he May, 1962, issue of The Good News magazine reported on “God’s Passover Observed World-wide.” This article was written by Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith. Over 10,000 brethren of the Radio Church of God in seven major Festival locations in America, plus others in England, Australia, and around the world, observed a glorious Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Unlike the common practice today of having Passover and Night to Be Remembered locally in homes, and perhaps Holy Day services on the first and last days of unleavened bread, the practice then was to observe an eight-day festival with the whole church in central places, with multiple sermons and Bible Studies every day, just like the Feast of Tabernacles.
On March 13, 1961, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in a member letter, “Full eight day services will be held in more places than ever before this year.” Since Passover that year fell on a Friday, the last Holy Day of the Feast also fell on Friday, followed by a weekly Sabbath. Armstrong noted, “This means we will actually have nine days of services.”
As reported in the May, 1962, Good News, some 2000 brethren gathered in Gladewater, Texas, at the Church’s Tabernacle Grounds. Garner Ted Armstrong, Les McCullough (who had been recently ordained as a Preaching Elder), and other ministers preached each day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Meredith reported, “The theme of overcoming and putting out sin dominated throughout the preaching and Bible studies during this Festival — as it did everywhere this Festival was observed by God’s Church.”
Another 2000 brethren met in Pasadena, California, with daily services given by Rod Meredith, Norman Smith, Ron Dart, and others. Albert J. Portune and Carlton Smith conducted “the Passover services and an entire eight-day Festival” in New York City. “Over 500 people were in attendance on the night of the Feast — and there were several hundred in attendance each day throughout the entire Festival.” In Chicago, 614 took the Passover, and around 1000 were in attendance for the Feast, where many came in from several surrounding Midwest states. Meredith reports, “The spirit of dedication and service in the Chicago area is very pronounced — and reflects the character and personality of the pastor in that area, Mr. Dean Blackwell.”
Full eight-day Festivals were held also in Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado. In Portland, Plain Truth managing editor Herman Hoeh led Festival services, assisted by Dale Hampton, Jimmy Friddle, Richard Plache, and Carl O’Beirn. There were 470 for Passover, 800 for the Sabbath, and several hundred each day for the entire eight-day Festival. Hampton reported, “there was great joy and rejoicing throughout the entire Festival.” In Denver, Leroy Neff, Burk McNair, and Frank McCrady conducted services: 272 for Passover, 500 at the Holy Day, “with a few hundred in attendance each day — more coming, of course, for the evening services.” Thus, there were two or more services each day.
Raymond Cole, pastor over the churches in the Pacific Northwest, traveled to Opp, Alabama, to lead the seventh USA spring festival site, joined by Gerald Waterhouse and Carn Catherwood, at the National Guard Armory. Some 143 kept the Passover, and over 200 attended throughout most of the eight-day Feast. Cole reported that there were a number of outstanding HEALINGS, which God granted throughout the Festival, “many were healed by God through the prayers of His servants in an unusual way.”
In other local areas, hundreds of brethren not able to travel to the seven Festival locations, kept the Passover and perhaps the first and last Holy Days of Unleavened Bread in Ohio, Texas, Missouri, California, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Oklahoma, and Indiana, where many brethren also journeyed to Chicago for the all-day meetings during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
In Bricket Wood, England, Herbert W. Armstrong led the spring Festival, with 166 for Passover, and 210 for the Festival, with local services in Birmingham, Manchester, and Belfast. Wayne Cole, pastor in charge in Australia, led the festival in Sydney, with 89 for Passover, and average attendance during the entire Festival of 140. Services were also held in Melbourne. Finally, nightly meetings were held in St. Lucia, West Indies.
In summary, Roderick C. Meredith noted that the 1962 Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Festival demonstrated the “unusual dedication and LOVE among God’s people, the deep understanding and POWER of God’s ministers, and the tremendous world-wide work being carried on by a comparatively few people. Perhaps because of this emphasis on CHRIST’S great sacrifice and love, each year the Passover season seems to point up the deep warmth, love and DEDICATION of God’s people.” In other words, the way the 1962 Passover Feast was observed showed the zeal of God’s people to do His Work!
Forty years later, quite a different Feast of Unleavened Bread was observed by Rod Meredith and others in the Church of God, as he reported in the July-August 2002 issue of Living Church News. On March 20, Meredith traveled to New Zealand to visit Living Church of God offices there, and then he went to Brisbane, Australia, to visit the LCG leader of Australia, Bruce Tyler. Meredith conducted Passover services Tuesday night, March 26, in Brisbane. On Wednesday morning, Passover day, Meredith toured Brisbane. Then he preached on Thursday, “the first Day of Unleavened Bread” to 58 brethren, followed by a covered dish meal and long fellowship. Then, the same day, Meredith flew the 2200-mile journey to Perth in Western Australia, arriving late and going to bed.
On Friday morning, he and the local elder toured Perth’s Kings Park and dined at a fish restaurant in Fremantle. On Sabbath, he preached to 49 brethren in Perth, followed by a patio dinner at a member’s home. On Sunday, he flew back to Sydney, did not have a service because there are so very few Church people there, but instead toured the city and took a boat trip on Monday. On Tuesday, still during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Meredith flew to Melbourne, touring “interesting areas,” including a war museum, met with Church elders, and on Wednesday, “the last Day of Unleavened Bread,” he preached to about 55 people in Melbourne. On Thursday, he “toured Melbourne more thoroughly.”
Notice the contrast between 1962 and 2002. In 1962, the Church observed a Feast, the whole eight-day festival together, marked by twice-daily services during the entire time. The Church of 1962 was dedicated, inspired to identify sin, to overcome sin, and to put out sin, through the power of the Spirit of God made possible by the sacrifice of the Messiah. The focus was Christ’s sacrifice and love. God’s people demonstrated love, dedication, and zeal. There were outstanding, unusual, miracles of healing.
On the other hand, in 2002, there was no mention of a Festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread; instead, Meredith referred to “the First Day of Unleavened Bread” and “the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.” There were no daily inspiring sermons during the Festival, no miraculous healings. Instead, there were meals, site-seeing tours, and fellowship, mainly minister to minister, instead of the whole Church together for the entire eight days of scintillating spiritual feasting. The intervening days between the first and last holy days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were filled with business, meals and entertainment, touring, and traveling. Or, as they say in Australia, “holiday.” Instead of a Festival, a holy convocation, the 2002 Feast of Unleavened Bread was a holiday for Rod Meredith. Most of God’s people continued their daily routine, pausing only briefly for the first and last Holy Day services.
If you had to judge the character of the Church of God in 1962 versus 2002, which one would you say was zealous? Which one would you say was lukewarm, watered down?
Sometime during the mid to late 1960s, the Church of God ceased the practice of observing an entire eight-day Spring Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Thereafter, the usual annual 30% growth in new members, ceased to a trickle. Healing miracles became rare, as scarce as hen’s teeth. Some sermons became boring. Doctrines were changed, watered down, and in some cases, were altered to become politically correct.
No external Satanic foe was responsible for this debacle. We have met the enemy — and it is us! It gets worse.
In 2002, the Living Church of God added to its Fundamental Beliefs a provision, “We believe that the Philadelphia era [of God’s Church] began in the 1930s and that we are a continuation of that Philadelphia era.”
Of course, one cannot prove Church eras from the Bible. “Church eras” is not a Bible term, but a man-made phrase. And historically, one cannot prove when one supposed “era” began, and another “era” diminished. The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 existed at the time the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse. These seven churches may well represent seven different characteristic attitudes of God’s Church through the ages, and during a particular period, one of those church’s characteristics may be the dominant attitude. There is somewhat a chronological progression of the seven churches, in the same way that these cities were successive towns on a first century mail route. The seventh church, Laodicea, must therefore represent the dominant characteristic of the True Church in the very end times.
Remember, each Church message ends with the same admonition, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [plural],” 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 22, 3:6, 13, 22. This means that at every period of its history, the Church is to heed the warnings given to all seven of these churches, because all seven messages apply. Thus, spiritual Philadelphians need to heed the message to Sardis, to “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God,” 3:2, as well as “be zealous therefore, and repent,” the message to Laodicea, as well as all the other messages to the seven churches.
Pride is bad. God says He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble, James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34, I Peter 5:5. Notice the context of James 4. It is talking of wars and fightings among you, the Church. Lustful Church leaders war and squabble in order to obtain more power and control over the brethren. Instead of being servant leaders, they lord it over the flocks, and proudly lift themselves above others, whom they put down. One of the biggest put downs is the claim, “We are Philadelphian, and you are Laodicean.” Even though the facts speak otherwise, the proud claim to be a Philadelphian continues to be made. Comparing the Feast of Unleavened Bread of 1962 with 2002 makes 99% of today’s Church of God Laodicean. Another Church group took the name, “Philadelphia Church of God,” yet it too, in doctrine, in practice, in zeal for God, continues to act Laodicean. If you are lacking in zeal, then you are in the Laodicean condition.
The Church at Laodicea said that it was rich and increased with goods, in other words, spiritually superior to others. Those groups who proudly claim to be Philadelphian, when they are not, are actually demonstrating that they are Laodicean.
What is Biblical zeal for God? In the Old Testament, “zeal” is translated from the Hebrew word quinah, or qana, Strong’s #7068 and #7065. Sometimes these words are translated “zealous,” or “jealous.” One of the great characteristics of the Eternal is that He is zealous. “The zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall do this,” II Kings 19:31. In describing the characteristics of the Messiah and His coming kingdom, the Bible says, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this,” Isaiah 9:6-7. The coming great “Second Exodus” likewise will be performed with zeal by the Lord of hosts, Isaiah 37:31-32, after He has chastised His people, Ezekiel 5:12-13. Jehu zealously slew wicked Ahab’s descendants, II Kings 10:16-17.
How about us? Does the zeal of the house of God (doing God’s Work) eat us up, consume our time and efforts? See Psalm 69:9, 119:139; John 2:17.
Although the scattered Church is trodden down, doubtless He is our Father, and His zeal and strength is just waiting to be manifested on behalf of His people, Isaiah 63:15-19.
Zeal is a prominent characteristic of the New Testament Church of God, II Corinthians 7:11. Titus 2:14 says we are to be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Jewish believers in Christ were “zealous of the law,” Acts 21:20. We are to be “zealous of spiritual gifts,” I Corinthians 14:12. The zeal of the Corinthians provoked many, II Corinthians 9:2. Epaphras had a great zeal toward the Church in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, Colossians 4:13. “But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,” Galatians 4:18.
Paul said that Israel who rejected Christ “have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge,” Romans 10:2. They were “ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God,” verse 3. Before his calling, Paul zealously persecuted the Church, Philippians 3:6. He was always a zealot, Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14.
Besides the zeal of Christ in cleansing the Temple of merchandisers, the primary Bible example of Godly zeal is Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, grandson of Aaron.
During their journey to the Promised Land, Israel began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab, joining with them in idolatrous worship of Baal-peor. God told Moses to slay everyone who was joined to Baal-peor. Most of the Israelites, however, were squeamish in fulfilling God’s command. An Israelite boldly flaunted God and Moses, when he brought a Midianitish woman in open sight of Moses and Israel, and went into his tent with her.
Phinehas took a javelin in his hand, and thrust them both through, thus staying the plague of the wrath of God, after 24,000 were slain in the plague. The Eternal told Moses that Phinehas had turned away His wrath. As a result, “Behold, I give unto him [Phinehas] my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” He had God’s zeal in him, and his actions proved it. See Numbers 25.
It is high time for a modern day Phinehas to show himself in the Church of God. In their laxity in observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and many other things, these times are the days of zeal gone by.
The Almighty’s loving message to this Laodicean group is, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent,” Revelation 3:19.
— by Richard C. Nickels W
Whole Wheat Unleavened Bread Recipe
Ingredients: 4 C whole wheat pastry flour, 2 egg yolks, 1-1/2 t salt, 2 T vegetable oil, 3 T butter, 7/8 C milk or water.
Sift flour then add salt, cut the butter into flour mixture, like making pastry. In another bowl, beat egg yolks, adding oil slowly. Pour this mixture into flour and stir with spoon or fork until it forms a ball of dough that comes away from the side of the bowl. Knead lightly on a floured board for about a minute to shape dough into a soft ball.
Lightly flour the board again, pinch off about one-third cupful of dough and with the hands pat it as thin as can easily be done, then roll it thinner with rolling pin. Keep working the dough and rolling it until dough is so thin, it just holds together without breaking when handled. Place rolled dough on ungreased baking sheet and mark into squares of any desired size with a knife. If it is to be used for Passover service, make only one cut across the middle to make pieces only small enough that they may be conveniently carried.
Bake in preheated oven 390-400° for 8-12 minutes until very lightly browned.
If this bread is to be used for Passover service, use water instead of milk, and leave out the egg yolks. Increase water to one cup, mix with oil and add to butter-flour mixture. (This recipe is sufficient for about 500 people in the Passover Service.)