Letter to the Brethren: September 21, 2023

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

We hope that you had a spiritually uplifting Feast of Trumpets. We received multiple positive reports from some congregations in Africa in the past several days.

The next Holy Day (other than the weekly Sabbath) is the Day of Atonement. It runs from sunset September 24th through sunset September 25th.

The Feast of Tabernacles will come shortly thereafter and it runs from sunset September 29th and continues until sunset ending the Last Great Day which is October 7th in 2023.

That said, because of needing to do a sermon for the Day of Atonement, I did not also have an opportunity to do a new sermon for the Sabbath. So, for the Sabbath, we are recommending a sermon given by the late deacon Richard Close titled Destiny of Satan.

This week we received twenty-seven more translations of our English language booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We have received over 700 translations and the number continues to rise almost every week. Let us all rejoice (cf. Romans 15:10) in that and not be “weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) as we  continue to take steps to prepare for the short work (Romans 9:28; see Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word) as well as to assist with the fulfillment of various prophecies such as are shown in Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 7:9. Throughout the entire church age (which began at Pentecost in Acts 2 and which ends after Jesus returns with the seventh and last trumpet), no Church of God group has ever translated information on the good news of the Kingdom of God in anything close to the number of languages and dialects that we in the Continuing Church of God have had done.

Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled, and yes, that prophesy, specifically along with Revelation 7:9, points to the use of multiple languages.

The Fasting Day of Atonement

Most of the Greco-Roman churches do not keep the biblical holy days that generally occur in the Fall. Yet, these Holy Days portray many pivotal events in God’s plan.

Above photo of people fasting on the Day of Atonement on front cover of the Asante Twi translation of the English language booklet Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?

Notice the following scriptures related to the Day of Atonement:

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32).

7 ‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall afflict your souls; you shall not do any work. (Numbers 29:7)

Fasting is historically mainly how the phrase “afflict your souls” has been interpreted by the Jewish and Church of God communities (this is also verified by such passages as Psalm 35:13; 69:10 and Isaiah 58:5) to mean fasting, unless one is somehow ill, and thus is already afflicted. Evening to evening means from sunset to sunset.

The New Testament itself calls the Day of Atonement, “the Fast” (Acts 27:9), which not only indicates that the Apostle Paul was keeping it (which he would be per statements in Acts 21:18-24; 28:17), but that Greek-named Theophilus (the Christian which the Book of Acts was addressed to in Acts 1:1), also must have been or another term would have been substituted.

Observant individuals affiliated with the Churches of God will fast from sunset this night until sunset the next night (if they are physically able–nursing mothers, small children, pregnant women, and various afflicted others are not expected to fast–this is consistent with Jewish practices in this area as well). In this fast we go without food or drink.

Oddly, one Protestant report claims that one reason Christians do not need to keep the Day of Atonement is because there is no Jewish temple today (Cocherell BL. SHOULD THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST FAST ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?). Yet, the biblical reality is that the children of Israel kept the Day of Atonement for centuries before there was a temple and the other reality is that the New Testament shows that Christians are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

In the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement included a ceremony where the Azazel goat was sent to the wilderness (Leviticus 16:1-10). Christians see this sending of the Azazel goat away as picturing the time during the millennium when Satan will be bound and sent away for a thousand years in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-4). This means that Satan will not be able to tempt and deceive during that time. The Azazal goat was not slain, nor is Satan pictured being slain.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, a goat is not sacrificed by Christians to observe this day (cf. Hebrews 10:1-10).

Yet, although Jesus was our Passover lamb sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7-8) and He was slain only once (Hebrews 9:28), we also see a time other than Passover where Jesus is ceremonially slain.


Many have speculated, but there could be clues along with the fact that this sacrifice happens before the release of the second goat.

The original Passover only resulted in the children of Israel being passed over for their sins. In this age, those who are true Christians claim the sacrifice of Jesus on His final earthly Passover for paying the penalty for our sins. But real Christians are a small minority of the population of the world (Luke 12:32; Romans 11:5).

Since the Bible calls Satan “the god of this age” who has “blinded” the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), most have been blinded and have not yet been covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet this will happen for nearly all who will be called–either in this age or the age to come (Matthew 12:32). Showing the sacrifice, ceremonially after the church age ends, helps demonstrate that the sacrifice of Jesus was not just for those called in the church age, as God’s plan includes offering salvation to all, and not just today’s elect.

By showing the sacrifice prior to the other goat being released, this shows that Jesus was not taking away the sins of Satan.

Jesus took the penalty of all human beings. But it doesn’t apply to humans until after God calls us and grants us repentance (John 6:44) and we come to be willing to repent and we come to believe. Not only in Jesus, but we believe the Son and we believe the Father, that is, we believe what They say.  Also, we prove it by repenting, being baptized, being granted the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and actually trying to live as They would have us live (cf. 1 John 2:6).

The Day of Atonement was kept in the 4th century according to John Chrysostom who preached against it (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2).

This can also be seen in Canon 69/70 of the Syrian Apostolic Canons near this time which tried to ban it (Seaver JE.  Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (300-438), Issue 30 of University of Kansas publications: Humanistic studies. University of Kansas Publications, 1952, pp. 34-35).

A Muslim document, dated from the period of the fifth-tenth century, states that Jesus and His disciples kept the fast on the same days as the Jews. It indicates that Judeo-Christians were still keeping the Day of Atonement while the Greco-Romans came up with a 50 day Lenten-fasting period that Jesus did not keep (Tomson P. Lambers-Petry L. The Image of the Judaeo-Christians in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature, Volume 158, 2003, pp. 70-72; Stern SM. Quotations from Apocryphal Gospels in ‘Abd Al-Jabbar. Journal of Theological Studies, NS. Vol. XVIII, (1) April 1967: 34-57).  Reports from other historians support this view (e.g. Pines, pp. 32-34). Furthermore, we see historical reports that it was still being kept in Transylvania in the 16th century (Liechty, pp. 61-62).

The old Radio Church of God observed the Day of Atonement (and the other Holy Days) throughout the 20th century. We in the Continuing Church of God continue to observe it today.

In its Statement of Beliefs, the Continuing Church of God states:

The Day of Atonement called “the Fast” in the New Testament (Acts 27:9), helps show our own weaknesses and need to be closer to God (Isaiah 58:5,11). This day shows that Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins now (1 John 4:9-10; cf. Leviticus 16:15-16) and those that will be called in the “age to come” (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; cf. Acts 3:21). It also helps picture that Satan has a role in the sins of humankind and that he will be punished by being bound for one thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3; cf. Leviticus 16:20-26; Isaiah 14:12-16).

Yes, the Day of Atonement should be highly relevant for Christians.

The Day of Atonement is one God’s Feasts per Leviticus 23 and is referred to in the New Testament (cf. Acts 27:9).

Feast of Tabernacles Site Changed from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

We received the following from Moise Nshimiyimana in Rwanda:

The basic problem in Rwanda is that the CCOG does not own any building there. Without one, the government does not grant sufficient meeting rights for others to come in, etc. The original plan had been for the Feast of Tabernacles for 2023 was for those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attend in Rwanda. Instead, we will have those in Rwanda attend in  the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year.

For more information on the site in the Congo, contact Moise Nshimiyimana, Phone number+250788415438 P.o box 2493 Kigali.

His email is: monaliv19@gmail.com

For information on our sites around the world, go to the article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2023.

Suggested Sabbath Day Services

Here is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

Here is a suggested Day of Atonement service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

  • 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.
  • Offertory: Day of Atonement Offertory.
  • Announcements (if any) and one hymn.
  • The suggested sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email, will be a recorded one. The suggested one is: Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Here is a suggested Day of Atonement service for our scattered brethren and other interested people who prefer to have two 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 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 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.

World News Items

A panel is recommending that the EU reorganize so it can expand and rule more efficiently (see European leaders propose reorganization: A prelude to Revelation 17:12-13?). Europe feels the need to grow for both military and economic reasons. The Bible prophesies that Europe will reorganize and be ruled by a dictatorial power it calls the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13). Dictators typically make promises of efficiency, military strength, and economic progress. In the case of Europe, however, we know that will not last long (cf. Revelation 17:14).

There have been concerns that the highly deadly Nipah virus may impact many, but various ones believe it is currently “under control” (see Nipah Virus Has A Death Rate Of 40 To 75 Percent and Is Infecting And Killing People In India). The time will come when we will see a much more deadly pestilence than COVID-19 was (Revelation 6:7-8). We are getting closer to that time.

The United Nations held a two-day summit this week to encourage world leaders to accelerate their implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030 (see DW: UN warns world way off track to meeting 2030 goals). Basically, the UN wants to deliver an anti-God totalitarian “utopia.” Most aspects of Agenda 2030 have been pushed by the Vatican and the World Economic Forum, and many will likely be pushed by the coming European Beast. More information on the UN’s Agenda 2030 can be found in our free online booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Concluding Comments

The New Testament shows that the the Gentile Gospel writer Luke knew about the Day of Atonement, when he wrote:

9 … sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over (Acts 27:9).

What was Luke referring to according to Protestant commentators who do not keep God’s Holy Days?

Why the day of Atonement.

Notice two such commentaries (note italics/bolding are from the sources cited):

Acts 27:9-11 … Sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was already past, that is, the famous yearly fast of the Jews, the day of atonement, which was on the tenth day of the seventh month, a day to afflict the soul with fasting (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.).

Acts 27:8-9 … The fast to which Luke refers is the Day of Atonement (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).

The fact that Luke (who wrote in Greek, writing to a Greek) used that term for a Christian audience (Acts 1:1) demonstrates that the Day of Atonement was known, recognized, and observed by early Christians. He presumed that Christians would realize when “the Fast” was as they would have been keeping it. If they had not been keeping it, then Luke probably would have used a different expression. But he did not use a different word as he knew his Greek-reading Christian audience would understand what he was referring to.

Brethren, we all should also be keeping it as well.

My wife Joyce and I have been doing so for decades.


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.