What do bunnies and eggs have to do with the cross? Absolutely nothing!! And yet all three have become the symbols of a most important holiday for Jews and Christians. In fact, there’s another symbol that is completely missing, a sheaf of wheat!
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it… it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.’” (Leviticus 23:9-14 NKJV)
God’s redemption and deliverance of Israel from Egypt would not be complete until He had brought them into the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God’s provision extended to houses they had not built and a harvest for which they had not sown! Naturally God expected what the people gladly gave – thanksgiving! God gave the people very explicit instructions to bring the first sheaf of their spring wheat harvest as a thanksgiving offering. Only then could the celebration of the harvest could begin. THE FEAST REDEFINED Our English translations refer to this feast as “Firstfruits” because it is the first harvest of the year. However the Biblical designation in Leviticus 23 is “the offering of the first sheaf.” The term “firstfruits” is used only for the second harvest festival in the summer, also known as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. However since Yeshua rose on this feast, we hear the Apostle Paul referring to Him as the “firstfruits of the dead.” THE TIMING The timing of this celebration is very significant. It was to be the first day after the Sabbath of Passover. Actually there was quite an argument over the interpretation of this verse because Passover itself was considered to be a Sabbath. But the Pharisee’s opinion prevailed, and first sheaf was celebrated on a Sunday, the first day of the week, the first day after the Sabbath after Passover. Passover could fall on any day of the week, but Sabbath was always Friday sundown to through Saturday sundown, thereby making first sheaf always on a Sunday! CONNECTION TO PASSOVER To fully understanding the significance of the timing of the celebration, we need to consider its connection with Passover. Actually there were four separate feasts connected to Passover, three in the spring and one in the fall.
- Passover is celebrated on the 14th of Nissan (aka Abib). Passover commemorates God’s protection and redemption of Israel and all who would come under the blood of the sacrificed Passover lamb while the Angel of Death passed through Egypt killing all the firstborn of man and beast.
- On the next day, the 15th of Nissan, Israel left Egypt; the feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates their exodus. During the seven days of this feast, the people are to eat products made without leaven. This was also the first of the three Pilgrim Festivals.
- Then first sheaf, as we saw above, on the Sunday after Passover. First sheaf celebrates Israel coming into the Promised Land, harvesting crops they did not sow and living in homes they did not build – evidence of God’s gracious gift to those who believed Him.
- The fourth Passover holiday is in the fall, called the feast of Booths. This feast, also called the feast of Tabernacles, celebrates Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Clearly the celebration on the Sunday of Passover is a feast of the Lord mandated by God to commemorate His gracious acts of deliverance and redemption of Israel – from slavery to freedom. But of course the story doesn’t end there. God’s unique relationship with Israel was for the purpose of revealing Himself and His plan of redemption to the world. Therefore there has to be significance of His feasts beyond Israel. The feasts have to have significance to the community of the Kingdom of God with personal application to all believers in Christ the Messiah – Jewish and Gentile. The significance and personal application of the feasts is found in the Person of Jesus. PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT OF THE FEASTS Each of these holidays has a spiritual and prophetic aspect, with their fulfillment in and through the life, death, burial, resurrection and return of Yeshua (Jesus).
- Jesus was crucified on Passover. By God’s grace through, our faith in His sacrificial atonement protects, delivers and redeems. He has been called, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
- Jesus was buried on the feast of Unleavened Bread taking our sins into the grave, burying them, never to seen again:
As far as the east is from the west,so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
- Jesus rose from the dead on the feast of first sheaf and by His resurrection enables us to enter the Promised Land of His rest. Our salvation is a free gift, providing redemption by His precious and priceless blood.
- Jesus is our Shepherd as we walk through the journey of life, providing and protecting His sheep. There will come a day when He will return to gather us all and bring us into our final resting place.
FROM “FIRSTFRUITS” TO EASTER There are quite a few differing suggestions, but all agree on one thing, “Easter” is a pagan holiday, totally subverting the biblical roots of the Lord’s feast of “Firstfruits.” Here is the explanation that seems to fit best.
- The first thing we must understand is that professing Christians were not the only ones who celebrated a festival called “Easter.”
- “Ishtar”, which is pronounced “Easter” was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of their gods that they called “Tammuz”, who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess and the sun-god.
- In those ancient times, there was a man named Nimrod, who was the great-grandson of one of Noah’s son named Ham.
- Ham, Noah’s son, bore had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis. Cush and Semiramis then had a son and named him “Nimrod.”
- After the death of his father, Nimrod married his own mother and became a powerful King.
- ·The Bible tells of this man, Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8-10 as follows: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad,and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.“
- Nimrod became a god-man to the people and Semiramis, his wife and mother, became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon.
- Nimrod was eventually killed by an enemy, and his body was cut in pieces and sent to various parts of his kingdom.
- Semiramis had all of the parts gathered, except for one part that could not be found.
- That missing part was his reproductive organ.
- Semiramis claimed that Nimrod could not come back to life without it and told the people of Babylon that Nimrod had ascended to the sun and was now to be called “Baal”, the sun god.
- Queen Semiramis also proclaimed that Baal would be present on earth in the form of a flame, whether candle or lamp, when used in worship.
- Semiramis was creating a mystery religion, and with the help of Satan, she set herself up as a goddess.
- Semiramis claimed that she was immaculately conceived.
- She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when full.
- She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River.
- This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox.
- Semiramis became known as “Ishtar” which is pronounced “Easter”, and her moon egg became known as “Ishtar’s” egg.
- Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive.
- The son that she brought forth was named Tammuz.
- Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in the ancient religion, because Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal.
- Tammuz, like his supposed father, became a hunter.
- The day came when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig.
- Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Spirit.
- Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the “Mother of God and Queen of Heaven,” continued to build her mystery religion.(Mary worship)
- The queen told the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz. (Christmas trees)
- She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz.
- During this time, no meat was to be eaten. (Lent)
- Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the “T” in front of their hearts as they worshipped. They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a “T” or cross on the top. (Hot Cross buns)
- Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon and after the spring equinox, a celebration was made.
- It was Ishtar’s Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs.
- Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday. (Ham dinners, bunnies and eggs)
SO WHAT? In other words friends,all the fun things about Easter are pagan. No matter how hard we try we cannot make “Easter” holy when mixed with such pagan symbols.
There is only one symbol that should adorn our homes, our greeting cards and our churches – the cross. There is no other symbol, there has been no other symbol nor will there ever be another symbol that carries with it so much:
The sacrificial love of God the Father,
The total obedience of Jesus, God the Son,
The pain and suffering of His atonement,
The reality of His death,
The hope of His resurrection.
In view of the cross, every greeting card we send or church bulletin we circulate that proclaims “Easter” is just another slap in God’s face. How can we continue to do that knowing the truth?
At least change your language. Erase “Easter” out of your vocabulary.
Call the holiday what it is – the day of Christ’s resurrection – the firstfruits of the dead.
Remember the challenge of Paul to the Galatians: A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9) Rid yourselves of the old leaven (Easter cards, bunnies and eggs) wherein you are entertaining idols unaware, and worship God in spirit and in truth. Celebrate your Passover Lamb and His resurrection!