Easter (Part 1)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, March 28, 2010.
Easter (Part 1) EASTER (The Resurrection of a Pagan Fertility Festival as a Whorish “christian” Holyday) I. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the core of the gospel. 1CO 15:1-6, 13-20. A. The true gospel will save you if kept in memory. No such promise attends “another gospel” (GAL 1:6-7). B. The saving gospel consists of Christ's death, burial and resurrection “according to the Scriptures” (1CO 15:3-4). II. The religion and worship of God must be grounded in truth. JOH 4:23-24. A. His ordinances are to be kept as delivered. 1CO 11:2. B. God expects service to be rendered unto Him according to His due order. Anything less is unacceptable. 1. Cain worshipped God at the right time and place but not in the right manner. GEN 4:3-7. 2. Moses was a godly, faithful man who used the official instrument of God (the rod) to bring forth water from a rock. But the good results did not justify his disobedience. NUM 20:7-12. 3. King Saul thought that God would be pleased with a sacrifice that he substituted for obedience. 1SAM 15:22-23. 4. David was a man after God's own heart who desired to do something noble for God by moving the ark to a better resting place. 1CH 13:3. a. David had the support of the people who zealously worshipped during the proceeding. 1CH 13:8. b. David transported the ark in a practical manner contrary to God's previous instruction. NUM 7:9 c/w 1CH 13:7. c. A bitter price was paid. 1CH 13:9-10. d. David concluded that due order was important. 1CH 15:2, 12-13. 5. These O.T. events are recorded for our learning and warning. ROM 15:4; 1CO 10:11. C. Our service to God is sanctified by God's word but human traditions negate true worship and the word's effect. MAR 7:7, 13. D. God forbids the admixture of heathen customs with His religion. 1. God warned Israel that to do so would become a snare to them. EXO 23:24, 32-33. 2. God outrightly condemned the notion of adopting pagan practices for His service. DEU 12:29-32; JER 10:2. a. An example of the futility of consecrating elements of paganism to God's service is found in EXO 32:4-6. b. This example stands as a guiding principle for N.T. service since separation from other religions is required there as well. 1CO 10:7, 11; 2CO 6:14-7:1. 3. Pagan Gentile religion was/is devil-worship. 1CO 10:20. a. It is worship of the corrupted creation rather than the uncorruptible God. ROM 1:21-25. b. Mingling devil-worship with God-worship provokes God to jealousy. 1CO 10:21-22. E. N.T. Christians are not to keep “holydays” after the manner of the heathen or the abrogated Law Covenant. GAL 4:8-10; COL 2:16-17. Easter 3-26-10 Page 1 F. All of the foregoing leads us to ask a very pressing question: “Just what do colored eggs and bunny rabbits have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ anyway?” III. In diametric opposition to the will of God, the festival of Easter purports to honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ with “consecrated” elements of paganism and human tradition. A. The name “Easter” is of pagan origin. 1. Easter: “The name is derived from Eostre, the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox; her name shows that she was originally the dawn-goddess.” (Oxford English Dictionary) 2. “Our name Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor.” (Compton's Encyclopedia , 1978) 3. “According to the Venerable Bede, the name Easter derived from the pagan spring festival of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.” (Academic American Encyclopedia, 1982) 4. Eostre corresponds with Ishtar (Assyria/Babylon) or Astarte (Canaan/Phoenicia). 5. Astarte accords with Ashtaroth, the goddess of fertility commonly considered the queen of heaven and the female consort of Baal spoken of in Scripture. JDG 2:13. 6. Whatever name was used (Venus also), this goddess represented the female principle necessary for the generative power of nature, reproduction, sexual lust and love. 7. She was the female counterpart of a male god who was sympathetically moved by a spring ritual in her honor to mate and so regenerate nature and make it fruitful for man. 8. Symbols employed in this worship included the sun, the rabbit, the egg, the moon, the fish and special cakes. B. The date for the celebration of Easter (in the Western “church”) was selected at the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) as a compromise between the Jews who wanted the historical Passover date of Abib/Nisan 14 by the Jewish calendar selected as the date and the Gentiles who wanted the first day of the week selected. This council had been called by Constantine to unite the churches in and otherwise harmonize his empire. That such a great celebration happened to roughly coincide with the old pagan spring festival was a nice bonus. 1. The date was determined as the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. 2. This system required a complex set of calculations, recalculations, reconciliation between the solar year and the lunar year, etc. 3. Also, there are differences between the Gregorian Calendar adopted by the Western church and the Julian calendar of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. 4. There has been much grief over something that Scripture not only does not require of believers---it proscribes against it. C. The curious customs associated with Easter today (particularly in Western culture) are virtually all the result of the Roman Catholic church attempting to synthesize paganism and Christianity to make Christianity more palatable to the pagans. 1. “Devotions of ancient date deeply rooted in the heart of the peasantry cannot be swept away without some measure of scandal and popular disturbance. To create this sensation seems unwise.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) Easter 3-26-10 Page 2 2. “Do not destroy the temples of the English gods; change them to Christian churches. Do not forbid the harmless customs which have been associated with the old religions; consecrate them to Christian uses.” (Pope Gregory to Augustine, 597 A.D.) 3. “The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves, that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman Empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.” (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon) 4. DEU 12:29-32; 2CO 6:14-18 plainly forbid the adoption or mingling of other religions' tenets or customs. D. Consider a few of the customs of the Easter celebration. 1. The season of Lent is a 40-day fast prior to Easter mandated by the Catholic Church and observed by other “faiths” also. a. The original meaning of the word is “season of spring.” (O.E.D.) b. Pagans observed a 40-day fast long before Christ to remember the death and resurrection of Semiramis'/Ishtar's lover and son, Tammuz, who was supposedly killed by a wild boar at age 40. This has been suggested as the basis for the traditional Easter ham. c. This was an abomination in God's eyes, especially when His people adopted it. EZE 8:13-14. d. 1TI 4:1-3 comes to mind here. e. “Writers in the fourth century were prone to describe many practices (e.g. the Lenten fast of forty days) as of Apostolic institution which certainly had no claim to be so regarded.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, art. Celibacy) 2. Fish on Friday (now primarily during Lent) is of pagan origin. a. Friday is the Germanic translation of the Latin “dies Veneris,” or “Day of Venus.” b. Venus was the Roman goddess of love and fertility; hence, our word “venereal.” c. A fertility symbol associated with Venus is the fish. d. From antiquity, fish have been recognized for their incredible fertility. A single cod can spawn 9,000,000 eggs in one year. e. Thus fish became an important symbol to pagans worshipping the generative power of nature and was eaten in adoration of Venus. f. Rome has made a point over the years of requiring Catholics to eat fish on Friday, especially Good Friday. The association of fish and Friday/Venus seems somewhat fishy. 3. Though not observed as much in America as in other countries, another Easter tradition is the baking of hot-cross buns in honor of the festival. This also is a vestige of pagan homage to the goddess Astarte, the queen of heaven. JER 7:18. 4. Although more of a European custom, the lighting of ritual fires on mountaintops during Easter was an obvious assimilation of paganism: “The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops Easter 3-26-10 Page 3 issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires....but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ...” ( Catholic Encyclopedia, art. Easter, emphasis mine) 5. The association of the rabbit or hare with Easter is also of pagan origin. a. Rabbits are famous for their prolific reproduction. b. There is also a subliminal, vulgar identity here with the female principle: “The Easter hare came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples. Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, 'um,' means also 'open' and 'period,' the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity, both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica) c. “The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) 6. The use of eggs at Easter is of pagan origin. a. Astarte was believed in legend to have come down from heaven at about the time of the vernal equinox in an egg which fell into the Euphrates River and was pushed to shore by fish, where it “hatched.” b. “The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival.” ( Encyclopedia Brittanica) c. “Eggs were a primitive symbol of fertility; but Christians saw in them a symbol of the tomb from which Christ rose, and continued the practice of coloring, giving and eating them on Easter.” (Encyclopedia International, 1978) d. “Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table of Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy....The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring gravitated to Easter.” (Catholic Encyclopedia) e. Pope Paul V (1605-1621) appointed a Jesus/egg prayer: “Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, art. Easter) f. “This symbol was borrowed from the Egyptians, who also consecrated the egg to Osiris, germ of Light, himself born, says Diodorus, from that famous egg. In Thebes, in Upper Egypt, he was represented as emitting it from his mouth, and causing to issue from it the first principle of heat and light, or the Fire-God, Vulcan, or Phtha.” (Morals and Dogma, p.400) 7. The practice of Easter sunrise services ostensibly to honor the resurrection of Christ at sunrise on Sunday is also rooted in paganism. a. Christ did not rise at sunrise. JOH 20:1. b. “The custom of a sunrise service on Easter Sunday can be traced to ancient spring festivals that celebrated the rising sun.” (The New Book of Knowledge, 1978) c. Such a service consonant with Tammuz-worship was condemned in Israel. Easter 3-26-10 Page 4 EZE 8:15-17. d. It is vital to paganism to worship toward the east, toward the rising and fertilizing sun. By contrast Scripture emphasizes a westerly approach to God. (1) The flaming sword which barred man's return to God in Eden was on the east of Eden. GEN 3:24. (2) Abraham built an altar between Hai (“heap of ruins”) on the east and Bethel (“house of God”) on the west. GEN 12:8. (3) Moses' tabernacle was laid out with the entrance on the east and the altar and Holy of holies on the west. NUM 3:38. (4) Ezekiel's temple was similarly situated. EZE 47:1. (5) The wise men came from the east to Christ. MAT 2:1. 8. “If one is convinced that God wants us to honor Jesus Christ's resurrection by observing a "holy day" (an extinct 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, run over a rabbit on the way to church, then worship Jesus Christ in spirit and truth (Joh.4:23- 24) and call it "Wester."” (Go West, Young Man, Pastor Wirebrush, TFTD 3-24-05)