When you truly understand the roots behind this pagan spring festival and the goddess who’s being honored each time her name is mentioned, it becomes very difficult to say “Happy Easter” on a day where Christians remember the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s like laying in bed with your husband on
your anniversary and he calls you by someone else’s name (or vice versa if you’re a man with your wife). You wouldn’t like it! And God certainly doesn’t like it!! He didn’t like it in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. And He doesn’t like it now!
Please bear with me for a minute as I further explain…
The History of Easter
Easter (aka Eostre, Ishtar, Ashtaroth, Astarte, etc) is the goddess of fertility who has been in competition with the Jewish and Christian God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for thousands of years. Some symbols used in celebration of this ancient spring pagan festival were rabbits (which represent fertility) and eggs (which represent new life).
How exactly did these pagan traditions end up becoming part of our religious celebration of Christ’s resurrection? Excellent question! Please continue to read…
Years ago, a guy by the name of Constantine (who also happened to be a Roman emperor) converted to Christianity; and though he is considered to be historically instrumental in the furtherance of the gospel, the fact remains that he also intertwined many of his pagan traditions into his newfound Christian belief. The spring festival of Easter is one of those pagan traditions which also happens to fall around the same time as Passover.
Passover is a Jewish Holy Day that God commanded to be celebrated each year in remembrance of the deliverance and redemption He provided for the Israelites when He freed them from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land (Ex 12:14). This command for His children has never been rescinded by God. In fact, Passover was celebrated by Jesus (Luke 2:41-42), the disciples (Luke 22:7-13) and the first, second and third century Christians (Acts 20:6)(1 Cor 5:7,8).
What’s the Big Deal Anyway
Now that you have a brief history synopsis, let’s move on to the topic of why I refuse to say “Happy Easter.” It has something to do with the following scriptures:
Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips. (Ex 23:13)
Hallowed be thy name. (Matt 6:9)
We are not honoring God or making His name Holy by calling out the name of a goddess who’s been trying to steal His thunder for thousands of years. And is successfully still doing so today. We are definitely not honoring God on this Holy Day and on the anniversary of our Savior’s resurrection by celebrating it the way this fertility goddess has demanded to be worshiped for thousands of years rather than the way God has commanded us in His Word to worship. The same way that Jesus, his disciples and the early Christian believers celebrated it.
STOP! Before dismissing this as something that has nothing to do with today’s modern celebrations; please take a moment to consider a few things. Ask questions like…
- What does the egg and bunny have to do with Christ’s resurrection?
- How much time and energy is spent each year dying eggs and buying candy to prepare for an Ishtar celebration versus the time and energy taken for a Passover/Resurrection celebration?
Also, check out church websites, marquees, bulletins, etc. regarding Resurrection Day…
- What’s the emphasis on?
- What picture is displayed?
- Pictures of eggs/bunnies or pictures of the cross/empty tomb?
- Whose name is displayed?
- Easter or Jesus?
- What’s the main draw/advertisement?
- How much money goes towards celebrating it the way that the goddess dictates?
- How much money goes towards celebrating the Holy Day the way God dictated in His Word it should be celebrated (Exodus 12:14-20)?
Perhaps celebrating the Ishtar way is justified as something fun for the kids. Maybe a spiritual spin is even put on how the egg represents the tomb of Christ. Let me just remind you that Satan always uses clever guises to deceive people at the earliest possible age. He does, after all, come as an angel of light; always making evil appear good. He wisely attempts to grab hold of children at a young age in order to desensitize them from the truth. He then later uses these deceptions as strongholds of confusion when they start to gain a little knowledge of truth.
Sadly, many Christian children know more about these pagan things than they do about the death and resurrection of Christ. They definitely know more about these things than they know about Passover and how Jesus fulfilled every aspect of it. When God gave instructions about Passover, He commanded His children to remember how He delivered them and to teach their children about that deliverance (Ex 12:26-27). Again, this command has never been rescinded. That’s because every instruction and ritual regarding Passover points directly back to Jesus.
In fact, when Jesus celebrated Passover during the Lord’s Supper, he reiterated God’s command to remember Him. Shortly after this instruction, He delivered us as He became the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God. In fact, if any animal is to be used on this day as representation, it should be the lamb instead of the bunny. I’m sorry, but don’t you think the price Jesus paid deserves more recognition and attention than an old fertility goddess with her eggs and bunnies.
It truly is a shame and a disservice to Christianity that Constantine stole this actual Holy Day away from us and replaced it with Easter. There is so much prophecy and revelation in Passover that many Christians, unfortunately, miss out on each year. They miss out on knowing their God, their Savior and Redeemer in a deeper, more intimate level (but the depth of that subject will need to be an enlightening blog for another day).
In the Name of Outreach
One of the greatest justifications the churches use to celebrate this pagan holiday comes in the name of outreach. This is a silly notion if you really think about it. It’s like advertising for Pepsi when trying to sell Coke. Though they have similar tastes, they have two very different owners. Neither owner would be too happy if the other name was the main focus and touted more than their own name.
I have a few problems with using Easter egg hunts and bunny rabbits for the purpose of bringing in parents and children in order to have the opportunity to minister the gospel to them:
First and foremost, Passover/Pasche/Passion Week/Resurrection Day has absolutely NOTHING to do with outreach! Outreach should be done every day of the year. Passover and/or Passion Week is primarily about humbling ourselves in remembrance of the great price that was paid to deliver us. About how much our God loved us, saved us and redeemed us. This Holy Week should be all about praising, honoring and glorifying the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This and this alone should be our primary focus during this particular week.
Not to mention, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Me“ (John 12:32). The “I” in this scripture is JESUS; not Easter (Astoreth). Therefore, if we put in as much effort and focus in lifting JESUS up as we do in planning ‘Eostre’ egg hunts, He will draw all men unto Him. If we lifted Jesus up, the Holy Spirit would begin to stir and prompt true outreach that makes disciples with lasting results. You want outreach? Lift Him up! He will draw them in.
Next, what is the real reason people who don’t normally come to church make it a point to come on Resurrection Day? Easter bunnies and eggs? Nope! The main reason the pews are filled on Resurrection Day is because people think it’s their yearly religious duty to come on Easter and/or Christmas; that they will earn points with God; that it somehow makes them right with Him. Therefore, the pagan rituals that churches practice in the name of outreach are not really doing anything to bring people in; much less converting them. All churches are doing is conforming to the world around them (Rom 12:2) just like the Old Testament temples and people of God were rebuked for doing.
Compromise only leads to more compromise until the pagan transformation becomes the norm and so very far from the truth that people no longer recognize the truth anymore. The final result always ends up becoming “traditions of men” with built up idols in places of worship throughout the land. Oh, how this must hurt the heart of God!!
Isn’t it just like Satan to use the same tactic with us that he used with Adam and Eve, “I know that God said this, but you can actually please God and be like Him if you do this…” He uses this particular compromise consistently throughout the ages. Why? Because it works!
Furthermore, this ‘outreach’ justification, like so many high-place good intentions, sounds good and Holy on the outside, but there are many things wrong with it. It is true that more people come to church on Resurrection Day than any other day of the year! This then begs the question… If this is the only time they tend to come, what kind of impression should be made on them? Do we want to make actual disciples who follow hard after God? Do we want them to leave with a lasting impression of the Passion of Christ and what He suffered for their sake? Do we want to lead them to repentance, which is the first step of salvation?
Or… do we want them to leave with a good time with lots of colorful dresses and fun for the kids and a watered-down-gospel-temporary-impression that saves NO ONE? Have we lost your initial focus (which is what ALWAYS happens inevitably when we sprinkle a little paganism in with Christianity)?
This leads to another important question that should constantly be asked in everything we do, whether it be personally or corporately as a church body… “What is our heart motive?” In the case of ‘outreach’, is it truly to build the Kingdom of God or is it to fill the church pews? Have we confused the two? If the motive is to truly build the Kingdom of God, then wouldn’t it be wise and prudent to do it His way?
God the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever
History repeats itself, but God never changes! Do we somehow think that we’re immune to the biblical and historical pagan practices that have plagued God’s children for centuries? Throughout the Old Testament, we read how pagan culture was incorporated into the worship of God and brought into the temples. It had become such a part of their way of life that in ignorance the people truly believed they were worshiping God. Then a king or a prophet would read the scrolls and rent their clothes at the realization of what they had actually been doing all along.
Only one king ever completely succeeded in tearing down ALL of the “high-places” of worship. Think about that for a minute. Only one!! Over a span of hundreds of years! What does this tell us? It tells us that the pagan rituals had such a stronghold on the people and culture that many had difficulty letting them go. That’s because they wanted to continue worshiping God the way they knew rather than the what-was-now-foreign-to-them way God had instructed them to worship. After all, they probably experienced many feel-good and even spiritual moments filled with fun traditional memories during these times. They likely justified it similar to the way we justify it today.
Don’t you think it’s time to read the scrolls (the Bible), rend our clothes in repentance and turn from these incorporated pagan practices?
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:15)
And this is why I cringe when I hear and see the name of Easter being lifted up each year, and why I absolutely refuse to say Happy Easter.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now that you know, what will you do about it? Will you continue to dismiss it as an extreme overreaction without even considering or praying about this very biblical revelation? Will you continue to justify celebrating the Ishtar way? Or will you tear down this ‘high-place’ of worship?
Every high-place MUST come down! Every stronghold shall be broken! We wear the Victor’s crown and overcome because of the ONLY ONE who should be HONORED this week, and His name is JESUS!
Happy Resurrection Day!!!