Doctrine Notes (Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part 3: How Then Shall We Live?)
- Series recap
- Biblical doctrine of Passover: Exodus 12, Numbers 9, 2 Chronicles 30, 1 Corinthians 5, etc. We looked at the doctrine of Passover, including God’s exception to the day (the second month and 14th day instead of the first month and 14th day for travelers, those who had defiled themselves in some way, etc. Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper at Passover in the Gospels; Paul refers to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 5 as “our Passover” that “has been crucified.”
- Bible makes no mention of Easter. The only reference to Easter in the Bible is in the KJV in Acts 12:4. The word there for “Easter” in the Greek is pasxa, the same word used in the Old Testament to refer to Passover. The translation of the word pasxa as “Easter” comes, as Adam Clarke tells us, from the Anglo-Saxons, who worshipped the pagan fertility goddess Easter and had a feast in her honor every Spring. He supports the word of the 7th-to-8th century monk Venerable Bede. Bede’s comment about the goddess Eostre/Easter/Eastre, etc is the earliest we have about the annual pagan spring festival.
- The goddess Easter was known in the Hebrew Bible as “Ashtoret,” “Ashtoreth,” or “Ashtoreths”. In the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), she was known as “Astarte.” Even in 1894, the French poet Pierre Louys wrote a poem to Astarte, calling her “incorruptible” and crediting her with “conceiving” creation. Scholars believe that the biblical references to “the Queen of Heaven” also refer to Easter/Ashtoreth/Astarte (for queen of heaven references, see Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19, 25)
* Origin of Easter and Roman Catholic acceptance and retainment of the name “Easter”: “Many scholars believe that Easter had its origins as an early Anglo-Saxon festival that celebrated the goddess Eastre, and the coming of spring, in a sense a resurrection of nature after winter,” Carole Levin, Professor of History and Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at the University of Nebraska, tells TIME in an email. “Some Christian missionaries hoped that celebrating Christian holy days at the same times as pagan festivals would encourage conversion, especially if some of the symbols carried over.” (Dr. Carole Levin, University of Nebraska Professor of History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies Director; http://time.com/4732984/easter-eggs-history-origins/)
- Scriptural evidence against the pagan name “Easter” for the resurrection of Jesus:
- 1 Samuel 15:1-23 (Saul’s sinful offering)
- 1 Kings 11:
- Deuteronomy 6:10-15 (“take oaths in His name”)
- Deuteronomy 10:12-22 (“take oaths in His name”)
- Deuteronomy 12:1-4 (“3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.)
- Deuteronomy 18:18-20 (the prophet who “speaks in the name of other gods” shall die)
- Joshua 23:1-8 (verse 7: “You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them,”)
- Isaiah 42:8 (“nor My praise to carved images”)
- Isaiah 48:9-11 (“how should My name be profaned?”)
- Ezekiel 20:1-32 (“Hallow My Sabbaths,” verse 20; they “profaned My Sabbaths,” verse 21; they caused their children to pass through fire as a ritual gift to God, see Ezekiel 20:26)
- Hosea 2:2-13 (“I will punish her for the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,” says the Lord,” verse 13)
- Amos 5:21-27 (vv. 25-26: 25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 You also carried Sikkuth your king And Chiun, your idols, The star of your gods, Which you made for yourselves.”)
- Malachi 1:1-14 (vv.6-8: 6 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts.”)
- Malachi 2:10-17
- Zephaniah 1:2-6 (vv.4-6: “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests— 5 Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, But who also swear by Milcom; 6 Those who have turned back from following the Lord, And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him.”)
Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part 3: How Then Shall We Live?
- 1 Corinthians 8 (do not eat for conscience’s sake)
- 1 Corinthians 10 (eating food sacrificed to idols provokes divine jealousy)
- Ways to redeem Resurrection Sunday for Jesus:
- Change the name of our Christian celebration: call the day “SONrise” (not “SUNrise”), “Resurrection Sunday,” “Atonement Sunday,” “Passover Proper,” etc. You can find a name with your church or church group to call the day set aside for Jesus. But whatever you do, get rid of the pagan name “Easter” for your sake as well as those with whom you worship.
- Change the symbols: Easter eggs, bunny rabbits, Easter egg baskets, and other such symbols related to eggs are NOT symbols reflecting Jesus and His redemptive work. Jesus is not called “the rabbit of God” or “the bunny rabit who takes away the sins of the world.” He is referred to biblically as “the Lamb of God,” according to the Gospel of John. In our Christian materials, programs, banners, and other decorative gear, let’s use the lamb as a symbol, or the empty tomb with the stone rolled away. Jesus is called in Scripture “the lily of valleys,” so a lily would work. He is also referred to as “the bright and morning star”; in the same way we use a star to remember “the star of Bethlehem,” we can also use stars for His resurrection.
- Change the rituals: we have got to stop claiming our “Easter” is for Jesus while celebrating the Spring and fertility. The “new life” that Jesus brings is eternal life; that has got to be the defining focus of our Resurrection Sundays going forward. How about we have a “cross hunt” where our children search for crosses instead of Easter eggs? How about we create something of a “Resurrection Museum” at our churches where we take the church grounds and turn it into a museum celebrating the life of Jesus? In the garden on the church grounds could be a stop where children have to hear a passage of Scripture about Jesus weeping in the garden and praying to the Father. A place on the church grounds could have a cross, where our children can hunt for the crown of thorns that was placed on His head and the scarlet robe they put on Him. Talk about there how the thief on the cross found forgiveness at the cross and so do we.
- Food rituals: as for food, we can observe the Lord’s Supper on Resurrection Sunday or Sonrise Sunday — and do it right. Jesus is the Lamb of God, so we prepare lamb, bread, and hummus for a meal. We actually can use grape juice at the Sonrise meal to remember Jesus shed His blood for us. If we’re not celebrating the Lord’s Supper at Sonrise Resurrection Sunday and Christmas, what is the point of having the Lord’s Supper? Are we just doing it because Jesus told us to, or because we want to pay tribute to Christ until He returns?
- Top 10 Things You Don’t Know About Easter
- Easter Symbols and Traditions
- The History of Easter Egg Hunting
- On The Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny
- Ostara and the Hare
_Passover_ or _Easter__ Reclaiming Pasxa in Acts 12_4 (My research paper on Easter, as promised)
“In The Sanctuary” by Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers
“There Is A Name” (Byron Cage)
“Wonderful Is Your Name” by Hezekiah Walker
“Let The Church Say Amen” by Andrae Crouch