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Easter - Truth or Fiction?

You know, sometimes we do things out of habit. At other times, we do things from tradition because it was the way we were raised or because it just "feels" like it's right. We don't stop to investigate if what we're doing is really right. We just continue because it's familiar and easy. It's always easier to continue doing the thing that's familiar than it is to do something that's new and unfamiliar. Such is the case with many of the holidays we habitually keep in the so-called Christian western world. I suppose the two most prominent of those holidays are Christmas and Easter. We have previously discussed the origins and history of Christmas and its "supposed" relation to the birth of Christ but what about the holiday we know as Easter? What are its origins and its history? Does it accurately picture the truth about the resurrection of our savior? If it does, then why doesn't our society treat it with sacred solemnity rather than allowing it to become so highly commercialized? If it doesn't accurately picture the truth about the death of our savior, then why do we keep the observance at all?

Easter's Origin

According to the New Unger's Bible Dictionary, "the word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honor sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo-Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ's resurrection."

According to Nelson's Bible Dictionary, Easter is defined as "a feast or festival of the Christian church that commemorates the resurrection of Christ. It is observed and celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after March 21--or one week later if the full moon falls on Sunday. In other words, Easter falls between March 22 and April 25. Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic (Germanic) goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the eighth century, the name was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. The only appearance of the word Easter (KJV) is a mistranslation of pascha, the ordinary Greek word for 'Passover.'"

So, clearly by these definitions, we can see that the Easter holiday was not used in connection with the resurrection of Christ for more than 600 years after his death. Well, 600 years is quite a long time in which a lot can happen and change. Let's see if we can learn more of the ancient history of Easter's beginnings.

In the Encyclopedia Britannica, we read that Easter is the "principal festival of the Christian Church Year, [and it] celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. Its origins go back to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after Sunday, which came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. Western Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs upon or next after the vernal equinox (March 21). If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday after. Easter, therefore, can fall between March 22 and April 25. This rule was fixed after much controversy and uncertainty, which lasted in various parts of the church down to the 8th century... The festival of Easter occurs on a particular Sunday, but its importance is emphasized in the worship of the church by the long preparation of Lent; by Holy Week, with its solemn services; and by the following seven weeks until Pentecost (Whitsunday). Easter is central to the whole Christian year... (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1978, Micropaedia, Vol. III, pg.757)."

According to Darryl Conder in Mystery Babylon the Great, "the history of Easter begins not with Christ's resurrection, but in Babylon, 2000 years before His birth... The first thing to be emphasized is that the Easter tradition is a composite history of two men and one woman. As the stories of their lives unfolded in ancient times, the religion they founded was conformed to explain the different occurrences. It is a somewhat complicated story that, as it becomes clear, will present a chilling account of modern day religious practices found, literally, around the world! To understand the Easter custom of the western world, it is important that we basically dissect this festival piece by piece. First of all, where did we get the name Easter, and what does it have to do with Jesus Christ? Most any encyclopedia will mention that the name Easter is derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre (pg. 55)."

Mr. Conder goes on to quote Alexander Hislop from his book, The Two Babylons, "...Easter bears its Chaldean origin...[and] is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the Queen of Heaven, whose name as pronounced by the people of Ninevah, was evidently identical with that now in common use in the country [that is, Easter] (pg. 103)."

The Rites of Easter

What about the traditional observances associated with the Easter holiday? What do dyed Easter Eggs, the baking of "hot cross buns" and rabbits have to do with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

On the subject of Easter, Ralph Woodrow writes in his book, Babylon Mystery Religion Ancient and Modern, that "The word itself, as the dictionaries and encyclopedias explain, comes from the name of a Pagan Goddess - the goddess of Spring. Easter is but a more modern form of Ishtar, Eostre, Ostera, or Astarte. Ishtar, another name for Semiramis of Babylon, was pronounced as we pronounce "Easter" today. And so the name of the Spring Festival, "Easter", is definitely paganistic, the name being taken from the name of the Goddess. And not only is the name "Easter" of pagan origin, but we shall see that the traditional customs and observances of this season originated in paganism also. A good example of this can be seen in the well known usage of the Easter egg. From the "egg-rolling" on the White House lawn to the yard of the most humble home, eggs are colored, hid, hunted, and eaten - each year at the "Easter" season. But where did this custom of using eggs at this season begin? Are we to suppose that Christians of the New Testament dyed eggs? Do eggs have anything to do with Christ or his resurrection? The answer is obvious. Such usage is completely foreign to the Bible. On the other hand, the egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians! They believed an old fable about an egg of wonderous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter), was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter. From Babylon -the MOTHER of false religion - humanity was scattered to the various parts of the earth and with them they took the idea of the Mystic Egg. Thus we find the egg as a sacred symbol among many nations (pg. 152-153)."

The Encyclopedia Britannica states that "like the Easter egg, the Easter hare came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples... Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, UM, means also 'open' and 'period,' the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity [or ovulation], both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life. As such, the hare become linked with Easter... eggs (article Easter)."

Ralph Woodrow further writes,"another custom that is closely connected with the Easter season is the baking and eating of "hot cross buns." Again, this appears - at first glance - to be a Christian custom because of the shape or marking on the buns of the cross. But, as we have seen earlier, the cross symbol is not a Christian symbol. On the other hand, as early as the days of Cecrops, founder of Athens [Greece], (1500 BC), such buns were used in the worship of the queen of heaven (Babylon Mystery Religion Ancient and Modern, pg. 154)."

What about another Easter holiday custom, the Easter Sunrise service? As even modern worshippers assemble in early dawn to face the east and gaze upon the rising sun, what they are reenacting is what their forefathers have done for many millennia. It is just sun-worship under a different name.

Nimrod and Semiramis

On the subject of the constellation of Orion, we read from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, "According to an old tradition, the name of Nimrod, mentioned in Gen 10:10, as the founder of Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh, was given by his courtiers to this most brilliant of all the constellations, one that by its form somewhat suggests a gigantic warrior armed for the fight. Until recently it was not found possible to identify the Nimrod of Scripture with any Babylonian monarch until Dr. T. G. Pinches suggested that "Nimrod" was a deliberate Hebrew transmutation of "Marduk," the name of the great Babylonian national hero, and chief deity of their pantheon (article Astronomy)."

Darryl Conder writes, "In order to trace the [so-called] "career" of Nimrod, we must look for him under a name by which he is better known to ancient historians. The correct translation of Genesis 10:11 shows us that Nimrod was one and the same as Ninus of Assyria... [even] the Encyclopedia Britannica says that Ninus was the founder and king of Nineveh. They note he was the son of Bel, and married to Semiramis (11th ed., Volume 19, pg. 706)."

Mr. Conder continues, "To trace the history of Nimrod, we only have to look for him in the legends of King Ninus... in the annals of Babylon and Assyria. These legends of Ninus are a wealth of information about Nimrod, who[m], I might add, was one of the most detestable men to have ever lived. Fear and murder were the tools used by Nimrod to secure his great power. Additionally, Nimrod, just as his father had, required his followers to offer human sacrifices (often newborn babies) to him... (Mystery Babylon the Great, pg.59)."

Josephus records "Nimrod persuaded mankind not to ascribe their happiness to God, but to think that his own excellency was the source of it. And he soon changed things into a tyranny, thinking there was no other way to wean men from the fear of God, than by making them rely upon his own power (Ant. Jud. i. c. 4. 2)."

E.W. Bullinger writes in The Companion Bible, "'The Chaldee paraphrase of 1Chron 1:10 says: "Cush begat Nimrod, who began to prevail in wickedness, for he shed innocent blood, and rebelled against Jehovah.' Nimrod was the founder of Babylon, which partook of his character as being the great antagonist of God's Truth and God's People. We cannot fail to see, in Nimrod, Satan's first attempt to raise up a human universal ruler of men. There have been many subsequent attempts, such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Napoleon, and others. He will finally succeed in the person of the Antichrist (Appendix 28, pg. 29)."

The Encyclopedia Britannica states, "After the death of Ninus, Semiramis, who was accused of causing it [that is, the death of King Ninus], erected to him a temple-tomb... near Babylon (11th ed., Volume 19, pg. 706)."

As we shall see, this was the beginning of the Babylonian Mystery Religion, which lives on, in various forms, even to our present day.

Israel's Disobedience

Let's look in God's word to see if there are any examples that show us God's attitude about such "worship" services. In Ezekiel 8:1-18, we read of God's reaction to Judah's form of worship.

(Ezek 8:1-18 NASB) And it came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell on me there. {2} Then I looked, and behold, a likeness as the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal. {3} And He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located.

So, we see here that even though Ezekiel was with the Jewish captives in Babylon, he was given a vision picturing events in Jerusalem, hundreds of miles away.

(Ezek 8:4 NASB) And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain. {5} Then He said to me, "Son of man, raise your eyes, now, toward the north." So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance. {6} And He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, that I should be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations." {7} Then He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. {8} And He said to me, "Son of man, now dig through the wall." So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance. {9} And He said to me, "Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here." {10} So I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around. {11} And standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand, and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising. {12} Then He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.'" {13} And He said to me, "Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing." {14} Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. {15} And He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these." {16} Then He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun. {17} And He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose. {18} "Therefore, I indeed shall deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor shall I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I shall not listen to them."

In the Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausett and Brown, on this section of scripture we read: "Instead of weeping for the national sins, they wept for the idol. Tammuz (the Syrian for Adonis), the paramour of Venus... killed by a wild boar, and, according to the fable, permitted to spend half the year on earth, and obliged to spend the other half in the lower world (pg. 678)."

In Manners and Customs of the Bible, James M. Freeman comments, "This shows their connection with the fire-worshipers. All nations who worshiped [sic] the sun prayed with their faces turned to the East. The oldest temples of the fire-worshipers were built in such a manner that the entrance was on the west side, so that the worshipers faced the East on entering. The temple of Jehovah was built with the entrance in the East and the Oracle in the West, so that the worshipers turned their backs on the place of the rising sun. The perverted priests mentioned in the text disrespectfully turned their backs on the Oracle, and faced the East like the fire-worshipers (pg. 300)."

In Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, on the subject of the women weeping for Tammuz he writes, "This was Adonis, and so the [Latin] Vulgate here translates. He is fabled to have been a beautiful youth beloved by Venus, and killed by a wild boar in Mount Lebanon. The women of Phoenicia, Assyria, and Judea worshipped him as dead with deep lamentation. Tammuz signifies "hidden" or "obscure," and hence, the worship of his image was in some secret place (pg. 666)."

The Semitic scholar, Dr. Parkhurst writes in his Hebrew Lexicon, "I find myself obliged to refer Tammuz, as well as the Greek and Roman Hercules, to that class of idols which were originally designed to represent the promised Saviour Christ Jesus, the desire of all nations. His other name, Adonis, is almost the very Hebrew word 'Our Lord,' a well-known title of Christ (as quoted by Doane, Bible Myths, pg. 220)."

In Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, under the topic CROSS we read, "stauros, [Strong's] #4716 denotes, primarily, "an upright pale or stake." On such, malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, "to fasten to a stake or pale," are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed "cross." The shape of the latter [that is, the cross in the shape of a "t"] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt... in order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the "cross" of Christ (pg. 256)."

What other examples in scripture are there for us to see how God views the idolatries of ancient Israel and Judah? Look at Jeremiah 7:17.

(Jer 7:17-23 NASB) "Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? {18} "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out libations to other gods in order to spite Me. {19} "Do they spite Me?" declares the LORD. "Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?" {20} Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched." {21} Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. {22} "For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. {23} "But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.'

Even before God gave Israel the regulations regarding the daily and monthly animal sacrifices, he spoke the command to Moses of the obedience God desired from his people. That was at the foot of Mount Sinai just a few days before God descended on the Mount to speak directly with the people. In Exodus 19:1, we can read the words God spoke to Moses for ourselves.

(Exo 19:1-11 NASB) In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. {2} When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. {3} And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: {4} 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. {5} 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; {6} and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. 'These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." {7} So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. {8} And all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" [Look at that! The people were not coerced. They voluntarily agreed to obey the words of God]. And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. {9} And the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever." Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. {10} The LORD also said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; {11} and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

Later in Jeremiah 44, we can read about the remnant of Jews that were left after Nebuchadezzar's victory over Zedekiah. They had defied God and chosen to flee to Egypt.

(Jer 44:1-30 NASB) The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Jews living in the land of Egypt, those who were living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and the land of Pathros, saying, {2} "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'You yourselves have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are in ruins and no one lives in them, {3} because of their wickedness which they committed so as to provoke Me to anger by continuing to burn sacrifices and to serve other gods whom they had not known, neither they, you, nor your fathers. {4} 'Yet I sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, "Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate." {5} 'But they did not listen or incline their ears to turn from their wickedness, so as not to burn sacrifices to other gods. {6} 'Therefore My wrath and My anger were poured out and burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, so they have become a ruin and a desolation as it is this day. {7} 'Now then thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, "Why are you doing great harm to yourselves, so as to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, from among Judah, leaving yourselves without remnant, {8} provoking Me to anger with the works of your hands, burning sacrifices to other gods in the land of Egypt, where you are entering to reside, so that you might be cut off and become a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? {9} "Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? {10} "But they have not become contrite even to this day, nor have they feared nor walked in My law or My statutes, which I have set before you and before your fathers."' {11} "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am going to set My face against you for woe, even to cut off all Judah. {12} 'And I will take away the remnant of Judah who have set their mind on entering the land of Egypt to reside there, and they will all meet their end in the land of Egypt; they will fall by the sword and meet their end by famine. Both small and great will die by the sword and famine; and they will become a curse, an object of horror, an imprecation and a reproach. {13} 'And I will punish those who live in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence. {14} 'So there will be no refugees or survivors for the remnant of Judah who have entered the land of Egypt to reside there and then to return to the land of Judah, to which they are longing to return and live; for none will return except a few refugees.'" {15} Then all the men who were aware that their wives were burning sacrifices to other gods, along with all the women who were standing by, as a large assembly, including all the people who were living in Pathros in the land of Egypt, responded to Jeremiah, saying, {16} "As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we are not going to listen to you! {17} "But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food, and were well off, and saw no misfortune. {18} "But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and by famine." {19} "And," said the women, "when we were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven, and were pouring out libations to her, was it without our husbands that we made for her sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out libations to her?"

Verse nineteen is important to notice. For those who might say "the women sacrificed but not the men," verse nineteen is a plain admission that the women worshipped idols with the full knowledge, and probably even the assistance, of their husbands.

Continue in verse twenty.

(Jer 44:20 NASB) Then Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men and women-- even to all the people who were giving him such an answer-- saying, {21} "As for the smoking sacrifices that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your forefathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and did not all this come into His mind? {22} "So the LORD was no longer able to endure it, because of the evil of your deeds, because of the abominations which you have committed; thus your land has become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without an inhabitant, as it is this day. {23} "Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the LORD and not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day." {24} Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, "Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt, {25} thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, as follows: 'As for you and your wives, you have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands, saying, "We will certainly perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her." Go ahead and confirm your vows, and certainly perform your vows!' {26} "Nevertheless hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, 'Behold, I have sworn by My great name,' says the LORD, 'never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, "As the Lord GOD lives." {27} 'Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone. {28} 'And those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number. Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs. {29} 'And this will be the sign to you,' declares the LORD, 'that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm.' {30} "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I am going to give over Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt to the hand of his enemies, to the hand of those who seek his life, just as I gave over Zedekiah king of Judah to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and was seeking his life.'"


Under the article QUEEN OF HEAVEN in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, we read:

"The worship of the heavenly bodies was widely spread in the East and in Arabia; and the Babylonian pantheon was full of astral deities, where each divinity corresponded either to an astral phenomenon or to some circumstance or occurrence in Nature which is connected with the course of the stars... From the prophets we gather that before the exile, the worship of the host of heaven had become established among all classes and in all the towns of Israel. In that worship, the queen of heaven had a conspicuous place; and if, as seems probable from the cakes which were offered, she is to be identified with the Assyrian Ishtar and the Canaanite Astarte, the worship itself was of a grossly immoral and debasing character. That this Ishtar cult was of great antiquity and widely spread in ancient Babylonia may be seen from the symbols of it found in recent excavations... that the people of Judah in the days before the exile had given themselves over to the worst and vilest forms of heathen worship and incurred the grievous displeasure of Yahweh is made clear by the denunciation of the worship of the queen of heaven by Jeremiah."

How does God view the prospect of his people worshipping false gods and the heavenly bodies? Look at Deuteronomy 17:2.

(Deu 17:2-6 NASB) "If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the LORD your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, by transgressing His covenant, {3} and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, {4} and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. And behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, {5} then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed, to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. {6} On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

In 2 Kings 17:6, we can read further of God's strong stance against the worship of false gods.

(2 Kings 17:6-20 NASB) In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. {7} Now this came about, because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods {8} and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. {9} And the sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right, against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. {10} And they set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, {11} and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. {12} And they served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing." {13} Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets." {14} However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. {15} And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. {16} And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshipped all the host of heaven and served Baal. {17} Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. {18} So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah. {19} Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced. {20} And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.

Again in Deuteronomy 4, God reminds the people of Israel of his benevolence in giving them his righteous commandments, statutes and judgements.

(Deu 4:1-9 NASB) "And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, in order that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. {2} "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. {3} "Your eyes have seen what the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you. {4} "But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you. {5} "See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. {6} "So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' {7} "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? {8} "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? {9} "Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.

Personal Responsibility

The end of verse nine is very important. God gave to his people his very own precious laws and statutes and judgements for their own good. It was the responsibility of the people to keep those precious instructions from God. Beyond that, they were (and so are we) to diligently teach them to their children. That is the responsibility of the parents, and even the grandparents, to pass along the righteous ways of God to the next generation. What the next generation does with that precious knowledge is their own responsibility.

It is the responsibility of the servants of God to show the people their sins that they might turn from them and live according to God's way of life, for their own good. Ezekiel 33:1 speaks of that responsibility and accountability in the eyes of God.

(Ezek 33:1-20 NASB) And the word of the LORD came to me saying, {2} "Son of man, speak to the sons of your people, and say to them, 'If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman; {3} and he sees the sword coming upon the land, and he blows on the trumpet and warns the people, {4} then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. {5} 'He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. {6} 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.' {7} "Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me. {8} "When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. {9} "But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your life. {10} "Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus you have spoken, saying, "Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?"' {11} "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' {12} "And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, 'The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.' {13} "When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. {14} "But when I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, {15} if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he will surely live; he shall not die. {16} "None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he will surely live. {17} "Yet your fellow citizens say, 'The way of the Lord is not right,' when it is their own way that is not right. {18} "When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. {19} "But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. {20} "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways."

There are many instances in scripture of God warning and pleading with his people Israel for them not to continue in their self-destructive way of life. In a larger sense, however, as we read in Isaiah 55, the conflict was one of divergent perceptions, attitudes, and philosophies. It was, in short, the issue of living according to God's standards or Satan's standards.

(Isa 55:7-9 NASB) Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. {8} "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. {9} "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

The Reality of Christ's Resurrection

We've established from many sources, both secular and scriptural, the pagan origin, growth and perpetuation of Easter. Anyone can freely investigate and come to the same conclusions but let's see what the real truth is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To do so, we need to first go to God's word to see for ourselves the sequence of events surrounding the resurrection of the Messiah.

(Mat 28:1-10 NASB) Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. {2} And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. {3} And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; {4} and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. {5} And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. {6} "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. {7} "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." {8} And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. {9} And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. {10} Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me."

We can fill in even more detail in the account written by the apostle John in John 20:1.

(John 20:1-23 NASB) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. {2} And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." {3} Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb. {4} And the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first; {5} and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. {6} Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, {7} and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. {8} So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed. {9} For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. {10} So the disciples went away again to their own homes. {11} But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; {12} and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. {13} And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." {14} When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. {15} Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." {16} Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher). {17} Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" {18} Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her. {19} When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." {20} And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord. {21} Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." {22} And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. {23} "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Now, the events surrounding Christ's resurrection are very important to notice. It is our Messiah's supposed Sunday sunrise resurrection that forms the basis for the whole Easter celebration - and for the change of the seventh day Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. We already read at the beginning of John 20 that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early on the first day of the week [that is, Sunday] while it was yet dark. It was before the sunrise and Jesus was not in the tomb because he had already risen from the dead. In addition, Matthew stated that when they came to the tomb, the stone had already been rolled away. It could have happened several hours before they came to the tomb.

You can see for yourself that there was no Sunday sunrise resurrection. So, what is it that people today are really worshipping when they participate in Easter sunrise services? It's plain and simple to see that even if they slap a so-called "Christian" name on it, they are facing the east at sunrise and are, in actuality, participating in the same heathen practices of sun worship as their forefathers of thousands of years ago.

What does God think of humans using the name of his Son to legitimize practices which directly violate his expressed instructions for mankind? God spoke of the vanity of another pagan holiday celebration in Jeremiah 10:2.

(Jer 10:1-11 TANAKH) Hear the word which the Lord has spoken to you, O House of Israel! {2} Thus said the Lord: Do not learn to go the way of the nations, and do not be dismayed by portents in the sky; Let the nations be dismayed by them! {3} For the objects that the nations fear are delusions: For it is the work of a craftsman's hands. He cuts down a tree in the forest with an ax, {4} He adorns it with silver and gold, he fastens it with nails and hammer, so that it does not totter. {5} They are like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch. They cannot speak. They have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they can do not harm; nor is it in them to do any good. {6} O Lord, there is none like You! You are great and Your name is great in power. {7} Who would not revere You, O King of the nations? For that is Your due, since among all the wise of the nations there is none like You. {8} But they are both dull and foolish; [their] doctrine is but delusion; it is a piece of wood, {9} Silver beaten flat, that is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of a craftsman and the goldsmith's hands; their clothing is blue and purple, all of them are the work of skilled men. {10} But the Lord is truly God: He is a living God, the everlasting King. At His wrath, the earth quakes, and nations cannot endure His rage. {11} Thus shall you say to them: Let the gods, who did not make heaven and earth, perish from the earth and from under these heavens.

God Desires Repentance

Look at Ezekiel 18:29. Notice God's compassion and how he wants to have mercy on his people and extend forgiveness to them.

(Ezek 18:29-32 TANAKH) Yet the House of Israel say, "The way of the Lord is unfair." Are My ways unfair, O House of Israel? It is your ways that are unfair! {30} Be assured, O House of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways— declares the Lord God. Repent and turn back from all your transgressions; let them not be a stumbling block of guilt for you. {31} Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you many not die, O House of Israel. {32} For it is not My desire that anyone shall die—declares the Lord God. Repent, therefore, and live!

Remember what we read earlier in Deuteronomy 4,

(Deu 4:1-2 NASB) "And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, in order that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. {2} "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

It's easy to see that the practices of modern "Christian" church holidays actually add to God's word many things which he has not commanded us to do. Furthermore, they take away from God's word many things God has directly commanded us to perform. Such holidays cause us to "miss the mark" and fall short of God's standard of righteousness.

In answer to the question, "is Easter truth or fiction" we've seen that there is no truth in the Easter celebration performed today in mainstream "Christianity." Easter appropriates as its own the name of Jesus Christ and the sequence of events related to his crucifixion but the story it relates and the conclusions it teaches are complete fiction. It is the modern perpetuation of ancient paganism. Our nations today need to know the real truth about their traditional practices. They need to be told that their tradition is sin and it is detestable in the eyes of God. The practice of such detestable traditions in the sight of God causes God to refuse to hear them and to be far from them. To go through life in a manner that causes God's animosity is a fearful position in which to place yourself.

Just remember Ezekiel's words "repent and turn from your evil ways my people... for why would you die?" It just doesn't make sense: why would you voluntarily behave in such a manner as to drive God away from you? Without God's protection, you are really "on your own" and you are truly defenseless.

Our nations are persisting in doing evil in the sight of God. That evil causes our nations to be cut off from the very God who has provided our prosperity. We are, in short, becoming nations in open rebellion against God. If we persist in doing the things that drive God away, we're going to be left totally on our own, without God's blessings and without God's protection.

So, if you join the crowd and insist on going your own way and being without God's protection, just remember the question from the old western movie, "do you feel 'lucky'?"

Sermon given by Philip Edwards
April 7, 2007
Copyright 2007, Philip Edwards

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