Which Day Should
This booklet is not to be sold. It is provided free to the public as an educational service by the authors and the publisher. All Scriptures are from the King James translation unless otherwise noted.
© 2004 the Eternal Church of God
Every spring, millions of professing Christians celebrate Easter, believing that this holiday honors the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Shocking as it may sound, this holiday has nothing to do with the resurrection of our Savior! Easter is actually the veneration of an ancient pagan fertility goddess whose worship God condemns! The pagan Easter celebration was instituted as a substitute for His Passover, a festival which God commanded to be observed throughout all generations, and which Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church all kept!
Many professing Christians consider Easter to be one of the most important and meaningful celebrations of the year. In spring, literally millions assemble to attend sunrise services. These celebrants rejoice with a profound sense of liberation as the new life of spring, and thoughts of Christ’s resurrection assure them of eternal life.
Easter also involves family members in a variety of creative projects. In preparation, decorations are made, eggs cooked and dyed, baskets assembled, and parties are planned. The day is filled with religious services, games for the children, family gatherings, and specially prepared Easter dinners.
During this season, people are enticed by the soft "newborn" colors of Easter. The cheerful pastel colors such as lavender, pink, blue, yellow, and green, serve to lift holiday spirits. The children are tantalized by thoughts of baskets lined with brightly colored cellophane and filled with beautiful, jewel like eggs, chocolate bunnies, and marshmallow duckies. The youngsters run to and fro in delight as they hunt dyed eggs.
Shocking as it may sound, as alluring, and family oriented as the Easter holiday appears, God absolutely condemns it! This unbiblical spring celebration literally glorifies pagan sex and fertility rites, and is a blatant counterfeit of God’s scripturally commanded Passover.
Have you ever researched Easter in a dictionary or encyclopedia? Did you ever wonder why there is an almost whimsical nature reflected in this holiday that is so closely connected to Christ’s brutal sacrifice, death, and resurrection? What does the word Easter mean, and what is the origin of this holiday? Did God ever command Lent, Good Friday, or Easter to be observed? What do the various Easter symbols represent, and how do they coincide with scripture?
More important, what holy days did Jesus, His disciples, and the first century Christians actually keep? Why don’t the modern churches celebrate these holy days that God commanded in the Bible? Was the Passover abolished because Christ died for us, or was it commanded to be observed as a memorial of His death? Why did the Roman church substitute Easter for God’s appointed Holy Day, and did God approve of this change? What do the symbols of Passover mean, and is it possible that you should observe the Biblical New Testament Passover instead of Easter?
The Bible and secular history both record that the early Christian Church did not celebrate Easter. More than twenty years after Christ’s resurrection, the Apostle Paul wrote to both Jewish and Gentile converts urging them to properly keep God’s Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). Further, true believers continued to keep the Passover for another 270 hundred years until an unconverted Roman emperor ordered believers to keep Easter or suffer the loss of their property.
Are you willing to prayerfully examine the facts with an open mind? God instructs believers to search the scriptures and prove all things (Ac. 17:11; 1 Ths. 5:21). Can you put past personal prejudice aside and accept the challenge to search out the truth, proving it for yourself? Should you keep Easter or the Christian Passover?
Easter Is Not Christian
The original Church founded by Jesus Christ did not celebrate Easter! The early Christians understood that Easter was a pagan observance, and as such, condemned by God. Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia reveals the true origin of this holiday:
The name Easter comes from the ancient Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre or Ostara, in whose honor an annual spring festival was held. Some of our Easter customs have come from this and other pre-Christian spring festivals (Vol. 4 p. 140).
The goddess Eostre, or Ostara, is the Anglo Saxon equivalent of the Babylonian Ishtar and the Phoenician Astarte. The Pagain Library on the Web explains:
This festival is named after the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre, also known in Old German as Ostara. Little is known about this Goddess except that Her festival was celebrated at the Spring Equinox, and became Easter. She was a Goddess of Fertility and was connected with hares and eggs. She may have been a Goddess of the Dawn. She may also be connected with the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora, both Dawn Goddesses, and with the Babylonian Ishtar and Phoenician Astarte, both who are Love Goddesses (http://www.paganlibrary.com/ introductory/wiccan_sabbats.php, retr. 1/21/2011).
The ceremony and symbols of Easter existed centuries before Jesus ever walked this earth. Further, we are told that the celebration comes from the worship of a pagan goddess, a false god!
In addition, this goddess has a less than pure reputation. Her worship featured fertility rites, and immoral sexual acts permeated her celebrations! Collier's Encyclopedia explains:
The Ishtar festivals were symbolical of Ishtar as the goddess of love or generation. As the daughter of sin, the moon god, she was the Mother Goddess who presided over child birth; and women, in her honor, sacrificed their virginity on the feast day or became temple prostitutes, their earnings being a source of revenue for the temple priests (Vol. 9, p. 622).
It is no wonder the symbolism pervading the celebration of Easter is oriented toward sex and reproduction. Consider the symbolism of the lily. Easter celebrants go to church services and delight in the great numbers of lilies decorating their altar, never realizing that this flower was widely regarded from ancient times as a symbol of sex and reproduction.
Frequently represented as a nude woman bestride a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other... Characteristically Canaanite the lily symbolizes grace and sex appeal and the serpent fecundity (W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel,
Baltimore, John Hopkins Press, 1942, pp. 68-94).
The cute and cuddly Easter bunnies are also culpable. As a religious symbol, these animals are declared unclean in the Bible. They have no place in the worship of the true God (Lev. 11:6). The Catholic Encyclopedia admits the following about the egg laying Easter bunny:
The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring gravitated to Easter. ...The Easter rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (p.227).
The egg also played a preeminent role in the pagan religions from ancient times. In more primitive cultures It was believed that the very goddess from whom we get our modern Easter celebrations came from a giant egg. In his book, Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop records a most amazing account:
From Egypt these sacred eggs can be distinctly traced to the banks of the Euphrates. The classic poets are full of the fable of the mystic egg of the Babylonians; and thus its tale is told by Hyginus, the Egyptian, the learned keeper of the Palatine Library at Rome, in the time of Augustus, who was skilled in all the wisdom of his native country: '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, hatched it, and out came Venus, who after wards was called the Syrian Goddess (p. 109).
In many parts of the world, hot cross buns have also been an Easter staple. The buns are baked with the symbol of a cross on them, and today many believe the mark represents the cross of Christ. This is also a fraud. Buns such as these were used in worship centuries before Christ. They were offerings to the queen of heaven, Ishtar, or Ashtoreth, goddess of spring and fertility. The cross actually originated as a "T", representing Tammuz, the brother of Ishtar, not Jesus Christ! Notice what God tells His prophet Jeremiah:
Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods (Jeremiah 17:17-18).
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible explains how these cakes were used in worship:
The object of worship, particularly by women, in Judah in the time of Jeremiah: Cakes were offered to her with libations. The reference (is) to Ishtar, the goddess of love and fertility, who was identified with the Venus Star and is actually entitled 'Mistress of Heaven' (Vol. 3 p. 975).
Easter comes from ancient worship of the goddess, Ishtar, or Ashtoreth. For this reason the early Church leaders rejected such celebrations. They understood that the Bible condemned these false goddesses and their vile practices.
The first time the Bible shows God's people coming in contact with these pagan deities was as slaves in Egypt. There they were immersed in the worship of the sun, fertility rites, and animal gods of that land. The modern practice of taking a sun shaped wafer at communion actually came from this source. In ancient Egypt, celebrants would kneel before the priest and receive the round sun shaped wafer intended to fill the worshiper with the renewing strength of the sun.
When God freed the Israelites from Egypt, He not only delivered them from slavery, he also delivered them from the pagan worship of these false gods.
The Passover is so important to God that He used it to punctuate history. It was the final great miracle that God used to set Israel free from bondage (Exo. 12). So vital is this observance that God commanded individuals who were either too ill to observe it, or those who were traveling out of the country, to keep the Passover the following month (Numbers 9:9). Further, the Passover was commanded to be observed forever, throughout every generation. Notice God's words:
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever (Exodus 12:14).
Designed to be kept in perpetuity, the observance of the Passover, along with God’s other Sabbath’s actually picture our willingness to obey God. They are the mark of a true Christian (Dt. 6:1-6; Exo. 31:13).
Passover is the antitheses of the mark of the Beast. It is God's sign, or mark, worn in the forehead and hand. The forehead symbolizes what people think about, and the hand, what they do with their strength. Therefore God explains the importance of this observance, stating:
(the Passover observance) shall be for a sign (mark) unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt (Exodus 13:9).
After revealing the Passover to Israel, God gave them His Law and holy days. Israel was then commanded to invade the Promised Land and stamp out every last vestige of the people’s pagan practices, including Easter.
Before the children of Israel entered their new land, God took care to forewarn them. They were absolutely not to adopt the religious practices of the inhabitants which they were commanded to dispossess! The people of the land worshiped in many perverse ways, including their particular version of the Ishtar fertility rites. Moses recorded God's warning to them then and us today. He wrote:
When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
Despite God's warning not to worship Him the way the pagans worshiped their gods, Israel lost sight of the Passover, and began to worship the pagan gods and goddesses of the local people. As punishment for this sin, God took ten of the twelve tribes away from Solomon's son, Jereboam, splitting the kingdom in two. The chronicler wrote:
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: ...Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians (1 Kings 11:31-35).
Watson's Biblical and Archeological Dictionary of 1833 explains more about Ashtoreth. They write:
Ashtoreth, or Astarte, (was) a goddess of the Zidonians. She was also called the queen of heaven; ...Solomon, seduced by his foreign wives, introduced the worship of Ashtoreth into Israel.
Unger's Encyclopedia spells out the identity of this goddess:
Ashtoreth, Astarte, a Canaanite goddess. The Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of sensual love, maternity and fertility. Licentious worship was conducted in honor of her (p. 412).
Ashtoreth is the goddess of Easter. God severely punished His people for worshiping her then, and He absolutely does not accept such worship today.
After the tribes split apart, Israel continued her downward slide into idolatry. God revealed to Ezekiel how far His people had sunk into this sin. The prophet, records God's words for us, writing:
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 (Ezekiel 8:13-14).
Tammuz was the brother of Ishtar, goddess of spring and fertility. The Israelites wept during his supposed absence in winter hoping their tears would bring back the sun and abundant crops. As foolish as this was, God reveals what He considered even worse.
Ezekiel records the celebration of the return of Tammuz with his sister Ishtar in the spring. The prophet records God to say:
Turn thee yetagain, 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 worshiped the sun toward the east (Ezekiel 8:15-16).
God condemned those who turned their backs to Him, worshiping the sun in a morning Ishtar sunrise service. The Almighty describes this practice as "greater abominations." He condemns it! When professing Christians assemble themselves on the ancient festival dedicated to the same goddess, and they face the sun as it rises, worshiping their god, does the Eternal judge this to be any less evil?
The ancient Israelites had lost the knowledge of the proper way to worship the true God. They had abandoned God's Passover. In time they came to believe they were honoring God with their pagan celebrations and symbols. This is exactly what many professing Christians unwittingly do today.
God's Passover Lost And Found
Over time, Israel let the Passover slip into disuse. They adopted the pagan practices of sun worship again, going so far as to offer their children in the fire. Adopting the superstitious belief that fire came from the sun, they sacrificed their children in the fire believing their offering would purify the family.
Finally, God sent the ten-tribe House of Israel into captivity for their abominations. Their more obedient Jewish brothers in the south were spared for another hundred or so years, but in time they too fell prey to these seemingly seductive pagan practices. The Passover was again lost.
In time, king Hezekiah was born. This great man restored the worship of the true God. As a part of his reform movement, he commanded Judah to once again keep God's sacred Passover. The Chronicler wrote:
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place... And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the LORD God of Israel (2 Chronicles 29:1-5, 30:1).
Hezekiah instituted many reforms, but after his death God's people again yielded to pagan influence. The Jews slipped back into idolatrous worship, losing sight of God’s holy days once again.
After this, many decades passed before a priest chanced upon God's Word, and gave a copy to the new leader, king Josiah. The king studied God's law and was moved to deep repentance. His immediate response was to restore the Passover! The law was found too late to keep the first observance, and according to the commandment, Judah kept the Passover in the second month. As it is written:
The king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. ...And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.... And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire... And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant (2 Kings 23:3, 5, 11, 22).
Whenever God's people returned to true worship, they observed the Passover, rejoicing in the truth they had found. But the pattern of apostasy continued and eventually the Jews lost sight of God's law again, falling away a final time. God then took them captive as He did their brethren earlier.
After seventy years, the Jewish people were finally released from their captivity in Babylon. Led by Ezra and Nehemiah, they returned to their land where they once again revived the observance of the Passover. There the people of Judah awaited the coming of their Messiah.
Christ Kept the Passover
The patriarch Isaac prophesied that the Messiah would come out of Judah (Gen. 49:10). Jesus could have been born no other place in the world than the tiny territory of Judea under Roman rule. Had He been born in a Gentile nation, He would have been raised in a culture that observed the ancient Ishtar rites.
Christ had to be born and live in an environment where He could keep the Passover. If Jesus had not kept the Passover, He would have sinned, and we would have no Savior. Therefore, Jesus was born in Judea where God knew that the Passover would be respected and observed. There Jesus kept the Passover every year as He grew to adulthood. Luke records:
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41).
Christ always kept the Passover, and He taught His disciples to keep it also. In fact, the last meal Jesus ate was on the Passover. Jesus told His disciples to prepare for this annual observance that final evening. Luke’s records:
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat (Luke 22:7-8).
When all was ready that night, Jesus observed God's Passover with His apostles. Luke records that:
When the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:14).
This was no ordinary supper. The verse states "when the hour had come." This was a specific time period when God had commanded the Passover to begin, after sunset on the 14th of Nisan (Lev. 23:5). Christ's sacrifice began at this hour with the betrayal of a friend, it continued with an illegal trial, a terrible beating, and it concluded with His crucifixion that afternoon, the exact time the Passover lambs were slain.
The Apostle Paul Kept the Passover
Christ taught His apostles how they were to keep the Passover, but the Apostle Paul was not among the twelve at the last Paschal meal. He was called later, an apostle of equal rank with the twelve, but called to minister to the Gentile Churches. He was also taught personally by Christ for three years in the Desert of Arabia (Gal. 1:17).
While in this wilderness environment, Christ taught Paul to keep the Passover the same way He taught the other twelve. In turn, Paul then taught the Gentile Churches what he was given. They were to faithfully keep the Christian Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
While in Ephesus, Paul wrote to the Gentile Church in Corinth about 55 A.D. He sent them a letter during the Days of Unleavened Bread in which he wrote:
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
In these verses Paul was not addressing whether the Gentile Church should keep this Feast. Paul was teaching them the WAY they were to keep the celebration. The fact that they were to keep the holy days was a foregone conclusion.
Later in his first letter to Corinth, Paul explained more about how to properly keep God's Passover. The Corinthian Church had been confronted with a number of heresies, and Paul corrected them regarding the proper relationship of men and women. He then discussed the importance of hair length, and finally explained that the Christian Passover was not to be celebrated by eating a meal. Paul wrote:
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11:20).
Some were hungry, others were eating large meals, and a few were actually drinking too much. Paul reminded the Gentile Christians that he was teaching them what Christ had taught him as he records the following instructions:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread (1 Corinthians 11:23).
Notice first that the Passover service was not a weekly Sunday morning observance as some presume to celebrate today. Instead, it was a night service Paul speaks of. It was the night that Christ was betrayed. They were eating a supper, and that night was the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. It was God's Holy Passover.
That evening Christ changed the symbols from eating a lamb to the eating of bread and drinking a small amount of wine. Therefore, Paul taught that Jesus took bread, and:
When he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
Paul reminded Christians that Christ said "this do" twice that night. Therefore, true Christians are to do THIS and NOT something else! It is a command from Christ, and we must not do it any time we wish. Christ observed the Passover, Paul kept the Passover, and we are to observe the Passover. Christ kept it as God commanded, and Paul taught the Gentiles to practice this observance once a year.
The Church Continued to Keep the Passover
God's Church has always celebrated the Passover observance as Jesus directed. After Christ was crucified and resurrected, the entire Church continued this practice. In fact, the Passover and the corresponding Days of Unleavened Bread were always an intrinsic part of the early Christian’s every day thoughts and lives.
Notice how the Holy Spirit inspired the author of the book of Acts to record the time of year in scripture by referring to these days. He wrote:
And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also [Then were the days of unleavened bread] (Acts 12:3).
Luke, himself a Gentile, would not record time in terms of the Passover unless this day was paramount in both Christian thinking and practice. Illustrating this, the next verse there is another reference to Passover. The translators of the King James version of the Bible mistranslated this however. They put the word "Easter" into the text where it did not belong. The verse reads:
When he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people (Acts 12:4).
The Jewish people never kept Easter. Further, this holiday was never an official part of the Church until corruption entered after 300 A.D. Consequently, the word "Easter" would never be a part of Luke's vocabulary, and it has no legitimate place in this verse. The original inspired Greek is "pasha," and it should have been translated "Passover." Many margins today show the correct wording, and most modern language translations render the word as "Passover." The New English Bible conveys the meaning of the word as follows:
… meaning to produce him in public after the Passover (Acts 12:4).
Paul and his assistants kept the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Notice how Luke refers to Paul's travels:
We sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread (Acts 20:6).
The early Church kept the Passover, and all scholars acknowledge this truth. Illustrating this, the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition states:
There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers. The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals, though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to it, of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb and the first fruits from the dead, continued to be observed (P.828).
Historians realize that the early Church faithfully kept the Passover for three centuries. The original teachings of Christ and the apostles were eventually lost and along with it God’s sacred Passover. It was much like the apostasy of ancient Israel.
How Did Easter Replace the Passover?
During the first three centuries after Christ began His Church, the observance of God's Passover slowly dwindled until it was all but extinguished. In time, God's feast was eventually replaced by a form of worship that had long antedated it. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible explains:
The development of the (modern) church calendar was a remarkably slow process in Christianity, and equally striking is the fact that so little of the Jewish year originally found a place in Christians celebrations. Where we should have expected a Christian transformation of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succoth, Channukah, Purim, etc, we find only the retention of the paschal festival (in the keeping of Easter). This is due to the fact the church year was largely the creation of the Gentile church, and the background of such notable days as Christmas, (and) Epiphany, etc is pagan, not Jewish.
Understanding how these Gentile holidays came to replace the original Church celebrations is of great value in determining how we should worship God today. The change from Passover to Easter did not occur from a command of God. It did not evolve over time based on a Biblical principle or scripture. It did not come from a Christian Church leader.
Instead, this radical change in Christian worship followed the same pattern of apostasy set by ancient Israel. Many decades after Christ built the Church, new young leaders looked upon the old ways as out-dated, and "Jewish." Desiring to appeal to the masses, they took it upon themselves to modify the church in order to bring it into their modern age and culture. The Grolier's Encyclopedia explains:
The church Fathers turned this heathen holiday (Easter) into the Christian celebration of the resurrection (Vol. 17, 1966).
The Last Two Million Years by the Reader's Digest Association describes this process. The editors write:
By a stroke of tactical genius the Church, while intolerant of pagan beliefs, was able to harness the powerful emotions generated by pagan worship. Often, churches were sited where temples had stood before, and many heathen festivals were added to the Christian Calendar. Easter, for instance, a time of sacrifice and rebirth in the Christian year, takes its name from the Norse goddess Eostre, in whose honour rites were held every spring. She in turn was simply a northern version of the Phoenician earth-mother Astarte, goddess of fertility. Easter eggs continue an age old tradition in which the egg is a symbol of birth; and cakes which were eaten to mark the festivals of Astarte and Eoster were the direct ancestors of our hot-cross buns (1981 p. 215).
The church underwent a metamorphosis as heathen practices and festivals were added. Jesse Hurlbut describes this change in the first century in his book, The Story of the Christian Church. He wrote:
We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., 'The Age of Shadows,’ partly because the gloom of the persecution was over the church; but more especially because of all periods in the history, it is the one about which we know the least....For fifty years after St. Paul's life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul (P. 41).
After 100 A.D. the church was "very different." The church was completely transformed. It was no longer the Church founded on the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the chief corner stone! What happened? How did the changes come about?
When church historians discuss this period, they claim to have no records of this time, but they ignore the Bible as a historical source. The Bible tells us clearly what was occurring during this first century.
During the time between Christ's resurrection and the Apostle John's death, false ministers crept into positions of influence and power in the church. God's apostles fought valiantly to keep the true doctrines alive, but as early as 50-51A.D., a false system was already well established. Paul wrote:
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work (1 Thessalonians 2:7).
By 53 A.D. a false teaching regarding the gospel was well established, and doing its insidious work. Paul wrote:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, Which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 6:1).
Within two years, by 55 A.D., false ministers were readily being accepted in the church. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, stating:
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Paul continued to explain the destructive work of false teachers. They appeared to be true ministers on the outside, but taught wrong doctrine to unsuspecting believers. Paul unequivocally states:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
By 68 A.D. Peter was forced to write a similar testimony. He states that false ministers infiltrated the church.
There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways (2 Peter 2:1).
By 69 A.D., Peter, Paul, and many other Church leaders had been martyred. This created a power vacuum into which ambitious and immoral men rushed to fill the void. The last letter in the New Testament, written in the late 80s or 90s A.D., addresses this situation in the Church. Jude wrote:
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).
The Bible reveals that as the Church approached the close of the first century, true Christians were finding it difficult to hold on to the original teachings of Christ and His apostles. A different gospel was being preached, another Jesus was being propagated, and a different spirit was creeping into the church. God's law was being minimized and the Church was being changed slowly from within.
After a Jewish uprising and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., anti-Jewish sentiment spread throughout the Roman empire. To avoid persecution, many of the professing Christians began to avoid any thing that seemed Jewish.
Further, many had come from a pagan background, and had observed Sunday ceremonies in honor of the sun for decades before this time. Consequently, many began to return to their previous Ishtar worship – claiming to celebrate Christ's resurrection on the more familiar Sunday. Contrary to the true meaning of the Biblical phrase, many began to call Sunday "the Lord’s day" (Revelation 1:10; Isaiah 34:8). This seemed to give Sunday and Easter legitimacy to those who lacked understanding and many reverted to former ways of worship.
The Churches ministered to by the Apostle John in Asia remained faithful, however, continuing to observe Passover. The Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition Explains:
In the second century of our era there were many churches in Asia which kept the fourteenth day (Passover). They were called Quartadecimans, which means the keepers of the fourteenth day of the lunar month. Among the observers of the quartadeciman festival are counted Polycarp ...it is (also) incontrovertibly clear that the quartadeciman Christians celebrated Passover. The name and the date of the festival are the same as in the Israelite calendar... The quartadeciman Christians commemorated only the Death of the Lord Jesus, and not his Resurrection (p. 828).
Before the Apostle John died, prior to 100 A.D., he personally taught a younger disciple named Polycarp. By 159 A.D., the observance of Easter had become the predominate observance in the western churches, and Polycarp traveled to Rome to counteract this pagan practice which had arisen there. In the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Irenaeus wrote:
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by the apostles, and acquainted with many that had seen Christ, but was also appointed by apostles in Asia, bishop of the Church of Smyrna... he was also in Rome in the time of Anicetus and caused many to turn away from the heretics to the church of God. While at Rome, Polycarp discussed the matter of Easter with the Roman bishop... Anicetus (could not) persuade Polycarp not to observe it (The Passover) because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated; and neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, who said that he was bound to follow the customs of the presbyters before him.
Because Rome was the capitol city of the empire, the Roman church began to view itself as the headquarters for all Christianity. Over time, the Roman church also had patterned itself after the Roman civil governmental system.
Having set themselves up to be the leaders, the church in Rome began to demand that all the churches in the empire submit to their rule – even when their decisions seemed unbiblical.
Finally, approximately 40 years after Polycarp's visit to the capital city, Rome was convinced she now had the power to demand that the churches in the east eliminate the observance of the Passover. The faithful Polycarp had long since been martyred, but he had trained a man named Polycrates to replace him.
This new leader of the churches in the east carried on the fight to hold fast to the original teachings. Consequently, Polycrates also traveled to Rome to contest the new Roman bishop on the issue of Easter or Passover. The Encyclopedia Britannica records the result:
That province (John's Pastorate) was the only portion of Christendom which still adhered to the Jewish usage, and Victor demanded that all should adopt the usage prevailing at Rome. This Polycrates firmly refused to agree to, and urged many weighty reasons to the contrary, whereupon Victor proceeded to excommunicate Polycrates and the Christians who continued the Eastern usage (P. 828).
Eusibius is considered to be the most authoritative church historian for the first three centuries. In his famous book, Ecclesiastical History, He wrote of this famous controversy, stating that:
The Asian bishops who insisted that they must observe the custom transmitted to them long ago were headed by Polycrates.
Eusebius then records the letter written to Rome by this courageous man of God, Polycrates. He wrote:
We for our part keep the day (Passover) scrupulously, without addition or subtraction. For in Asia great luminaries sleep who shall rise again on the day of the Lord's advent, when He is coming with glory from heaven and shall search out all His saints - such as Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis ... Again there is John, who leant back on the Lord's breast...he too sleeps in Ephesus. Then in Smyrna there is Polycarp, bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, the bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who also sleeps in Smyrna. Need I mention Sagaris, bishop and martyr, who sleeps in Laodicea, or blessed Papirius, or the eunuch, who lived entirely in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis waiting for the visitation from heaven when he shall rise from the dead? All of these kept the fourteenth day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal festival, in accordance with the Gospel, not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith. Last of all I too, Polycrates, the least of you all, act according to the tradition of my family, ...for seven of them were bishops and I am the eighth, and my family have always kept the day when the people put away the leaven. So I, my friends, after spending sixty-five years in the Lord's service and conversing with Christians from all parts of the world, and going carefully through all Holy Scripture, am not scared of threats. Better people than I have said; 'we must obey God rather than men.' (P. 232).
The famous writer, Irenaeus persuaded the Roman bishop Victor not to excommunicate all the churches in the east. Still, the controversy raged on for many years after this. This division over the Easter issue was not solved until it was formally ruled upon by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine in the council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Centuries before this famous council, the prophet Daniel had foretold of a "little horn" that was to come. This little horn symbolized a leader who, while limited in power, would think to change times and seasons (Daniel 7:25). Constantine fulfilled this ancient prophecy of Daniel.
It was this man who was responsible for the union of church and state. Constantine realized that because of rampant immorality amongst his subjects, the empire was degenerating. On the other hand, within the empire there was an outlawed movement called Christianity whose adherents were highly moral and who would die before they would abandon their faith. Constantine seized upon the growing Christian faith to unite and strengthen his fracturing kingdom.
The pagan emperor decided to legalize Christianity. He issued the edict of toleration, and throughout the empire believers rejoiced because the new law halted the persecution. But this joy was short lived. Eventually, Constantine outlawed any religion but Rome's version of the faith.
Regarding the issue of Easter or Passover, Constantine's concern was for unity in his empire. The observance of Passover by some of the churches was a threat to the solidarity he needed to cement his failing empire. Consequently, the emperor called the bishops to Nicea to resolve this question and end the division.
At this famous council, the emperor ultimately declared that he would outlaw the Passover, and make Easter the official church holiday. After his monumental decision, he wrote a letter to all the churches in the empire explaining his reasoning on the subject. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; ...it was declared particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom of the Jews, who have soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded.... We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews... in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast... They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; a Divine Providence wills that this custom should be rectified and regulated in a uniform way; and everyone, I hope, will agree upon this point. As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord; and as, on the other, the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, of the South and of the North, and by some of those of the East, is the most acceptable....You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right we should have nothing in common with the Jews.
In the Nicene council, the decision was made to universally adopt the observance of Easter. This law then became binding for all who professed Christianity. From that time forward, those who were a part of the Roman Empire celebrated Easter, and those who held fast to the teaching of Christ and the apostles went underground to keep their faith.
In this context, it is very important to consider why this decision was made. Was this judgment legitimate? Did it have God’s approval? The Emperor’s letter outlines three main reasons for his historic decision. They are listed below:
Three Reasons Why Emperor Constantine Changed the Passover to Easter
(1) It was convenient for all to keep the same day
(2) The majority were already keeping Easter
(3) To have nothing in common with the Jews
When it came to the decision regarding the Passover, there was no mention of what the Holy Scriptures said about God’s feast, no reference to what Christ practiced, and no allusion to what the Apostle John had taught. There was no regard for what Paul taught the Gentile Churches. There was certainly no reference to the verse that states that the Jews were given the unique role in all human history to preserve the sacred scriptures (Rom. 3:1-3).
The church was now made part of the Roman empire. The Roman church leaders influenced the emperor, and he, rather than God, dictated what the church was to believe and practice – all based on political reasons, not on Scripture.
The True Church Continued To Keep Passover
The council of Nicea was a defining moment in the history of all western civilization. The growing church which called itself "Christian" became inextricably joined together with the Roman political system in the prophesied unholy alliance. The "little horn" of Daniel did his work, and the woman (a church in prophetic terminology) began to ride the beast – the Holy Roman empire (Rev. 17:3, 7). From this moment in time, the church shifted from being persecuted, to being the persecutor!
The leaders of what would one day be called the Roman
Catholic church began to kill, imprison, and confiscate the property of those who did not comply with the new "Christianity." As Christ had prophesied, they began to kill God's people thinking they were doing God a service (John 16:2). But these attacks by the great church on those who kept the Passover did not stop the true believers from worshiping as Christ had taught.
Jesus had promised that His Church would not die out. He said the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mat. 16:18). Therefore, the Church continued to exist, and God's people persisted in keeping the Passover. In his book, The Apostolic Community to Constantine, Karl Baus traces the history of the faithful from the third century through the fifth:
The quartodeciman minority remained faithful to their previous practice throughout the whole of the 3rd century... (later) the council of Nicea expelled the Quartodecimans from the ecclesiastical community. Thereafter, their numbers continually declined, though even into the fifth century the great church had to deal with them on occasion (p. 271).
By the 7th century A.D. the Church became visible again. During this time, the mountains in Asia Minor and Armenia hid a people named Paulicians. The church historian Broodbent describes these people in The Pilgrim Church:
The persecutions to which they were subjected, and the systematic destruction of their literature, hide from us all but occasional glimpses of their history, though what remains is sufficient to show that there were in those wide regions of Asia Minor and Armenia... churches of baptized believers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who kept the teachings of the apostles received from Christ and contained in the scriptures, in an unbroken testimony from the first.
Fred Coneybear found and translated the Paulician book, Key of Truth. In it, he explained that he had finally understood that these people were the remnant of the original Church:
All who had written about them had been misled... I now realized (he said) that I had stumbled on the monument of a phase of the Christian Church so old and so outworn, that the very memory of it was lost. The Sabbath was perhaps kept. Wednesday and Friday were not kept as fast days, and of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the Church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine.
The Paulicians remained visible until about the 10th century. Following Christ’s example, they kept the Passover for centuries before they finally became lost to history.
By the 13th century, the Church reappeared, this time identified as the Waldenses. The New Schaff Herzog Religious Encyclopedia states of them that:
They were determined to celebrate the Lord's Supper yearly, and that in France it had been the custom of these people to celebrate it yearly from an early time... in Germany as well as France the Waldenses celebrated the Lord's Supper yearly... (p. 243).
The noted historian, Mosheim explains that remnants of this same group were called Passaginians in Italy. They professed to keep God's Ten Commandments in their part of the world during the years 1100-1200. Mosheim explains their beliefs, saying:
In Lombardy, which was the principal residence of the Italian heretics, there sprung up a singular sect known, for what reason I cannot tell, by the denomination Passaginians... they had the utmost aversion to the dominion and discipline of the church of Rome; but they were at the same time distinguished by two religious tenets which were peculiar to themselves. The first was a notion that the observance of the law of Moses, in everything except the offering of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians; in consequence of which they... abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy, and celebrated the Jewish Sabbath (Eccl. Hist., Cent, 12, part2, chap.5 sec. 14, p.127).
During the 17th century, the Church reappeared once again, this time in England. The London Public Library contains this excerpt recorded in the History of the True Church:
A complaint is entered on certain people for celebrating the Lord's Supper in the morning, when it is said it should be celebrated in the evening. The name 'church of God' is mentioned twice referring to people holding the Passover in the evening.
In the book, The History of the True Church, Dugger describes the church in America. He wrote:
The church in Rhode Island was founded the year 1671, and Ephreta, Pennsylvania, May 1725, with numerous other congregations throughout the eastern states... During these early colonial days congregations were at first isolated because of distance and a lack of means of travel with no roads between them. Thus being isolated from fellowship with one another, we find companies in one place called the Church of Christ, in another place the Church of God, while in other communities they were simply called 'Sabbatarian Congregations' but the belief was practically the same. They stood for the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, observing the true Sabbath, keeping the Lord's Supper yearly on the 14th of the first month (p. 252-253).
In his book, History of the Sabbatarians, Clarke records the Church keeping Passover a hundred years later. He wrote:
Some of these (western Virginia) churches, believe in the washing of one another's feet, at appointed times... but the Sabbath and Baptism are their distinguishing tenets... Concerning the Passover, or the Lord's Supper, in at least one assembly of the early Sabbatarians in West Virginia, the following is illustrative; 'March 21, 1853, it was voted that communion service be held once in twelve months on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish Month, i.e. on the evening of the Passover.
From the past, throughout the more recent history of the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of congregations of the Church of God around the world have continued to faithfully observe the Passover. The Eternal Church of God is one of those assemblies who are committed to keeping this sacred day that memorializes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Church teaches that even when Christ finally returns in glory, it will not spell the end of this observance. Instead, His return will herald a time when all people will observe the Passover.
The Passover is an Ordinance Forever
The Passover was to be observed forever. Therefore, God told Moses to record the following words:
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever (Exodus 12:14).
The Passover is a permanent ordinance. It was not done away when Christ died, and it will not be eliminated at His return.
Jesus clearly stated that He would celebrate the Passover in His Kingdom. At the last supper, Christ talked longingly with His disciples and He made the following promise:
With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come (Luke 22:15-18).
Jesus spoke to His followers about His return, explaining that He would again eat the Passover and drink the wine with them. He reiterates this in Matthew's gospel saying:
I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom (Matthew 26:29).
Few have grasped this truth. When Christ came the first time, He did not change the holy days. Instead, He kept them His followers continued their commemoration. Further, Christ will keep them in the millennium.
When Christ comes the second time, He promises to take a much more aggressive approach, literally enforcing the observance of His holy days. He will literally exact a penalty upon those who refuse to keep His commanded days. The prophet Zechariah reveals that Christ will require those who survive the battle of Armageddon to observe His commanded feasts. He wrote:
It shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, upon them shall be no rain (Zechariah 14:16-17).
After Jesus Christ returns, He will set up His Kingdom. It will be the literal government of God on this earth. He will bring scattered Israel back from her captivity to the land of promise a second time. There he will begin to rebuild Jerusalem. He will construct a magnificent temple, set a prince over it, and require His holy days be observed.
In the book of Ezekiel, several chapters discuss this new temple which will be the headquarters for the government of the entire world. In chapter forty five, Ezekiel records various offerings that will be given then, and then he addresses the Passover. Ezekiel explains that the prince of the temple will teach people to keep God’s Passover. He wrote:
In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten (Ezekiel 45:21).
Christ will enforce observance of His holy days during the millennial rule, and eventually all will come to know God and His ways. Habakkuk wrote these encouraging words:
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
This wonderful time is coming soon. Jesus will rule the earth for a thousand years. During this period, all will come to know God. People will no longer keep Easter. All will observe His sacred commanded ceremony, the Christian Passover. All will come to understand the love of God and the magnitude of the sacrifice that He made for each one of us as we keep God's Passover from year to year.
Faced With a Choice
Like the ancient Israelites who fell away, losing all awareness of God's holy days, many professing Christians today have lost the knowledge of God's Passover. They do not realize that God will require keeping His Passover in the future, that His faithful have always kept this ceremony, or that God planned the Passover observance from the very beginning.
The scriptures reveal that Christ was actually slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). This means that the Passover was planned before man existed. Days before creating man, God set the astronomical calendar in the heavens with a specific purpose in mind. God said:
Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14).
On the fourth day of creation, God set the great astronomical bodies of the sun and moon in their respective orbits for "signs," and for "seasons." The word "sign" is "ôth" in the Hebrew, and means a mark or beacon. ôth is the same word God uses when He states that His Sabbaths are a "sign" (Exodus 31:13). The Eternal then created the Sabbath on the seventh day, and that weekly celebration continues to this day. The other word that God uses to describe His purpose for placing the sun and moon in their respective positions is "seasons." This word is "mô‛âdâh" in the Hebrew, and it literally means days for "assembly," or "Holy Day observance."
This truth gives us enormous insight. God actually set the astronomical calendar in motion before He created man, and these vast bodies were to serve as a lunar-solar calendar to signal the time His holy days are to be observed.
This is of great significance! It means that God planned to atone for man's sin before the foundation of the world, and therefore He set the Passover, picturing His atoning death, in the creation calendar to be on the first full moon of the first month of every year as a memorial.
God later revealed this celebration to His people when He freed them from their bondage in Egypt. When God's people were faithful to Him, they kept the Passover. When they fell away from God, they celebrated Easter.
In the New Testament, Jesus kept the Passover as an example for us to follow (1 John 2:6). His apostles observed it, and Paul taught the Gentiles to keep it (1 Cor. 5:7).
Further, historically the Church of God through the centuries has faithfully kept this ordinance. And, today there exists around the world thousands of congregations of the Church of God keeping the commandments of God rather than the traditions of men. Finally, when Christ returns He will teach all mankind to observe His holy days, including the Passover.
A Decision to Make
What about you, and what about now? What will you do with the knowledge that you have been given? Your decision is of the utmost importance. To be a son or daughter of God, you must keep His Passover. John records Jesus' words stating the following:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (John 6:53).
When Jesus made this statement, He did not mean to take communion every Sunday as many churches do today. Jesus never did that, neither did the twelve apostles, nor did the Apostle Paul. Christ's words mean that we must keep the Passover as He commanded. Furthermore, Jesus’ words mean we must literally take Him inside us, as the Passover symbols picture. We must surrender our will to His and allow Him to live in us (Gal. 2:19-20). This is the true meaning of the Passover.
Knowing this, you now have a choice to make. Are you going to celebrate Easter or will you obey your Creator and observe Passover?
Some will argue that they do not believe they are worshiping false gods when they celebrate Easter. They believe that they can worship Jesus using the symbols of Easter no matter the source of those symbols.
Before you make your decision, reflect on and carefully weigh the example of Aaron and the golden calf. For hundreds of years Israel had been in bondage in Egypt. There they had lost the knowledge of God's way, but became very familiar with the worship of false gods. Shortly after their deliverance from Egypt, when Moses was gone for a time, the people demanded a god to worship. Aaron then made them a calf such as they were accustomed to.
When Aaron made the calf, did Israel think they were worshiping a false god? Absolutely not! They believed they were using the symbols to worship the true God. As Moses wrote:
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, tomorrow is a feast to the LORD (Exodus 32:5).
Aaron made a feast to the LORD using the familiar pagan Egyptian symbols of a golden calf. He thought the people could worship the true God with manmade symbols. Many people hold a similar belief today. Do you think that you can worship God with the false, pagan symbols of bunnies, eggs, and lilies? In the case of the ancient Israelites, notice God’s reaction:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed there unto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them (Exodus 32: 7-10).
Moses was also furious when he saw the idol they had made. He burned the golden calf in the fire, and he ground it to powder. Then he made the children of Israel drink of the powder with water. After this he went to God and petitioned Him saying:
Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold (Exodus 32:31).
The Israelites had sinned a GREAT SIN by using false symbols to worship the true God. Celebrating a feast to God with Easter symbols is also great sin! If Moses did not intercede, God would have destroyed the people for their sin.
When God brought the people into the Promised Land, the land was filled with idolatry including the worship of the sun god and fertility goddess Ishtar. At that time, God told Israel to destroy all the remnants of such worship. He also gave His people a warning. He commanded them not to adopt any of the ways that these people worshiped their gods. Moses records God’s warning:
When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee...Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, ...and that thou inquire not saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God (Deuteronomy12:29-32).
Notice that Israel was not to look to the pagan practices of worship, and use their customs in any way. God did not consider it acceptable to worship Him using the various pagan symbols. He did not tolerate such worship. He hated it! God’s words echo to us down through the age as He thunders His warning to mankind "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God."
God does not approve of using pagan symbolism to worship Him! If we use false means of worship, it will pervert our perspective of God, and over time we will lose sight of His greatness, and purpose.
Israel forgot God’s command and began to use the symbols of Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility, to worship. God sent them into captivity for doing so, and He will send this nation of professing Christians into captivity for the same abominable practices before He returns.
So important is this issue, your very eternal salvation is at stake. When Christ returns He will have to address a group of people who believe they are Christians, but will be absolutely shocked to find they are not! Jesus states:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22-23).
These will be individuals who call Jesus their Lord. They will have even preached in His name. They will have done many good works for Him. Yet, He tells them to "depart." Why? Haven’t they accepted Him? Isn’t that all we have to do?
The reason Christ gives is that they work "iniquity." This word "iniquity" simply means "lawlessness." These are people who do not obey God's law. They believe they are worshiping Christ, but He states they are doing so unlawfully. They are worshiping Him according to what they think, and what they feel, not according to His command in scripture.
Grasp the eternal lesson from these verses. We cannot worship God in any way that we desire. We cannot worship the true God with ancient fertility symbols. We can only truly worship Him the way that He commands. Do not make the mistake that so many have made. Christ says:
In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9).
Easter, with its practices and symbols, is nothing more than the commandments of men. To celebrate Easter is to worship Jesus in vain - for no real lasting purpose. We worship Christ in vain when we worship Him according to such human traditions.
Realize that the world we have grown up in and have lived in for years is deceived. The Apostle John wrote:
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
God tells us that the entire world is deceived. Yet the deceived person does not know he or she is deceived. The result? Millions of professing Christians do not recognize the truth regarding the question of the Christian Passover. They have been taught they don't have to do what God commanded. Instead, they believe they can worship God any way they so desire as long as they have love in their heart.
If you desire to worship the God of the Bible, and you attempt to do so by celebrating Easter, you are deceived. The name "Easter," rabbits, eggs, and lilies are a "dead giveaway. "
From Christ’s Perspective
Consider how Jesus Christ views the celebration of Easter. Christ is the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7-8). He endured the worst death a person has ever experienced. He was betrayed by a friend, kept awake all night enduring an illegal trial, physically abused, spit upon, humiliated, and jeered at.
Christ was then beaten by a professional whose job it was to take the victim to the very point of death, then revive him, and beat him again. Finally, he was nailed to a stake and left to writhe in agony for hours until after his death a Roman soldier ended the ordeal by thrusting a spear in His side.
How do you think Jesus Christ feels after making this ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, only to see people making a game out of it with colored eggs, Easter bunnies, and the worship of the goddess of fertility?
Is it any wonder He says to such people, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity" (Mat. 7:23). Don't be a part of such practices. Instead come out of the pagan practices of the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. As Christ says to those at the end of the age:
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).
Make the choice to obey God, rather than the teachings and traditions of men! Decide to come out of pagan practices and begin to truly worship God. Keep God's Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread instead of Easter. Join the faithful throughout the ages, and commemorate Christ's death with all its profound meaning, as so many of God’s servants have done from the beginning of time.