Happy Ishtar?

I read an article today titled, “Why Easter is NOT a pagan holiday”. I clicked on the link, started reading, and became thoroughly compelled to write a response. Below is that response. I realize this is a touchy subject. Actually, it’s a touchy subject for me. I care greatly about this topic because I believe God cares greatly about it. This is evidenced throughout His Word as you will soon see if you continue reading. I pray my intention is understood: that God’s Word would be revealed, recognized, and followed, that we would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth according to Jesus’ desire (John 4:24). May that be true in my life as well as yours, regarding this topic as well as every step we take in becoming what it means to “die to ourselves daily” (Luke 9:23), and to “decrease so that He may increase” (John 3:30).  

Consider the name:

  • Easter (English), from
  • Eostre (Germanic), from
  • Astarte (Greek), from
  • Ashtoreth (Phoenician), from
  • Ishtar (Assyrian), from ???

The Sciptures say,

Test everything, hold on to what is good.” -1 Thes 5:21.

Jesus also said,

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” -Matt 7:20-21.

I suggest that the answers you seek may better be found if you ask a similar question but from a different angle. Instead of asking, “Is Easter pagan?”, why don’t you ask, “Is Easter Biblical?” Does the Bible record any of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles or Jesus Himself ever celebrating it? Does God ever command His children to celebrate it in the Scriptures? Is the date/timing of Easter ever mentioned in the Bible? Do the Scriptures ever refer to Jesus as the Easter Bunny? Do the Scriptures ever compare Jesus as an Easter Egg? The answer to every one of these questions is a deafening NO. Therefore, according to the Scriptures, Easter is not “Christian” (meaning “Christ-like”). Now, on the contrary… Does the Bible record any of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles of Jesus Himself ever celebrating Passover? Does God ever command His children to celebrate Passover? Is the date/timing of Passover ever mentioned in the Bible (the council of Nicea decided to distance itself from God’s Word in Leviticus 23 and instead adopt a date of their own based not on the moon but the equinox)? Do the Scriptures ever refer to Jesus as the Passover? Do the Scriptures ever compare Jesus to unleavened bread? The answer to every one of these questions is a resounding YES. So according to the Scriptures, which is truly “Christian”, Easter or Passover?

Is it God’s will that we celebrate the holy days which He calls His own in the Scriptures?

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘These are the appointed feasts of Yehovah that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.”  –Lev 23:2

“This day [Passover] shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to Yehovah; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” -Ex 12:14

Do the Scriptures tell us not to absorb the worship rites of this world belonging to false gods?

“These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that Yehovah, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship Yehovah your God in that way.” –Deu 12:1-4

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” –Rom 12:1-2

Jesus’ name being painted on top of man-made/idolatrous tradition, with eerily similar demonic and pagan ties is not something Scripture ever condones. In fact, God repeatedly rebuked the people for disobeying Him regarding worship at the high-places, even if that worship was directed toward God Himself:

“Solomon loved Yehovah, walking in the statutes of David his father, but he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.” -1 Kings 3:3

For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” -2 Chr 33:3

“Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to Yehovah their God.” -2 Chr 33:17

It is comparable to pasting a spouse’s face over the faces of nude models in a pornographic magazine and then expecting the spouse to be pleased with the rationale, “You don’t really care do you? I promise I was only thinking about you!” Or imagine celebrating your wedding anniversary with your spouse by taking her to the hotel where she caught you in an affair. What if you gifted your wife with your ex-lover’s favorite perfume, ordered your wife the favorite food of your mistress, and even dared to utter her name! How would your spouse respond if you then declared, “But I’m doing all these things for you, Honey.”? Such an example seems absolutely absurd. That’s because it is. We would never treat someone we love this way. But somehow treating the lover of our souls this way goes unnoticed.

How many places do the Scriptures instruct us not to mix with the ways of the world?

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” –John 17:16

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Messiah with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says Yehovah, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says Yehovah Almighty.’”                                                                                                                                -2 Cor 6:14-18, quoting Leviticus and Isaiah.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” -1 Pet 1:14-16, quoting Leviticus.

“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;” –Rev 18:4

Specifically, I suggest you consider the golden calf narrative:

“And Aaron received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to Yehovah.’”                            –Ex 32:4-5

A parallel scenario occurs when King Jeroboam directed the northern kingdom of Israel to worship God in the 2 golden calves:

“So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, ‘You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’” -1 Kings 12:28

The problem was not that the people were worshipping another god. It was that they were worshipping the one true God according to their own way, which He did not command, but which He indeed commanded against.

Consider also when Saul disobeyed God’s command to destroy the Amalekites and reasoned that his disobedience was validated as long as he worshipped God with his spoil. To this Samuel replied,

To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” -1 Sam 15:22-23

Did Saul’s supposed good intentions please God? Was he presumptuous to disobey God’s clear instructions?

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and called them hypocrites for setting aside God’s commands and replacing them with their own religious tradition:

“And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ And he said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.’ And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!’” -Mark 7:5-9

Remember that those who teach others are held to higher account:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” –James 3:1

So out of love I challenge my Christian brothers and sisters: when you worship the God of Heaven according to the tradition of Easter, are you truly loving and pleasing Him?

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I Yehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” –Deu 5:8-10

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” -1 John 5:3

Are you as a “Christian” following a Christ-like example?

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” -1 John 2:3-6

Or are you following the example of the world?

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?’” –James 4:4-5

When you stand before the Almighty, will your answer to this question be derived from His Word or from the traditions of man?

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” –Matt 12:36-37

May the Lord bless you as you seek Him,

Adam

Readers, this is not a message of condemnation but an invitation to God’s table. May these words not leave you despondent but wondering, “What would the Lord have me do?” There was never a need for God’s children to adopt the ways of the nations and how they worship their gods. The Lord specifically designed times of worship in which to meet with His people. The holy days belonging to our Father are rich treasure and meaningful beyond compare. They are rehearsals of prophecy, displaying the entire love story of God with mankind, and revealing the Messiah every step of the way. Leviticus 23 begins with the weekly Sabbath and then outlines the seven annual appointed times.

There are great resources out there to help you learn more such as: http://www.amazon.com/Unlocking-Secrets-Feasts-Prophecies-Leviticus/dp/0718037022

And here’s another book which includes ideas of practical ways to celebrate: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Appointed-Times-New-Understanding/dp/1880226359/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459312570&sr=1-3&keywords=barney+kasdan

My last question is this: Do you desire to truly love the Lord, to know and do what He says He loves and avoid what He says He hates? If so, I encourage you: Seek God according to the entirety of His Word. He Himself has given it as a gift in which we may know who He is. Ask Him to reveal His ways to you. Ask that He draw your heart to worship Him according to the way He desires.

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” -Psa 119:11

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of Yehovah proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” -Psa 18:30

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” -Psa 91:1

Amen

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