The prophet Jeremiah wrote approximately 2,700 years ago, "Thus saith 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.'" (Jeremiah 10:2)
Each Spring of the year, we hear a great deal about Jesus' resurrection in connection with the custom of Easter. Most religious leaders know that Easter is the name of an ancient pagan goddess (spelled Ishtar) and some even know that the custom of Easter observance is totally UNCHRISTIAN! Yet most excuse observing Easter as a Christian worship service. They assume it was "Christianized by Jesus' resurrection."
But does it matter? Is it acceptable in Christ's sight to worship Him through a pagan custom? Would it matter to Christ if a Christian took symbols of fertility—which all the world recognizes as such—and held them up as symbols of Him? Is it acceptable to Christ for Christians to worship Him as the heathen worshiped their chief god?
Those of you who have the ability to hear this message on the Internet probably own or have access to the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. In the following article on Easter, in the Encarta encyclopedia 99, (Part II Pre-Christian Tradition):
"Easter, a Christian festival, embodies many pre-Christian traditions. The origin of its name is unknown. Scholars, however, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th century scholar St. Bede, believe it probably comes from Castre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to our April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter egg rolling contests or given as gifts."
Easter supposedly embodies a number of "converging traditions;" most scholars try to associate Easter with the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, and the King James version of Acts 12:4 even mistranslates Pesach (Greek for Passover) "Easter."
Christians of Jewish origin celebrated the Passover festival, which fell on the evening of the full moon (the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the first month of the year). Passover therefore fell on different days of the week from year to year. This was unacceptable to the Gentiles who later embraced Christianity, and who wished to continue with their Easter celebration.
To this day there is a dispute between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Western Christianity. And to this day neither has it right—because they forsook the instructions of Christ and His apostles, learning instead "the way of the heathen."
Sun worship is religious devotion paid to the sun either as a deity or as the symbol of a deity. Sun worship was practiced by the Iroquois, Plains and Tsimshian peoples of North America and reached a high state of development among the Native Americans of Mexico and Peru.
The sun was a god of virtually every significant race and tribe of people, "The Babylonians were sun worshipers, and in ancient Persia worship of the Sun was an integral part of the elaborate cult of Mithras. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun god Ra."
"Sun worship persisted in Europe even after the introduction of Christianity, as is evidenced by its disguised survival in such traditional Christian practices as the Easter bonfire and the Yule log on Christmas."
Yes, more of the Easter customs than just the "Easter bonfire" were associated with paganism!
If you wish to understand true Christianity, listen to Tomorrow's World! You will be astounded to learn from your Bible that the truths taught by Christ are not represented by ancient or modern forms of pagan worship!
I'm Carl McNair, with commentary for Living Church of God.
Quotes from "Sun Worship," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. ©1993–`998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.