In 1974 the Worldwide Church of God changed its doctrinal teaching on Pentecost from a Monday to a Sunday Pentecost. This article is based on a Sermon by Raymond C. Cole delivered on Pentecost, May 19, 1975 at Florence, Oregon. Is the tradition of the Worldwide Church of God a Sunday or a Monday Pentecost? The Worldwide Church of God never observed a Sunday Pentecost until 1974. Here are twenty-four reasons for a Monday Pentecost.
God has put the Bible together in such a way that man is incapable of technically arriving at a knowledge of the truth, Isaiah 28:7-13. Truth must be revealed to those simple enough to believe implicitly in faith, Matthew 11:25.
More than that, God said He would speak to us in a different language than Hebrew, Isaiah 28:11. The truth in this age has been revealed in English, not Hebrew. Every mistake that has been made to this point has been based on an attempt to get back to those original languages and you and I are incapable of understanding them. There are many difficulties in understanding an ancient language. Classical Greek and Hebrew are vastly different from the modern usage. No one, not even the scholars, have perfect knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek. When one begins to doubt and question the truths revealed in a simple language, the simple truth of God becomes clouded and lost.
In Isaiah 1 and 2 God speaks of the condition of His people in the latter days, at the time of the return of Jesus Christ, Isaiah 2:10-19. His children have forsaken the Eternal, and He is very angry, Chapter 1:2-4. God's people have gone away backward. The fact is, people never go uphill. There is not such thing as a progressive revelation of God's truth. It's given to the people of the Eternal God, and then they begin to go downhill, Chapter 1:4.
Punishment is futile, because they will revolt more and more. Certainly these prophecies were fulfilled in type to the physical nation and church of Israel in the past. The major fulfillment is for the last days, Chapter 2:2. We know who is the physical nation of Israel. Do we not also know who is the spiritual church of Israel, the "daughter of Zion," Isaiah 1:8? These prophecies are for our day!
Only a small remnant of God's people will remain faithful to God's laws and statutes, Isaiah 1:9. The world stands because of the presence of those few righteous ones.
Somewhere along the line, there was a perversion of God's laws, statutes, sabbaths and Holy Days. He says, that He hates what His people are doing, verses 13-14. Let's look at ourselves. Are we true and faithful to Almighty God?
Original Truth Changed
In Ezekiel 5 there is another prophecy for the last days. Only a little handful will be God's faithful. Jerusalem, the headquarters of the nation and the church, has changed God's judgments into wickedness more than the nations around her, verses 5-6. Because of perversion of God's statutes and Holy Days, God will execute judgments upon His people, verses 7-8.
One cannot pervert, or change, what he never had in the first place. The very words, "pervert," and "change," demand an original obedience to the truth. It's just that simple. God's people were given God's truth and then departed from it.
God's People HaveForgotten His Law
Hosea 4likewise tells of God's people "in the latter days," Hosea 3:5. God has a controversy with His own people because knowledge of His laws has been forgotten. Lying, stealing, adultery and striving with the ministry are going on, verses 2, 4. God says "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children," Hosea 4:6.
Once again, you can't forget what you didn't know. The only possibility based on these easy-to-understand words is that at one time God's people knew, and understood, but now have forgotten God. As growth in numbers proceeded among God's people, so did their sins grow. As a result, God will change their glory into shame, verse 7. Their glory was in direct proportion to obedience to God's laws. Do you know any Protestants that were obedient to God's laws and then turned from them? Someone was obedient and then left off to take heed to the Eternal, verse 10.
Who are God's people in the last days? Verse 12, the spirit of whoredoms has caused them to err. They hide their sins, verse 13. The people that do not understand shall fall, verse 14. You cannot fall if you weren't originally where you should be, can you?
Now notice Hosea 2:1-13. It speaks of God's people who have obtained mercy, forgiveness of their past sins, "at that day," verse 16, the end time. They have committed whoredoms and say "I will go after my lovers" -- illicit relationships with Gentile nations, verse 5. Verse 11, God will cause her mirth to cease, her feast days and Sabbaths. Is Israel as a nation keeping the Feast Days? Or is this speaking of the Church? "She went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD," verse 13. How can one forget what was never known?
God's people in the end time have turned aside from proper observance of His Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feast Days. Will we follow suit due to the arguments of scholars?
Why I Believe in a Monday Pentecost
The initial twenty-four reasons for my response in continuing to keep a Monday Pentecost did not involve technicalities at all. A study of technical words was ensued only subsequently. Here are those initial reasons:
Preparation Day Necessary
(1) Sunday as the Wavesheaf Day was an entire day for the preparation and offering of the Wavesheaf. Likewise, the Sunday following the seventh Sabbath was necessary to prepare for Pentecost. I could not figure out how it was possible to do all that had to take place in the preparation for Pentecost without a Sunday in there. Specifically, there had to be large waveloaves baked with leaven offered to the Eternal on Pentecost, Leviticus 23:17. If you insist on a Sunday Pentecost, you're going to have to prepare on the Sabbath. That breaks the Sabbath law and produces death (see Exodus 16:23-30, and 35:2). So I decided the change to Sunday must be wrong.
Order of Salvation
(2) The second reason why I believe in a Monday Pentecost is that God clearly delineates the order of salvation. Christ is the first of the firstfruits. How can you be the first of the firstfruits if you are just among others? Wavesheaf Sunday is devoted solely to Christ. I Corinthians 15:22-23 tells us that Christ is the firstfruits of those resurrected from the dead, followed by those that are Christ's at His coming. There is a difference between begotten Christians and Jesus Christ.
Monday the Tradition of the Church
(3) The third point is the tradition of the Church. I'm not interested in the tradition of the Sadducees (Sunday) or the Pharisees (Sivan 6) or any other sect regarding which day to observe Pentecost. But I am awesomely interested in the tradition of the Church of God. The apostle Paul was also.
In Titus 1:9 Paul stated that the true minister of God must be "holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught." And so I deliberated at great length and asked "how can I hold fast to it and turn right around and change it?" To hold fast to something is to keep it without changing. Unless we can finally come to the "logical" deduction that "Oh well, that was for Titus." Granted, it was for Titus. But what Paul wrote to the Corinthians was for the Corinthians. And what he wrote to Timothy was for Timothy. So why bother? I am still of the conviction that according to II Timothy 3:16-17 that it's the inspired word of God which is for you and me. It was essential for Titus and for us. Because human nature is the same and tends not to hold fast to God's truth.
II Timothy 3:14says "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them." How can I continue and yet at the same time change? Since I couldn't find the term change here, I decided to continue. I knew what I had learned and I decided to continue in it. I was assured of it because I had proven it. And I knew from whom I learned it, because I had also proven that. I could do nothing else.
Now notice II Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." These are three out of 30-40 such proof texts.
The tradition of the Church for about thirty-five years prior to 1974 had been a Monday Pentecost. Now there is a subtlety going out now that the original which was given to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was a Sunday. Don't you believe it!
There were several years in which Mr. Armstrong was following the Rabbinic custom of Sivan 6, which meant that it could fall at various times, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Now it did so happen that Sivan 6 fell on a Sunday on one or two years during the time when Mr. Armstrong accepted the modern Jewish Rabbinical date for Pentecost. This is what confuses some. He had not had time to study it out until later, but he always had misgivings about it. Just like the Apostle Paul, it took Mr. Armstrong several years to be taught before he was commissioned.
[Editor's Note: the following is a proof of what Mr. Cole stated.]
Converted and called in 1927, Mr. Armstrong was ordained to the ministry in 1931. He began keeping the Holy Days with others in 1934. Truth was revealed to him, as he has said, one doctrine at a time. A calendar was published in 1937 showing Pentecost corresponding to the Jewish date of Sivan 6. But it must have been that very year that Monday observance was begun. For a diary of an early church member, Mrs. Lorinda (Stoneberg) Le Bleu (baptized in 1936 by Mr. Armstrong), shows that she did keep Pentecost on a Monday in the years 1937, 1940, 1941 and following.
There is an interesting relationship between Passover, Pentecost and Sivan 6 that helps to explain why some have mistakenly thought that a "Sunday Pentecost" was kept for a couple of years. The following table shows all possible combinations, and specifics for the years 1934-1941:
Year Passover Pentecost Jews' Pentecost
1936, 1939, 1940 Monday Sivan 11 Sivan 6 Wednesday
1935 Wednesday Sivan 9 Sivan 6 Friday
1934, 1937, 1938, 1941 Friday Sivan 7 Sivan 6 Sunday
(none during period) Sabbath Sivan 13 Sivan 6 Monday
Notice that when Passover falls on a Friday, Sivan 6 is on a Sunday, while the true Pentecost is on the very next day, Sivan 7. Jews sometimes keep both days, Sivan 6 and 7. So it may have been that the Pentecosts observed by Mrs. Le Bleu in 1937 and 1938 were still during the time when Mr. Armstrong had accepted the Jewish reckoning. However, her diary records the actual meeting on the Monday of those years, not the Sunday. The church often met at individual homes during the early years. Mrs. Le Bleu's diary records a Pentecost meeting on Monday, May 17, 1937 at the Conn's and Monday, June 6, 1938 at the White's.
1939 is a key year: The Jewish Pentecost and the true Pentecost were five days apart. Mrs. Le Bleu's diary records a meeting on Monday, May 29, 1939 at Wilma Christenson's home. This is definite proof that at least by 1939, Mr. Armstrong had been shown the validity of a Monday Pentecost rather than the commonly accepted Jewish Sivan 6-7. According to the diary, 1937 was the first "Monday" year.
Thus, Sivan 6 was observed for the years 1934, 1935, and 1936. According to the table on the previous page, 1934 was the only year in which Sivan 6 fell on a Sunday. In 1935 the Jews' Pentecost fell on a Friday, and in 1936 it fell on a Wednesday.
According to an article published in early 1940, "How to Figure Passover," Mr. Armstrong had printed a calendar in 1937 showing Holy Day dates for several years in advance. June 12, 1940 was the date projected in the 1937 calendar as Pentecost. This was Sivan 6 of that year, which fell on a Wednesday. The 1940 article changed the date to Tuesday, June 18. This must have been a typographical error, for Mrs. Le Bleu's diary records that the Eugene church observed Pentecost of 1940 on Monday, June 17 at Hendricks Park, with about fifty members present.
Even the "Pentecost Study Material" published in 1974 by the Worldwide Church of God in support of the change from a Monday to a Sunday Pentecost proves that Mr. Armstrong never did originally observe a Sunday Pentecost. On page 61, the paper states, "After learning of God's Sabbaths from the Bible, Mr. Armstrong turned to the Jews for basic knowledge of the Sacred Calendar . . . Using the Bible as his guide, Mr. Armstrong studied the Jewish Encyclopedia -- accepting the laws of the calendar but rejecting traditions which did not seem to square with the Bible . . . . Jews now keep it [Pentecost] on a fixed calendar date, Sivan 6. Studying further, Mr. Armstrong found the priestly Sadducees had counted from the weekly Sabbath (which usually falls within the two annual Sabbaths) and had observed a Sunday. At this point he discarded Jewish practice and established Monday as the proper day." Rather than observe the extinct Sadducean tradition of a Sunday Pentecost, Mr. Armstrong discarded the Jewish practice of Sivan 6 for a Monday Pentecost.
Thus, Mr. Herbert Armstrong never did observe a "Sunday" Pentecost during the early years of the Eugene Church of God. Those who teach otherwise are spreading a lie!
Don't forget that the tradition of the Church is a Monday Pentecost. The blessings came under the Monday obedience. That's when the growth of the Church took place.
(4) I knew there was no way for an ordinary man, no matter how intelligent, to arrive at truth. It had to be revealed by divine revelation. Now if God hadn't revealed it, we've all been deceived all these years, and there's nothing to it anyway. If we were the Church of God and are still the Church of God, then God revealed His truth to him at that time. If God did reveal it, it is immutable and unalterable.
I had to make a choice. I continue to honor and respect Mr. Armstrong. I will continue in those truths God revealed to him. I still honor him because he was God's apostle to whom He revealed that truth, which can't be changed. If God did not reveal the truth to him, then all of us were taken for a good ride.
Appearances of Christ Forty Days
(5) Next was the correlation of events in Luke 24 and John 20. That's a long study in itself (explained in our detailed paper, "The Plain Truth About Pentecost").
The meeting that transpired between the resurrected Christ and the disciples in John 20:19 was after sundown. I know it says "first day of the week." But John uses Roman time, as every commentator knows.
Fruits of Those Given to Change
(6) The sixth point is the fruits of those contending for change. God says by their fruits you shall know them, Matthew 7:15-20. So I started writing the fruits down. They didn't add up too well.
Now you couldn't know what I do, the "garbage." So all I could do was go and pray that somehow that knowledge would come to you on the basis of doctrine, and not the sins of others. Good fruits weren't there. That was a proof the change was wrong.
(7) The seventh reason why I believe in a Monday Pentecost concerns a significant event. My parents were with Mr. Armstrong since 1936, and I was a boy at the time and grew up in the Jefferson, Oregon area where he was originally the pastor. I was aware of the story of a particular individual years ago in the Eugene area. Before she had ever heard of Mr. Armstrong, she had an unusual messenger, "James' Messenger" to be specific, who showed up on her doorstep and a man who was never seen before nor afterwards. He told her the entire story about the Holy Days and emphasized two or three times that Pentecost is always on a Monday.
And so she recognized the truth of God the first time she heard it. Unique to say the least! I can't discount it. Although it is not the major proof, I won't throw it out either. She soon heard of Mr. Armstrong and that here was a group keeping all the Holy Days, with Pentecost on a Monday. Before her contact with the Messenger, she didn't even know what Pentecost was. Signs follow the teaching of the truth of God, Mark 16.
[According to Robert Macdonald, in the May 31, 2000 issue of The Journal, this is the history of the "James' Messenger" event. In 1934, a male figure came up the driveway to the farmhouse of Arch and Chole Schippert, and heir daughter Julia, near Springfield Junction [sic.], Ore. He knocked at the door and introduced himself by saying, "I am James Messenger, and I wondered if you would give me something to eat?" He wore blue jeans and a blue work shirt just as her husband wore. He had blue eyes and neatly groomed hair and was bald on top. Her husband greeted him as his own brother, and invited him to eat with them. He told them about the Sabbath and Holy Days, which pictured God's plan of salvation. He said that the Holy Days could come on any day of the week except for Pentecost, which always came on a Monday. He repeated, "Pentecost always comes on a Monday." James Messenger also said, "the holy days were God's sign between Him and the ones He is calling now."
[When he left the next morning, members of the family figured they had been visited by an angel. In 1937, the Schipperts came into contact with Herbert W. Armstrong, and became members of the then Radio Church of God. Robert Macdonald became acquainted with the Schipperts in 1958 at Ambassador College, where he was a student, and they lived right on campus. They were very kind and generous to the students. Arch died in the 1970s. Macdonald visited Mrs. Schippert from time to time after that. He says Mrs. Schippert had dreams and visions most of her life. One of the visions that did not come to pass predicted the worst famine that the world would ever know, in 1980. In addition to dreams and visions, she and her family were also visited several times by entities other than James Messenger that they perceived to be angels. She noted that the color gray was associated with all of them.]
Don't Follow WrongJewish Traditions
(8) Sunday is a Sadducean custom. And I don't follow the tradition of any Jewish sect, Matthew 15:1-9, 16:12.
Pentecost is Foundational
(9) Is a foundation constructed at or near the conclusion of construction? What are foundational principles? Mr. Armstrong has written several times in the past, that the law is foundational, including the Holy Days. I've never seen a building with the foundation laid at the conclusion of construction. Have you? If the foundation was not laid until 1974, then everything before was not built on the one and only true foundation, I Corinthians 3:9-17.
Prophesied Departure From the Truth
(10) God said in place after place in the Bible that in the last days there was going to be a departure from the truth. Not growth into truth through progressive revelation. First the truth was revealed, then it was departed from. See II Thessalonians 2:1-10, II Timothy 3:1-17, II Peter 2:1-22and the entirety of the Book of Jude.
Statements of An Apostle
(11) Next, I believe in Monday Pentecost because of the numerous statements of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong re: Pentecost, Divorce and Remarriage, etc., when eyeball-to-eyeball he looked at me and thundered, "Raymond, God revealed those truths to me and they will never be changed!" You can imagine my shock when they were. I worked there and was many times in his presence. He said, "Why if we were to change, we would be spued out of God's mouth."
Good Fruits of Monday Observance
(12) The fruits of long observance of a Monday Pentecost were growth, excitement, inspiration, love, marvelous fruits that were good. Have we forgotten the old adage which says "Don't change a winning game?" After the change came numerous divisions.
Not Growth, But Change
(13) Sunday does not denote growth, it denotes change.
Basis of Change Was Not Bible
(14) The basis of the change was not Biblical, but history, words, technicalities, and scholars. Is that the premise for your belief? It's not mine. That was the basis for the change, not faith and revelation. See Ephesians 3:1-5; I Corinthians 2:9-10, 14; Matthew 11:25; and II Timothy 2:13-26.
Historical Tendency Is to Degenerate
(15) Historically the tendency is to depart from truth, not grow closer to it. See Jeremiah 7:22-24, Isaiah 1:4. Ancient Israel, the type of the Church today, went backward and not forward. It is directly prophesied that the majority of God's people will utterly corrupt themselves "in the latter days," Deuteronomy 31:29 and the entirely of chapters 31 and 32.
Personal Conviction and Proof
(16) Personal conviction and proof, as well as that of Mr. Herbert Armstrong, convinced me of a Monday Pentecost. We had proven the subject after much study and prayer. The subject had been tested many times before, against those who maintained in a Sunday Pentecost. Were we lying to ourselves? If the work were of God, pray tell why didn't He make it known forty years earlier? Is Jesus Christ derelict? I don't believe so. I think human beings have become derelict to the truth that God gave to us.
(17) In the quest for the truth, I had asked for the truth. Matthew 7:7-12 is a promise that God will answer the PRAYERS of those truly seeking Him. If you ask Jesus Christ for the truth, will He give you the wrong day, will he give you a serpent? No! See verse 10. You can count on God to give you what is good for you, the truth.
Now do we say that God has given us a test of obedience to Church authority without Biblical proof in these last days? That's what I am told. I don't buy that. I believe Christ heard the petition of His servants and gave us the truth.
Truth Does Not Change
(18) Truth in us is Christ in us. Christ changes not. He said, I am the Word, the truth and the life. The hope of glory is Christ in you, Colossians 1:27. Christ is the Word of God personified. You are His if He dwells in you. Now we are told we didn't have Christ in us, because we were wrong on everything. Truth changes not, neither does Christ in us.
I brought these things up and said that before we get into the technicalities of the subject, I want every one of these answered to my satisfaction. You know what I was told? Get away from those and let's just look at the subject. I said I'm sorry I'm not going to. I want an answer how this could possibly happen before I will review any law or statute which God has given to us.
God changes not, Hebrews 13:8-9, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17.
Sunday Pentecost Was a Planned Change
(19) I was well aware of the fact that Pentecost was only an initial subject. That already there was a calculation of many changes to come. It wasn't the fact that study produced "new light" that we had been wrong. It was one of the many calculated moves. We have subsequently learned through public statements that these changes were planned several years before they transpired. Is that the quest of truth?
Can An Apostle Depart From Truth?
(20) One of the big problems was: how could we possibly equate the fact that Mr. Armstrong is an apostle when there has been a departure from the truth? Can an apostle be mislead? Yes!
A comparison of Acts 10:9-48 and Galatians 2:1-14 will tell you that an apostle can even depart from the revelation God gave him. Paul said that he could pervert the Gospel of Christ, Galatians 1:6-10, that he could be a castaway and utterly reject God, I Corinthians 9:27. Do we believe God's Word? They have to stay right with the truth. Apostles can go wrong, can go astray. Any one of us can go astray. Since I accepted a man as an apostle of God, does that mean it is impossible for him to ever go astray? Then why am I in I John 4:1 commanded to continually try the spirits whether they be of God? Why then in the last days are only the very elect going to avoid deception? Christ said, Take heed that ye be not deceived, Matthew 24:4. If it were an impossibility for a man to be deceived, to go astray because he was in a unique office, there would be no need for any of these injunctions.
God tells you to check out every one. That includes me. I would be horribly disappointed if you don't check me out. Follow Jesus Christ. Check out every man. No man is immune from going astray.
(21) Compare the instructions to the two churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea in Revelation 3re: the Pentecost change.
A Problem in the Ministry
(22) When I evaluated what was transpiring, I saw that there was no problem with the doctrine we had held over the years. The problem was with certain individuals in the ministry. The problem was not with God in originally revealing the truth. The problem was with men not living up to that truth.
Biblical Prophecies For the Church
(23) I read the prophecies of Malachi, chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Isaiah 28, 29 and 30. They sounded awesomely similar with the things that were transpiring.
Hold Fast the True Doctrines
(24) Finally, a comparative study of I Timothy 1and Hebrews chapters 10, 12, and 13 showed me the circumstances of our time.
Fifty days must be completely counted. A day is counted when it is over, Genesis 1:5. Counting Pentecost is simple. It doesn't take great scholarship.
In Isaiah 48:16-18 God tells us that He spoke to His people from the beginning. He taught us from the beginning. Many of those that heard the inspired words of the Apostle Paul did not believe he was led by God. Now we accept his writings as Scripture. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Will we receive that word of God we have heard of God's Apostle in these latter days not as the word of a man, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, I Thessalonians 2:13? Every prophet God ever sent was rejected. Will we believe God's Word and commandments, or will we be cut off, Isaiah 48:18-19?
The Apostle John confronted the same kind of problem extant today. He had to write and exhort true Christians to not go back and review everything they had been taught, in aura of doubt. Why is it that we were in doubt and troubled? We practiced it for thirty-five years. We were confident. In I John 2:27, John wrote that "the anointing which ye have received [the Holy Spirit] of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you . . . ." No need to be taught the truth again. You had it initially. God called you. God revealed the truth to you. Why question what God gave you initially? The Spirit of God did not lead us in error, John 16:13.
Hebrews 3:14 is an awesomely significant admonition. "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." "He that endures unto the end shall be saved," Matthew 24:13.
This is why I believe in a Monday Pentecost.
-- written by Raymond C. Cole, edited by Richard C. Nickels
Pentecost: Its Message for Christians Today
Pentecost, the Day of Difference
Why I Believe in a Monday Pentecost
Pentecost and the Second Century Calendar Adjustment
Let us "Tarry" for Pentecost
Pentecost is NOT on Sivan 6
When Does the Pentecost Count Begin?
Joshua Chapter Five and the Wavesheaf Day
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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