The question of whether Christians should observe Passover, or continue with the well-established tradition of Easter, is one that provokes much reaction amongst believers.
To answer this question we must always begin by examining the word of God. For God’s ways are higher than man’s. Nowhere in the bible will you find the word Easter. The word Easter derives from Ishtar, the moon goddess from ancient Assyria, and is the root of the Germanic name Eostre, a pagan fertility goddess of the Saxon people of northern Europe. Eostre is also the root of the word estrogen, or oestrogen, the primary female sex hormone
Ishtar/Eostre’s fertility symbols were eggs and rabbits. The ancient Assyrian new-year celebrations, called Akitu, culminated with the festival of Ishtar, which was the religious celebration of the fertility and pregnancy of the mother goddess as well as the resurrection of her son/husband, Tammuz, ‘the incarnated son of god’, who coincidentally was born on the 25th December!
These pagan fertility symbols have become widely accepted in western culture, yet God makes it abundantly clear that we are not to do as the pagans do. Even the origins of the hot cross bun are found in a repeating form of worship, dating back to the days of Ishtar, who was known as the ‘queen of heaven,’ a name later given to Mary the mother of Jesus. Pagans would bake cakes to offer to ‘the queen of heaven’ (just as the idolatrous Israelites did – Jer 7:18) on the Friday before the Easter festival. Sound familiar?
“Take heed to yourself you are not ensnared to follow after them (the pagans) after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘how did these nations serve their gods, I will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord in that way.” Deuteronomy 12:30-31
Therefore, hard as it may be to accept, the adoption of Easter and its pagan symbolism, including sunrise rituals and traditions, into the church of God, is actually an abomination. It may have been established practice for centuries to celebrate Easter as we do, however, our God states unambiguously, we must not worship Him as the pagans worship their gods. We are not even to mention the name of their gods:
“make no mention of the name of their gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth!”
“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, but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God”
“you shall destroy all their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, for you shall worship no other god for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God!”
This is a serious matter. Last year we wrote on this subject and were criticised heavily by church leaders who stated if they abandoned Easter for Passover they’d lose many of their flock. Our response is simple; who do we serve – man or God?
At Easter-time the church traditionally celebrates the death and resurrection of the Passover Lamb of God – Jesus Christ. But ask yourself a question: how do you think Jesus, who Himself celebrated Passover, feels when His church names His great sacrificial act of love, after a pagan goddess? Worse, that church traditions actually mimic the festival which commemorates the death and resurrection of Ishtar’s son/husband, the Assyrian sun god, Tammuz? Can you see how paganism has been blended with truth? Yet, we are called to come out and be ye separate, to come out of her lest we share in her judgments. (Rev 18:4 & Jer 51:45)
By contrast, the Passover is well documented throughout the scriptures from the very first Passover, which took place the night the Israelites left Egypt. The Israelites were told clearly to keep the Passover forever in memory of what the Lord did. The Passover (Pesach in Hebrew = “to pass over”) incorporates the retelling of the story of Exodus and God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt.
“So this day shall be to you as a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generation. You shall keep it as a feast by everlasting ordinance.”
The Israelites were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a lamb, symbolic of the eventual shedding of the blood of The Lamb, whose sacrifice bought us out of slavery from the kingdom of darkness. Can there be any greater insult to our Lord and King than to take what He has done and taint it with paganism? What does Christ have to do with Belial? What does the believer have to do with the unbeliever?
So what about the Christian? As a gentile should he observe Passover, or is he free to celebrate the Easter tradition as created by man. What does God say?
Romans chapter 11 tells us that the Gentile believer in Jesus is grafted into Israel. We become part of the spiritual commonwealth of Israel. The root (Jesus) feeds us. Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, He is our role model, and significantly He came to earth and was born, lived and died a Jew, as indeed were Paul and the other Apostles. He also said “if you love Me, obey Me”. Every year he went up to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Should not we, in our homes and lands?
“A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the LORD’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.”
Some argue that the Passover should only be observed by those circumcised in the flesh (i.e. Jews) but the bible is clear that circumcision in the flesh alone does not suffice:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”
Those who still argue that Passover is only for the Jews should keep in mind the words of Paul, that both Jew and Gentile are one in Christ. That we, who are circumcised in the heart, are Jews inwardly as shown above.
Therefore if we are born again, spirit filled disciples of Jesus, circumcised in the heart, then inwardly we are Jews and part of the spiritual commonwealth of Israel in accordance with Romans 11.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”
If we are one in Christ and Abraham’s descendants then why are we separated? Why does enmity still exist in some parts of the church? Why do we separate ourselves and divide the precepts and prescribed ordinances of God, as if some apply only to Jews and others to us? It’s illogical and conflicts with what scripture says, for God does not show partiality (Romans 2:11).
So we encourage you to prayerfully consider replacing Easter, a pagan tradition, and the less obvious Resurrection Sunday, with Passover, as God requires of you as an everlasting ordinance.[i] If what we have written troubles you please pray and seek His will. In your own church communities you may well experience resistance or even hostility to such change, but nonetheless, ‘blessed are those who are persecuted for My names sake” said Jesus. At the very least, consider observing it in private in your own home with like-minded friends, for man may judge by outward appearance but God judges by the heart, His eyes roam everywhere observing the ways of men. Be obedient out of love for Him and be blessed.
“If you love Me obey Me”
The Emmaus Group
[i] Exodus 12:14