Easter (Part 2)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, April 4, 2010.
Easter (Part 2) 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 3-28-10 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 3-28-10 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 3-28-10 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 3-28-10 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) IV. Easter tradition also has its own record of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ which does not accord with Scripture. A. Jesus died on “Good Friday” at 3:00 p.m. and was buried shortly thereafter. B. He arose from the grave at sunrise on “Easter Sunday” morning. C. He was therefore in the grave for one day and two nights, or about 36 hours. D. Even if one counts parts of Friday and Sunday as whole days, this still only makes three days and two nights. E. Figures don't lie but liars do figure. V. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave several promises regarding His death, burial and resurrection which detail how long He was to be in the grave. A. The following scriptures speak of His resurrection “the third day.” MAT 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; MAR 9:31; 10:34; LUK 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 46; ACT 10:40. B. Some scriptures speak of His resurrection “in three days.” MAT 26:61; 27:40; MAR 14:58; 15:29; JOH 2:19. C. Some scriptures speak of His resurrection “after three days.” MAT 27:63; MAR 8:31. D. Paul states that Christ was raised the third day “according to the scriptures” ( 1CO 15:4). Something in the O.T. Scriptures spoke of a third-day resurrection. Remember that God “used SIMILITUDES by the ministry of the prophets” ( HOS 12:10), speaking of N.T. realities in types and shadows. HEB 9:8; 10:1. 1. It was possibly foreshadowed by the typology of the Passover, which pointed to Christ's death (1CO 5:7) and fell on the 14th day of the month; and that of the ark, which pointed to His resurrection (1PE 3:20-21) and came to rest on the 17th of the month (GEN 8:4). 2. It may have been foreshadowed in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, who, on the third day after his announced condemnation was delivered alive in a figurative resurrection. GEN 22:2-4, 11-14 c/w HEB 11:19. 3. It may have been foreshadowed in the account of the imprisonment of Joseph, the Easter 3-28-10 Page 5 butler and the baker. Within three days, one was delivered back to his lord but the other was destroyed (GEN 40). This could picture the resurrection of Christ in three days for the salvation of some but not others, and also pointing to the general resurrection at the end of time (of which Christ's resurrection is the firstfruits). JOH 5:28-29; 1CO 15:20. 4. It may have been foreshadowed in the story of Elijah, a great prophet who was taken away from his disciples, leaving them in consternation. After three days they found him not (for he had risen bodily). 2KI 2:11-17. 5. Most evidently it was typified in the watery burial of Jonah, which Christ pointed to as the sign that He would use to prove His Messiahship to His generation. JON 1:17 c/w MAT 12:38-40. 6. Only three days AND three nights will satisfy all scriptures. a. Jesus described a day as having twelve hours. JOH 11:9-10. b. If a day has twelve hours, so does the night; thus, at least 72 hours entombment is required. c. The expression “the third day” certainly can refer to three 24-hour periods. GEN 1:5, 8, 13. d. Scriptures may count partial days as a day but where is a partial day described as a day and a night? E. A chronology of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ must take into consideration that Scripture uses both Jewish and Roman time in the gospel record. 1. Jesus was crucified on Preparation Day of the annual passover. JOH 19:14. 2. The passover was to begin with the killing of the passover lamb on the 14th day of the first month at evening. EXO 12:6, 18. 3. The passover was the beginning of the feast of unleavened bread, which continued for seven 24-hour days. EXO 12:18-20; LUK 22:1,7. 4. That feast started with a sabbath on the 15th day of the month and ended with a sabbath on the 21st day. LEV 23:6-8. 5. Jesus Christ fulfilled the type of the passover lamb. JOH 1:29; 1CO 5:7; 1PE 1:19. 6. His crucifixion began at 9:00 a.m. on the 14th. MAR 15:25. 7. He hung on the cross until 3:00 p.m. MAR 15:32-34. 8. He died shortly after 3:00 p.m. but definitely before 6:00 p.m. MAR 15:34-37; JOH 19:30-31. 9. Jesus was buried at 6:00 p.m. on the evening of the 14th. DEU 21:23; MAT 27:57-60. 10. Jesus was already resurrected before the women arrived at the tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday). JOH 20:1. a. 72 hours (three days and three nights) in the tomb were needed to fulfill Jonah's sign. b. Jesus would have had to be crucified on a Wednesday and buried that same evening. c. Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, Saturday = three days and three nights. d. To assume that Jesus was still in the tomb early Sunday morning would mean three days and FOUR nights. e. It is more reasonable to conclude that Jesus arose from the grave as early as sundown on Saturday but probably no later than midnight (so as not to run Easter 3-28-10 Page 6 into FOUR nights). f. “I personally believe he was crucified on Wednesday evening....and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening...” (Jerry Falwell to World Net Daily, 10-13-2001) 11. Since Jesus was buried before a Sabbath and rose after a Sabbath ( MAT 28:1), many have assumed that those events surrounded the weekly (Friday evening to Saturday evening) sabbath. a. Remember the Passover feast (and the attendant Feast of Unleavened Bread) was based upon the lunar month. It did not fall on the same day of the week every year. b. Scripture makes special mention of the next day following the Passover at that time as being a High Day (JOH 19:31); the special Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. EXO 12:16. c. Most people overlook the possibility of two sabbaths at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection: the High Sabbath on Thursday following the crucifixion (then Friday, a work day) and a weekly sabbath on Saturday, after which Christ arose. F. The following are objections to this doctrine. 1. Obj. Doesn't MAR 16:9 teach His resurrection on the first day of the week? Ans. The text does NOT say “Now when Jesus ROSE early the first day of the week.” It rather states that when He WAS RISEN early the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. He ROSE the night before so that He WAS RISEN early the first day of the week. 2. Obj. Doesn't LUK 24:21 indicate that less than 72 hours had passed between the burial and resurrection? Ans. The two talking on Sunday afternoon said that it was the third day “since these things WERE DONE.” The phrase “were done” is the past perfect tense and denotes a past state of completion. Consider that the things that they were speaking of were ALL of the things that had happened around Christ's death (vs.13-20). Since the Jews and Pilate had not set the tomb-watch until Thursday ( MAT 27:62- 66), it would have indeed been three days since these things were done. 3. Obj. Doesn't MAR 8:31 show that Christ's resurrection was after three days and this certainly couldn't reconcile with the texts that say that He would rise the third day? Ans. It depends on what the three days is being measured from. If the term “after three days” starts from the time Christ's sufferings began, as the verse indicates, then He certainly did arise “after three days,” though only in the tomb for three days. VI. What about ACT 12:4? A. The word “Easter” in this context is simply referring to the time of the Passover, which was the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. LUK 22:1, 7 c/w ACT 12:3-4. B. “Easter” here translates the Greek word “pascha" (Strong’s # 3957) which is elsewhere translated “passover.” C. It is not a mistranslation, as Oxford English Dictionary shows that “passover” is a viable subordinate definition of “Easter” and was in vogue as being synonymous with it at the time of the publication of the King James Version. D. That “pascha” is only translated one time as “Easter” does not detract from the integrity of Easter 3-28-10 Page 7 the KJV. 1. Other examples of a singular occurrence of an English word from a frequently used Hebrew or Greek word can be shown. 2. The Hebrew word “sakal” (Strong’s # 7919) is used 76 times in the Hebrew text, but only once was translated as “success” in JOS 1:8. E. It should also be noted that it is not Christians who were observing Easter in ACT 12:4. 1. A pagan Edomite king (Herod) was trying to pacify antiChrist Jews in the context. v.3. 2. It would not be unreasonable to interpret this passage as from pagan Herod's perspective: he was calling Easter what the antiChrist Jews observed as Pascha. 3. Bible Christians do not celebrate pagan Easter, nor do they celebrate the O.T. Jewish Pascha and Feast of Unleavened Bread. Nor do they blend them together with N.T. Christianity in a calendar holiday celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. VII. There is a proper way to honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A. We honor the resurrection of the Son of God through believer’s baptism in water after the figure of His deliverance from the “heart of the earth” ( MAT 12:40). ROM 6:3-5; 1PE 3:21. B. We honor His resurrection by repenting of sin and walking in newness of life. ROM 6:4. C. We honor His resurrection when we preach His gospel “according to the Scriptures.” 1CO 15:1-4. D. We honor His resurrection by believing that we shall rise in like manner and therefore wait patiently for His return. 1CO 15:20, 23; 1TH 1:10. E. We honor His resurrection by looking to a heavenly throne, heavenly priest, heavenly blood and a heavenly Jerusalem. HEB 4:16; 12:22-24. F. We honor His resurrection by abandoning the O.T. concept of “holy days” which were only a shadow. COL 2:16-17 c/w GAL 4:9-10. IX. And just what do colored eggs, bunny rabbits, fish on Friday, hot-cross buns, sunrise services, etc. have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, anyway?