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Easter - Would Jesus Observe It?
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Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Sun, Aug 31, 2008
Easter—Would Jesus Keep It?
You need the PRECIOUS TRUTH about Easter! Here we present you a booklet that talks about whether or not Jesus would keep Easter. Would Jesus keep it and would he even authorize it to be kept if he walked in the flesh on the earth today? You need to know these truths.
THIS BOOKLET IS NOT TO BE SOLD. It is a free educational service in the public interest, published by the Church of God (Sabbath Day)
Copyright © 2008
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Unless otherwise indicated, scriptures are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
PEOPLE in the world over each keep their holidays and they all think that if they do it, then God will bless them because they see that God has given the authority to keep them. But, what is the real truth regarding these facts? Did God really command these holidays? Did God really institute them in the beginning of the early New Testament Church of God?
For millions of people, Easter Sunday is perhaps one of the most important religious holidays of the whole year. But, if Jesus were on earth now, would he keep it?
Each and every spring there is the excite-ment of Easter in the air. Most churches begin their preparations for their special Easter programs about the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Mothers and children dye eggs all sorts of colors and parents hide these eggs which are a “symbol of Easter.” They do this so that their children can go and find them.
Stores stock their shelves with holiday eggs, candy and Easter bunnies and baskets all for sale to their customers. We can’t go to any store without seeing the “hype” of Easter.
Among things that most churches do is they gather themselves together for a time of “Easter Sunrise” services and they watch the sun come up.
But, of all these things that people do on this one day of the year, is there really any proof in the Bible or any historical proof that Jesus himself or even his own disciples observed or even taught the observance of Easter and this holiday?
Did Jesus and his apostles even command and instruct the followers to keep this by going to “sunrise services” or to go to church on Sunday? How about any other time for that matter? These are real questions that we need real answers for and the Church of God does provide the truth on these questions for you to learn.
If Easter then was never authorized by Christ or instituted at all by his very apostles, then just where is it that Easter came from? In other words, if Jesus were living today among us in the flesh, then would he even observe it at all or even encourage the observe of it at all?
Answers to these questions are available. Some may take a little research, but they will become clear to you when we truly look into the history and into what the Bible really has to say on the very subject.
Did Any Of the Apostles Write About Easter?
As a great surprise as it may be, nowhere in the New Testament can you ever find any real reference to Easter. In the King James Version of the Holy Bible, you do find the word Easter (Acts 12:4) but, it is a mistranslation that has been corrected in all other translations.
The original Greek word should have been Pascha which correctly is translated as “Passover” in almost all modern versions of the Bible everywhere it appears. It further refers to the biblical Passover originally as instituted when God had taken the Israelites out of slavery (Exodus 12:1-14).
The very original apostles, from the start of the New Testament Church to near the end of the first century, when the apostle John died, had left us with no record of the very observance of Easter or even the very teaching of encouraging others to observe it. From Jesus until John, there was not one of the apostles who even gave us a hint of the observance of what today is known as Easter Sunday.
However, that did not indicate that the early Church did not hold to a specific religious observance. Paul, after the death of Jesus and his resurrection, plainly taught to the Church in Corinth that they ought to continue to keep the Passover as Jesus himself had commanded them to do.
Paul told them that he received it from the Lord and was also teaching them the same. He further taught them of taking of the unleavened bread and how to do it and then in the same way, taking the wine and doing the same. We do this as often as we partake and it is done at the Passover and it is only done by them who are in the Church of God so that we do not take it unworthily and so we will not be guilty of the body and the blood of Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23-27).
Paul was further concerned that the members should be observing the Passover in the right way, with the reverence and the right meaning of it.
The writings of the apostle Paul and of Luke, his traveling companion and author of the book of Acts do mention on a regular basis regarding the weekly Sabbath and the biblical festivals that are listed in Leviticus 23. But, Easter is never once found anywhere (1 Cor. 5:6-8; 16:8; Acts 2:1-4; 13:42, 44; 17:1-3; 18:4; 20:6, 16). Therefore, when one seeks to try to find Easter mentioned, they cannot do so.
Since Easter was never introduced by Jesus or his apostles, then just where is it that it came from and how did it come to be in Christianity?
Easter and Its Very Origin
It is not very difficult to trace the very origins of Easter and what it represents. Many show us that the very origins are pre-Christian as a religious holiday and that it is one that was created long before the time of Jesus and was taken forward to the modern times through such empires as Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.
In the Vine’s Expository Dictionary, we find that it tells us that “The term ‘Easter’ is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean [Babylonian] goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch [Passover] held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast…From this Pasch the pagan festival of ‘Easter’ was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christians”—W.E. Vine, 1985, “Easter”.
Alexander Hislop also had touched on the very subject of Easter. He had found that a form of Easter had been observed in many nations, not only those who had professed Christianity: “What means the term of Easter itself?...It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Ninevah, was…Ishtar”—The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 103.
Therefore, we are now finding the real truth that Easter and its associated practices with it can all be traced back to the various pagan traditions. Further, Hislop had explained that “the forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess”—p. 104. In Egypt, a similar 40 day period of abstinence “was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god”—p. 105.
How, then, did 40 days’ of abstinence come in to be associated with any resurrection at all? Hislop went on to write that “Among the pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing.”—p. 105.
Tammuz was a chief Babylonian deity and husband of the goddess Ishtar. Worship of Tammuz was so widespread in the ancient times that it also began to spread into Jerusalem. We find recorded in Ezekiel 8:12-18 that God describes that worship and calls it as an abomination—something that is not good and is disgusting to Him.
The Babylonians further held a great festival in the spring to celebrate the death of Tammuz and the supposed resurrection many centuries before Jesus even walked upon the earth (see the Resurrection Connection on p. 18). Hislop also comprehensively records real evidence showing us that Easter’s origins further precedes the modern Christian observance of Easter by more than 2,000 years!
Hislop further goes on to cite the fifth-century writings of Cassianus, a Catholic monk of Marseilles, France concerning the very subject of Easter’s being a true pagan festival rather than anything of the New Testament. “It ought to be known,” the monk stated, “that the observance of the forty days [i.e., the observance of Lent] had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate”—p. 104.
We then come to Sir James Frazer who describes Easter observances entering into the established church as “When we reflect how often the Church has skill-fully contrived to plant the seeds of the new faith on the old stock of paganism, we may surmise that the Easter celebration of the dead and risen Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis [the Greek name for Tammuz], which…was celebrated in Syria at the same season”—The Golden Bough, 1993, p. 345.
Why Then the Eggs and Rabbits?
What about all the other customs that are commonly associated with the observance of Easter? One Catholic writer went to explain how eggs and rabbits had come to be connected with Easter. You will find very quickly the absence of any link or reference to the Holy Bible when it comes to these rituals:
“The egg has become a popular Easter symbol. Creation myths of many ancient peoples center in a cosmogenic egg from which the universe is born. In ancient Egypt and Persia friends exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox, the beginning of their New Year.
“These eggs were a symbol of fertility for them because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times. Christians of the Near East adopted this tradition, and the Easter egg became a religious symbol. It represented the tomb from which Jesus came forth to new life”—Greg Dues, Catholic Customs and Traditions, 1992, p. 101.
Just as eggs, rabbits further came to be associated with Easter because they were potent symbols that were linked to the ancient fertility rites. “Little children are usually told that the Easter eggs are brought by the Easter Bunny. Rabbits are part of pre-Christian fertility symbolism because of their reputation to reproduce rapidly. The Easter Bunny has never had a religious meaning”—p. 102.
Honest and true scholars of the Bible freely and openly admit that Jesus never did teach nor authorize the holiday and nor did his apostles. In the centuries which has followed among those who call themselves Christian, Easter has become the supplanted holiday and has replaced Passover, the biblical ceremony that Jesus and his apostles and also Paul did teach Christians to observe.
This came to a true head with the Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea—almost three centuries after Jesus died and was resurrected again, thus proving so far what we have been saying all along!
We further find in the Encyclopedia Britannica that “A final settlement of the dispute [over whether and when to observe Easter or Passover] was one among the other reasons which led Constantine to summon the council of Nicaea in 325…The decision of the council was unanimous that Easter was to be kept on Sunday, and on the same Sunday throughout the world, and ‘that none should hereafter follow the blindness of the Jews’”—11th edition, pp. 828-829, “Easter”.
We find first of all that Constantine was calling the Jewish people blind because they were observing a day that God had instituted and that secondly, his decision was fatal to Christianity. Those who remained faithful to the instruction of Jesus and his apostles would be outcasts, a small and persecuted minority (John 15:18-20). They would have a very differing set of beliefs and practices—recycled from ancient pre-Christian religions and dressed in a Christian cloak—would take hold among the very majority. Yet, the minority refused it!
What Would Jesus Himself Do Therefore?
Since Easter (with all of the pagan symbols) have come to take root by the Catholic Church centuries after Jesus’ ascension, should Christians therefore honestly observe this holiday and encourage others to do so?
To answer that very question, let’s go back to the title of this article, “Would Jesus keep it?”
Christ could have most certainly told us to observe it. So could his apostles have also taught to us to observe it jus as their book, the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John have all been preserved. But, nowhere can we find any support for Easter or anything that even resembles it. What we do rather find is that they were clear in their teaching us to observe the Passover and other biblical days that we call today “Holy Days.” These were true Christian days that we were taught to observe.
Holy Scripture does not support this pre-Christian holiday and, in fact, condemns pagan worship and practices of false gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-32), we know that God the Father and Jesus, the Son have had no interest in Easter and do not therefore approve of it.
Jesus in fact, is diametrically opposed to religious rituals that supposedly seek to honor Him but in reality, are rooted in the worship of false pagan gods and customs. He makes clear this very distinct difference between pleasing God and pleasing men when we see in Mark 7:6-9 Jesus telling his disciples that people will honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him and that they worship God in vain by teaching the commandments of men and we reject God by keeping the traditions of men!
Easter is most certainly a true tradition of man and not of God. But it’s more than that. It is a pagan tradition of men that, like most other traditions involved in the worship of false gods, is abhorrent to the true god. Jesus and his very apostles would never have sanctioned its keeping because it mixes paganism with supposedly Christian symbolism and ritual. It is rooted in ancient pre-Christian fertility rites that have nothing to with Jesus at all!
In reality, most of the very trappings that are associated with Easter reveal that the holiday is actually a fraud that is pawned off on unsuspecting and well-intentioned people. God wants us t worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) and not worship him with false and misleading pagan customs that worship in reality other gods.
Even the very timing of the events that are used to justify celebrating Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday morning—that He was crucified on the afternoon of “Good Friday” and was raised before dawn on Sunday morning—are most assuredly false and an examination of the scriptures show us this proof as well.
For those who truly want concrete proof that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and the Savior of all mankind, Jesus himself spoke of ONLY one sign and that he would be in the grave for THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish (Matthew 12:39-40).
Therefore, try as hard as one can, there is no way to come up with three days and three nights from late Friday afternoon to Sunday morning before daylight. At most, this amounts to just barely more than a day and a half. Either Jesus was mistaken or those who claim that he had died on Friday and was raised on a Sunday are the ones who are mistaken. You cannot have it both ways—you MUST choose one or the other!
The Teachings of Jesus’ Are Consistent!
If Jesus were to walk on the same streets and roads he walked so long ago, would he then observe Easter? Certainly he would not! But he would be consistent with what he taught then because he does not change (Hebrews 13:8). For example, he would be observing the same annual Passover in the same manner as he had then instructed (1 Cor. 11:23-26; John 13:15-17). He would observe the Days of Unleavened Bread also in the same way that he had inspired Paul to teach to the Christians (1 Cor. 5:6-8). He would also keep the same other teachings.
Anyone who desires to be right with God who wants to be a true disciple and follower of Christ, the Master Teacher, will then carefully take a real and honest look at his beliefs and practices and see whether they agree or not with those of the Bible and of Christ so that they will try to honor God without keeping the ancient pagan customs which violate the commands of God (Deut. 12:29-32; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 7:1). Easter, just as we have seen in this article, is filled with idolatrous traps and we need to avoid them at all costs.
By simply claiming that something is Christian or is done to honor God does not make it right before God. Easter doesn’t truly represent a Jesus Christ that was resurrected. Rather—as difficult as it may be to admit—it really continues on the very practices and observances of the pagans that has followed thousands of years ago to honor the false gods. If we are to escape what is coming upon the world who place the world ahead of God, then we need to repent of following those false traditions that do not honor Christ (Revelation 18:1-5).
God truly desires for us to honor and obey him according to His commands in His Word. Then He can truly use us to fully represent His Son, our Savior and Messiah—Jesus Christ who will return to the earth. There is nothing great of a calling that can be truly extended to all who are being called into the very Church of God. May you have the heart to seek true understanding and God’s real and true perfect will!
The Church of God (Sabbath Day) offers many informative and interesting publications that you may want to request. Following are two for you to order and consider.
The Plain Truth About Easter
Herbert W. Armstrong
The Resurrection was not on Easter Sunday! Easter is not a Christian name, but the title of the idolatrous "queen of heaven." Here's an explanation of the true origin and meaning of Lent, Easter eggs, and sunrise services.
The Precious Truth Magazine
The Church of God (Sabbath Day) publishes on a bi-monthly basis the Precious Truth magazine and we offer it FREE of charge. You may want to request it. Visit our website www.cogsabbath.org or www.PreciousTruth.org and see what it can do for you!
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