Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
This will be a much longer letter than usual as there are several important topics that need to be brought up. The first of which is the Spring Holy Days, as they will be here very soon.
Passover is to be observed this year on Sunday, March 24th after sunset. The Night to Be Observed is to be observed Monday, March 25th after sunset. The first day of Unleavened Bread is to be observed from sunset March 25th through sunset March 26th. The seventh day of Unleavened Bread is to be observed from sunset March 31st through sunset April 1st.
Because many of you are scattered, I have updated certain articles, and added a draft article (Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread which I expect to make some modifications to it before Passover this year) to help provide information on how to observe them. But I also hope to produce a YouTube video for step-by-step instructions for keeping Passover.
Do You Want to Host?
Originally, for Florida, I had hoped to have at least one Passover service in that State with someone I know hosting it. But there were unexpected location changes there. I mention Florida, here because I had earlier informed some in Florida of that plan.
But, of course, we have supporters in many locations (and yes, also in Florida).
So, I would like to ask those who may be interested in possibly hosting the Passover, the Night to Be Observed, and/or the Days of Unleavened Bread this year, please contact me via email. My email address is email@example.com. Please provide your name, information on your church background, your telephone number, and of course the address you would like to host from. I will later then try to post some contact information (name, email address, and city & state) so that like-minded people can contact you. Note: One does not have to be male to host.
Now, all of this will probably take a few weeks to coordinate, but there is no better time to get started than now.
Canada and Guatemala
In addition to hearing from new scattered ones in the United States in the past week, we have now been contacted by others who have not previously contacted us in Canada and Guatemala.
Slowly, some people are emerging as they realize that the Continuing Church of God exists, we are proclaiming the gospel, we are the ones to lead the final phase of the work, and we are working hard to try to feed the flock.
Sabbath Services for February 23, 2013
Since many of you are not in traditional congregations, here is my suggested format for Sabbath services for February 23, 2013:
- 2-3 hymns (we are using the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG and the choral accompaniment)
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette (short 8-15 minute subject) or Bible New Prophecy YouTube video. The suggested one is Will Pope Benedict’s resignation lead to the prophesied Antichrist?
- Announcements (which should include the relevant parts of this Letter to the Brethren) and one hymn.
- Sermon (which for many will be a recorded one from the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel), which for many of you will be The Gospel of the Kingdom.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
Note: If ever a sermon/sermonette video does not function properly, you can always choose a different one. Sermon videos, though, on YouTube take a few moments to start as they are longer than usual YouTube videos, so patience can be helpful there. And speaking of YouTube video length, this week’s sermonette is a little longer than previous ones.
On the technical front, we got a new microphone as the one we were using recorded in mono, not stereophonic, sound. This meant that those who watched the YouTube videos wearing headphones only got sound in one ear. This was corrected and the latest sermon (not sermonette as it was recorded earlier with the old microphone) is with the stereophonic microphone. We also got a new tripod. We still have certain microphone and technical needs, and keep working on trying to improve the quality of the recordings.
As many of you are aware, we actually video record the sermon that I give live to the congregants that we have in Arroyo Grande, California (or wherever else I may be speaking). So, as a general rule, most of you get to view the same sermon we had here the week after it was made.
Doing the Work
Heard a comment that a minister in my former association made to a woman affiliated with the Continuing Church of God. He told her that it was obvious that his organization was the place “doing the work.” And while he seems to believe that, the fact is that his organization lacks the integrity, boldness, and certain other qualities to be the group who will lead to the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
What is the “final phase of the work” and who will do it?
It is the highly dedicated in the real Church of God that will finish the final phase of the work before (Matthew 24:14-15) and during (Revelation 11:3-14) the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord. The final phase will also involve dealing with the ecumenical religion that will rise up (cf. Revelation 13:4,8; 14:8-13; Matthew 24:14-15)–and those who do this should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (cf. Job 5:12; 2 Corinthians 2:11).
About a decade ago, a well known COG evangelist and I were talking and he agreed with various points I was raising about the end time work. And back then, I was able to help lead him to essentially state that in the end it would not mainly be the message of the COG vs. the Protestants, but it would be the COG basically vs. the ecumenical religion that will rise up in the end that will likely (for a while) refer to itself as “Catholic.”
In 2005, during the Feast of Tabernacles in Clearwater Beach, after a private lunch, we and our wives met at his hotel room and I also discussed various aspects of the final phase of the work with him–and I had other meetings, discussions, and emails related to that with the other evangelists through December 14, 2012. Yet, even though this evangelist and others in his church agreed to take many steps related to the final phase of the work, few, if any, of the promised steps were taken by his group–and this is a major part of why the Continuing Church of God needed to form.
During the final phase of the work, the faithful in God’s Church will take a stand against the views of those who will support the compromised persecuting religious power (cf. Revelation 17:1-6). And though aspects of this have occurred throughout history, in the end it will be a major testing of their patience (Revelation 14:8-12). A bolder, yet truthful, willingness to “name names” and call out what is happening will need to happen than the official COG groups formed between 1986 and 2011 have done–and this would seem to have to be led by the Continuing Church of God.
I have emails from certain evangelists where they objected to doing parts of this themselves, as well as notes from a meeting where they told me that they were afraid that I could be too bold and that they did not want to take bold proclamation steps that could possibly trigger the persecution that they teach is biblically prophesied.
When the more faithful in the COG (which currently would be the Continuing Church of God and others who may somewhat follow that lead) publicly identify the final King of the North as well as continuing to report about the final Pope/Antichrist (the initial reporting about the final pope will likely get lost in the media until later as many will write about the final pope) and media coverage gets generated, the Catholic scholars (probably getting some direction from the last pope) will tear through COG literature and attempt to challenge the credibility and the integrity of the COG message–this, combined with reactions to our proclamations, will initially cause “vigilante-type” persecution, but will also be followed by more institutionalized persecution (Matthew 24:-10; Daniel 11:28-35; 7:25).
This final phase of the work seemingly will consist of finishing proclamation of Christ’s gospel of the kingdom as a witness along with persecution (Matthew 24:9-14), the rise and work of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:2-12) (which will likely overlap at least a few days of Matthew 24:14), the likely assistance to the two witnesses by the scattered flock (cf. Luke 9:2-6), the three angels’ messages (Revelation 14:8-11; and other angelic proclamations), and the witness of those persecuted and martyred for Jesus (cf. Revelation 17:6).
Faithful Christians need to be “ready to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV), “ready to give a defense” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJV) to those that will tend to support the power that God opposes. And they are not to be “ignorant” of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Part of the way that the more faithful will do this will be by better understanding the Bible, church history, prophecy, and Satan’s plans and tactics. This is something that the Continuing Church of God realizes.
And while Matthew 24:14 has been cited before, carefully notice the time period:
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come. 15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. (Mat 24:14-16).
The end has not yet come–the final phase of the work is not over. Jesus also does not want us to give up early:
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing (Matthew 24:44-46).
Jesus had a few comments for those who felt it was not time to do the work,
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:34-38).
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit (John 15:16).
It may be that prior to going to a place of protection (please see the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra or last week’s sermon Might Petra be the Place of Safety?), some Christians will flee out of the European (and certain other) lands dominated by the rising King of the North (and/or his sympathizers) prior to him moving into Jerusalem. This probably be during verses 28-30 of Daniel 11 as this is when the King of the North begins his anger against God’s most faithful (and I believe that since God’s faithful will understand these passages in Daniel 11 by then, some will not wait until verses 30 or 31 to flee from the north–and will most likely go to Judea).
Now at “the appointed time” (again PRIOR to going to the place of protection) something will trigger the King of the North going towards the south:
29 At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. 30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant (Daniel 11:29-30).
Note: the Hebrew term translated as “Cyprus” in the NKJV is a mistranslation. The KJV uses the term Chittim which can mean “Western lands.” Hence the King of the North will apparently be temporarily stopped by a Western naval power (this also parallels Numbers 24:24 which also uses the term Chittim and is talking about an Assyrian/European power being troubled by a naval power).
Notice that the King of the North will be even further enraged by the people of the “holy covenant” and most likely try to stop the supporters of it from proclaiming the truth about his intentions and the gospel of the kingdom (cf. Matthew 24:14). The King of the North will probably attempt to learn more about how to eliminate them by being nice to apostate members (those who “forsake the holy covenant”)–apparently he attempts to get them to betray true Christians (Matthew 24:10). It strikes me as important that although a naval power stops the King of the North momentarily, the King of the North becomes apparently more enraged with the people of the holy covenant than the naval power.
Why would this be?
Most likely this occurs because the people of the holy covenant are proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14, as that immediately precedes “the end”) and teaching that the King of the North is fulfilling prophecies in Daniel 11. It is my belief that after the peace deal in Daniel 9:27/11:23 has been made and/or confirmed by “the prince to come,” that the group that best represents the “sect of the Nazarenes” (the remnant of the Philadelphia era of the church per Revelation 3:7–11) in the 21st century will begin to publicly identify the person who confirmed the deal (“the prince”) as the one who fulfilled Daniel 9:27/11:23-24. This apparently enrages the King of the North so much that he initially tries to eliminate these people through political pressure and selected persecution.
Notice that after the King of the North returns home, he decides to come back to the Jerusalem area, but this time with a much more determined military presence:
31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31).
The above event, which apparently will involve the King of the North sending in forces into Jerusalem, was spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 24:15) as a warning of the final end time. So after the gospel has been preached enough to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14), Jewish sacrifices are stopped (Daniel 9:27), the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), and a decree is issued (Zephaniah 2:1), the most faithful Philadelphians will flee per Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:15-16.
And during this time, the northern King will apparently corrupt the corruptible and continue to be responsible for persecuting the people of God:
32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time (Daniel 11:32-35).
It is possible that this short work (cf. Romans 9:28) will temporarily swell the ranks of the Church of God (including some Philadelphians, but perhaps with many Laodiceans and many others not truly faithful—though some of the first will be last and the last first, cf. Mark 10:31). Some will be faithful and bear fruit, while many others may leave (cf. Matthew 13:18 -23; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) once the persecuting tribulation that seems prophesied to occur prior to the Great Tribulation hits (cf. Matthew 24:9-10;21). Then the end will come.
Without going into to all the reasons, let me state that the Church of God has long also cited non-biblical sources to support gospel proclamation when appropriate (Acts 17:28; Hill, David Jon. Will you be deceived by Antichrist? Good News magazine of the Radio Church of God, October 1964, pp. 9-12,18; Hill DJ. Christ or Antichrist. Good News magazine, Radio Church of God, April 1961, pp. 10-11). The that the Apostle Paul referred to pagan writings to reach his audience at times (cf. Acts 17:22-34; Titus 1:12), and since real Christians are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), those who actually believe the Bible more than their own “traditions” should realize that knowing how Satan has planned to deceive the world is an important aspect of being able to complete the final phase of the work (as doctrines of demons will be part of it, cf. 1 Timothy 4:1). Dealing with false prophecies has long been something that God’s leaders (cf. 1 Kings 18) and prophets (e.g. (Jeremiah 28:15-16) have had to do. And this week’s sermonette Will Pope Benedict’s resignation lead to the prophesied Antichrist? (and even to a degree, this week’s sermon) attempts to deal with those type of matters.
The Apostle Paul wrote an interesting reason for doing so that some simply have overlooked (or at least partially misunderstood):
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Notice that the Apostle Paul was willing to tailor his message in order to reach more people. I would suggest that what we in the Continuing Church of God are doing that with COGwriter.com, ccog.org, radio interviews, our magazine (CCOG announces Bible News Prophecy magazine), our daily e-newsletter, our BibleNewsProphecy YouTube channel, our ContinuingCOG YouTube channel, and various books. These, sometimes bold, approaches have been effective and will be helpful in completing the “final phase of the work.” Some details of results thus far are also in the news posts CCOG met COG proclamation goal and More on CCOG’s proclamation statistics.
It is likely that the remnant of the Philadelphians are the ones who are strong and will carry out something important–and that will be part of the final phase of the work. It should be noted that the words great exploits in the NKJV (Daniel 11:32) do not literally appear in the Hebrew text; but perhaps these faithful Christians have the types of signs that Jesus mentioned in Mark 16:15-18, in addition to the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), as well as the prophesied work of martyrdom (cf. Revelation 6:11). Fruits, in terms of numbers of believers, will also apparently become more evident.
That type of fruit needs to be produced at all times, and especially will be during the later part of the final phase of the work–a great multitude will respond (Revelation 7:9-14), some of whom will likely have heard at least part of the message prior to the 1260 day rising of the two witnesses.
The Work is Being Done
37…”The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
We in the Continuing Church of God are doing the work God would have us do. It absolutely looks like we are the ones who will lead the final phase of the work.
Thank you for your support.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God