commands and truly love our neighbors.
Pastor and Overseer