Journalist Joe Kovacs has written for broadcast, print and online media for more than 25 years, receiving awards for excellence in news coverage from both the Associated Press and United Press International news services. Mr. Kovacs has been executive news editor for WorldNetDaily, a leading Internet news site, since 1999. His strong interest in the Bible led him to write the recent best seller Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told . The book documents many surprising facts regarding common beliefs that are and are not supported by Scripture.
The Good News: Your unique book Shocked by the Bible has drawn a lot of attention. Were you surprised by this?
Joe Kovacs: I was originally surprised because some people thought I was speaking against the Bible when the exact opposite was true. I was trying to shock people with the actual words of the Bible. Some people couldn’t understand that. They thought I was talking against Christianity or the Bible.
I need to make it clear from the outset that I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that every word of the Bible is true.
GN: What got you interested in the Bible in the first place?
JK: While growing up, I had no interest in the Bible. I never read the Bible until I was about 14 years old. But then I started reading it based on a challenge from my sister. She made some comments about Christmas—that much of the Christmas traditions were not found in the Bible. I couldn’t believe that, so I started reading the Bible to find out what it said about Christmas. This sparked my interest in the Bible because no matter how deeply I looked, I could not find Christmas traditions in the Bible. So I wondered what else people are missing.
GN: Was that the very first topic that shocked you personally?
JK: Absolutely. It started with Christmas. Whether people celebrate Christmas is their own decision, but people should know why they do what they do and that virtually everything to do with Christmas is not in the Bible.
The birth of Jesus is found in the Bible, but you won’t find three wise men showing up at the manger when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. You won’t find Christmas trees mentioned in the Bible, but you will find that God condemns the decoration of trees with silver and gold. That’s in the book of Jeremiah [chapter 10] and people don’t seem to know about this.
GN: Do you feel that the Bible is the inspired word of God for all mankind? Is the Bible for everybody?
JK: The Bible is definitely for everybody. God created mankind in His image and He does have an eternal purpose for them, so the Bible is for all humanity. Still people are free to choose to follow God. God has given us that freedom, and unfortunately most people on this planet choose not to follow the instructions God has given.
GN: What do you hope to impart to your readers through your book?
JK: People should realize why they do what they do. Most have no idea why they follow certain customs, why they believe certain things. They go to church for 30 or 40 years and still don’t know why they do certain things. I want to educate people on what’s in the Bible and what’s not. Again, people should have an understanding about why they do the things they do.
GN: Let’s get into today’s popular religious holidays. First, why do you think that even though Easter is not in the Bible, a billion people continue to celebrate it?
JK: The word Easter is not found in most Bibles. It’s found once in the King James Version [Acts 12:4 Acts 12:4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
American King James Version×] and that one instance is a mistranslation of the Greek word Pascha , which means Passover.
You will find people celebrating Passover throughout the Bible, including Jesus. But you won’t find people celebrating Easter. The word Easter comes from an ancient fertility goddess. It’s spelled in different ways but usually pronounced “Easter” or something like it. For instance, the Babylonians called her Ishtar. The Phoenicians worshipped their goddess Astarte. The Germans had Ostara. The Hebrews called her Ashtoreth. This is all the same goddess, and God condemned the Israelites for having anything to do with this pagan goddess of fertility and the dawn.
People wonder why they color eggs and go on Easter egg hunts when none of that is in the Bible or endorsed by God. You don’t see the apostles going on Easter egg hunts or hiding eggs. There was no Easter egg in the tomb when they looked for Jesus at His resurrection. The eggs and rabbits associated with Easter are simply ancient fertility symbols. Traditional Christianity today is a mixture of a little bit of the Bible and a whole lot of pagan, heathen traditions which have infiltrated church teachings and practices.
GN: How do you think God views Easter, and why?
JK: There’s no question that Easter is an abomination to God. People can say they are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, but they are using the method of pagan worship.
God has nothing to do with paganism. In fact, the first commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” [Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
American King James Version×]. Yet people bring the name of a pagan goddess and put the name of Easter in front of God’s face, even as they are allegedly trying to worship Him. People think they are doing the right thing.
I’m not against people for wanting to honor the resurrection of Jesus and God raising Jesus from the dead, which shows us how we can be saved and how we can be resurrected into the actual family of God. But to do so with a pagan method is the wrong way to do it.
GN: Let’s turn to Christmas. Why do you think that so many people celebrate Christmas when you can’t find it in the Bible?
JK: The biggest reason is that it’s fun, plain and simple. It’s a fun holiday. There’s the family, the kids, an enjoyable time when you exchange gifts, get together and enjoy excellent food.
It also survives because of merchandising. The fourth quarter of the year in which Christmas happens to fall is when merchants do most of their business. It survives because of money and fun.
GN: So how do you think God views people observing Christmas?
JK: The Bible is silent on Christmas. You don’t find people celebrating Christmas in the Bible. If you look throughout biblical history, the Israelites would worship the true God with pagan methods and even get into child sacrifice, but they thought they were worshipping the true God. If you extrapolate that to Christmas, God and Jesus Christ might not appreciate that you are using pagan methods to supposedly honor Him.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we should celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Bible does have a number of holidays which are mentioned that people are to celebrate forever, like the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. But it doesn’t say to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
GN: There’s a great pull for people to get together with family for Christmas and to honor Christ through this observance as they see fit. What are your thoughts on this?
JK: I know many people in this world who celebrate Christmas. If they want to know about Christmas they can Google terms like “Christmas origin” and add “pagan” and they’ll learn where these customs come from. They are not in the Bible. They originate with the worship of the sun and the worship of trees. It has nothing to do with the worship of Jesus Christ. Just because someone throws the name of Jesus Christ on something does not make it Christian.
GN: Let’s discuss the Sabbath. How did you discover that Sunday was not the biblical Sabbath?
JK: The Bible talks about the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week. It’s always referred to as the seventh day of the week and not once do you see Sunday, the first day of the week, referred to as the Sabbath day of rest. The Bible did not ever declare that Sunday should be the Sabbath day.
The Sabbath day is mentioned in the Fourth Commandment [Exodus 20:8-11 Exodus 20:8-11 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
American King James Version×] and in the account of creation after God created the world and mankind [Genesis 2:1-3 Genesis 2:1-3 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
American King James Version×]. He set the seventh day apart to rest on that day. It’s consistent in both the Old and New Testaments that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, what we call Saturday.
GN: The Catholic Encyclopedia states that Jesus and His disciples always observed the seventh-day Sabbath, but the Catholic Church had the right to change the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. What are your thoughts on this?
JK: Religion doesn’t always go along with the Bible. The fact is that nowhere in the Bible do you see the Sabbath changed. If it were changed, there would have been a huge discussion on it, especially in the New Testament.
It’s interesting that in different languages around the world, the word for the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is Sabbath. In Greek the word is Savvato ; in Italian, Sabato ; in Spanish, Sabado ; in Hebrew, Shabbat ; and in Polish, Sobota . Go to many other nations, and you will find that the seventh day is defined by the word Sabbath.
GN: That’s a good indicator of the Sabbath. Let’s talk about the unseen god of this world. You address Satan as “public enemy number one” and say that he wants to be worshipped. Why would Satan want to be worshipped?
JK: If you understand who Satan is and the origins of Satan, you would know what he’s doing. Satan, “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×, King James Version], is not the ultimate God who created everything. He is the ruler of this present society. Satan was originally an archangel of God. He was booted out of heaven because he tried to lead a rebellion of angels against God.
The Bible refers to this rebellion, saying he ascended above the clouds to be like the Most High. He has a “god complex” and thinks he can do a better job than God. Who knows what his motivation is, but apparently he was a brilliant individual. The Bible calls him an angel of light. He is able to appear as very good so he can lead people away from God.
He wants to be God and to be worshipped. I can say unequivocally that most people on earth, no matter what religion they are, think they are worshipping the true God. However, they are actually worshipping a corrupted form of satanic confusion that was begun back in the Garden of Eden.
GN: Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:4 2 Corinthians 11:4For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.
American King James Version×that there was “another Jesus” with “a different spirit” and “a different gospel.” Do you think this scripture reveals what Satan is doing?
JK: I think that Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14 2 Corinthians 11:14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
American King James Version×], and many, but not all, people think that they are worshipping the true God, the true Creator God of the universe. Yet they are actually following, unknowingly in many cases, Satan the devil. He has brought a brilliant deception upon people of this world and especially the Christian world.
Many people call themselves Christian, and yet they do things that are antithetical to what the Bible teaches. You can go through the Bible and find out what God’s teachings are. You can look at what the religions of the world teach and see that they are, in fact, very different from what the Bible teaches. GN