EASTER – A PROBLEM?
For centuries, Christianity has preached that Jesus rose again on Easter. However, if anyone has read the Scriptures and studied the Old Testament [Heb. Tanakh], as well as researched this topic, one would come to the unfortunate realization that this message of the church is a deception, a lie, and it is not true. Jesus did not bodily rise from the dead on Easter, but on the biblical feast of “Firstfruits.” Before discussing “firstfruits,” though, I want to point out the problem with Easter.
THE BLINDNESS OF CHRISTIANITY
There are many people in Christian churches who are totally unaware or blind to Easter’s pagan roots. I did not know about them either. However, in doing some research about the resurrection, I came across the material. I could not believe what I was reading. No, not just from one or two sources, but from multiple credible sources, including Christian sources! The history of this pagan celebration was clearly there, so why does the church continue to celebrate this vile unholy day? I can think of only one reason – “Tradition! Tradition!” (In my head, I hear Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof” singing these words.) But tradition, regardless of how “sacred” it may be, is not reason enough to connect the death and resurrection of our holy Savior with such an unholy vile day.
THE PAGAN ROOTS OF EASTER
Here is an ancient statue of Ishtar (another name and version of Easter). This was a hand-sized statute that people would carry around with them. Easter is the name of a fertilty goddess that was worshipped throughout ancient western Europe. She was known by many other names as well, like Ishtar, depending on the region. According to W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.’s Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words:
“The term ‘Easter’ is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch [Passover and the Feast of Unleavens] was a continuation of the Jewish [that is, God’s] 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 Christianity.” (“Easter,” page 192)
As we can see, this pagan connection is also well known among this and other Christian sources. Easter/Ishtar/Astarte/Ostara (another name for her) had her Temples and Temple prostitutes, who engaged in all types of immoral sexual practices with whoever paid them, male, female, or groups of people. In the Middle East, this fertility goddess was also known by the name Astarte or Asherah, the wife of Baal. That’s right, Astarte/Asherah, the wife of Ba’al and the biblical nemesis of Israel’s God, YHWH, throughout the Old Testament (Heb. Tanakh) is embraced and celebrated each Spring by Christians around the world. Easter/Ishtar/Asherah and God are brought together in one annual celebration in defiance of the clear teachings of the Bible. For example,
You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself. (Deuteronomy 16:21)
In the article “What is an Asherah pole?” on the Christian website, GotQuestions?org, the writer explains that,
An Asherah pole was a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the pagan goddess Asherah, also known as Astarte. While the exact appearance of an Asherah pole is somewhat obscure, it is clear that the ancient Israelites, after entering the land of Canaan, were influenced by the pagan religion it represented.
In the Bible, Asherah poles were first mentioned in Exodus 34:13. God had just remade the Ten Commandment tablets, and Moses had requested God graciously forgive the Israelites for worshiping the golden calf. Verse 10 begins the covenant God made: if the Israelites obey Him, He will drive out the tribes living in Canaan. But they must cut down the Asherah poles. Deuteronomy 7:5 and 12:3 repeat the command nearly verbatim, while Deuteronomy 16:21 commands the Israelites not set up any wooden Asherah poles of their own. Two books later, In Judges 3:7, “The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.” (www.gotquestions.org/Asherah-pole.html)
The Asherah pole was a phallic symbol and, of course, named after Asherah, the goddess of fertility, and people went there to worship her and to engage in all types of sexual practices and orgies. And yet, in spite of all of the commands and teachings of God for His people not to associate themselves with her, the ancient Israelites had trouble obeying these commands. And for most of church history, Christians have likewise not separated themselves completely from her.
Although Christians do not engage in sexual practices and orgies in the church, her Western European name, Easter, and two images for her ancient practices, the bunny and the egg, are used and brought into the church once a year. As a side interest, the modern churches are as full of people engaging in sexual immorality, homosexuality, lesbianism, orgies, etc., as the people who make no claim at all to have faith in God or the Bible. Even though most ministers may not intend for this, I do believe there’s a pagan influence coming into the church through this connection.
I believe Satan is thrilled when Christians come together to celebrate Easter because although the death, burial, and resurrection is being discussed, Satan still has a foothold in the churches and in the lives of all those who attend, particularly in the lives of our children. Considering the rampant sexual immorality in our churches today, it is something worth considering.
In looking back at the annual celebration of Easter/Ishtar/Asherah, people would give up something forty days before the day of Easter/Ishtar/Asherah in the preparation of her day. This is the origin for Lent. Then on her day of worship, ten of the village’s most beautiful women would be chosen, stripped down, and then given a head start into the field. The men in the village would then chase them down and raped them in the field, believing that one act of fertility would end result in the fertility of the crops. And this practice was widespread in the ancient world.
However, in my research, I discovered that when Alexander the Great conquered the known world, establishing the Greek Empire, that two images were then used in substitution for the rape and sexual abuse of women: the bunny, because they are the most fertile of all land animals, and the egg, because they believed by doing this every year, they were bringing eternal life to their crops. I found a number of stories and myths at this time of the goddess coming down from heaven in a giant egg, coming out of the egg, and then transforming herself into a bunny and handing out food to children. These stories were told in order to connect these two images, the bunny and egg, with the worship and celebration of the goddess Easter. Yes, based on my research, I would say that Playboy and the Playboy “bunnies” have a much closer connection and tie to Easter than Jesus’ death and resurrection ever could.
HOW DID EASTER COME INTO THE CHURCH?
Easter started coming into the church in the 2nd century, C.E. Christian missionaries went into Europe to spread the Gospel. However, the people there told them that they could not convert to Christianity because if they stopped celebrating the national holidays, like Easter, they would be killed. So the missionaries came up with a plan. They told the people that they would be allowed to keep the name of the feast, the name of this pagan fertility goddess, but that they would “Christianize” the meaning of it and its images (the bunny and the egg), so that as far as everyone else was concerned, they were still celebrating the national holiday, but they could also, then, convert and join the church. This “plan” spread throughout western Europe until the 4th century, C.E., when Constantine, the last Roman emperor, made “Easter” the official worship day of the church, and it has been that way ever since.
Consequently, Easter did not begin with Jesus. It had been going on for centuries and centuries before He was ever conceived. Rather, in order to get people into the church (“to fill the pews”), they compromised the integrity and holiness of God and His word and brought a pagan celebration into the church under the guise of giving people a “Christian alternative.” Many churches are doing the same thing today with Halloween. If you research the policies and actions of the Roman Catholic Church, you would find that this became “the standard practice” of the church and their religious leaders. How could they do this? Simple. The belief of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, etc., are of higher authority than the Bible so they can do whatever they wish, even if the Bible plainly teaches against it.
IT’S TIME TO RETURN TO SCRIPTURE
With all the historic information and facts, I believe it’s clear when one discovers the true origin of Lent and Easter, and you examine the teachings of Scripture, such as Deuteronomy 12:29-31a,
When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?” You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods;…
God does not approve of us taking pagan practices and using them with Him, even if we “Christianize” them in the process. Instead, we need to repent for our sins of idolatry, and return to the true worship of God, by returning to what God has taught us to do in His Word.
WHAT IS “FIRSTFRUITS”?
Firstfruits is the third biblical Spring feast that comes on the day (Sunday) after the Sabbath following Passover. It’s discussed in Leviticus 23:9-11.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.'”
The Israelites were to bring the firstfruits of their crops on this day, the 17th of Nisan, to the High Priest who would wave them as an offering to the LORD. If the LORD accepted them, then His acceptance was a guarantee that God would be faithful to bring in the rest of the crop. This is also confirmed by Grant R. Jeffrey, a renowned Christian prophecy teacher and writer, in his book “Armageddon: Appointment with Destiny” (1988). Jeffrey writes,
The third of the seven feasts is celebrated on the seventeenth day of Nisan, the Feast of Firstfruits. This was the time for the harvesting of the early crops of spring. God wanted Israel to acknowledge that they owed Him not only the firstfruits, but that all they had was from God, a daily gift from His gracious hand” (60).
The point of this feast is to remind us, as His people, that all things that we receive are His gifts given to us, not something we earned (I can see a possible sermon on “Grace in the Old Testament,” do you?)
Some other references to Firstfruits can also be found in the book of Exodus:
You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You are not to boil a kid in the milk of its mother. (Exodus 23:19)
You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 34:26)
In both of these commands, we see the same instructions: (1) We are to bring the choice (or very first of) first fruits of our soil into the house of the LORD; and (2) we are not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Since this prohibition is connected to firstfruits in both cases, I would assume this was a pagan practice that the surrounding cultures did during the celebration of their crops. But this only reaffirms my point that God hates it when we use any type of pagan practices with Him – regardless of the reason.
THE NOAH’S ARK CONNECTION?
Another thing that I found intriguing was that Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat on the same day that would later become the feast of Firstfruits:
And on the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)
At this point, Israel’s secular calendar is being used since the religious calendar had not been formed yet (This would happen at the beginning of the Exodus). So the seventh month from the New Moon in September (or Rosh Hashanah) would be the month of Nisan, and on Nisan 17, the ark safely landed on the mountains of Ararat.
This was likewise conformed in Jeffrey’s book. In his book, he states that the theme of this day is “resurrection,” and that there were “four historically important anniversary events that happened on this day:”
- Noah’s ark rests on Mt. Ararat;
- Israel miraculously crosses over the Red Sea;
- Israel eats the firstfruits of the Promised Land; and
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ. (60)
- Noah experienced “safety and security” when the ark finally rested on the mountains of Ararat;
- Israel experienced “safety and security” when miraculously crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptian military was drowned in the Red Sea by God;
- Israel again experienced “safety and security” when they miraculously crossed the Jordan and ate the first fruits of the Promised Land; and most of all,
- As individuals, we are able to experience “safety and security” in our relationship with God as a result of Christ’s bodily resurrection on this day.
Paul refers to this in his first epistle to the congregation at Corinth. In his epistle, he writes,
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the FIRST FRUITS of those who are asleep (I Corinthians 15:20; emphasis mine).