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Have you heard this Easter story? In the spring of the year, King Herod began persecuting the early New Testament Church. The apostle John’s brother James was martyred with a sword—soon after Peter was imprisoned.
Acts 12:4 continues the story stating that when Herod (grandson of Herod the Great) had apprehended Peter, “he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”
God intervened and Peter was rescued before Herod could hatch his plan. The angel of the Lord visited the apostle, his shackles fell off, and he walked out. A miraculous escape!
…a miraculous Easter escape?
Realize this is the only place in the King James Bible the word Easter occurs. The original Greek word, however, is pascha—meaning Passover. In truth, Acts 12 is talking about the Days of Unleavened Bread mentioned in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23.
Every other Bible translation does not say Easter in this account. Even the New King James version says Passover. The fact is, Easter’s tie to Christ’s death and resurrection cannot be found in the Bible!
Holy Week, as it is called—the period between Palm Sunday and Easter—is the busiest time of year for faithful Protestants and Catholics. The other observances during this period are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Have you ever heard your minister say why you keep these days? Sure, there are stated reasons they are observed. For one, they point to some of the most monumental events in human history.
Yet has your minister given you Bible proof why you should be keeping these days? Have you seen—in God’s own Word—why you should attend church services four times in the spring?
Just like the word Easter, many other long-held traditions have no biblical backing. Yet you will never hear your minister utter one word about this—let alone what God’s Word really says.
With Easter absent from the Bible text, where it does come from is profound. The answer is found in the name of the holiday itself.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that “the origin of the term for the feast of Christ’s Resurrection has been popularly considered to be from the Anglo-Saxon Eastre, a goddess of spring…the Old High German plural for dawn, eostarun; whence has come the German Ostern, and our English Easter.”
Catholics admit Easter comes from a pagan goddess of spring!
A Manual of Church History adds to this: “The fact that vernal festivals were general among pagan peoples no doubt had much to do with the form assumed by the Eastern festival in the Christian churches. The English term Easter is of pagan origin.”
The book Festivals, Holy Days, and Saints’ Days states this also: “On this greatest of Christian festivals, several survivals occur of ancient heathen ceremonies. To begin with, the name itself is not Christian but pagan. Ostara was the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring” (emphasis added).
Do not miss the words “ancient heathen ceremonies.” The practice of Easter predates the birth of Christ!
Should you be celebrating Easter? The name itself is that of a false goddess.
This is no different from saying, “I am celebrating Baal.” Or, “I observe a day called Moloch.” Any Bible student knows what God says about those false deities.
If you ask your minister about this, you will likely get a stock answer. Perhaps you have even heard it before.
“We changed the meaning of the day. Now it relates to Christ’s resurrection,” goes the common thinking. “Even though there are different historical origins, it is now an important Church holiday.”
Easter is loaded with symbols and practices from paganism and fertility rites. Our booklet The True Origin of Easter has the full story.
It does not matter what you think or what you are told by others regarding Easter. What matters is what God thinks. How He feels about adopting heathen practices.
Jeremiah 10:2 reveals the plain answer: “Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.”
Heathen practices should not be followed, adopted or adapted to serve God. How plain!
Matthew 15:9 adds to this: “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Easter as a doctrine is a commandment of men. You have seen the proof. It is simply not found in God’s Word.
Yet there are clear days in the Bible you should keep, and many of them fall right around Easter. More on that later.
According to traditional teaching, Jesus was crucified on Friday and was resurrected on Sunday morning.
The Catholic catechism puts it this way: “Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One…Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles—and Peter in particular—in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning.”
Do the math. Friday evening until Sunday morning is 36 hours. Is this how much time Jesus said He would be in the grave? Does it really matter?
Matthew 12:39-40 reveals the answer is significant. Jesus said this to scribes and Pharisees who were seeking a sign: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah 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.”
How long Jesus would be dead is of crucial importance! He declared He would show one sign. He said He would be dead and buried for three whole days and three whole nights—72 hours.
So which day is off: Good Friday or Easter Sunday? The answer is both!
What does this mean?
An extended quote from our booklet Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday reveals the answer in detail.
“Any Jew will tell you that a ‘high day’ is a feast day or an annual holy day! Leviticus 23 describes seven of these days that the nation of ancient Israel was commanded to keep year by year. A simple review of this chapter (verses 24, 26-32 and 39) reveals that God considered these days to be Sabbaths. Notice that Leviticus 23:2 refers to all of these Sabbaths as ‘the feasts of the Lord’ and ‘even these are My feasts.’ This same verse also calls them ‘holy convocations’—meaning commanded assemblies. These days do not fall on the same day, year after year, any more than do the common pagan holidays that most people observe today.
“Matthew 26:2 states, ‘You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.’ (Leviticus 23 shows that the Passover was the one feast that was not also a Sabbath, wherein work was prohibited.) There is no doubt that Christ was crucified on the Passover.”
The quote continues: “The Old Testament Passover always preceded the annual Sabbath called the first Day of Unleavened Bread. This day was a high day or a feast day to be celebrated each year, again, on the day immediately following the Passover. Notice Numbers 28:16-17: ‘And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the Lord. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast.’ This feast was the first Day of Unleavened Bread.
“Jesus Christ was slain by crucifixion on the exact same day that the Passover lamb had been slain every year…Christ was crucified on the Passover and this day then would automatically be a preparation day for the feast day, or annual high day Sabbath—which was to begin almost immediately after His burial.
“As mentioned, annual Sabbaths could occur on any day of the week. Tuesday and Thursday are more common than any other day for the first Day of Unleavened Bread, following the Passover. Thursday is probably the most common of all. For instance, in the thirty-six years (counting inclusively) between 1998 and 2033, the first Day of Unleavened Bread occurs on a Thursday 12 times, and on a Tuesday 10 times. All other days are less often during this period. In the year of Christ’s crucifixion, according to the Hebrew calendar, the Passover occurred on a Wednesday! This means that the annual Sabbath had to be one day later—or Thursday! It was, in fact, this sabbath that was approaching, thus requiring the swift burial of Jesus’ body prior to its arrival. The weekly Sabbath, or Saturday, was to occur two days after that.”
Re-read this last paragraph until it becomes crystal clear. When all the facts are in, the day of Christ’s resurrection is simple. Three days and three nights from Wednesday evening is Saturday evening. This is when Jesus came out of the tomb.
Realize what this means: Jesus Christ was not resurrected on Sunday. You have seen the proof in your Bible! With this information comes an all-important decision you must make…
Back up and look at Christendom as a whole. Almost every denomination uses Christ’s Sunday resurrection as proof that you should keep Sunday. You have seen this is utterly false thinking. Coming off this, what day should you keep?
The Bible answer is again plain. In fact, you likely have already memorized the answer, which is found in Exodus 20: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (vs. 8). Any Sunday school student knows this as one of the Ten Commandments!
If pressed, many ministers will state it is good to set aside a day or parts of a few days to rest and recuperate. However, almost none will state definitively that the Sabbath is a specific day.
But God states it is one day. Keep reading in Exodus: “Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (vs. 9-11).
Count the days of the week. The seventh is Saturday. God leaves no wiggle room here, and He wants that specific day kept! (Note that this should be set aside from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.)
Begin to ask yourself, “Am I ready to keep the seventh-day Sabbath as God commands?”
What about yearly observances such as Easter, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday—all of which commemorate biblical events? These are based on ancient heathen customs, but there are annual Holy Days God commands to keep.
God is clear what days He wants you to keep in the spring. These are the very same days Jesus Himself kept. Yet, again, your minister will never tell you to keep them. Recall that Christ’s crucifixion happened on the Passover leading into the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Ministers will tell you “this was done away” or “those days were kept for you by Christ.”
Exodus 12:17 contains a command of God: “And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread…by an ordinance forever.”
This command was not “done away.” It is “by an ordinance forever.”
Will you believe your Bible? Forever means forever!
The New Testament Church knew this. It continued to keep God’s Holy Days after Christ ascended into heaven. Paul told the Corinthians to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread: “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: 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” (I Cor. 5:7-8).
The only thing Paul could be talking about here is keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread!
All of God’s Holy Days—seven altogether—have specific instructions tied to them. They can be found throughout Scripture and are intended to demonstrate God’s incredible plan of salvation for all mankind.
Most people never question their beliefs. This is especially true of cherished religious traditions. Do not believe what your minister tells you about Easter or any other manmade holiday. Do not go off what you were taught in Sunday school or by your parents. Instead, investigate God’s Word. He is clear what weekly day you should keep holy. He is clear what annual Holy Days you should keep—with detailed instructions on how to observe them properly.
While reading, open up your Bible and prove for yourself what God wants!