Tag Archives: Sunday

Easter’s Wrong!

Shocked

And when he had apprehended him, 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. (Acts 12:4)

The two highest church attendance days are Christmas and Easter. Easter probably wins the high attendance day of the two since it always falls on a Sunday. Neither day is historically accurate, but Easter typically comes nearer being right than does Christmas. Both holidays (holy days) come to us thanks to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in its attempt to “Christianize” the pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, which celebrated the return of the sun, i.e. the days getting longer, and Ishtar, whose origin is rather convoluted but basically has its source in the ancient fertility goddess of Babylon from whence come the icons of Easter eggs and bunnies.[1]

The pagans celebrated their “Queen of Heaven” on the first day of the week (Sunday) following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Some form of this religious practice was observed by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. By the time the RCC came into power, pagans continued the practice, so, in order to accommodate the pagan population, the Church put a Christian spin on the celebration. There are several parallels that can be made between that pagan religion and what we believe as Christians.[2] Jesus was born of a virgin, He died, He was buried, and He rose again. Superficially, the pagan story sounds familiar, but this should not be surprising since Satan is the ultimate counterfeiter. Jesus said, “He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).  Since the celebration of Ishtar fell around the time as the Jewish Passover, and considering the parallels, it was not difficult to remake the pagan celebration into a Christian one. (Oh! Don’t be so shocked! We still do that today. In order to attract the “world” we adopt worldly practices, bring them into the church, and put a Christian face on them. Sometimes “Christian” events look no different than rock concerts. The only differences, if you can hear them, are the words of the songs. And for those of us who love the “old hymns” many of the tunes of those good old hymns originated in pubs and saloons. So, this is not unique to the RCC.)

Despite the title I chose for this article, my purpose here is not necessarily to bash our observance of Easter. (I prefer to call it “Resurrection Day” or “Resurrection Sunday.”) I believe that it is right and proper that we celebrate the Advent of our Lord and His death, burial and resurrection – the resurrection being key. They are highly significant events that altered the course of history and the destiny of man. But if we are going to celebrate these very special days, we should at least try to be “biblical” about it rather than “traditional.” Arguably, Christmas could remain as December 25th. While widely accepted by biblical scholars that the birth of Jesus probably took place around mid-September (more likely around the celebration of the Jewish Feast of Booths or Sukkot), counting back nine months would bring one to around December 25th as the time of conception, which would also be the actual “incarnation” when God came to be “with us” (Emmanuel) as a human embryo.

Easter, however, does not always line up exactly with Passover as is the case this year. Jesus was crucified on Passover. Jesus said, “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2, emphasis mine). The Jewish day began at sundown, around 6:00 PM, unlike our western day which begins at midnight. On the afternoon before the Passover, Jesus sent His disciples to make arrangements to celebrate the Passover Seder (Matthew 26:18-19). “Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve” (Matthew 26:20, emphasis mine). “When the evening was come,” Passover had begun. After they had  finished the meal, Jesus went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives where He was arrested in the middle of the night – it was still Passover – and illegally tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion (Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 18-19). Jesus died at the ninth hour, 3:00 PM (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:44-46), at the same time that the Passover lamb was being sacrificed at the Temple. It had to be this way in order to fulfill the Law of God given to Moses (Deuteronomy 16:1-6).

So, Jesus died on Passover, at precisely the right time in order to fulfill the Law of God and make a once for all atonement – a covering – for our sins. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine). “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]” (Hebrews 11:28, emphasis mine).

Biblically, then, Easter (Resurrection Day) should be celebrated in association with and very closely linked to the Jewish Passover. “Easter” is nowhere found in the Bible except as mistranslated in our beginning verse above (Acts 12:4). The Greek word translated “Easter” in this verse is pascha, the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew pesach or Passover. Evidently the translators of the King James Bible were taken in by centuries of RCC tradition.

“Easter” is not biblical, and it becomes painfully obvious especially this year. As noted above, Easter is the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year, the vernal equinox took place on March 19. The first full moon after that will be on March 23, making the 27th Easter Sunday. The problem is that the Jewish calendar is lunar, not solar. Nissan (Abib in the OT) is the first month of the Jewish religious calendar, and Passover is celebrated on Nissan 15. This year, 2016, Nissan 15, Passover, begins on Friday, April 22 at 6:00 PM and goes to 6:00 PM Saturday, April 23. We are celebrating Resurrection Day nearly one month before Passover, and that, to me, just seems wrong. You cannot have “resurrection” before the Passover sacrifice! If we were being biblical instead of traditional, we should be celebrating Resurrection Day on Sunday, April 24. Instead, we will just go with the flow and celebrate it according to the Roman Catholic tradition. This is why, especially this year, Easter’s Wrong.

Notes:


[1]  See “The Pagan Origin of Easter” http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract1.html

[2]  Ibid.

 

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Then Came Sunday

Empty Tomb

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun … And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. (Mark 16:2, 4)

The story of mankind is brief and straightforward despite the naturalistic stories invented by evolutionists. God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). God created man to enjoy fellowship with Him, but man erected a barrier between himself and God by his disobedience to God’s only command: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That disobedience brought the curse of death – separation from God who is life and the giver of life. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26). Holy God cannot abide sin. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psalm 94:20).

From that time on, innocent blood has been shed to cover or atone for the sins of man “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Starting with that first sacrificial lamb slaughtered by the Lamb of God (Genesis 3:21), the innocent pay the penalty for the sins of the guilty. So the sacrificial system began carried on by Abel (Genesis 4:4), Noah (Genesis 8:20) and the law delivered by Moses. But the practice failed to bridge the chasm rived by sin “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

This hopeless situation required a better and permanent solution. This was mankind’s problem and the responsibility fell upon man for resolution. But Holy God cannot be satisfied with anything less a perfect, sinless sacrifice. Only the blood of a perfect, sinless man would do. Where could such a man be found? For, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, 12). Such a conundrum was no puzzle for an omniscient God. “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). So, God in human form died in the stead of His human creation, and He took upon Himself the penalty that was due to each one of us individually. This is an awesome thing! In all the world religions of man, man sacrifices himself to his god, but the Bible teaches that God sacrificed Himself for man. Is that not incredible!

So Jesus died on the cross at Passover. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for the sins of mankind. He took on the crushing blow of the curse of death. In His final words He declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), and He died. Death took its greatest prize, but then came Sunday! The curse of death was broken. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18).

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” – Isaac Watts, 1707)

His death on the cross covered our sins once and for all. His resurrection bridged the chasm of death separating sinful humanity from Holy God. He has made the way for you and for me. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). After all He has done for you, the least you can do is follow the way He has prepared. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!”

 

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What’s Special About Sunday?

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week ... (Matthew 28:1)

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week … (Matthew 28:1)

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. (Mark 16:2)

Why should Christians worship on Sunday instead of Saturday as do the Jews and certain other “Christian” denominations? After all, in fourth of the Ten Commandments, God specifically says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 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” (Exodus 20:8-11). So, are we in violation of God’s commandment by worshiping on Sunday?

First of all, let me say that setting aside one day of the week for rest and worship is right and proper whether that day be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday or any day of the week for that matter.  “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).

Much of the confusion comes with the interpretation of the word “Sabbath” in the Bible.  The word in the Hebrew does not mean “seventh” (shebəiʽi), but rather “rest” or “to rest” (shebbot).  Genesis 2:2 tells us that “on the shebəiʽi day God ended his work which he had made; and he shebbot on the shebəiʽi day from all his work which he had made.”  Translating that seventh day to mean Saturday “assumes” that God began His creative acts on Sunday, and we really have no textual basis for that conclusion other than what has been handed down to us by Jewish tradition – that, however, is not to say that this tradition is in error.  Furthermore, as you study the “Feasts of the Lord” given in Exodus and Leviticus, you find that each of those days is considered a shebbot (Sabbath) regardless of what day of the week it falls on.  So, we need to be careful not to become dogmatic over things on which the Bible is unclear.  However, it is clear that we need to “sanctify” – set aside – one day a week for the Lord.

Today, on Resurrection Day, we celebrate our Lord’s victory over death. (See “Risen Indeed,” where I cover the facts of the Resurrection.) The Resurrection is significant for us who believe because we have the promise that because Christ conquered death, we too can be assured of a resurrection to eternal life. “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain … But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 20). Today we rejoice in Christ’s resurrection and look forward to our own resurrection to be with Him eternally.

In the New Testament, the first Jewish Christians went to the temple or synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14; 17:2; 18:4) for the sake of the Jews, but they also met on the First Day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) because this was “the Lord’s Day” and also for the sake of the Gentiles which were not obligated to follow Jewish custom (Colossians 2:16). The reason for this change is because this is when Christ was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

The First Day of the week was also the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples gathered in the upper room (Acts 2:1). Scripture does not specify the day of the week, but when you consider that Jesus arose on the first day of the week and count forward 50 days (the Day of Pentecost) you will find that day to be Sunday also. The day that Jesus arose was the “First Omer” (Nisan 16) and the Day of Pentecost was the “50th Omer (Sivan 6). Not only were these days important on the Jewish calendar, but they have even greater significance in the Christian calendar. For this reason, it is proper that Christians should meet on the First Day of the week to celebrate the Risen Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 So, as you celebrate this Resurrection Lord’s Day, remember why it is so special. He is risen indeed!

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What’s the Big Deal About Sunday?

Country Church

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:5)

Growing up in Texas, I remember, like a foggy dream, the reverence with which Sundays were observed. Back in those ancient days, we had the Texas “Blue Laws” which practically shut down any kind of commerce. Gasoline stations, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. were all closed for business on Sundays. In order to prepare for Sunday, one had to fill up on Saturday, and stock up on groceries for the Sunday meal. On Sunday morning, Mom would get us all dressed up in our Sunday best, complete with coat and tie. We were poor, so these special clothes were reserved only for Sunday. The idea was that when we came to God’s house, we brought our very best and that included our appearance. After church, there were no restaurants open, so Sunday lunch was a special family gathering time – sometimes with company.

Those days are long gone now. “Church” is not treated much differently than any other entertainment venue these days. When the final song is sung, there’s a mad dash for doors and to the restaurant of choice for Sunday lunch. After lunch one can go shopping for whatever bargains may be available that were missed earlier in the week. If there is a game on, we may watch that or go to take in the latest movie – something else that was unavailable in the time of the Texas Blue Laws. It seems that Sunday is just not that special anymore. In fact, some mega-churches have grown so large that they offer Saturday night services to accommodate their growing population, or those who would rather save their Sundays for “fun stuff.”

Of course, there are some churches where Saturday worship is the norm. Naturally, we can understand such a practice from Messianic Jewish congregations, but there are others besides. There is a sect of Baptists who observe the Sabbath as do the Seventh Day Adventists. The Church of God and some Pentecostal denominations also worship on Saturday. So, what makes Sunday so special?

First of all, let me say that setting aside one day of the week for rest and worship is right and proper whether that day be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday or any day of the week for that matter.  Our Scripture verse above reminds that the day itself is not as significant as the object of our worship. So why is Sunday to be preferred rather than Saturday – the Sabbath?

There is much confusion that comes with the interpretation of the word “Sabbath” in the Bible.  The word in the Hebrew does not mean “seventh” (shebəiʽi), but rather “rest” or “to rest” (shebbot).  Genesis 2:2 tells us that “on the shebəiʽi day God ended his work which he had made; and he shebbot on the shebəiʽi day from all his work which he had made.”  Translating that seventh day to mean Saturday “assumes” that God began His creative acts on Sunday, and we really have no textual basis for that conclusion, albeit, Saturday has been recognized as the seventh day from time immemorial. Furthermore, as you study the “Feasts of the Lord” given in Exodus and Leviticus, you will find that each of the feast days is considered a shebbot (Sabbath) regardless of what day of the week on which it falls.  So, we need to be careful not to become too dogmatic over things on which the Bible is unclear, i.e., that Sabbath means exactly the seventh day of the week or Saturday.  However, it is clear that we need to “sanctify” – set aside – one day a week for the Lord.

In the New Testament, the first Jewish Christians went to the temple or synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14; 17:2; 18:4) for the sake of the Jews and partly because that remained their custom. But they also met on the First Day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) because this was “the Lord’s Day” and also for the sake of the Gentiles which were not obligated to follow Jewish custom (Colossians 2:16). The reason for this change is because this is when Christ was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). The First Day of the week was also the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples gathered in the upper room (Acts 2:1). Scripture does not specify the day of the week, but when you consider that Jesus arose on the first day of the week (Sunday) and then count forward 50 days (the Day of Pentecost) you will find that day to be Sunday also. The day that Jesus arose was the “First Omer of First Fruits” (Nisan 16), and the Day of Pentecost was the “50th Omer” (Sivan 6). Not only were these days important on the Jewish calendar, but they have even greater significance in the Christian calendar. For this reason, it is proper that Christians should meet on the First Day of the week to celebrate the Risen Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Now, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16, emphasis added). We should not be critical of those who wish to worship on the Sabbath, but Sunday should carry greater significance for the Christian.

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