Easter: Why Shouldn’t We Celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection?

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Why Shouldn’t We Celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection?

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Easter: Why Shouldn’t We Celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection?

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Easter is one of the world’s most popular religious holidays, with hundreds of millions celebrating it every year. For most the celebration is meant to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet there are a number of Christians who see problems with that and refuse to participate in the tradition.

But what’s so wrong with Easter? How can it be that Christians would not celebrate Christ’s resurrection? Let’s consider some problems with the Easter tradition.

Easter’s origins long predated Christianity

To begin with, Easter is not rooted in biblical Christianity but in ancient pagan religious practices that existed far earlier. Customs involving rabbits, colored eggs, hot-cross buns and sunrise services come from ancient fertility rites of spring in honor of ancient gods and goddesses.

The name Easter, associated with dawn in the east, refers to an ancient goddess of the dawn—Eostre in Old English or Ostara in German. And this apparently ultimately derives from the Babylonian Ishtar, elsewhere known as Astarte and Ashtaroth, the queen of heaven, whose worship is directly condemned in the Bible.

In fact, the worship of any false god is condemned in the Bible—as is using practices derived from pagan religion to worship the true God. God does not accept such worship even if meant to honor Him. Notice His clear instruction in Deuteronomy 12:29-32 Deuteronomy 12:29-32 [29] When the LORD your God shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; [30] Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. [31] You shall not do so to the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. [32] What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
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:

“When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, 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 also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods . . . Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (emphasis added throughout).

The timing is all wrong

Well, it might then be argued, why not strip the day of the pagan stuff and use it only to honor Christ’s resurrection? Yet we must understand that the very timing of the observance comes from false religion. It is not biblical.

In Romance languages—those that derive from Latin like Italian and Spanish—the holiday is not called by the pagan name Easter but by the name of a biblical festival, Passover. Yet this holiday is not the authentic biblical Passover. That day on which the Israelites had offered lambs since the Exodus of Egypt prefigured the offering of Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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). And it was on the true Passover day that Jesus was crucified.

A close look at the Gospel accounts shows that in that time the Jewish people had come to call the Passover and the entire seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread that immediately follows (Leviticus 23:4-8 Leviticus 23:4-8 [4] These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. [5] In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's passover. [6] And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. [7] In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [8] But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
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) by the name “Passover” also—referring to the whole early spring festival period.

And as Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
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), He was resurrected during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or “Passover week.” This enabled a later-invented resurrection festival during that week to be called “Passover.” But it was not really the Passover of the Bible. In fact the name of Easter in Latin languages is sometimes given as “Passover of the Resurrection” to distinguish it from the actual Passover day on which Christ died.

Yet, again, this is all a complete misnomer—especially since the date of the Easter holiday does not depend on the biblical dates of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the Hebrew calendar. Rather, Easter was set to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox (with some divergence in interpreting this between eastern and western Christendom). This only sometimes aligns with the biblical dates for the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. These are just not the same observance—not by theme nor by the actual day celebrated.

Another problem with the timing here is that Jesus was not even resurrected on Sunday—the supposed basis for weekly Sunday worship and annual Easter Sunday observance. The Good Friday–Easter Sunday time frame is wrong. It can be conclusively proven from the Bible that Jesus died and was buried on Wednesday and left His tomb three days and three nights later (see Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
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and look up “three days and three nights” on our website at BTmagazine.org).

His resurrection was actually on Saturday, on the weekly Sabbath. So if we were to celebrate the day on which Jesus rose from death, that day would be the seventh-day Sabbath (observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset each week). Of course we should be doing that anyway, since observing the Sabbath is commanded in the Ten Commandments, regardless of what day Jesus was resurrected on. (Weekly Sunday worship also originated in pagan religion—“Sun day” being the day used to honor the sun god in ancient times.)

Resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits?

Some believe that the Sunday during the Festival of Unleavened Bread is the proper day for celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, calling it the Feast of Firstfruits. Is that valid?

It is true that the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread marked a special occasion. On this day God commanded the Israelites to bring a firstfruits offering of a sheaf of barley to be waved before Him for acceptance (see Leviticus 23:4-14 Leviticus 23:4-14 [4] These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. [5] In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's passover. [6] And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. [7] In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [8] But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [9] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [10] Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: [11] And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. [12] And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD. [13] And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. [14] And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
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).

Jesus Himself is the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest of mankind (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 [20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
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). And He evidently ascended briefly to heaven on the day following His resurrection—since He first told Mary Magdalene not to hold on to Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father, but He later allowed people to hold on to Him and worship Him (compare John 20:16-17 John 20:16-17 [16] Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. [17] Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
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; Matthew 28:9-10 Matthew 28:9-10 [9] And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. [10] Then said Jesus to them, Be not afraid: go tell my brothers that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
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; Luke 24:39 Luke 24:39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have.
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). So Jesus must have ascended in between—on the day the wave-sheaf offering was presented. Thus Jesus would have fulfilled what was pictured by this offering.

It should be clarified that this occasion was not the Feast of Firstfruits as a distinct feast. Rather, it was an offering of the firstfruits of the barley harvest during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The name Feast of Firstfruits more accurately applies to Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, 50 days later, with its leavened loaves of wheat representing God’s people of this age as spiritual firstfruits, Jesus Himself being the first of the firstfruits (see Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
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; 34:22; Numbers 28:26 Numbers 28:26Also in the day of the first fruits, when you bring a new meat offering to the LORD, after your weeks be out, you shall have an holy convocation; you shall do no servile work:
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; James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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.)

Regarding the wave-sheaf offering, we should realize that it did not specifically commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. Note that the sheaf was not waved before God at the end of the Sabbath when Jesus was raised but the next morning—after the time He was already risen. Again, the wave-sheaf showed Jesus’ acceptance by His Heavenly Father as the first of the firstfruits—anticipating all those Christians who would later find acceptance with God through Him. Consider, too, that while the wave-sheaf offering was listed among the appointed times of the Lord in Leviticus 23, there is no command for a worship assembly on this occasion as on the various Holy Days listed here.

The fact is, the Bible gives no directive to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection of itself. There is no commemoration of the time or date of the resurrection (although, as noted above, we are to observe the seventh day of the week anyway as the weekly Sabbath).

Some might contend that even though God has not commanded a resurrection day observance, what would be wrong with having one? But a far better question would be: Why would we do this and not observe the occasions God has specifically commanded?

Symbolism in God’s commanded spring feasts

God has commanded two connected annual festivals in early spring (in the northern hemisphere) that we definitely are to observe as Christians, even as Jesus and the apostles did. These are Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Jesus died on the Passover day. For centuries this day had foreshadowed His dying for our sins as the sacrificed Lamb of God, and He commands His followers to keep the Passover as a remembrance or memorial of His sacrifice for us (Matthew 26:26-28 Matthew 26:26-28 [26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. [27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; [28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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; Luke 22:19-20 Luke 22:19-20 [19] And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. [20] Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
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; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: [24] And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. [25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. [26] For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come.
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).

Three days later Jesus was resurrected during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Does this mean that the seven-day festival is meant to be a weeklong resurrection celebration—sort of an extended Easter minus the paganism? No, because the Feast of Unleavened Bread is much more than that. Jesus’ resurrection is a vital theme in the festival’s meaning—yet as part of a bigger picture.

Consider what literally happened. Jesus was dead and buried for the first three days of this festival, was raised to life in the midst of it and was then accepted as the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest, remaining alive to teach His disciples thereafter. All of this is part of the meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, like the Passover, was revealed to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12-13). Over the course of these days, the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt. And the removal and avoidance of leavening (an agent such as yeast that causes bread dough to rise in baking) was to symbolize our coming out of sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 [6] Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
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).

At the same time, eating unleavened bread as commanded during this same time symbolized partaking of the true “Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ (John 6:32-35 John 6:32-35 [32] Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. [34] Then said they to him, Lord, ever more give us this bread. [35] And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
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, John 6:48-51 John 6:48-51 [48] I am that bread of life. [49] Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
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, John 6:53-58 John 6:53-58 [53] Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. [54] Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. [58] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever.
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). Only through Jesus Christ living in us can we develop godly character and live a life of righteousness.

We are to figuratively be crucified and die with Christ—our old, sinful self being put to death and buried with Him so that we can be figuratively raised with Him to walk in newness of life, as pictured in baptism (read Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, Romans 6, Colossians 3:1-10 Colossians 3:1-10 [1] If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. [5] Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: [6] For which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience: [7] In the which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. [8] But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. [9] Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; [10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
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and Philippians 3:10-11 Philippians 3:10-11 [10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; [11] If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
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).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents our coming out of sin. But we must realize that our coming out of sin relies on the person we formerly were being figuratively put to death and buried with Christ and then, in effect, rising with Him into a new way of living—His way.

As the true Bread of Life represented by the unleavened bread Christians are to partake of during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus Christ lives His resurrected life in us through the Holy Spirit. This enables us to live a lifetime of sanctification and transformation until the culmination in our literal resurrection at Christ’s return. Thus what these days symbolize, our coming out of sin to ultimately find new life and acceptance with God, was enabled by Jesus being literally buried, raised and accepted by God during these very days. This was clearly no coincidence!

We need to grasp that Jesus’ resurrection is vital to the process of coming out of sins. As Paul wrote: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17 1 Corinthians 15:17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.
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). And this is where the resurrection focus of Easter fails.

It merely gazes at a hero who has conquered death. In the case of Jesus Christ, that is awesome and wonderful, to be sure. But by itself it lacks the context of His death and resurrection as the basis for our own forgiveness for a lifetime of sin, and then our renewed lives with Jesus Christ living again within us, ultimately leading to our own future resurrection.

In keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, we do commemorate the fact that Jesus was resurrected to live in us to enable us to overcome—yet not as a celebration specifically of the resurrection in the way that Easter is for many, which misses the big picture of God’s great plan of salvation. It leaves out a proper balanced focus on the need for our old selves to remain buried and on now living a new life through Christ, looking forward to ultimate transformation in the future at His return (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 [50] Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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).

For those who recognize the problems with Easter, we should not let pagan corruption take away from having a proper perspective on Jesus’ resurrection—and a recognition of His role in the meaning of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread as the Bread of Life through whom we also may receive eternal life by our own resurrection from the dead (John 6:50-58 John 6:50-58 [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. [52] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [53] Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. [54] Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. [58] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever.
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).

Lastly, then, in response to the opening question, we could in turn ask: How can someone be a Christian and not observe the days God commanded us to—the days that picture His great plan of saving mankind through Jesus Christ? Before knowing about them, one might plead ignorance. But having learned about them, now you know. And we encourage you to come to know more—and to honor God the Father and Jesus Christ as They have directed!

 


 

The Resurrection Connection

How did worship of an ancient god and goddess come to be associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? A closer look at the ancient mythology surrounding the worship of these gods and goddesses will help us understand how pagan practices have survived in popular Easter customs practiced to this day.

Two of the earliest recorded deities were the Babylonian fertility god Tammuz and the goddess Ishtar. Every year Tammuz “was believed to die, passing away from the cheerful earth to the gloomy subterranean world . . .” (Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1993, p. 326).

The seasonal cycle came to be connected with Tammuz’s supposed annual death and resurrection. “Under the names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, and Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the yearly decay and revival of life . . . which they personified as a god who annually died and rose again from the dead. In name and detail the rites varied from place to place: in substance they were the same” (p. 325).

As worship of Tammuz and Ishtar spread to the Mediterranean region, including the territory of biblical Israel, the pair came to be worshipped under other names—Baal and Astarte (Ashtoreth), Attis and Cybele, and Adonis and Aphrodite. God heatedly condemned the sensual, perverted worship of Baal and Astarte (Judges 2:11-15 Judges 2:11-15 [11] And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: [12] And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves to them, and provoked the LORD to anger. [13] And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. [14] And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. [15] Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them: and they were greatly distressed.
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; Judges 3:7-8 Judges 3:7-8 [7] And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. [8] Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.
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; Judges 10:6-7 Judges 10:6-7 [6] And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him. [7] And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
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; 1 Kings 11:4-66 1 Kings 11:4-66 [4] For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. [5] For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. [6] And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. [7] Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. [8] And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods. [9] And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice, [10] And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. [11] Why the LORD said to Solomon, For as much as this is done of you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. [12] Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son. [13] However, I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen. [14] And the LORD stirred up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom. [15] For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom; [16] (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) [17] That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child. [18] And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land. [19] And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. [20] And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh. [21] And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to my own country. [22] Then Pharaoh said to him, But what have you lacked with me, that, behold, you seek to go to your own country? And he answered, Nothing: however, let me go in any wise. [23] And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: [24] And he gathered men to him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelled therein, and reigned in Damascus. [25] And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria. [26] And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king. [27] And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father. [28] And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. [29] And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: [30] And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: [31] And he said to Jeroboam, Take you ten pieces: for thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you: [32] (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) [33] Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in my eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. [34] However, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: [35] But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it to you, even ten tribes. [36] And to his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. [37] And I will take you, and you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and shall be king over Israel. [38] And it shall be, if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with you, and build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. [39] And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. [40] Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. [41] And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? [42] And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. [43] And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
American King James Version×
, 1 Kings 11:31 1 Kings 11:31And he said to Jeroboam, Take you ten pieces: for thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you:
American King James Version×
, 1 Kings 11:33 1 Kings 11:33Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in my eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.
American King James Version×
; 1 Kings 16:30-33 1 Kings 16:30-33 [30] And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. [31] And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. [32] And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. [33] And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
American King James Version×
; 1 Kings 22:51-53 1 Kings 22:51-53 [51] Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. [52] And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: [53] For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.
American King James Version×
).

In ancient worship we find the mythology that would ultimately link these ancient customs to Christ’s death and resurrection. Writer and historian Alan Watts states: “It would be tedious to describe in detail all that has been handed down to us about the various rites of Tammuz, Adonis . . . and many others . . . But their universal theme—the drama of death and resurrection—makes them the forerunners of the Christian Easter, and thus the first ‘Easter services.’ As we go on to describe the Christian observance of Easter we shall see how many of its customs and ceremonies resemble these former rites” (Easter: Its Story and Meaning, 1950, p. 58).

In its various forms, worship of Tammuz-Adonis-Attis spread around the Roman Empire, including to Rome itself. As a corrupted form of Christianity spread through the empire, religious leaders merged customs and practices associated with various pagan deities, including this earlier supposed “resurrected” god, and applied them to the real and true resurrected Son of God.

In this respect Easter followed the pattern of Christmas in being officially sanctioned and welcomed into the Roman church: “Motives of the same sort may have led the ecclesiastical authorities to assimilate the Easter festival of the death and resurrection of their Lord to the festival of the death and resurrection of another Asiatic god which fell at the same season.

“Now the Easter rites still observed in Greece, Sicily and southern Italy bear in some respects a striking resemblance to the rites of Adonis . . . The Church may have consciously adapted the new festival to its heathen predecessor for the sake of winning souls to Christ” (Frazer, p. 359).

(This information is excerpted from our free study guide Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? )

—Scott Ashley