Easter or Wester?
(Genesis 13:11) Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Lot was hardly a model Christian. Peter tells us that he was a just and righteous man (2PE 2:7-8) but you would be hard pressed to conclude that from his conduct and choices in life. Our text today is speaking of the time when Lot made his ill-fated decision to choose the environs of Sodom (a bountiful place, GEN 13:10), “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (GEN 13:13). Lot was walking according to the flesh, not the spirit (c/w GAL 5:16-17) and therefore was not walking to God nor with God but from God. It is noteworthy that in so doing, we read here, “...and Lot journeyed east...” In a natural sense, the points of the compass have no direct bearing on the rightness or wrongness of a thing nor on the condition or destination of the soul: God gathers His redeemed from all directions (PSA 107:2-3; LUK 13:29). There is, however, an interesting spiritual significance seen sometimes in Scripture relative to the compass points. One such example is the frequency with which “going east” is associated with moving away from God towards error, deception, corruption and lies: a spiritual step in the wrong direction. When Adam sinned, he was sent out from Eden and the presence of the LORD. God placed Cherubims and a flaming sword at the east of Eden to bar man's way back to the tree of life (GEN 3:24). To move towards God, man would have to go west, not east. When Abram left Ur of the Chaldees, he “...pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Ha-i on the east...” (GEN 12:8). The name Beth-el means house of God. The name Ha-i comes from a word which means a place or heap of ruins. For Abram, therefore, going towards God meant going west; going east was going unto ruin. The tabernacle of witness which God commanded Moses to set up (ACT 7:44) was done so with the entrance in the east and the Holy of Holies in the west. Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp on the east side of the tabernacle to bar entrance to “...the stranger that cometh nigh...” (NUM 3:38). The idea was that the Holy of Holies was the westernmost compartment of the tabernacle where the ark of the covenant was housed and from which the unqualified were to be barred. It was there over the mercy seat of the ark that God would meet with only the High Priest of Israel on only one day per year (EXO 25:21-22 c/w HEB 9:1-7). Accordingly, then, the direction towards the place of mercy and communion with God was west, not east. When God became manifest in the flesh in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the wise men journeyed from the east to come to Him (MAT 2:1), to the One “...in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (COL 2:3). They went west to God. Vain and occult philosophers tend to look to the Orient, to the east for wisdom and enlightenment. The workings of the rituals of Freemasons, for example, are such that a hoodwinked initiate moves from west to east towards the “Worshipful Master” of the lodge who represents enlightenment. They are on a fool's errand, heading the wrong way. Wise men will always spiritually look west for true enlightenment; they will look to Jesus Christ as He is revealed in His word, not to eastern philosophy, eastern mysticism or eastern fables. A very revealing passage is found in EZE 8:1-18; EZE 9:1-11. The prophet Ezekiel was shown why Judah was being punished and brought under the iron hand of the Babylonians. A major factor which precipitated this judgment was that the priesthood had corrupted the temple and God's religion by incorporating idols and pagan practices. Invariably, judgment begins at the house of God (1PE 4:17). The abominations were manifold and the greatest was that “...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 and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east” (EZE 8:16). When men turn their backs on God to satisfy their lusts and pursue their own “bright” ideas about God, they in principle think east, look east, go east. The O.T. covenant people who had been absorbing pagan superstition were rebuked with the words: “...they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines...” (ISA 2:5-8). When professing Christians imitate old pagan customs by rising early on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox and face the rising sun towards the east, they are, wittingly or unwittingly, showing that they have turned their backs on God Who has revealed in His word how to honor Him and how NOT to honor Him. Such pagan ignorance which confuses and corrupts the worship of the Creator with the elements of creation (ROM 1:22-25) God once winked at, but no more; He now “...commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (ACT 17:30). And for the record, Jesus Christ did not arise from the grave at sunrise on Sunday morning: when the women arrived at the tomb, “...it was yet dark...” (JOH 20:1) and Christ had already risen (JOH 20:2). Of course, this all raises the question: “Just what do colored eggs and bunny rabbits have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ anyway, and why would a Christian with a Bible think that these historic pagan fertility tokens are appropriate to the event?” When Peter looked into the empty tomb, he saw discarded linen laid there, not eggs (LUK 24:12) and when Jesus then “...appeared in another form unto two of them...” (MAR 16:12), I am willing to bet that He hadn't turned into a rabbit. I once did a Bible search for the word, “rabbit.” It does not appear in Scripture (scripture uses “coney” and “hare” to refer to such mammals, DEUT 14:7). The closest spelling that I found was “Rabbith” in JOS 19:20, which is from a Hebrew word which means “multitude” and that Hebrew word derives from another which means “increase, multiply by the myriad.” Curious, given the notoriety of rabbits' reproduction rate. Another question might be asked: “Why would a Bible believer think that God now blesses what He has always blasted, to wit, the blending of His unique ordained form of worship with the customs of idolaters (DEUT 12:30-32; 2KI 17:33-41; 2CO 6:14-18)?” Some try to justify Easter tradition by saying, “Since Christ conquered death, we know idols are nothing and therefore we can honor His victory by using conquered idolatry’s elements for Christians’ benefit.” Funny that God didn’t think of such a thing when Israel conquered Canaan and its idols which Israel knew were nothing: “...Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?...” (ISA 44:9-20) and “...they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good” (JER 10:1-5). No, God told Israel back then to not even consider imitating idolaters’ ways: “...Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God...” (DEUT 12:30-31), and still commands that men should turn to God FROM idols (1TH 1:9), not WITH them (or their tokens). We are not to flirt with idolatry; we are to flee from idolatry (1CO 10:14). Easter tradition also begs the question, “How do the Biblical three days and three nights (MAT 12:40) fit in between Friday sundown and Sunday sunrise (the popular “two nights and one day” corrupted story of Christ's entombment)? Jesus knew there were twelve hours in a day and twelve hours in a night (JOH 11:9). How can one be adamant that the night-day / evening-morning chronology of the Creation Week was six normal 24-hour days (GEN 1:1-31) if one plays fast and loose with the chronology of Christ's entombment? The same logic would imply a Creation Half-Week. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is very real but Easter tradition is bogus. Scripture declares that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ are to be honored and commemorated by believing the gospel, repenting of sin and being baptized by immersion (the only mode which pictures death, burial and resurrection) into His church as submissive saints (1PE 3:20-21 c/w ROM 6:4-6; ACT 2:38-47). No eggs, no bunnies, no sunrise service (nor Lent, fish, hot-cross buns, self-flagellations, etc.) have any part of Christ’s resurrection according to the scriptures (1CO 15:3-4). Many justify Easter tradition with its sunrise service, eggs and rabbits on the basis of it being fun for the children and a cute way to introduce them to the gospel. Really? You intend to use lies, fables, idolatrous fertility rites, idol tokens and outright rejection of God’s commandments to introduce children to the gospel which forbids those things? How about giving them the uncorrupted truth instead? Young people need substance, not silliness; truth, not twaddle. If one is convinced that God wants men to honor Jesus Christ's resurrection by observing a “holy day” festival (an Old Testament concept which died on the cross, GAL 4:8-10; COL 2:14-17), and somehow have the sun, eggs and bunnies involved, then let it be done in an appropriate manner: fry an egg sunny-side up for breakfast (don't worry about the cholesterol), enjoy it with Trix cereal and fricaseed rabbit (don't worry---Jesus took them off the list of unclean animals, DEUT 14:7 c/w 1TI 4:1-5), then go to a Bible-preaching church, submissively believe the truth of the gospel, repent and be baptized by immersion into His church and humbly worship Jesus Christ in spirit and truth (JOH 4:23-24) without the admixture of pagan customs or vain traditions. And if you are determined to call it something other than “gospel,” call it Wester.