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 Passover To Easter, From Tree of Life Knoxville, TN
dryvby
Posted: Dec 31 2008, 12:20 PM


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Passover to Easter
By Richard and Betsy Bailey

Introduction
Each spring, millions of people around the world observe 2 special (but separate) religious observances known as Easter and Passover. Often questions are asked such as: What do they have in common? Why aren’t they observed at the same time? This article will attempt to answer these questions.

A Historical Overview of Passover
Easter and Passover are historically connected to each other via the early churches of Rome, Judea and of Asia Minor. For 1400 years Passover (Pesach) was observed by the nation of Israel as commanded by G-d in Exodus 12:14. It commemorated the Exodus (lead by Moses) out of Egypt. However, with the coming of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) and His followers, the Passover festival took on a different dimension of understanding. According to Yeshua’s teachings (Matt 26, Luke 22) and of those of His followers, such as Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul), elements of the Passover pointed toYeshua’s mission of leading others from the bondage of sin (1 Cor 5:7).

For approximately 100 years after His ascension, Yeshua’s followers (both Jew and Non-Jew), which constituted the early church, continued to observe Passover; looking back at Israel’s redemption and how it fore-shadowed their own.

The Bar Kochba Revolt
In the year 132 A.D. a dramatic event occurred that changed the practices and theological orientation of the early church. This event was the second Jewish revolt (which failed) led by Bar Kochba against the Roman occupation of Judea. As a result of this revolt, the Romans took stern measures to suppress the Jewish people and their religious practices. An edict was given to prohibit all Jewish people from entering Jerusalem for 100 years.

Paganism Infiltrates Church Doctrine
This dramatically changed the ethnic composition of the early church leadership, which at that time was profoundly Jewish. As a result, many pagan (non biblical/heathen) religious practices became a part of the early church’s theology. In addition, anything “Jewish” was done away with or altered because of pressure from Rome. Not conforming to these measures meant certain persecution or death.

An example of this was when two early church fathers, Polycarp and Polycrates, disciples of the Apostles John and Phillip, refused to change observance from the Scriptural Passover day (Nisan 14) to the Roman instituted Easter-Sunday. They were excommunicated as heretics.

By the middle of the fourth century, most churches had already transferred their celebration of the L-rd’s Passover to the Sunday after the Jewish feast. But certain churches in Asian Minor held to the Biblical date, Nisan 14, for which they were denounced as “judaizing.” The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, decreed that all churches should observe the feast together on Sunday. Constantine, the Emperor at that time, stated, “Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd.”

Sadly, the same attitude is still present in the majority of Christianity today. But the observance of Passover by believers in Yeshua continues to grow; especially among those of us involved in Messianic Judaism. Of course, Jews who do not recognize Yeshua as Messiah, continue to keep the traditional Passover as taught in the book of Exodus.

Easter Traditions
One example of pagan infiltration into the church’s theology and practice is today’s Easter traditions. For instance, “hot cross buns” of Good Friday and the dyed eggs of Easter Sunday once figured into Chaldean idol worship. The “buns” (Boun) were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, Astarte, the fertility goddess, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens, that is, 1500 years before the Christian era.

Offered to the gods, these sacred cakes or Bouns were believed to be the ones mentioned in the book of Jeremiah 7:18 “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven.” Of course, today these are not offered but are eaten on the festival of Easter.

As for eggs, they were sacred emblems of the ancient Druids, the Hindoo, the Japanese, the Chinese, and were used in religious rites of the Egyptians and the Greeks for mystic purposes in their temples. The Persians and Egyptians colored eggs and ate them during their new year’s celebration at the spring equinox.

Pagan festivals celebrating spring included fire and “sunrise” celebrations long before the Christian era. Both later became part of Easter celebrations. The “Easter Bunny” is associated with fertility.

Conclusions
Knowing the above information, we must ask ourselves this question, “Is it important to Adonai which days we celebrate and how we celebrate them?”

The Torah (Lev. 18:30, Deut. 12:31) admonishes those who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not to follow the practices of the nations. We are also told not to follow the ways of the world for Adonai is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). In I Cor. 10:14-22, Paul talking to the believers in Corinth stated, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry...” In fact, the whole message Paul is conveying in this chapter is not to mix Passover with the feasts of idols (demons).

Scripture instructs us to keep Passover in the same manner as Yeshua and Paul did. Paul states in I Cor. 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Messiah.”

We must remember that Adonai is holy, and we are to love Him with our whole heart; letting Him be glorified in all aspects of our lives. 1 Peter 1:15-16 states, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy!’”



References:
Seven Festivals of The Messiah, E. Chumney
Yeshua-The Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church, Dr. Ron Moseley
The Two Babylons, Rev. Alexander Hislop
From Sabbath to Sunday, Samuele Bacchiocchi
Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 16
The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan
The New Book of Knowledge, Vol. 5


Taken from the Tree of Life in Knoxville, TN
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