Young voices squeal with delight as adolescent “private eyes” search caches for chocolaty blue, gold, and green treasures hidden around trees and in clumps of grass. “I found one,” a five-year-old shouts, reaching for the oval booty. “Me too,” his friend chirps, parting the grass to reveal a chocolate rabbit in cellophane dress.
This springtime scene is repeated a million times as communities and churches throughout the nation host Easter egg hunts. It echoes rites as old as the hills, reaching back to the hills of ancient Babylon.
Asked why they keep this annual ritual, parents of indulgent youngsters just shrug and say, “It’s for the kids. We did it when we were young and it is just something we do because it’s Easter!”
As seekers of Truth we continually strive for purity in our lives and devotion. Isn’t Easter supposed to be a highly hallowed observance? Don’t even those who hardly ever warm a pew usually make it a point to show up at least on Easter Sunday? If it is Bible-based, why color eggs, hunt for jelly beans, march in parades, eat hot-cross buns and put chocolate rabbits and marshmallow chicks in baskets filled with green plastic grass?
How does any of this relate to the resurrection of the Savior?
The following statement in a common encyclopedia should jar the conscience of every Bible-professing, church-going person today: “Early Christians celebrated the Jewish feasts. The New Testament contains no reference to distinctively Christian festivals.” (Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Reference Encyclopedia, 1966 ed., vol. 10, p. 3461).
The questions begging for answers are, why did the very early New Testament believers continue to keep the Old Testament holy days, and why aren’t today’s most popular observances like Easter, even in the Bible?
A common human obsession is to fiddle with what is already well and good. In Exodus 12, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16, Yahweh gave man seven yearly observances, beginning with the Passover. They were to be kept “forever, throughout your generations” as part of a covenant between us and our Creator.
But these observances were apparently not good enough for evolving, early New Testament churchmen. They wanted their own celebrations. They didn’t like or want those old “Jewish” days even if they were commanded in the Old Testament—AND observed in the New.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica reveals, “Unlike the cycle of feasts and fasts of the Jewish Law, the Christian year has never been based upon a divine revelation. It is rather a tradition that is always subject to change by ecclesiastical law” (vol. 4, p. 601).
This source says about the Sabbath, “From the beginning, the church took over from Judaism the seven-day week. Before the end of the apostolic age (1st century C.E.), as the church became predominantly Gentile in membership, the first day of the week, or Sunday, had become the normative time when Christians assembled for their distinctive acts of worship, in commemoration of the [L-rd’s] Resurrection” (ibid).
Easter a Fertile Hybrid
As the early Catholic church opened its doors to more Gentiles, it took up their beliefs and worship habits and gravitated increasingly to Sunday, the day the heathen honored their sun deity. The church gradually switched over its observance of the Passover to Easter Sunday as well.
“The earliest Christians celebrated the L-rd’s Passover at the same time as the Jews, during the night of the first full moon of the first month of spring (Nisan 14-15). By the middle of the 2nd century, most churches had transferred this celebration to the Sunday after the Jewish feast.
But certain churches of Asia Minor clung to the older custom, for which they were denounced as ‘Judaizing.’” (Britannica, vol. 4, p.60)
“Eusebius further says that the churches of Asia Minor derived their custom of observing the pascha [passover] from the Apostles John and Philip. Without a doubt Christian elements were incorporated into the celebration. It was not a question of whether a day corresponding to the Passover should be celebrated, but a question of the time at which it was to be celebrated,” The New Schaff Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 44.
Avoiding the Biblical Calendar
To deliberately break from the Jews, the Roman Church took the first in a long list of liberties. Two calendars were extant in the fourth century—the Biblical lunar calendar and the Egyptian-based solar calendar. Judaism held to the lunar reckoning while Rome adopted calculations based on the sun.
By adopting a solar year, Rome could observe Easter on Sunday and avoid timing it with the “Jewish” Passover. But that didn’t sit well with everyone. “A serious difference as to the day for its [Easter’s] observance soon arose between Christians of Jewish and those of Gentile descent, which led to a long and bitter controversy,” Britannica, 11th edition, “Easter,” p. 828.
“Anxiety over the date of Easter was thus a reason why Constantine the Great in 325 A. D. summoned the famous council of Nicaea. It was decided that Easter must be celebrated everywhere on the same day and this day must be a Sunday. It must be the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, March 21, with one reservation: In the English prayer book it is stated thus: ‘and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday after.’ The reason for this exception reveals the depth of the division between the Church and the Synagogue. For whenever the full moon fell on a Sunday, Easter would be celebrated on the same day as the Hebrew Passover. Hence, the postponement for a week, to avoid the coincidence,” Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 9, p. 507.
The Christian church wanted a Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday, proceeding to Good Friday and ending on Easter Sunday, commemorating the supposed resurrection on Sunday. Never mind that there is no mention of any of these days in either Old or New testaments.
A Strange Mixture
Through the influence of converts from mystery religions, the hybrid celebration called Easter took on abominable customs.
The name Easter itself derives from Eostre or Ostara, a Teutonic deity of love and the goddess of spring to whom sacrifice was offered in April. Her roots go back to the goddess Inanna, daughter of Anu, the supreme mighty one in Sumerian times before the old Babylonian period.
Passover in the Greek is Pascha. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, shows Easter’s link to the Passover even in the way the name Easter is rendered in other languages: French, Paques; Italian, Pasqua; Spanish, Pascua; Danish, Paaske; Dutch, Paasch; Welch, Pasg.
The worship of Ishtar through old fertility rites is reflected in the egg and rabbit symbolism of the modern Easter celebration. The egg symbol predates the resurrection of the Messiah by more than 2,000 years. Note this candid statement from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909 Edition, “A great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring…The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been a symbol of fertility.”
The Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend sheds more light on the Easter egg and rabbit: “Children roll pasch eggs in England. Everywhere they hunt the many-colored Easter eggs, brought by the Easter rabbit. This is not mere child’s play, but the vestige of a fertility rite, the eggs and the rabbit both symbolizing fertility. Furthermore, the rabbit was the escort of the Germanic Goddess Ostara who gave the name to the festival by way of the German Ostern” (1949 ed., vol. 1, p. 335).
Also, the Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend notes this about the Easter egg: “The Easter egg, pagan symbol of rebirth, was given a Christian meaning when it became the practice to bring eggs, forbidden during Lent, to be blessed in church on Easter Sunday,” p. 89.
Another relic of heathenism is the Easter sunrise service. This rite is rooted in the worship of Eastre or Estera, the dawn deity. Ancient pagans worshiped the sun
because of its life-sustaining power.
It was a simple and easy transition, then, to worship at sunrise on resurrection morning. The problem is, the Savior was not resurrected Sunday morning, but was already gone when the women visited the tomb Sabbath evening at dusk. The word “dawn” in Matthew 28: 1 is epiphosko, meaning “draw on to.” This was the end of the Sabbath at sundown, not Sunday morning.
Ironically, Yahweh strongly denounces indulging in the only worship many today ever attend — Easter sunrise services:
“And He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house, and behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east. Then He said unto me, ‘Have 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: they put the branch [ashtoreth, phallic symbol used in Ishtar fertility worship] to their nose. Therefore will I deal in fury: Mine eye 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,’” Ezekiel 8:16-18.
The hot-cross buns so popular at Easter are also a relic from paganism, condemned in Jeremiah 7 when Judah was at their own Ishtar. “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 deities, that they may provoke me to anger,”verse 18. The word cakes is the Hebrew kawan, literally meaning a bun that is branded (with a cross).
The cross that makes hot-cross buns (see left) is the old symbol for female.
In ancient hieroglyphics the cross sign was the symbol for living or life, as well as the worship of the kind of life and fertility that Easter glorifies anciently and today.
A Choice We Each Must Make
A true follower finds repulsive the mixing of pure worship with ancient rites of mystery religions. Clearly, Almighty Yahweh does as well.
In today’s modern culture when more and more churchgoers know less and less about the Bible that they profess to follow, Almighty Yahweh leaves us a choice. We can continue in darkness or we can leave the abominations of heathenism and come clean as we serve the only true Elohim.
He is seeking a pure bride today who wants to prepare now to join the returning Savior in a coming life of eternity in His Kingdom.
“And what agreement has the Temple of Elohim with idols? For you are the Temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.’ Wherefore ‘come out from among them, and be separate,’ says Yahweh, ‘and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,’” 2 Corinthians 6: 16-l.
Pure worship is expressed as a narrow and often difficult road, and Yahshua said few will be walking on it. But those who are will find the eternal rewards indescribable!