By Jim Jester
The answer to this question is found in a Biblical principle that most Christians have never heard of. It reveals God’s opinion about Easter, not man’s feelings and opinions. Also, it is irrelevant as to what any man or woman thinks Easter means to them. The question, is Easter Christian, will be meaningless to the average Christian who is celebrating “holy week,” with the rabbit and eggs; but to the devout Christian whose purpose is to worship and honor God with this holiday, it is of great concern.
The fact is that Emperor Constantine started the Roman Catholic Church and the Catholic Church started Easter. The true Christians, who were faithful to the Bible, were driven underground (yes, literally into the caves and catacombs), and persecuted by the established church, even though Constantine had made persecution of Christians illegal.
The problem was that Constantine had made Christianity popular. How? Constantine was a follower of Mithras the Roman sun god; but for political purposes, he sought the support of the Christians. So, by making a law to forbid the persecution of Christians and forming a church complete with special holidays seemed too good to be true, at least to many of the not so devout Romans.
Now to the Biblical principle I alluded to at the beginning:
“And you shall know that I am the LORD: for you have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you” (Ezekiel 11:12).
“Thus said the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen….” (Jeremiah 10:2).
God forbids the “way” and “manners” of the heathen. “Learn not the way of the heathen” should be indelibly printed into the minds of Christians. The heathen have many gods and customs and of course, this plain statement from God’s Word applies to all of them. So let us look at another verse that points specifically to Easter.
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him” (Judges 10:6).
Ashtaroth, known as the “Queen of Heaven,” was the goddess to whom the Canaanites burned incense. Astarte, the Druid version introduced into the British Isles, is another name for Beltis or Ishtar of the Babylonians, from which we get the English word “Easter.”
Astarte was worshipped in Egypt, Ugarit, among the Hittites, and in Canaan. Her Akkadian counterpart was Ishtar. Later she became assimilated with the Egyptian deities Isis and Hathor. In the Greco-Roman world she was Aphrodite, Artemis, and Juno, all assuming the aspects of the “Great Mother.”
Easter was not considered a Christian festival until the fourth century. Early Christians celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the first month. The first month began on the first visible new moon after the spring equinox: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover” – Leviticus 23:5. The word “Easter” only appears once in our English Bibles, and there it is a mistranslation. It is actually the Greek word “pascha” or Passover. The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. Therefore, Easter does not qualify for Christian observance.
Some Christians may like to think that celebrating Good Friday and Easter is just another form of honoring the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, Easter is not another word for Passover, and they are both totally different in nature. Passover is exclusively for the covenant people of God and Easter is for everyone because it has no covenant.
In addition, the timing is off between Passover and Easter. Easter was celebrated at different times by the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. Hillel II had changed the Jewish calendar before that time and even today, the Jews do not celebrate Passover in accordance with Biblical instructions. After much debate, the Nicaean council of 325 A.D. decreed that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, on or after the spring equinox. This makes the date vary from March 22 to April 25. Why was all this debate necessary if Easter was a tradition passed down from the Apostles? The answer is that it was not an Apostolic institution, but an invention of man.
History records that spring festivals in honor of the pagan fertility goddesses were celebrated at the same time as Easter. In the year 399 A.D. the Theodosian Code attempted to remove the pagan connotation from those events and banned their observance on Easter and Christmas. Of course, people still celebrated the pagan festival in honor of Isis, they just called it something else – Easter. In the book “On Roman Time the Codex Calendar of 354 A.D.”, the author, Salzman, states that many of the rites associated with Isis were retained in the Christian celebration of Easter.
There is nothing in the Bible about Lent. The word “Lent” comes from lengthening of days – a reference to sun worship. Lent was an observance connected with Babylonian worship of Astarte or Ishtar. It has been celebrated by many religions not even associated with Christianity. This 40 day celebration was observed by the Yezidis (devil worshippers of Koordistan), who inherited it from the Babylonians.
Historian, Alexander Hislop states:
“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, and which, in being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz;” in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April.
To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and pagan festivals amalgamated, and by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity, now far sunk in idolatry, in this as in so many other things, to shake hands.”
Our Christian special days have been blended with pagan sun worship festivals. This is not new for the Bible reveals this took place in the past:
“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house, which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, 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 of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east” (Ezekiel 8:14-16; emphasis mine).
Here God shows Ezekiel women weeping for Tammuz and men worshipping the sun facing east, when the temple of the Lord was facing north. Does this not sound like our Easter sunrise service? Our God does not accept pagan customs of worship; they are called abominations.
And, what about the Easter egg custom? The Egyptian historian, Hyginus, librarian at the Palatine library in Rome during the time of Caesar Augustus, “An egg of wondrous size is said to have fallen from heaven into the river Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank, where the doves having settled upon it, and hatched it, out came Venus, who afterwards was called the Syrian Goddess.” That Syrian goddess, supposedly hatched from the egg, was Astarte, from which the word “Easter” came.
Like sheep, we have always gone astray, but God expects us to repent (that’s correct our ways) before He can bless us. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). A shining example of someone who followed this pattern of repentance was King Jehoshaphat. He did not just give lip service to God but actually took action against heathen practices: “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah” (II Chronicles 17:6). These hills and groves were not evil in and of themselves, but they were the places and symbols of heathen sun worship and God told us (Israel: His Christian people) to have nothing to do with these practices and customs. Is it not important what God thinks about these types of holidays? Or, is man’s opinion more important? Imagine God looking down upon us and seeing us worship Him and His Son in the exact way that the pagan sun worshippers honored their god. Would He not say to Himself, “Are my people crazy; I am not a sun god?”
- Passover and Communion commemorates Jesus’ death.
- Easter is an invention of the Catholic Church. Passover is God’s institution.
- Easter has no covenant, therefore is universally open to all peoples. Passover is not open to all people.
- Easter violates the Law of God (“No other gods before Me”).
- The festival of Easter originated as the worship of the sun goddess and took on many names throughout many cultures.
- Easter is not another name for Passover; nor is it observed at the same time. To observe it as the resurrection of Christ, in effect, is to add Jesus to the long list of sun gods.
As Christians, we acknowledge the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the Easter bunny, eggs, ham, and other such junk, have nothing to do with Passover or the Bible. These things are pagan to the core (and forbidden to eat under God’s dietary laws). God warned us not to worship in the same way as the heathen worshipped their gods. This alone is enough justification not to participate in Easter. By no stretch of the imagination is Easter a Christian holiday.
As God has said, “Learn not the way of the heathen…. For the customs of the people are vain” (Jeremiah 10:2).