BIBLICAL: When asked, most people will tell you that Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that is true, we would expect to find some clear Biblical backing on its origin. However, Easter is only mentioned once, and it’s in the King James Version of the Bible in Acts Chapter 12. It is mentioned in regards to King Herod killing and imprisoning the believers of Christ because it pleased the Jews. (Also remember that King Herod was an evil king and was killed by his sin of wanting to be like God.) These particular Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah and were in the middle of their Passover celebration, not Easter. If you would like to learn more about this specific chapter, let me know and we can discuss it separately. I have followed this with Acts 12:4 from the King James Bible and the New King James Bible to show the difference: KJV Acts 12:4 And 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. NKJV Acts 12:4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
HISTORICAL: So where does “Easter” come from then? Easter is actually the name of “the Goddess of Spring” in many different cultures. Her name was spelled “Ishtar”, “Eostre”, and many others that expressed the same phonetics. She was celebrated every spring for “new life and fertility”. It was said that she was sent from Heaven in an egg that landed in the Euphrates River. Once she hatched, she was the Goddess of “new life and fertility”. Remember at that time the number of children you had was a sign of power and wealth, so fertility gods were in almost every culture. The egg was used as an idol to worship for fertility purposes, and rabbits were also thought to have special fertility purposes because of their ability to reproduce at such a rapid rate. In many cultures, decorated eggs were made as fertility offerings to their fertility gods, including the Goddess Easter.
CURRENT CULTURAL VIEW: It is interesting to me how one of the most prevalent problems in our society today is sexual sin; it is tearing people—both young and old—away from God. Consider this: America celebrates a holiday that is supposedly in remembrance of our King Jesus; all the symbols associated with it celebrate the goddess of life and fertility! I know that many will say… “We really are celebrating our God Jesus, and the other stuff is just for fun…it doesn’t mean anything.” Many church people justify these supposedly “neutral” symbols with the excuse that “We use this stuff to get more people to come to our church so we can tell them more about God.” I ask you this: if you actually know the personality of God and His commands in the Bible, do you think He would approve of you using other gods and their idols to worship Him? He HATES other gods! He describes it as adultery when His people turn to other gods for any reason. How do the idols of eggs, rabbits, and gifts to each other glorify Jesus?
Deuteronomy 12:1-4 still applies to Gods people today!
PASSOVER: Now that the true basic facts about “Easter” have been brought to light, I would like to discuss the actual celebration that relates to this time of the year, the one that has a lot to do (actually everything to do) with Jesus! This is the holiday of Passover. It is a well documented traditional Jewish holiday with strong, clear Biblical roots, and many Jews still celebrate it today. It is actually commanded by God for His people (specifically the Israelites) to honor Him with it. (If you want all the details of Passover, look in your Bibles in Exodus 12, Leviticus 23:4-8, Deuteronomy 16:1-8 and read about it in more detail. It seems, even though I try to keep these messages short, I don’t have the ability, and adding more scripture will not help.) The down and dirty on Passover is that it is the celebration of the Israelites’ freedom from the Egyptians. Moses had repeatedly appeared before Pharaoh and asked for the release of the enslaved Israelite people. Pharaoh denied his requests (all TEN times). Each time Pharaoh denied Moses’ request, a new plague was bestowed by God on the Egyptian people. The tenth plague was by far the toughest: the death of the firstborn of all the Egyptian people. Prior to administering this plague, God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to select and kill a lamb in a specific way and place its blood on the lintels/frames of their doors so that when God entered Egypt that night, He would know which houses to “pass over”, sparing them from the deaths of their firstborn. The next day, Pharaoh and all the other Egyptians were very willing to allow the Israelites to leave. God commanded Moses and all Israelites to celebrate His gift of emancipation in the first month of their calendar every year thereafter in remembrance of how God saved His people. On the 10th day of the first month (Abib/Nisan) they were to select a lamb, and on the 14th day they were to kill it according to a specific set of guidelines provided by God.
CONNECTING PASSOVER TO CHRIST: Many refer to Jesus as “the Lamb”, this is why…A couple of thousand years later, on the 10th day (lamb selection day according to Passover guidelines) of the Hebrew month of Abib/Nisan, Jesus rode into Jerusalem; this is better known in the Bible as the “triumphal entry”. Four days later on a Friday (lamb slaughter day according to Passover guidelines), He was crucified on a wooden cross just outside of Jerusalem. It was written that He was crucified on the “day of preparation”—the day before the Sabbath. The women closest to Jesus wanted to care for His body, but because Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath day, they had to wait until the next day according to the rules God had set forth regarding the Sabbath. First thing on Sunday morning (the Bible refers to the dawn of the first day of the week), they went to His grave and found angels there who told them that Jesus had risen; He was no longer dead.
I want to end with this… Jesus was—and still is—a Hebrew and a Jew! He came first for God’s promised people, the Jews, and then for us, the Gentiles! The Jesus we worship is not a pagan god that the gentiles have made up to worship. Jesus is the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament. He came to fulfill and carry on the works of God. The Old Testament God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob IS the same God that we are worshiping today! If this is not the God you worship, then you are on the wrong track! I say this because the reason “Easter” was instituted in the early church was due to a man named Constantine the Great who was the first “Christian” Roman Emperor. This was an excerpt of Constantine’s reason for turning away from what the first century apostles were teaching (I have included a link to the full text below)… “We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, 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. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them?”
Last 5 posts by Kelly Halleman
- Christmas? - December 24th, 2011
- Halloween - October 29th, 2011
- Quick and to the Point… - April 21st, 2011