Letter to the Brethren: April 18, 2024

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities Region of California.

Yes, we received another 20 translations of our English booklet titled The Gospel of the Kingdom of God this week as we strive to prepare for the final phase of the work which includes reaching people “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9).

Spring Holy Days

As mentioned last week, the Spring Holy Day season is upon us.

Passover in 2024 will be after sunset on April 21st. The period from sunset April 22nd through sunset April 23rd is the Holy Day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread. The period from sunset April 28th through sunset April 29th is also a Holy Day and is called the Seventh (or Last) Day of Unleavened Bread.


As many are aware, the children of Israel were specifically told to observe the Passover in the Book of Exodus. Families took a lamb, without blemish (Exodus 12:5), for the sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-4). The lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth at twilight (Exodus 12:6) and some of its blood was placed upon the door of the family’s home (Exodus 12:7).

Those who took the steps God instructed were ‘passed over’ from death, whereas the Egyptians who did not do this were not (Exodus 12:28-30).

As many realize, Jesus kept the Passover annually (Exodus 13:10) from the time of His youth (Luke 2:41-42) and throughout His entire life (Luke 22:15).

Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the month of the first month (Leviticus 23:5; called Abib in Deuteronomy 16:1 or Nisan in Esther 3:7). It occurs in the Spring season of the year.

Although Jesus changed several practices associated with it (Luke 22:19-22; John 13:1-17), our Savior also told His disciples to keep it (Luke 22:7-13). Also the New Testament is clear, that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, killing sheep and putting blood on doorposts (Exodus 12:6-7) is not needed anymore (cf. Hebrews 7:12-13,26-27; 9:11-28).

The Apostle Paul specifically taught that Christians were to keep Passover in accordance with Jesus’ instructions (1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 11:23-26).

The Bible teaches that Jesus “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Thus, God’s plan of salvation through His Holy Days and festivals, including Jesus being the “Passover lamb,” was known before humans were placed on the planet. That is why some of the celestial bodies were placed in the heavens to be able to calculate them!

Pretty much all churches recognize that the Bible teaches that Jesus fulfilled something associated with Passover when He was killed.

We find the operation of this great Sacrifice even discussed in the Garden of Eden. After Jesus was prophesied (Genesis 3:15), God killed an animal (probably a lamb or goat), in order to cover the nakedness (a representation of a type of sin in this incidence) of Adam and Eve with its skins (Genesis 3:21). We also see this principle of sacrifice operating when Abel sacrificed a lamb from his flock (Genesis 4:2-4).

The famous Passover in the days of Moses showed the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12:1-38). Moses recorded God’s instructions about this as well as the calendar (Genesis 1:14; 2:1; Exodus 12:1) and His feasts (Leviticus 23). The Passover basically became the first of these events annually picturing to God’s children His great plan of salvation.

In the Old Testament, the Passover pictured deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and God’s intervention. But, prophetically, it was also looking towards the time that Jesus would come and be our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29; cf. 3:16-17).

On Jesus’ last Passover as a human being, He continued to keep it at the time of the late evening and told His disciples to keep it (Luke 22:14-19; cf. John 13:2,12-15) and on the 14th of Nisan/Abib (cf. Luke 22:14; 23:52-54).

Jesus, however, changed several of the practices associated with its observance.  Jesus made the unleavened bread and wine an integral part of Passover (Matthew 26:18, 26-30) and added the practice of footwashing (John 13:12-17).

Jesus in no way taught that it was not to be an annual Passover, nor did He change the time of day of its observation to a Sunday morning like those who follow Greco-Roman traditions do. Even Greek Orthodox scholars admit that 1st and 2nd century Christians kept Passover at night (Calivas, Alkiviadis C. The Origins of Pascha and Great Week – Part I. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1992) like we in the Continuing Church of God do in the 21st century. Passover is only to be taken by properly baptized Christians (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Romans 6:3-10; Exodus 12:48; Numbers 9:14).

It probably should be added that the Church of Rome (as well as many of its Protestant descendants) officially teaches that it keeps Passover, though calling it something different in the English language and not keeping it as Jesus did (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 332).

Wine, Not Grape Juice for Passover

Despite the fact that Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:3-10) and the Greek term used in the New Testament (oinos) refers to wine (cf. 1 Timothy 3:8), various ones have claimed that it was grape juice, and not wine, that was used for Passover. The Jews, themselves though, use wine at Passover (Hisrch EG, Eisenstein JD. Wine. Jewish Encyclopedia. 1907, pp. 532-535).

How do we know that grape juice was not possibly used by Jesus?

Grapes are normally harvested around September and Passover is usually in the Roman calendar month called April. In Jesus’ day, they did not have modern sterilization or refrigeration. Hence, grape juice would have spoiled between the time of harvest and Passover.

Others have noted that it was IMPOSSIBLE for Jews to have stored grape juice that long (Cf. Kennedy ARS. Hastings Bible Dictionary. C. Scribner Son’s, 1909 p. 974). Therefore, only wine, which can remain unspoiled for even many years would have been used.  (The use of alcohol, like wine, is endorsed during the Feast of Tabernacles in Deuteronomy 26:14, but not required.)

Christians are not to be “drunk with wine, wherein is excess” as Paul wrote (Ephesians 5:18, KJV). Only a very small amount of wine is normally consumed at Passover (about a teaspoon full or less).


Footwashing helps show humility and that even the followers of Christ still tend to have areas that need to be cleansed (cf. John 13:10).

Jesus taught that His followers should do this:

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:13-17)

Relatively few who profess Christianity wash feet like Jesus said to do.

But we baptized in the Continuing Church of God follow Jesus’ instructions on this annually.

Passover Service

How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? We have an article: Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread

For a step-by-step video for those baptized people without a local minister, here is a link to a Continuing Church of God Passover Service;


Continuing Church of God Passover Service

This is a Passover service by the Continuing Church of God. This is intended to be used by scattered baptized Church of God members around the world after sunset on the 14th day of the first month of the biblical calendar, or for those who biblically legitimately missed it per Numbers , after sunset on the 14th day of the second month of the biblical calendar. This service covers footwashing, breaking and consuming unleavened bread, taking wine, and reading words of Jesus as well as additional scriptures. Leaders of the local Passover service (even if there is only one person) should have some unleavened bread, wine, a towel, and one or more water basins available.

Here is a link: Continuing Church of God Passover Service.

Here is a Spanish language related item for Passover:

English title:  Passover service
Spanish title:  Servicio de la Pascua
Spanish youtube link:  https://youtu.be/hG8mUH_UGNQ

Again, Passover is to be observed shortly after sunset on April 21st in 2024.

Passover and the Plan from the Beginning

Passover shows that God had a plan before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20) to send Jesus to die for our sins, that God loves us (John 3:16), that God can deliver us, and that His Son suffered and died for us. Passover shows that Christians are freed from sin by His death and not to remain in sin (Romans 6:1-5).

But simply accepting the sacrifice of Jesus is not all there is to God’s plan of salvation.

Various people keep the beginning of God’s feasts of salvation by somewhat recognizing Passover and/or Pentecost, but never go on to know the “depth of the riches” (cf. Romans 11:33) of God’s grace (2 Peter 3:18) pictured by the other biblical feasts.

Christ is not only the author/beginner of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9), but is also the finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 1:1-9).  His true followers keep His Spring and Fall Holy Days.


The Bible teaches:

19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, (Exodus 12:19)

Deleavening should be done before sunset on the 22nd of April in 2024.

As far as leaven goes, what are leavening agents?

Physically, leavening agents include yeast, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and baking powder. Leavening agents puff foods like bread and cakes up.

In modern times, there are many substances used as leavening agents, so you may need to read labels on packaged products you may have. Here is a list some may find to be helpful:

Leavening Agents

Active Dried Yeast
Ammonium Carbonate – also known as “Hartshorn”
Ammonium Bicarbonate
Baker’s Ammonia
Baker’s Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda
Dipotassium Carbonate
Disodium Phosphate
Monocalcium Phosphates (Ca(H2PO4)2)
Potassium Bicarbonate – also known as “Potash” or “Pearlash”)
Potassium Carbonate
Sodium Aluminum Phosphate
Sodium Bicarbonate – also known as “Saleratus”
Sourdough Starter Yeast
* Calcium Carbonate

* While Calcium Carbonate is normally not a leavening agent, it is considered to be one when it is in baked goods. Thus, while you can keep any calcium carbonate you have, any baked goods with it listed should be consumed or tossed out prior to the first day of unleavened bread.

All leavened items should be consumed or disposed of prior to the start of the First Day of Unleavened Bread each year and not be back in our homes until after the end of the Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread each year.

What are not leavening agents?

“Not” Leavening Agents

Autolyzed Yeast
Brewer’s Yeast
Corn Starch
Egg Whites
Polysorbate 60
Potassium Bitartrate (Cream of Tartar)
Sorbitan Monosterate
Tartrate powder
Torula Yeast
Yeast Extract

Hopefully, this will help those who have questions about which items should be gone prior to the first Day of Unleavened Bread each year.

Physically, leavening agents “puff up” grain containing products and make them look larger than they would be otherwise.

A spiritual analogy is that people often want to look more influential, better, etc. than they really are (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:2).

To assist you with at least spiritual deleavening we recently put out the following sermon:


Deleavening your life

Prior to Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Bible teaches that Christians should examine whether or not they are in the faith and change. Do Christians need to overcome? What did the late Herbert W. Armstrong state about being saved and the blood of Christ? Do Christians still need to repent? What is sin? How does physical leaven help demonstrate traits of sin? What are physical leavening agents that Christians should remove? What are some physical items that are not actually leaven? Are Christians supposed to strive for perfection? What did Jesus say about end time Christians who think they are spiritually rich? What did the Apostles Peter and Paul say about Christian growth? Should Christians really remove physical leaven from their homes? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to the sermon: Deleavening your life.

Night to Be Much Observed

After sunset on the 22nd of April 2024 begins the Days of Unleavened Bread, which starts off with what is commonly called ‘the night to be much observed.’

The Bible records the following:

42 It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. (Exodus 12:42, KJV)

This is the observable night of our Lord, when he brought them forth out of the Land of Ægypt: this night all the children of Israel must observe in their generations. (Original Douay Rheims)

For Christians, the Night to Be Observed pictures our taking action to leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8)–this is something that should cause Christians to rejoice.

Historically, the Night to Be Observed normally involved a festive dinner. The dinner normally included, but was not limited to, unleavened bread. Normally, someone hosts it and invites other families to join. The other families usually bring with them some portion of the dinner for everyone in attendance.

Some may wish to watch the following animation on that night:

What is it? When is it? The KJV refers to it as “THE NIGHT TO BE MUCH OBSERVED.” This scripture-packed animation includes background and specific information related to the children of Israel. It also gives some of the Old and New Testament prophetic ramifications of this event. How the NTBO is typically observed is also covered. The animation also includes a chart of scriptures and biblical dates to determine when that NTBO actually is. Furthermore, the animation provides information from the “Jewish Encyclopedia” which, through scripture, shows that many Jews have confused Passover with the “night to be observed.” This is a great animation to give background on the NTBO and is also appropriate to be watched on the NTBO.

Here is a link to the animation: Night to Be Observed.

The Night to Be Observed reminded the Jews that they should be thankful for God’s deliverance from the bondage of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:42). For Christians, the Night to Be Observed teaches we are to rejoice and be thankful for the release Jesus provides from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36).

Days of Unleavened Bread

From sunset April 22nd through sunset April 23rd is the first Day of Unleavened Bread. That time should be kept like a Sabbath, but also by eating at least a very small amount of unleavened bread.

Unleavened Bread (Public Domain Pictures)

We Christians recognize that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on Passover and that we are to try to live, as He did, without sin and hypocrisy, of which leaven symbolically can represent (Luke 12:1).

The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about this:

And, as the Israelites went out with a high hand (Numbers 33:3), in great exultation and elation over their deliverance from bondage, so does the newly begotten Christian start out his Christian life — up in the clouds of happiness and joy. But what happens?

The devil and sin immediately pursue after the newly begotten son of God — and soon the new and inexperienced Christian finds he is down in the depths of discouragement, and tempted to give up and quit.

Notice Exodus 14, beginning verse 10 — as soon as the Israelites saw this great army pursuing them, they lost their courage. Fear came over them. They began to grumble and complain. They saw it was impossible for them to get away from Pharaoh and his army, because he was too powerful for them. And they were helpless. So it is with us.

Our Strength Not Sufficient!

But notice the message of God to them through Moses: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord … for the Egyptians … ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you”! How wonderful!

Helpless, we are told to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He shall fight for us. We cannot conquer Satan and sin, but He can. It is the risen Christ — our High Priest — who will cleanse us — sanctify us — deliver us — who said He would never leave us nor forsake us!

We cannot keep the Commandments in our own power and strength. But Christ IN US can keep them! We must rely on Him in faith. (Armstrong HW.  God’s Holy Days-or Pagan Holidays-Which? Worldwide Church of God, 1976)

Purpose of Festival

But let us learn the full significance of this. WHY did God ordain these feast days? What was His great PURPOSE? Turn now to Exodus 13, verse 3: “…Moses said unto the people, Remember THIS DAY, in which ye CAME OUT from Egypt…” This was the 15th of Abib. Verse 6: “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a FEAST unto the Eternal… This is done BECAUSE of that which the Eternal did [a MEMORIAL]… and it shall be for a SIGN” — (miraculous PROOF of identity) — “unto thee upon thine hand, and for a MEMORIAL between thine eyes” — WHY? –”that the LORD’S LAW MAY BE IN THY MOUTH… Thou shalt therefore KEEP this ordinance…”

Oh, beloved brethren, do you see the wonderful meaning? Do you grasp the true significance of it all? Do you see God’s PURPOSE? The PASSOVER pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that are past. The accepting of His BLOOD does not forgive sins we SHALL commit — it does not give LICENSE to continue in sin — therefore WHEN we accept it, our sins are forgiven only up to that time — PAST SINS.

But shall we stop there? Past sins forgiven. But we are still flesh beings. We still shall suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutch — we have been SLAVES to sin, in its power. And we are powerless to deliver ourselves from it! We have been in BONDAGE to sin. Let us understand the picture — the meaning. (Armstrong HW. What You Should Know About the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread. Good News, March 1979)

To what degree should Christians put away sin? Completely, as Jesus taught, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Leaven symbolically can be a type of sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).  Like sin, leaven puffs up.

As seven is God’s number symbolizing completeness, Christians are to follow the Passover with seven days of unleavened bread.  The meaning and the symbolism is not complete with just Passover. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s blood for the remission of past sins and the death of Jesus.

Should we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the tree of His death (cf. Galatians 3:13)? No. The seven days of unleavened bread following Passover help picture to us the complete putting away of sin, the keeping of the Commandments — after past sins are forgiven as the result of Jesus’ sacrifice.

The Days of Unleavened bread picture the life and work of the risen Jesus. Jesus ascended to the throne of God where He is now actively at work in our behalf as our High Priest, cleansing us of sin (Hebrews 2:17-18) delivering us completely from its power!

Here is some of what the Hebrew scriptures say about the Days of Unleavened Bread:

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.'” (Exodus 12:15-20)

Leviticus 23:6-8 teaches about it as well. And Deuteronomy 16:16 shows that offerings were expected to be given on the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Fall Holy Days.

Originally, there were no “burnt offerings or sacrifices” when God “brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 7:22).  They were added because of disobedience (Jeremiah 7:21-27) and the New Testament is clear that we do not need to have burnt offerings or animal sacrifices now (Hebrews 9:11-15).

As we eat unleavened bread each of the days, we realize that we have to avoid sin that is so prevalent in the world around us.

As far as the sequence of events, Passover was after sunset on the 14th of Nisan/Abib (Exodus 12:6) and the death angel passed-over at midnight (Exodus 12:23-29). During the early daylight hours on the 14th of Nisan/Abib, the children of Israel received gold and precious things from the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36). They left Egypt at night of the 15th of Nisan/Abib (Exodus 12:42; Deuteronomy 16:1).

Later, apparently on the 18th of Nisan/Abib, Pharaoh decided to pursue them (Exodus 14:5). On the 20th of Nisan/Abib, Pharaoh’s armies get near the children of Israel (Exodus 14:9).

Suggested Sabbath Day Services

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 mobile 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones  channel.

Suggested First Day of Unleavened Bread Services

Here is a suggested holy day service for the First Day of Unleavened Bread for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

For those interested in two services, here is a suggestion for the second service:

Here is some Spanish language information:

World News Items

This has been an exciting week as Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles against Israel (see Iran launches first phase in its biggest direct attack against Israel). While I did not believe that volley was the fulfillment of Isaiah 22:6-9, it could be setting the stage for that to occur.

Understand that the other Church of God groups, historically, have not taught that Iran and its allies will one day cause great damage to Jerusalem (see PCG, LCG, RCG, CGI, ICG, CBCG, UCG, CEG, COGWA, and CCOG: Iran in Prophecy and Isaiah 22:1-14).

Israel is intending to retaliate and Iran has said it hit hit back stronger if Israel does so (see NM: Israel to US: ‘No Choice but to Respond’ to Iran). Iran’s President asserted that even the “tiniest” invasion of its territory would bring a “massive and harsh” response. … and that if Iran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain from the Zionist regime.” https://apnews.com/article/israel-iran-hamas-latest-04-17-2024-7e4ba24fbb150f020a2d240dad9d462f

What has been going on with Israel and Gaza and now Israel and Iran, is NOT World War Three. That said a recent survey found that most in the USA feel WWIII is somewhat or very likely to happen in the next 5-10 years (see USA Today: Voters, fearful of World War III as Iran strikes Israel, will weigh foreign policy in 2024)–and they look to be right about that.

Now, if Israel and Iran actually attempt to do what they say they are about to do to each other, then we will see the fulfillment of Isaiah 22:6-9.

As I have long written, I believe that it will likely take a major regional war for the ‘peace deal’ of Daniel 9:27 to be made and confirmed. It is that confirmation that will set off the countdown for the final 3 1/2 years to start the Great Tribulation, with Jesus returning to start the millennial Kingdom of God 3 1/2 years after that.

Time may be getting quite short.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul wrote the following:

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Brethren, do not be puffed up.

We all need Christ’s sacrifice and those who are properly baptized are to observe Passover and keep the Days of Unleavened Bread.


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.