Nathele Graham – [email protected]
What do you celebrate, Easter or the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? God was very specific as to when the Passover took place and we know by faith that it was a picture of Jesus and the Cross. According to God’s directions given to Moses and recorded in Exodus chapter 12, a lamb without blemish was to be selected on the tenth day of the first month (Nisan) and sacrificed on the fourteenth day of that month. His blood was to be sprinkled upon the doorposts and that act of faith protected the firstborn of that house from death.
The protection from death that the lamb’s blood provided was a temporary protection for that night. The protection was for anyone, and if the Egyptians had put blood upon their doorposts, they would also have been protected. Had the children of Israel not followed God’s instructions, they would have faced death. This is what prompted Pharaoh to release the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. After the exodus from Egypt, God gave Moses directions about keeping the Passover. “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.” Leviticus 23:5.
This had nothing to do with the pagan rituals which we celebrate today, but everything to do with the future Messiah, whose blood was shed to purchase the salvation of anyone who believes in His death, burial, and resurrection. In addition to Passover, God gave directions to Moses as to a subsequent feast, called First Fruits. “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.” Leviticus 23:11.
The Sabbath is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, so the day following the Sabbath would be Sunday. These dates were important to God and He was very specific as to when these feasts were to be celebrated. We need to pay attention.
Let’s take a look at some Jewish/Christian history and see what difference it makes. At one time there was no separation between people groups. Adam was the first man and Eve was the first woman. They had a very close relationship with God until sin broke that relationship. God covered their sin with coats of skin. Sacrifice was understood as a part of life, but when Cain took his sacrifice lightly, God refused it. “And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Genesis 4:3-5.
Cain had disregarded God’s directions, but Abel sacrificed a lamb which was the proper offering. God’s rejection of his offering angered Cain and in his anger he killed his brother. I have to wonder if following pagan traditions is more like Cain’s offering or more like Abel’s.
Things went from bad to worse as people became more and more corrupt. The “sons of God”, ben ‘elohiym, took wives of the daughters of men and children were born of this unholy union. Sons of God is a term only used for angels. Many people refuse to believe that angels and humans can produce children, but that’s what Scripture says happened. You have to decide for yourself at what point you begin to believe God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.
My faith in God’s word begins with Genesis 1:1 and continues through Revelation 22:21. Because of these fallen angels, all of creation was corrupted. The idea that God destroyed all of creation because Cain’s sons married Seth’s daughters cannot explain why plants and animals also had to be destroyed. “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7. If you can believe that God was mad at Cain’s sons so He destroyed everything, then you don’t know God. God is love and not subject to mood swings.
There were a few people who rejected the corruption that was prevalent and they were descendents of Adam’s son Seth. “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9. The Hebrew word tamiym is translated “perfect”. It doesn’t mean without sin, but means not genetically tainted. Noah wasn’t genetically tainted by the corruption around him. It’s also the same word translated “without blemish” when referring to the Passover lamb. Noah was just a human with a sin nature but made his choices based on his love for God and not pagan lifestyles, which is how we should make our choices today.
When he and his family stepped off of the Ark they found a world that had been drastically changed. Because their blood hadn’t been tainted, Noah’s family were the ones who would repopulate the world. As the population grew, people once again began to turn away from God’s ways and embraced sin and corruption. Instead of worshipping and honoring the one true God, demon worship was accepted. Animal sacrifices wouldn’t satisfy these demons and human sacrifice became a common practice, especially the sacrifice of children, which God Almighty abhors.
Pagan ways were established in Babylon and that’s where the worship of Ishtar, a fertility goddess, began. Rabbits and eggs symbolized fertility so they were adopted into the sexually perverse rituals of Ishtar worship. Ishtar is known by other names in other cultures, including Isis, Ashtaroth, the Queen of Heaven, et al. Eventually God called a man to separate himself from idolatry. This man was Abram (Abraham), a descendant of Noah’s son Shem.
Sometimes it seems as if God moves very slowly, but His timing is perfect. Abraham was told to leave the idols behind and move to a place that God had planned for him, and the future nation of Israel. Abraham left the idols behind, and so should we. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. There is only one true God and it’s Him we need to honor. Abraham took his wife and his nephew with him along with servants and livestock. God blessed Abraham in many ways and after many years he and Sarah had a son named Isaac, who in turn had a son named Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and his twelve sons became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. From the very beginning God knew that Adam would sin, but He knew that the plan He put into motion would ultimately lead to the birth of the Messiah, who would become the perfect Sacrificial Lamb for sin. Jesus was born from the tribe of Judah through the lineage of King David.
There are a few descriptions of Heaven throughout the Bible, but our human minds cannot come close to understanding the perfection found there. Yet, God loved us enough to leave Heaven and step into this fallen world to offer us eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17.
That’s perfect love. Jesus wasn’t forced to become human, but he chose to become one of us to offer us salvation through faith. He knew that He would face ridicule, disbelief, and rejection, but He loved us enough to enter His creation as one of us. He knew that He would be illegally arrested and beaten beyond recognition. He knew that when the soldiers pounded those spikes into His hands and feet He could have called out and angels would have stopped the murder right then and there. He also knew that He was the Lamb of God that takes away sin instead of just covering it. Only His death on the cross could offer life to people who are in desperate need of a Saviour.
That’s you and me. He called us out of the pagan world around us to be separate, just as Abraham was called away from the pagan idol worshippers around him. There is no other way to eternal life than through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Based on the Jewish calendar we know when His death occurred and when the resurrection took place.
We’ve come to the time of year that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why do we celebrate that life changing event based on a pagan ritual day, the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox? In order to answer that question, ask yourself what you’re celebrating. Colored eggs and bunnies have nothing to do with the death burial and resurrection of Jesus.
The vast majority of people who color eggs see it as having fun with family and enjoying time together. There’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand there isn’t a single Scripture that associates the rituals of Ishtar with the resurrection of our Saviour, but there are many verses that specifically tell us when Jesus was crucified and conquered death for us. After His resurrection, Jesus entered the locked room where His disciples were meeting. He shared some fish with them “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” Luke 24:44.
Passover and First Fruits are two of the many, many laws and prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. God went out of His way to let us know that Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week after Passover. We need to honor God on His terms and not go the way of Cain by worshipping God on our own terms. Jesus gave His life for us and that’s worth properly worshipping Him for.
Jesus fulfilled Passover when He shed His blood and fulfilled First Fruits when He was resurrected on the first day of the week. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 1 Corinthians 15:20.
To be Biblically correct, we should celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday following Nisan 14 (Passover) instead of Easter. Isn’t that a statement about most of our Christian life? If we have a choice of identifying with the world or separating ourselves to God, the world usually wins. Jesus was the Perfect Lamb of God and the ultimate sacrifice. The protection from death that His blood provides is eternal. Occasionally Easter and First Fruits coincide, but it isn’t Easter we should celebrate.
What will you celebrate this year? The pagan holiday of Easter or the resurrection of the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
I choose to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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