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To millions of professing, churchgoing Christians, Easter is one of the chief religious festivals. But what do eggs, rabbits, new clothing, sunrise services, and hot cross buns have to do with Jesus Christ? 

When was the last time you went to your public library, obtained one of the leading encyclopedias or histories, and studied an article on the subject of Easter

If you're like the average person, the answer is probably "never." Millions of sincere, churchgoing, professing Christians excitedly arise in the pitch-black hours well before dawn on Easter Sunday morning, hustle the kids out of bed, enjoy a quick breakfast, and bundle into the car for a drive to a nearby mountaintop, outdoor bowl, huge cathedral, or small countryside church. They are going to an "Easter sunrise service." 

At the precise moment of sunrise, the priest or minister may likely turn toward the east, extending both hands in a supplicatory gesture, heralding the dawn of "Easter Sunday," and ask all of the audience to pray as they face the rising sun in the east. 

While many of the less devout do not bother to arise early enough to go to an actual sunrise service, it is a well-known celebration, attended by millions in nations around the world. 


These many professing Christians suppose they are gathering together on Easter to commemorate the anniversary of the precise moment Jesus Christ rose from the dead! 

They believe they are celebrating the resurrection. 

Of course, it is doubtful that even one of these sincere people has read what you are about to read in this article. Yet the information is readily available in any reasonably large public library. 

Have you ever researched the question for yourself? Have you ever asked yourself why you do some of the things you do? 

Have you ever looked up "Lent" in the history books or encyclopedias? Have you ever wondered why fasts, drunken ribaldry, drug-induced chaos, vandalism, and crime punctuate such pre-Easter celebrations as "Mardi Gras"? 

Have you ever heard friends joke about their "Lenten fast," giving up chewing gum or asparagus? 

Surely you remember the gaiety of Eastertime; the projects you were given in the first elementary years of school, fashioning little gaily decorated baskets of paper and decorating them with paper "straw," and jelly beans shaped like Easter eggs.  Probably, as a child, you dyed Easter eggs, engaged in Easter egg hunts, ate little chocolate bunnies, and perhaps even gathered around a bonfire, singing and dancing in the streets. 

Certainly you recall seeing old motion picture news reports or television coverage of the famous "Easter Parade" in New York City.

It's custom. And is custom to be questioned? 

What Does Easter Mean? 

What is Easter"? Is it the opposite of "Wester"? Does it have something to do with one of the points of the compass, or the Far East? 

Let's see what some of the historians tell us:

Easter: The English term, according to the Van. Bede, relates to Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown.... 

"That the apostolic fathers do not mention it and that we first hear of it principally through the controversy of the Quartodecimans are purely accidental" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Easter," emphasis added). 

In a sense, we are dealing with a "hostile witness" in this quotation, for the Catholic Church fully supports Easter. Therefore, it is doubly important to note that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits the "apostolic fathers" (including James, Peter, John, and the early apostles) do not mention Easter. 

As we will see later, it is equally important that they admit we first hear of it during a controversy of the "Quartodecimans." 

Now notice another important historical authority:

"Easter: The annual festival observed throughout Christendom in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The name Easter (Ger. Ostern), like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology[and] is derived from Eostre, or Ostara, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called the 'Eostur-monath,' was dedicated. This month, Bede says, was the same as the Mensis Paschalis [which meant "Passover" month], 'when the old festival was observed with the gladness of a new solemnity.' 

"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 firstfruits from the dead, continued to be observed, and became the 'Christian Easter'" (The Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, emphasis added). 

Note well that this eminent history (the eleventh edition was the last edition of the Britannica to include theological history) admits that the celebration of Easter is not mentioned in the New Testament; that it was not observed by the early apostles, and was clearly a later addition to what has been called the "Christian church." 

This later addition is reflected in Acts 12:4 of the King James Version, where the term pascha is erroneously translated "Easter." The term means Passover, not "Easter," and is so rendered by all modern English translations. 

Just how Easter was adopted into the visible church, and how it became called "Christian," we shall see. 

Now, notice what an American high school level encyclopedia has to say:

"Easter is a Christian festival that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important holy day of the Christian religion. People attend churches and take part in religious ceremonies. 

"In most countries, Easter comes in early spring, at a time when green grass and warm sunshine begin to push aside the ice and snow of winter. Its name may have come from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring, or from the Teutonic festival of spring, Eostar [pronounced "Easter"]. 

"Christians everywhere celebrate Easter with great rejoicing. In many areas, children collect candy and chocolate bunnies, and hunt colorful Easter eggs. Many persons wear new spring clothes to church on Easter" (World Book encyclopedia, article "Easter," emphasis added).

The Encyclopedia Americana says

"Easter is a convergence of three traditions, (1) Pagan. According to the Ven. Bede, English historian of the early eighth century, the word is derived from the Norse Ostara or Eostare, meaning the festival of spring, at the vernal equinox, March 21, when nature is in resurrection after winter. Hence, the rabbits, notable for their fecundity, and the eggs colored like rays of the returning sun, and the northern lights, or aurora borealis. The Greek myth, Demeter and Persephone, with its Latin counterpart, Ceres and Persephone, conveys the idea of a goddess returning seasonally from the nether regions of the light of day." 

Very early after being rescued from slavery and established as a new nation under God's own laws, the Israelites turned to the idolatrous customs and practices of neighboring nations. 

"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Eternal, and served Baalim [which means "many gods"; the term baal merely meant "lord"]: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves to them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Eternal and served Baal and Ashtaroth" (Judges 2:1113). 

The pagan Zidonians, the Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, and other surrounding tribes served the same gods and goddesses sometimes manifested in different ways. 

One of the prominent features (also adopted by sinning Israelites) was the worship of the goddess "Ishtar" in groves, called "asherim." This is merely the plural word for "Asherah," which meant an upright pale, or the trunk of a tree, stripped of its branches and leaves, and worshiped in the setting of a grove of trees, usually on a hilltop, representing life. (It was a phallic symbol.) 

Notice: "The children of Israel sinned against the Lord their God...and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God...and they set them up images [Hebrew, asherah] and groves [Hebrew, asherim] in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said to them, you shall not do this thing" (2 Kings 17:711). 

The worship of the upright pales, or phallic symbols, was closely associated with the worship of other forms of the procreation of life. 

The whole festival at springtime, in the minds of the ancient pagans, was closely allied to the midwinter festivals when pagans implored their sun god to begin his northern journey once again, bringing back the warming rays of the sun and hastening spring, when new life would once again spring forth. 

When this was an accomplished fact, the heathens used the symbols of eggs, which they worshiped as a miraculous source of life; rabbits, as the most rapidly procreating domestic animal; and lit fires in order to bake cakes in sacrifice to the "queen of heaven" (Semiramis), the "Diana of the Ephesians," who was viewed as the goddess of sex and fertility. 

Almighty God said He hated this imagery and idolatry, and called all such ceremonies of the pagans great abominations! 

Read Ezekiel 8! In this shocking chapter of the Bible, Ezekiel, in spirit, is shown the horrifying abominations of the sinning Israelites who had made an "image of jealousy" which "provoked to jealousy" the Eternal God (verses 3,4)! 

Showing Ezekiel, in spirit, even "greater abominations" (verse 6),

Ezekiel said he "went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things [the pagans always used snakes, lizards, crabs, frogs, flies, and so on, in their imagery], and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he to me, son of man, hast you seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth" (verses 1012). 

And is that not precisely what millions of churchgoing Christians believe today? 

A day-by-day, close awareness of the immediate presence of God; the fact that He watches and clearly sees every human act and deed; that He is immediately available through prayer; that He is not only our God, but our Judge, and our Ruler.  This concept of a living, ruling, Creator God is lost to the minds of millions! They do not know the living God! 

Rather, they think of God in vague, unreal terms. It is as if He has truly "gone way off somewhere" into the blackness of the "other side of the universe." Few really believe that Almighty God does see through the rooftops, sees in the dark, and literally beholds the deeds (good or evil) of humankind. 

Later Ezekiel was shown "women weeping for Tammuz" (verse 14). Tammuz was their name for Nimrod, who made himself into "a mighty hunter before [in place of] the Lord " (Genesis 10:9)! 

Next, read on in Ezekiel 8 as he was shown even greater abominations

"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 were toward the east: and they worshiped the sun toward the east" (verses 15,16). (The sun is in the east at its rising! )

This is a sunrise service, a pagan, idolatrous worshiping of the rising sun, in connection with pagan idols of "creeping things and abominable beasts," with women wailing and weeping for Tammuz! 

"But, so what?" some will ask. "What's the big deal?" some may complain. Are we to take away such innocent-appearing things as cute little chicks, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and dyed eggs; the excited, happy looks on the faces of our children as they search about the lawn for hidden Easter eggs?

"We're not doing it with all of these pagan things in mind," some might reason. "We're doing it as a Christian ceremony and it is only something to get the children to look forward to Easter!" 

Consider what God told Ezekiel concerning ancient Israel's practices:

 "Then He said to me, hast you seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger; and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eyes shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them" (verses 17,18). 

The Annual Holy Days of God

When God first called His nation Israel out of captivity in Egypt, He had to reveal to them the months of the year; reveal to them once again the weekly Sabbath, and wean them away from the pagan, idolatrous customs of the ancient Egyptians, who worshiped Isis and Osiris.  Prior to the exodus, God began revealing to the Israelites the Passover (see Exodus 12). Directly connected with the Passover were the Days of Unleavened Bread. Later, in the land of Sinai, before the giving of the Ten Commandments, God revealed to them His weekly Sabbath, and enforced the observance of God's holy Sabbath day by showing the Israelites that sin required the death penalty (Exodus 16:430). 

Later God revealed to them the remainder of His annual holy days (Leviticus 23), consisting of the Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day, coming right at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. 

God revealed to them the beginning of months, or the "sacred year," which commenced in the spring with the month of Nisan (also called Abib). 

The Israelites were commanded to take an unblemished lamb from their flocks on the tenth of Nisan; to keep it to the evening of the fourteenth, and then to slay it as the "Lord's Passover."  By striking the blood of the slain, unblemished lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their houses in Goshen, they would be under the sign of "the blood of the lamb," and the death angel, who was to kill the firstborn of the Egyptians in the final and greatest plague, would "pass over" the homes of the Israelites. 

That ceremony was to be conducted "with their staff in their hand," and by a meal of roast lamb and the "bread of affliction" (unleavened bread), signifying the great haste with which God was going to deliver them out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery. 

The spiritual types are set forth very clearly by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11). 

The paschal lamb was symbolic of Jesus Christ; the blood on the doorposts and lintels of the houses is symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins; the escape from Egypt is symbolic of our escape from the clutches of Satan the devil and sin; the passage through the Red Sea was symbolic of baptism (1 Corinthians 10:14); the land of Sinai, and the forty-years wandering prior to entering the promised land, are symbolic of the trials, testing, and tribulation which come upon every Christian; and the entrance into the promised land, across the River Jordan, is symbolic of finally leaving this human, physical life and entering the very Kingdom of God. 

Easter Information Continued

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