SHOULD CHRISTIANS OBSERVE
||To millions of
professing, churchgoing Christians, Easter is one of the chief religious
festivals. But what do eggs, rabbits, new clothing, sunrise services, and
hot cross buns have to do with Jesus
When was the last time you went to your
public library, obtained one of the leading encyclopedias or histories, and
studied an article on the subject of Easter?
If you're like the
average person, the answer is probably "never." Millions of sincere,
churchgoing, professing Christians excitedly arise in the pitch-black hours well
before dawn on Easter Sunday morning, hustle the kids out of bed, enjoy a quick
breakfast, and bundle into the car for a drive to a nearby mountaintop, outdoor
bowl, huge cathedral, or small countryside church. They are going to an "Easter
At the precise moment of sunrise, the priest or
minister may likely turn toward the east, extending both hands in a supplicatory
gesture, heralding the dawn of "Easter Sunday," and ask all of the audience to
pray as they face the rising sun in the east.
While many of the
less devout do not bother to arise early enough to go to an actual sunrise
service, it is a well-known celebration, attended by millions in nations around
These many professing Christians
suppose they are gathering together on Easter to commemorate the anniversary of the
precise moment Jesus Christ rose from the dead!
They believe they
are celebrating the resurrection.
Of course, it is doubtful that
even one of these sincere people has read what you are about to read in this
article. Yet the information is readily available in any reasonably large public
Have you ever researched the question for yourself? Have
you ever asked yourself why you do some of the things you do?
you ever looked up "Lent" in the history books or encyclopedias? Have you ever
wondered why fasts, drunken ribaldry, drug-induced chaos, vandalism, and crime
punctuate such pre-Easter celebrations as "Mardi Gras"?
ever heard friends joke about their "Lenten fast," giving up chewing gum or
|Surely you remember the gaiety of
Eastertime; the projects you were given in the first elementary years of
school, fashioning little gaily decorated baskets of paper and decorating
them with paper "straw," and jelly beans shaped like Easter eggs.
Probably, as a child, you dyed Easter eggs, engaged in Easter egg hunts,
ate little chocolate bunnies, and perhaps even gathered around a bonfire,
singing and dancing in the streets.
Certainly you recall seeing old motion
picture news reports or television coverage of the famous "Easter Parade" in New
It's custom. And is custom to be questioned?
What Does Easter
What is Easter"? Is it the opposite of "Wester"? Does it
have something to do with one of the points of the compass, or the Far
Let's see what some of the historians tell us:
Easter: The English term, according to
the Van. Bede, relates to Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of
day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise
"That the apostolic fathers do not mention it and
that we first hear of it principally through the controversy of the
Quartodecimans are purely accidental" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, article
"Easter," emphasis added).
In a sense, we are dealing with a "hostile
witness" in this quotation, for the Catholic Church fully supports Easter.
Therefore, it is doubly important to note that The Catholic Encyclopedia
admits the "apostolic fathers" (including James, Peter, John, and the early
apostles) do not mention Easter.
As we will see later, it is
equally important that they admit we first hear of it during a controversy of
Now notice another important historical
"Easter: The annual festival observed
throughout Christendom in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The name Easter (Ger. Ostern), like the names of the days of the week, is a
survival from the old Teutonic mythology[and] is derived from Eostre, or
Ostara, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our
April, and called the 'Eostur-monath,' was dedicated. This month, Bede says,
was the same as the Mensis Paschalis [which meant "Passover" month], 'when the
old festival was observed with the gladness of a new
"There is no indication of the observance of the
Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic
"The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish
festivals, though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those
festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to
it of Christ as the true paschal lamb and the firstfruits from the dead,
continued to be observed, and became the 'Christian Easter'" (The Encyclopedia
Britannica, eleventh edition, emphasis added).
|Note well that this eminent
history (the eleventh edition was the last edition of the Britannica to
include theological history) admits that the celebration of Easter is not
mentioned in the New Testament; that it was not observed by the early
apostles, and was clearly a later addition to what has been called the
"Christian church." |
This later addition is reflected in
Acts 12:4 of the King James Version, where the term pascha is erroneously
translated "Easter." The term means Passover, not "Easter," and is so rendered
by all modern English translations.
Just how Easter was adopted
into the visible church, and how it became called "Christian," we shall
Now, notice what an American high school level encyclopedia
has to say:
"Easter is a Christian festival that
celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important holy day
of the Christian religion. People attend churches and take part in religious
"In most countries, Easter comes in early spring, at
a time when green grass and warm sunshine begin to push aside the ice and snow
of winter. Its name may have come from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring,
or from the Teutonic festival of spring, Eostar [pronounced
"Christians everywhere celebrate Easter with great
rejoicing. In many areas, children collect candy and chocolate bunnies, and
hunt colorful Easter eggs. Many persons wear new spring clothes to church on
Easter" (World Book encyclopedia, article "Easter," emphasis
The Encyclopedia Americana says
"Easter is a convergence of three
traditions, (1) Pagan. According to the Ven. Bede, English historian of the
early eighth century, the word is derived from the Norse Ostara or Eostare,
meaning the festival of spring, at the vernal equinox, March 21, when nature
is in resurrection after winter. Hence, the rabbits, notable for their
fecundity, and the eggs colored like rays of the returning sun, and the
northern lights, or aurora borealis. The Greek myth, Demeter and Persephone,
with its Latin counterpart, Ceres and Persephone, conveys the idea of a
goddess returning seasonally from the nether regions of the light of
Very early after being rescued from
slavery and established as a new nation under God's own laws, the Israelites
turned to the idolatrous customs and practices of neighboring
"And the children of Israel did evil in
the sight of the Eternal, and served Baalim [which means "many gods"; the term
baal merely meant "lord"]: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers,
which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the
gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves to them,
and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Eternal and served Baal
and Ashtaroth" (Judges 2:1113).
The pagan Zidonians, the Philistines,
Moabites, Edomites, and other surrounding tribes served the same gods and
goddesses sometimes manifested in different ways.
One of the
prominent features (also adopted by sinning Israelites) was the worship of the
goddess "Ishtar" in groves, called "asherim." This is merely the plural word for
"Asherah," which meant an upright pale, or the trunk of a tree, stripped of its
branches and leaves, and worshiped in the setting of a grove of trees, usually
on a hilltop, representing life. (It was a phallic symbol.)
"The children of Israel sinned against the Lord their God...and walked in the
statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of
Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of
Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their
God...and they set them up images [Hebrew, asherah] and groves [Hebrew, asherim]
in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in
all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them;
and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: For they served idols,
whereof the Lord had said to them, you shall not do this thing" (2 Kings
The worship of the upright pales, or phallic symbols, was
closely associated with the worship of other forms of the procreation of
The whole festival at springtime, in the minds of the ancient
pagans, was closely allied to the midwinter festivals when pagans implored their
sun god to begin his northern journey once again, bringing back the warming rays
of the sun and hastening spring, when new life would once again spring
When this was an accomplished fact, the heathens used the
symbols of eggs, which they worshiped as a miraculous source of life; rabbits,
as the most rapidly procreating domestic animal; and lit fires in order to bake
cakes in sacrifice to the "queen of heaven" (Semiramis), the "Diana of the
Ephesians," who was viewed as the goddess of sex and fertility.
|Almighty God said He hated this imagery and idolatry, and called
all such ceremonies of the pagans great
Read Ezekiel 8! In this shocking chapter
of the Bible, Ezekiel, in spirit, is shown the horrifying abominations of the
sinning Israelites who had made an "image of jealousy" which "provoked to
jealousy" the Eternal God (verses 3,4)!
Showing Ezekiel, in spirit,
even "greater abominations" (verse 6),
Ezekiel said he "went in and saw; and
behold every form of creeping things [the pagans always used snakes, lizards,
crabs, frogs, flies, and so on, in their imagery], and abominable beasts, and
all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And
there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel,
and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man
his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he
to me, son of man, hast you seen what the ancients of the house of Israel
do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The
Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth" (verses
And is that not precisely what millions of
churchgoing Christians believe today?
A day-by-day, close awareness
of the immediate presence of God; the fact that He watches and clearly sees
every human act and deed; that He is immediately available through prayer; that
He is not only our God, but our Judge, and our Ruler. This concept of a
living, ruling, Creator God is lost to the minds of millions! They do not know
the living God!
Rather, they think of God in vague, unreal terms.
It is as if He has truly "gone way off somewhere" into the blackness of the
"other side of the universe." Few really believe that Almighty God does see
through the rooftops, sees in the dark, and literally beholds the deeds (good or
evil) of humankind.
Later Ezekiel was shown "women weeping for
Tammuz" (verse 14). Tammuz was their name for Nimrod, who made himself into "a
mighty hunter before [in place of] the Lord " (Genesis 10:9)!
read on in Ezekiel 8 as he was shown even greater abominations
"And he brought me into the inner court
of the Lord's house, and behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord between
the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs
toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces were toward the east: and they
worshiped the sun toward the east" (verses 15,16). (The sun is in the east at
its rising! )
This is a sunrise service, a pagan,
idolatrous worshiping of the rising sun, in connection with pagan idols of
"creeping things and abominable beasts," with women wailing and weeping for
"But, so what?" some will ask. "What's the
big deal?" some may complain. Are we to take away such
innocent-appearing things as cute little chicks, chocolate bunnies,
jelly beans, and dyed eggs; the excited, happy looks on the faces of our
children as they search about the lawn for hidden Easter
|"We're not doing it with all of
these pagan things in mind," some might reason. "We're doing it as a
Christian ceremony and it is only something to get the children to look
forward to Easter!" |
Consider what God told Ezekiel concerning
ancient Israel's practices:
| "Then He said to me, hast you seen this, O
son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the
abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with
violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger; and, lo, they put the
branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eyes shall
not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with
a loud voice, yet will I not hear them" (verses
The Annual Holy Days of
When God first called His nation Israel out of
captivity in Egypt, He had to reveal to them the months of the year; reveal to
them once again the weekly Sabbath, and wean them away from the pagan,
idolatrous customs of the ancient Egyptians, who worshiped Isis and
Osiris. Prior to the exodus, God began revealing to the Israelites the
Passover (see Exodus 12). Directly connected with the Passover were the
Days of Unleavened Bread. Later, in the land of Sinai, before the giving
of the Ten Commandments, God revealed to them His weekly Sabbath, and
enforced the observance of God's holy Sabbath day by showing the Israelites that
sin required the death penalty (Exodus 16:430).
Later God revealed
to them the remainder of His annual holy days (Leviticus 23), consisting of the
Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of
Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day, coming right at the
end of the Feast of Tabernacles.
God revealed to them the
beginning of months, or the "sacred year," which commenced in the spring with
the month of Nisan (also called Abib).
The Israelites were
commanded to take an unblemished lamb from their flocks on the tenth of Nisan;
to keep it to the evening of the fourteenth, and then to slay it as the
"Lord's Passover." By striking the blood of the slain, unblemished lamb on
the doorposts and lintels of their houses in Goshen, they would be under the
sign of "the blood of the lamb," and the death angel, who was to kill the
firstborn of the Egyptians in the final and greatest plague, would "pass over"
the homes of the Israelites.
That ceremony was to be conducted
"with their staff in their hand," and by a meal of roast lamb and the "bread of
affliction" (unleavened bread), signifying the great haste with which God was
going to deliver them out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.
spiritual types are set forth very clearly by Jesus Christ in the
New Testament, and by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11).
paschal lamb was symbolic of Jesus Christ; the blood on the doorposts and
lintels of the houses is symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ to atone for our
sins; the escape from Egypt is symbolic of our escape from the clutches of Satan
the devil and sin; the passage through the Red Sea was symbolic of baptism (1
Corinthians 10:14); the land of Sinai, and the forty-years wandering prior to
entering the promised land, are symbolic of the trials, testing, and tribulation
which come upon every Christian; and the entrance into the promised land, across
the River Jordan, is symbolic of finally leaving this human, physical life and
entering the very Kingdom of God.
Easter Information Continued
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