Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
It has been said that the older one gets, the faster time seems to fly. It is hard to believe that the Feast of Trumpets for 2014 will already be here next week. Because of that, I plan to send out a very short letter next Sunday or Monday with a recommended service for that Holy Day (which is expected to be a new one I will video this Sabbath in California).
Although I gave a new sermon the past Sabbath, that one is not the recommended one for this week.
Well, because of the proximity of the Holy Days, I thought repeating a sermon I gave about them last year was the timeliest decision to make at this time.
CCOG Canadian Registration
After coordinating information with members in the Province of New Brunswick, I put together 20 pages of information this week for the Continuing Church of God in Canada to be recognized as a registered charity.
The documents were dropped in the mail yesterday, and first need to be signed by two directors in Canada, and then need to be mailed to the appropriate government agency in Canada.
Presuming approval, this will allow those who make donations to the Continuing Church of God to be allowed to deduct these for purposes of income tax calculations. This would be of great assistance to our scattered brethren in Canada.
We currently have similar approved registrations for the Continuing Church of God in the USA (via California), New Zealand, and Kenya.
New Booklet & Magazine
Last week, I mentioned that we finished another booklet: Where is the True Christian Church Today? This week we got it back from the printers and sent a couple of hundred of copies of it to Africa (mainly to Kenya for distribution there, as well for those of Tanzania and Uganda, but one was also sent to Malawi). We also sent copies to New Zealand, Malawi, Kachinland, and elsewhere.
We plan to send them out to most of the rest of you tomorrow or early next week along with the next edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine.
Reminder on the Dates for the Fall Holy Days
The Feast of Trumpets is from sunset September 24th until sunset September 25th in 2014.
The Day of Atonement comes 9 days later and is from sunset October 3rd until sunset October 4th this year.
The Feast of Tabernacles begins the next week. For a complete listing of the Holy Days with their Roman calendar dates, go to Holy Day Calendar. In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日？ 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Notice the following about Israel, trumpets, and the need for the trumpet warnings today:
The Bible shows that during Israel’s later history, which was heavily punctuated with conflicts and rebellion, trumpets continued to be used as warning devices, to call to arms or as preludes to important messages — always to mark an event of tremendous import to the whole nation. God used the prophets, among them Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Joel, to warn Israel about punishments He would bring upon them for their constant rebellion against His laws. These prophets were to use their voices like trumpets to blare their warnings to God’s people.
Notice, for example, God’s instruction to Isaiah: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1). See also Hosea 5:8 and Joel 2:1. Portions of the prophets’ warnings were fulfilled, in type, by ancient Israel’s captivity. Yet many of these prophecies are dual, having both ancient and modern fulfillments. Such is the case with the message of the prophet Ezekiel. God sent Ezekiel as a watchman to Israel. Ezekiel, through his message, symbolically blew a trumpet of warning to God’s people (Ezek. 33:1-7).
Ezekiel’s warning, however, did not reach the house of Israel, because they had already gone into captivity! Ezekiel’s visions of Israel’s impending destruction were given “in the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity” (Ezek. 1:2). Jehoiachin went into captivity in 597 B.C., or about 125 years after the removal, to Assyria, of the last of the northern tribes, which occurred from 721-718 B.C. If Ezekiel’s message did not reach ancient Israel — could not have reached them — for whom was it intended?
God’s warning through Ezekiel was intended for the modern descendants of the ancient Israel — the peoples of the United States, Britain and, in general, northwestern Europe today! For more information on who the modern descendants of ancient Israel are, and how they are identified in Bible prophecy … Ezekiel’s message is reaching the modern Israelites. God has set a modern-day watchman to thunder to our peoples the impending consequences of their sins. (Kackos G. The Feast of Trumpets and YOUR Future. Good News, August 1982)
We in the Continuing Church of God are working to perform as that modern-day watchman today. We boldly tell of sins of society and how world events are aligning with properly understood prophecy–which we also explain (see the free online booklet Where is the True Christian Church Today? and/or the article The Laodicean Church Era).
This is one of the reasons that the COGwriter.com website exists as well as one of the reasons we have world news events in most of the Letters to the Brethren.
World News Events
The Ebola outbreak keeps making the news as the threat from it seems higher than many have realized (see Scientists warn that Ebola danger is greater than most realize). Jesus told of various problems, including pestilences to occur in the times near the end, but we are not quite to that point yet. And while I expect much greater problems than the Ebola virus to hit countries like the USA, Ebola may become difficult, including in other parts of Africa. The U.S.A. and United Nations have pledged additional support to try to deal with this (see USA and UN both claim to be taking the lead in battling Ebola). Consumption of biblically unclean animals, such as fruit bats, seems to be a factor in the transmission of the disease in Africa, though it can also be contracted in other ways.
The USA and others in the international community are trying to get the Arabs and Turks together to deal with the Islamic State (see Ten ‘King of the South’ nations agree to coalition after ten non-Arab nations agree to a separate anti-ISIS coalition). This week’s sermonette is related to that. In the Middle East, the USA has done some bombing, and there is a report that the Islamic State plans to try to kill Pope Francis (see US bombed near Baghdad, ground troops might be needed for ISIS, and ISIS reportedly threatened Pope Francis).
Another report became public showing how much permanent brain damage is expected for professional players of American tackle football (see NFL admits nearly 1 in 3 players will develop cognitive problems). The sport is violent and harmful and should not be encouraged by true Christians, though many Laodicean churches oddly seem to support it.
Financial concerns and Scotland have been in news (see Interest rates to rise? Short and long term ramifications). Today, people in Scotland were voting on whether or not to become independent of the United Kingdom. The answer to the economic problems in Scotland itself or the rest of world will not be resolved no matter which way the Scottish vote. Scotland and the world needs the kingdom of God, but most improperly believe there is a better, human, way.
Pope Francis indicated that World War III is happening already on a piecemeal basis, while Ukrainian Catholic bishops denounced Russia (see Pope Francis objecting to current ‘piecemeal’ World War III; Vatican radio reports bishops blasting Russia for blood in Ukraine). Shortly thereafter, the Kiev government in Ukraine announced steps to increase autonomy for the eastern region of its country, it also hosted NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) exercises this week, despite not being a member of NATO (see Kiev proposes more autonomy for its east, while it tries to get closer to the West). Ukraine also made additional overtures towards the European Union. The steps that Ukraine has taken, to use an American expression, are putting itself, “between a rock and a hard place.” It wants to be in the European Union, does not want to lose its eastern region, nor does it want to provoke Russia so much that it will simply takeover/annex the east, or even more, of Ukraine. Prophetically, the leaders of the descendents of the Medes that are in Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine will turn against the end time European Babylonian beast power (Jeremiah 51:11-30). War is in the future for the Europeans, Ukrainians, and Russians.
Counter Terrorism Measures May Eventually Affect the Work
While we deplore the killing and destruction caused by groups like the Islamic State, some of the solutions that governments propose will likely affect the work.
Government officials are growing increasingly concerned about the Islamic State, its use of the internet, and what are called ‘homegrown’ terrorists. Notice the following:
How Islamic State is wielding the Internet in new waysSeptember 17, 2014
New York — American law-enforcement officials have expressed growing concern about the threat of homegrown terror this week as federal prosecutors announced the indictment of a New York man, Mufid Elfgeeh, who is accused of having offered support to the rogue Islamic State, which is creating havoc in Iraq and Syria. …
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the nation’s largest police force has been trying to stay ahead of an “evolving world of terrorism” – especially terror groups’ growing sophistication with the use of social media to promote their message and recruit potential “lone wolf” American terrorists.
On the one hand, experts caution that terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts online is nothing new. But even as a handful of Americans attempt to get more engaged with extremist groups, media observers say IS has become one of most sophisticated social media operations yet seen. …
“I think that what’s new is the sophistication and focus of the groups like ISIS,” says Nicco Mele, a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Boston, who focuses on the intersection of media, politics, and power in the digital age. “The frequency and quality and quantity of what’s happening here is significant – it’s sophisticated, clearly planned, and executed with a well-oiled team.” http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Cyber-Conflict-Monitor/2014/0917/How-Islamic-State-is-wielding-the-Internet-in-new-ways
September 15, 2014
The Department of Justice and the White House have launched a program in some U.S. cities to identify and apprehend violent extremists and homegrown terrorists before they strike.
The effort brings together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and federal law enforcement in support of the nation’s counter-terrorism effort, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder said the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where some American have attempted to go in order to join the extremist militants, underscores the urgent nature of the threat Americans face from violent extremists.
The new security program is a coordinated effort of the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center. http://www.voanews.com/content/us-launches-program-to-apprehend-homegrown-terrorists-/2450449.html
My concern is about the growing tendency of the government of the USA to collect massive data on its residents as well as it trying to categorize more and more people, groups, and beliefs as those held by terrorists. The fact that the USA will consult with ‘religious leaders’ is a concern as many tend to be opposed to Church of God teachings–they may brand certain teachings a cultic or potentially terroristic.
This may well be one of the ‘unexpected’ consequences of this government action.
Lest those statements sound far-fetched, a year or so ago, I saw an academic leader on television teach that those who believe in the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the millennial kingdom of God on earth as potential terrorists. This leader stated that it did not matter if those who believed that were peaceful. He then said something to the effect, that because millennialists feel that the human governments are not properly solving all problems, that they all could turn violent and should be considered as at least potential terrorist groups. So, he was indicating that the Christ’s gospel of the kingdom was a terrorist message. Furthermore, former Pope Benedict XVI has endorsed the view that the millennial teaching was a doctrine of antichrist, so much so that it is in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
As the government of the USA increases monitoring of potential terrorists, it will also be under increased pressure from some of the ‘politically correct’ crowd to emphasize that believers of Islam and Islamic groups are not the only (or primary) ‘homegrown’ potential terrorists that they are monitoring.
Since being against killing unborn children and being in favor of biblically-sanctioned marriage are now considered by the government to be political, as opposed to religious or moral, issues, a line has already been crossed on freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the USA. When more potential ‘homegrown terrorists’ are to be watched, the expansion of the idea of terrorists to include non-violent religions is well within the likelihood of reality.
The Bible indicates that some of the persecution in the future may come from hidden or secret sources, such as governmental surveillance and God’s people are to pray for protection from that:
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3 Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows — bitter words,
4 That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear. (Psalms 64:2-4)
Yet, notice something else that is supposed to happen that leads to the end:
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 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 24:9-14)
Notice that there is persecution, the gospel is finally preached enough to the world (to God’s satisfaction), and then the will end come. That ‘end’ is the Great Tribulation which begins in verse 21 of Matthew 24.
Notice also that the Bible shows a coming persecution near the time of the end:
28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land…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. 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. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 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).
The persecutions above are by one called the King of the North (Daniel 11:40; 7:25a)–the King of the North will NOT like the message that the faithful Philadelphia Christians are proclaiming at least of part of which will likely be the Continuing Church of God identifying him to the world as the prophesied King of the North. We in the Continuing Church of God also expect to state that this leader has made a bad deal for the USA with the Arabs and Turks (Psalm 83:2-8), will destroy the USA (Daniel 11:39), and will ultimately destroy and North African/Middle Eastern confederation (Daniel 11:40-43).
This King of the North leader will not like that.
Since the King of the North is European (watch the video titled: Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?), and Europe is considered to be an ally of the USA, he will likely pressure the government of the USA to take steps to silence us of the the Continuing Church of God, or at least minimize our reach.
The Bible talks about the fact that God will finish the work and cut it short (Roman 9:28). Notice also the following which could be related to that:
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)
The above could only happen in the 21st century if something like the internet was down and/or internet content related to the truth of God was no longer permitted. Governments are taking steps, including espionage and cyber warfare research, which could bring that about. Having a new security program.
I believe that the warning in Amos 8:11-12 is a reference to at least a coming internet censorship. This is likely to start just before the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), also called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21).
Perhaps under the guise of “The Patriot Act,” perhaps under the guise of “public welfare,” perhaps because of alleged “intolerance,” calling parts of the COG message “hate speech” and/or national security threats/terrorism/concerns/issues, something will be done to stop perhaps all of the organized media efforts to proclaim biblical truths. A short work will be done (Romans 10:14-15), which will trigger the end (Matthew 24:14), and likely then the famine of the word (Amos 8:11-12).
Those on Satan’s side will try to silence those who stand for the Bible (cf. Daniel 7:25), and while there will be some ‘successes’ that way, God’s plan will be implemented and ultimately, His kingdom will come (cf. Daniel 7:26-27).
Even though the Islamic State is a terrorist threat, the end result of items such as the new coordinated security program that the USA is implementing to monitor potential ‘homegrown terrorists’ will be an improper use of government authority. Part of this will ultimately hurt the USA and UK as those governments will also take steps in the future to discredit more and more of the message of the Bible.
We are getting closer to the time of the final fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 and the ‘famine of the word’ that Amos the prophet described. Until then, we in the Continuing Church of God will continue to work to get the message out.
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 emailed-letter will be a recorded one:Obama Administration Pushing for an Islamic Empire? A distantly related written item would be: Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel. Other sermonettes are also 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 emailed-letter will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days? A related written article is titled: Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? 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 that we list each week.
Notice that the Apostle Paul wrote:
Part of what he is teaching is that we are not to observe pagan holidays, but properly keep biblical ones. While that is a section of scripture we sometimes go over near the Spring Holy Days, the principle is applicable now as well.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God