Easter, Ishtar, Eostre, And Jewish Hatred
Every spring, much in the same manner as Christmas and Santa Claus, debates begin to rage among Christians as to whether or not we should be celebrating the holiday called “Easter”. As long as I can remember there have been claims about Easter being the name of an ancient pagan deity, a goddess of fertility, and the festival that was held annually in her honor. Yes, even as a child in the Calvinist Baptist Church I recall these concerns being discussed by faithful parishioners. This raises a number of questions, not the least of which being whether or not we, as Believers in Yahweh (God), followers of Yeshua the Messiah (“Jesus Christ”), and recipients of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) should engage in such things as the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts, and Easter baskets filled with chocolate.
Unlike the history of Santa Claus, which I have written about at length in a previous message, there appears to be a lot more misinformation, false information, and uncertainties regarding the many theories and beliefs related to the origins of the Easter celebration and what, if any, pagan goddess influenced these things. Among the candidates, the most commonly referred to are Ishtar, an ancient Babylonian goddess of war who may have possessed some attributes common among fertility goddesses, and Eostre, a pre-Christian Europe Norse-Germanic goddess of fertility, part of the Viking pantheology, of whom there is very little historical record of. These will be the two ancient deities I will consider in this study, along with other information and theories that apply to this topic.
Because of the amount of opinions and theories surrounding this topic, I have been thinking about how to best handle writing on it. After much time, study, and meditation, I have decided on the approach I will take. My intention is to present the information I have collected and studied, share my thoughts on it, and give a solid conclusion on the matter. I believe that if you read through this message with an open mind and a heart that desires to chase after the things of God, the Bible, and true holiness, you will find that the conclusion I present at the end of this message will make perfect logical sense. I do hope that this will be a message that will help everyone who reads it, regardless of where you currently stand on this issue.
Does Easter Come From Ishtar Worship?
By far the most common argument against celebrating Easter today seems to be that it originates from the worship of Ishtar in ancient Babylon, who the Bible refers to as the queen of heaven. Ishtar is not mentioned by name in Scripture, but there are references to the “queen of heaven” in several passages. It is the consideration of most scholars that the queen of heaven in the Bible is the Babylonian goddess Ishtar.
There are those today who, it seems, wish to go to great lengths to support their claims that Easter originates with Ishtar worship. There is even a belief, popular in some circles, claiming that children were sacrificed on the altar of Ishtar and then eggs were dipped in the pool of blood made by the sacrificed children, turning the eggs red. This, of course, is to explain why Easter eggs are dyed with color and why red is the “official color” of Easter eggs.
Unfortunately, I hate to break the news to the radicals who make claims that have no historical evidence backing them, but most, if not all, of the claims linking Ishtar and Easter together fail to hold any weight when the known facts are reviewed. This is particularly important when considering such sensational claims as the “eggs dipped in blood” legend, which has not one piece of historical or archaeological evidence to support it.
Among other potential problems with the Ishtar-Easter connection is the concept of Easter being connected to a fertility goddess. Ishtar, however, was a goddess of love, sexually immoral practices, and war. Her cult was known for its “sacred prostitution”, a practice held in numerous ancient pagan religions involving temple prostitutes. There are possibly some aspects of Ishtar that warrant the attribution of “fertility goddess”, but even at that this does not appear to have been her primary role.
There simply does not appear to be a historical connection in the names Ishtar and Easter. In my article about the Feast of Purim, which focuses on the life of Queen Esther, as recorded in the Book of Esther, I mentioned how Esther’s original Hebrew name was Hadassah and how she had changed to Esther when summoned to go before the Persian king. Esther was likely a name of pagan origin that many scholars conclude is a form of the name Ishtar. Easter, among other similar forms, is also considered by some to be a form of this same name.
Now, just because the name is similar or even the same does not draw a direct connection either. Allow me to give you an example that, while more important to other topics, will provide us with the importance of understanding that the same name can refer to two completely different people, and how assuming the wrong person can cause major problems with the interpretation of an ancient text.
But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong— ~Galatians 2:11 (TLV)
Most people within Christianity today read this passage and automatically assume that this refers to the Apostle Peter. The very same Peter who denied Messiah three times. The very same Peter who walked on the water with Yeshua. The very same Peter who addressed the people when the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. And the very same Peter who received the vision recorded in Acts 10 that opened his eyes to a very important truth and in turn opened the door of salvation to the Gentile nations.
Have you ever stopped to consider that this was another man named Peter though? If this were not the Apostle Peter being referred to in this passage, it drastically changes the entire context of the whole passage. Well, let’s consider what Clement of Alexandria has to say about the matter:
And there is the story in Clement, in Book 5 of the Hypotyposes, where he says that Cephas, about whom Paul says: ‘But when Cephas came to Antioch, I withstood him to his face,’ was one of the seventy disciples who bore the same name as the Apostle Peter. (Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius)
Clement of Alexandria maintained that the Cephas here mentioned was not the Apostle St. Peter, but an inferior person, one of the seventy disciples. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
Clement of Alexandria lived during the later part of the second century and died in the earlier part of the third century. This places him historically very close to the time when the Apostles were alive. While I do not necessarily agree with or endorse some of the theological views he held, this record is primarily historical and so his theological views are not relevant to this point. Basically, we need to realize that it is important to know who we are speaking of, particularly when the same name can be attributed to two different people (or deities).
What this all simply means is that any connections that may exist between the ancient Babylonian goddess Ishtar (and whatever other forms or names she become known as) and the modern celebration of Easter might be coincidental because no actual historical evidence exists that is strong enough to connect Ishtar to the modern day Easter celebration. So, does this mean that there is no connection between Easter and pagan worship? Well, let’s continue on.
Was There A Goddess Named Eostre?
The next pagan deity to be considered is shrouded in a cloud of mystery. Eostre is a character of whom very little known historical information exists. In fact, the sole source for this connection comes from an English monk who lived in the later part of the seventh century and the early part of the eighth century known simply as The Venerable Saint Bede. In his work titled The Reckoning Of Time he makes the following lone statement that connects Easter with pagan worship:
Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observances.
The first word in this statement, Eosturmonath, may be better understood today as “Easter month”. Compare this with the alternative Bede presents, Paschal month, which obviously originates from the Hebrew word “Pesach”, and refers specifically to The Passover. It seems pretty apparent that this conflict between the pagan Easter celebration and the Scriptural Passover was in full force at least as early as the turn of the eighth century. Also note the use of the word ‘rite’, this will come up again later in this study.
Bede’s work seems to be confirmed by a nineteenth century linguist of the name Jacob Grimm. Having studied and preserved the histories, languages, and traditions of Germanic peoples, Grimm draws the following conclusion of Bede’s work in his own work titled Teutonic Mythology:
The two goddesses, whom Beda (De temporum ratione cap. 13) cites very briefly, without any description, merely to explain the months named after them, are Hrede and Eâstre, March taking its Saxon name from the first, and April from the second. It would be uncritical to saddle this father of the church, who everywhere keeps heathenism at a distance, and tells us less of it than he knows, with the invention of these goddesses.
In an article written by Answers In Genesis on this topic, the following statement is made:
Some scholars have called Eostre an invention of Bede and discount the connections, but the confirmation of Grimm cannot be easily discredited; nor does the quality of Bede’s other works lead us to disbelieve him. Grimm established a clear connection between the Anglo-Saxon Eâstre and the German Ostrâ. Similar connections are found in etymologies that describe the origin of Easter from many sources. Ester and oster, the early English and German words, both have their root in aus, which means east, shine, and dawn in various forms. These names may have developed independent of the name of the goddess as a reference to the Easter festivals, or they may have been related to her name in some way.
Answers In Genesis is an organization known for its research in Scriptural based history, especially in the topic of Creationism. They are the group that operates the Creation Museum in the state of Kentucky and recently constructed a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark at an attraction called Ark Encounter, although some have taken exception to the replica because it appears a bit more fancied up than the actual Ark likely would have been. Both are great attractions, however, and I recommend visiting them if you can.
Notice that both Grimm and Answers In Genesis point out that it is unfair to consider the claims regarding Eostre to be a figment of Bede’s imagination. The reputation and reliability of both Bede’s and Grimm’s work builds a solid foundation, so the fact that this is the only known record in history of a pagan deity called Eostre existing in pre-Christian European culture comes from a source that is otherwise generally reliable. This was not the Internet Satire or Tabloid Publications we see infecting media today.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a highly regarded source of information accepted by practically all Christian Pastors and Ministers, states the following:
Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic (Germanic) goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the eighth century, the name was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
The only appearance of the word Easter (KJV) is a mistranslation of pascha, the ordinary Greek word for ‘Passover’ (Acts 12:4).
While the alleged link between Easter and Babylonian Ishtar worship may be historically nonexistent, it does appear that there is a clear link between Easter and pre-Christian European pagan worship practices. This is really not all that surprising though, considering how modern Christianity is the result of a blending of a long history of Roman Catholic influence with existing non-Christian pagan religion in that region and the resulting Protestant Reformation. It was, after all, in Germany under Martin Luther that modern Christianity was birthed. So it makes perfect sense that all of the pagan traditions plaguing Christianity today trace back to pre-Christian Europe, and particularly Germany. This same trend is also seen in many of the traditions used in the celebration of Christmas, where it is well documented that early Christians established December 25th as the date of Messiah’s birth in order to compromise with neighboring pagan peoples (see my article WWJB: When Was Jesus Born).
I think this brief statement in a published paper by Carole M. Cusack, Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Sydney (Australia), titled The Goddess Eostre: Bede’s Text and Contemporary Pagan Traditions is appropriate:
…a minor Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre, best known for bestowing her name on the Christian festival of Easter. Eostre has been chosen precisely because of her obscurity; academic discourses in Anglo-Saxon studies are unable to reach agreement even concerning her existence.
Best known for bestowing her name…? Think about that! However, I personally believe that Cusack gets one detail wrong here, Eostre did not bestow her name on Easter, she bestowed her name on Passover and replaced God’s Holy Day with her own celebration, now bearing her name in the form of the name Easter.
The Egg Laying Rabbit
Anyone familiar with the American celebration of Easter is most certainly familiar with the character commonly referred to as “The Easter Bunny”. Attempts have been made to associate this mythical creature with Ishtar worship, but these attempts, once again, seem to fail the test of historical records. There is no known association between Ishtar and rabbits, and there is not enough known about Eostre to conclude such a connection either. So, where does this egg-laying rabbit come from? According to A&E Network’s History Channel website regarding Easter symbols:
You won’t find them in the Bible, but many cherished Easter traditions have been around for centuries. The most prominent secular symbol of the Christian holiday, the Easter bunny reportedly was introduced to America by the German immigrants who brought over their stories of an egg-laying hare. The decoration of eggs is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, while the rite of the Easter parade has even older roots. Other traditions, such as the consumption of Easter candy, are among the modern additions to the celebration of this early springtime holiday.
The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.
Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
It is well known and documented by the non-Christian world around us that the very things being celebrated in many, perhaps most, Christian Churches today are rooted in pagan religions. They know what these things mean, they know where they originate from, and despite it all they look at the Church and tell the people to live according to the Bible while engaging in activities that are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed to the very Bible they claim to be pointing people toward.
Some time ago I shared a short clip of Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he makes the declaration in his typical bold tone, “Much of what Christianity salutes is pagan to its roots.” The clip began to be shared and according to statistics it has reached over a million people from the place I shared it. This is a good indication that millions of people around the world are hungry for the truth and ready to abandon those things that oppose the Way of the Master.
Still, many Churches today seem to forget that their own Messiah, Yeshua, walked into the Temple and started flipping over the tables of the money-changers. He constantly and consistently rebuked misguided religious leaders calling them insulting things like a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones. What do you suppose would happen if He walked up into your Church while all the parents are preparing to send their children out to hunt for Easter eggs? This is serious stuff; it’s not some kind of game.
This is what is written in The Catholic Encyclopedia about Easter eggs and the Easter bunny:
Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which consists in testing the strength of the shells (Kraus, Real-Encyklop die, s. v. Ei). Both coloured and uncoloured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as “egg-picking”. Another practice is the “egg-rolling” by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington.
The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).
Does it even make any sense that Christian Churches are holding onto traditions brought into Christianity by the Roman Catholic Church that even they openly admit are pagan in origin? This is openly stated by the Catholic Church that these things are derived from pagan religions and that the so-called symbolism to Messiah are a LATER INVENTION of Christians. To put it more plainly, claiming that the colored Easter eggs represent anything to do with Yeshua and His Resurrection is a figment of Christian’s imaginations. This stuff that Christians would even want to hold onto traditions that are so well documented as originating from wholly satanic religions is absolutely absurd. Think about it: If these things are not in the Bible and we have reputable sources of information even suggesting that maybe these things are of pagan origin, shouldn’t that be enough to make anyone committed to Yeshua as their Master and Messiah get as far away from these things as possible? Do you love Him or have you simply made him a part of your pre-Christian life?
I know a preacher who actually stated recently: “If you don’t like the Easter bunny, then you need to just talk to God about that.” He’s a good guy and all, certainly appears to love God, but that is a pretty brazen statement to make considering the documented and known origins of the Easter rabbit and its connection with pagan worship practices.
Think about some of the other customs and traditions that go into this whole thing. It is even customary in most American homes to eat pork ham on Easter. How in the world is that possibly a celebration of the Lamb of God? Pork is perhaps the worst of all the unclean animals. Pigs are filthy and full of harmful toxins and parasites that destroy the human body. From the so-called “Easter ham” to the marshmallow “Peeps®” that are made with gelatin, a product derived from the bones and skin of pigs (which is also used to make such things as marshmallows, gummy candies, Jell-O®, and even the capsules for some vitamins and medications). God said not to eat the flesh of pigs, but somehow Christians think it’s OK to celebrate the climax of all Scripture, the Resurrection of Yeshua our Messiah, the Lamb of God, by eating pigs on “Easter Sunday” instead of eating lamb on Passover. And I will remind you, eating lamb on Passover is a commandment, celebrating pagan religion is a violation of a commandment.
Easter Pogroms And The Holocaust
Let me take a moment to tell you about something called a pogrom. This is probably a term you are not too familiar with. It sounds like something that might be just another tradition or custom within a celebration, but I assure you that it is not.
The year was 1903, a young Jewish girl, Ida Kagonavich, was a student at the Warsaw gymnasium in Kishinev, Russia. “Easter Sunday”, April 6th, was the date that it all started. In his book The Family: Three Journeys Into The Heart Of The Twentieth Century author David Laskin, a secularized American Jewish man and writer for such publications as the New York Times and The Washington Post, records the account that took place:
Starting on Easter Sunday, the holiday that traditionally triggered pogroms, the city erupted in three days of uncontrolled violence. Nails were driven into the heads of Jewish men and the eyes of Jewish women; Jewish women were raped, their breasts hacked off, their stomachs torn open; Jewish babies were tossed out of windows with their tongues cut out of their mouths.
You may say, “That’s awful, disgusting, horrific. Why would you bring that up?” A pogrom is a Hebrew term defined as an outburst of anti-Semitic violence. As noted by Laskin, these pogroms were most strongly associated with Easter.
Young Ida survived that dreadful day and would later immigrate to the United States taking the name Itel Rosenthal and becoming the founder of Maidenform, a company that specializes in women’s undergarments. Some have claimed that Rosenthal invented the brazier, but it appears other manufacturers of the time were also creating similar products and it is unclear who first designed the now standard women’s undergarment.
Is it a coincidence that such horrors took place on an Easter Sunday? I think not! I believe that there is most certainly a deep spiritual connection visible in this record. You see, it’s very apparent that Easter is a celebration rooted in evil. Regardless of what Christians today think it means or think they have made it into, you cannot change the roots of a tree nor the fruit it bears. It is absolutely no surprise at all, to me at least, that the hatred of Jewish people found throughout the history of Christianity was at its height on the one day that has crept in to become the counterfeit to the Passover week.
When you turn away from the Scripture and the commandments of God and embrace things that oppose His Kingdom, this is the type of thing that results. Certainly this is not the only time in history that this happened; there are plenty of records of such horrendous actions against God’s chosen people that have been done “in the name of Jesus”. But this is the side of Easter that you won’t find many people willing to talk about, because we live in a society where everyone is afraid of offending people.
From the wicked Haman in the story of Esther to the holocaust led by Adolph Hitler, there has always been a spirit seeking to attack the Hebrew people and the Way of the Hebrew God. In fact, the pogroms I just described played a major role in setting the stage for the holocaust. One need only begin to study Church history and it becomes clear that the driving force of Catholic and Christian faith is founded on a hatred of the Jewish people.
Now, I am not saying that the beliefs of Christianity are completely wrong, there is a lot of correct teaching within the majority of Christianity. But it is always those unseen things that lead people astray. It’s just a little bit of leaven that corrupts the whole lump of bread (Galatians 5:9).
Think about it, if Satan is really the master of lies, then it stands to reason that the best way for him to deceive the masses would be to create a religious system that is almost true. The reality is that Christian faith, for the most part, is so close to the Way of Scripture that with a few minor adjustments the Church could be set on the right course. But the people need to be willing to follow the truth, and they have to be willing to abandon known celebrations of evil. The Church must return to the Holy Days of Yahweh, those appointed times mentioned in His Torah. We must return to the faith held by the Apostles, all of whom were Torah-observant Hebrew men, and abandon the 500 year old Protestant Christian system.
Is Easter A Pagan Holiday?
Many today wonder if celebrations like Easter are to be likened to ancient Israel’s golden calf. Others maintain that it is harmless fun. Really, I am not even sure at times why this is even a debate. Does it matter if Easter is a pagan holiday? The real questions, which I ask people all the time, are: Is it holy? Is it set apart and sanctified through the Word of God? Is it something God told us to do in His Torah? No, no, and NO!
Preachers who used to tell their congregation to never say the word “Easter” because of it’s history of paganism are now bringing the Easter bunny to their Church and dropping Easter eggs out of helicopters in a desperate attempt to draw a crowd. Sure, it seems logical, do what draws people in, and then hope they come back to hear the truth preached the next week. Give them a watered down version of the Gospel today, and if they stick around long enough you might have a chance at persuading them to live holy. But how are you going to ever convince someone to live holy when you build the foundations of their faith on things that are unholy? Consider the warning given by Yeshua to the religious leaders of His day:
“Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel over land and sea to make one convert. And when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourself.” ~Matthew 23:15 (TLV)
Preacher, if you want to draw a crowd to your Church, a sustainable crowd that will be faithful to your vision, a people who will covenant with Yahweh and truly live a sold out life, your Messiah told you exactly how to do it:
“And as I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.” ~John 12:32 (TLV)
Why don’t you try going back to the Bible and using that to draw a crowd?
I found this rather interesting piece in the Zondervan Handbook To The History Of Christianity:
Many have argued that the way in which the Eucharist became the central service for Christians, a rather mysterious ‘rite’ to which only the initiated (those who had been baptized) were welcome, closely paralleled the mystery religions. Some of the paraphernalia of the mystery cults became used by the Christians: white robes for people being baptized, candles and so on. Baptisms were conducted during the night before Easter Day, another ‘secretive’ practice similar to the initiation rites of the mystery religions. Like those of the mystery cults, the Christian rites became associated with special places. Just as the mystery religions used the holy temples or other locations, so too the Christians, by the third century, were using purpose-built churches – rather than people’s houses – to hold their services. There was a corresponding sense that these churches were holy, that the tables upon which the Eucharist was celebrated were altars, and that the ceremony had special powers.
WHAT THE WHAT??? OK, I don’t normally use slang phrases in my writing, but that paragraph right there sure does seem to warrant such a response. Easter is part of a “secret society” type ritual that people had to be initiated into? Mystery cults? Secret rites of passage? (Remember when I said to remember that word ‘rites’ earlier?) Are you kidding me? And if that’s not bad enough, I found this lovely statement in a witchcraft handbook by A.J. Drew titled A Wiccan Bible: Exploring the Mysteries of the Craft From Birth to Summerland:
Culturally speaking, we see public Easter egg hunts and games designed to promote community. Why not? After all, not only are those eggs a symbol of the animal fertility associated with this Holiday, but the very practice of hunting those eggs comes from the ancient practice of hunting for eggs and nuts to be given as gifts of fertility. Today, some of the largest of these community egg hunts are often held at local zoos. What better way of sharing the true Pagan meaning of this celebration with our children?”
CHRISTIANS… THE WITCHES ARE PRAISING YOU FOR HAVING EASTER EGG HUNTS, WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE BEING BAPTIZED INTO DEMON SPIRITS!!! WAKE UP!!!
The late Dr. Lester Sumrall is probably regarded by Pentecostal Christians today to have been the foremost authority within their ranks on the subject of demonology and demonic powers. In a little booklet his ministry published titled 101 Questions & Answers On Demon Powers he was asked about such things as magic (sorcery), ventriloquism, Halloween customs, and the like. Sumrall’s recorded response was simply, “Don’t play with things connected with demon power; leave them alone.” In response to a similar question, he said, “…we should never join the devil in any of his celebrations.” Yet another response given in the book includes the statement:
American people do not know much about demon power, but the heathen in other lands certainly do. What we call superstition is often demon power, and the pagans know it.
The late C. Peter Wagner, who served as the Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary until his retirement in 2001 and presided over Global Harvest Ministries from 1993 until 2011, gives the following account in his prayer and spiritual warfare book titled Confronting The Powers (also published under the title Spiritual Warfare Strategy: Confronting Spiritual Powers):
One of these spectacular demonstrations of God’s power has been preserved in the records of the life of Martin of Tours. In a certain village he had cast the territorial spirit or spirits out of the chief temple and had demolished the temple itself, as was his custom. But curiously this did not seem to bother the pagans there as much as it had in other places. The reason soon became clear when he discovered that the chief dwelling place of the territorial spirit was a nearby pine tree, not the temple itself. When Martin started to cut down the pine tree, the people then rose up against him.
Martin informed them that because the tree had been dedicated to the demon, it had to be destroyed. Once he had said that, a spokesperson for the group confronted Martin and said, “If you have any trust in thy God, whom you say you worship, we ourselves will cut down this tree, and it be your part to receive it when falling; for if, as you declare, your Lord is with you, you will escape all injury.” Martin gladly accepted this challenge to enter into visible battle against the demonic spirit who had been holding these people in captivity for who knows how long and who had been greatly enjoying their sacrifices and worship.
I have participated in many events involving strategic-level spiritual warfare during the past few years, but never have I seen one of this magnitude. The non-Christians had determined they would be willing to destroy their pine tree if by doing so the missionary who had been spreading the claims of a God superior to their own could be destroyed along with it. They knew as well as Martin that their battle was not with flesh and blood or with objects such as trees, but rather with principalities and powers.
It so happened that the pine tree had been growing decisively in one certain direction, so there could be no doubt where it would fall when cut. The crowd demanded that Martin stand alone on the spot where it would certainly fall, which he did. Martin’s biographer, Sulpitius Severus, says that the pagans “began, therefore, to cut down their own tree with great glee and joyfulness… there was at some distance a great multitude of wondering spectators… the monks at a distance grew pale… expecting only the death of Martin.”
But Martin, trusting confidently in the power of God, waited peacefully until the huge tree made a loud cracking noise and began to crash. He then raised his hand against it, acting in the authority Jesus Christ had given him. Severus says, “Then, indeed, after the manner of a spinning top (one might have thought it driven back), it swept round to the opposite side, to such a degree that it almost crushed the rustics who had taken their places in what was deemed a safe spot.”
The unbelievers were amazed at the power of the true God against the evil spirit whom they had served and honored for so long. The monks wept for joy. The name of Jesus Christ was exalted by all.
I bring this up to demonstrate just how odd the places a devil might inhabit can be. In this account a demonic spirit that “lived” in a pine tree bound an entire village. Demonic spirits are powerful and they are clever. This is especially true of high-ranking spirits. After all, demon spirits are commonly considered to be the fallen angels that followed Lucifer, and we know from Scripture that there are angelic beings who hold certain ranking positions, such as the archangels. As hard as it is for many Christians to comprehend, devils can come in the form of a cute bunny that leaves colorful eggs for children to find (or as a jolly old man with a white beard and a red suit for that matter). The Bible says that Satan appears as an angel of light, not as a red-skinned humanoid figure with horns and a tail holding a flaming pitchfork.
Demon spirits should be considered no different than angelic beings in the context of ranking structures within Satan’s empire, and so there are certain spirits that would hold equally high-ranking positions. So, let’s think this through a little bit.
I know of plenty of people who push sensational claims regarding the origins of Easter and other customs of Christianity, like the similarly pagan origins within many of the customs and traditions of Christmas. When scrutinized through actual academic study those claims fall flat. When a person cannot actually back up their claims with supporting facts, then it becomes increasingly difficult to accept those claims, and this effects our view of anything else that person might say, even when they are telling the truth. This is particularly true of ancient cultures and world history, especially when the known information about the culture and history being discussed actually contradicts or debunks the sensational claims.
As a result, I know of others who, through legitimate concern, are working diligently to address these issues because the credibility of Christian faith and the movement to embrace Torah is at stake. After all, we live in a time like no other where truth and facts are available to everyone you talk to through the Internet, and the Internet can be accessed from a device that most people carry with them in the form of a smartphone. Literally speaking, the survival of the Jewish-Christian faith hangs on Believers abandoning the lies and embracing the truth, because the unsaved world we seek to reach knows the truth more than ever before in history. As a result, the challenge presents itself to combat the wild teachings while at the same time demonstrating that these things are still best avoided based on facts that are more easily proven or at least theories and claims that seem to be credible, backed by reliable sources.
While I respect the work and efforts of those who are driven by scholarly research into archaeological findings and actual historical documents, I feel that at times some people can be so smart that they overlook the obvious. What seems pretty apparent is that there are a variety of names given to pagan goddesses that have a great deal of similarity, which include but may not be limited to: Ishtar, Astarte, Eostre, and Ostara. Not only do these names sound similar, but they also sound a lot like the term Easter.
So, back to demon spirits. We know they are real, and we know they are powerful, and we know they are highly intelligent beings. Demon spirits are the craftiest of liars, and as such they can formulate a great deal of confusion. So, how do we know that these names are not all associated with the same demon spirit who has consistently manifested throughout history and pagan societies? After all, these are all names associated with a pagan goddess of one culture or another, all with a connection in some form to sexual perversion and/or fertility.
The point is that just because there is no direct historical link that can be found between Ishtar and Easter as some have claimed, and just because the existence of Eostre in pre-Christian Europe is considered a little sketchy to some people, doesn’t mean that the connection is nonexistent. In fact, knowing about demon powers would seem to indicate quite the opposite. It would seem logical that a demon spirit, especially a high-ranking one, would move through history and drop hints of a connection along with hints that no such connection exists. This would cause people, as it has many times already, to engage in long and senseless debates about these topics. After all, if Believers are wrapped up in ridiculous debates about whether or not it’s OK to celebrate Easter, then they are not focused on doing what the Bible says. And the Bible says to celebrate the Passover.
Of such things as the pogroms I mentioned earlier, there may be some inclined to say: That was then, this is now. I am not an anti-Semite, I love Israel and the Jewish people. I would never do such horrible things, regardless of whether or not I let my kids go out for Easter eggs or get pictures with the Easter bunny. OK. You might not do it yourself, but you go right ahead and keep this demon spirit goddess of Easter alive and see what happens! Do you think Adolf Hitler was the last man Satan will raise up to try and eliminate the Jewish people? Keep this stuff alive and well in the Church. Go ahead. And when it happens again, God might just hold you accountable right along with everyone else keeping things like this alive and well.
Here’s the plain reality: The Bible says in Deuteronomy 12:29-31 not to worship God in the same way that pagan people worship their gods [and goddesses], and in the Ten Commandments it tells us not to have any other gods before Adonai nor to create for ourselves a graven image to worship. That word “before” from Exodus 20:3 can hold a variety of possible meanings, including “around” and “in my presence”. In other words, it is not just saying that we are to refrain from worshiping another god above or making another god more important than Yahweh the one true God. It actually goes beyond that and says that we are not to have any other gods around our God nor are we to be in the presence of our God with other gods.
This means that you are actually in violation of the first of the Ten Commandments the moment you engage in a celebration that honors some pagan god or goddess. So, then the question still remains: Is Easter the worship of a pagan goddess? Well, the only conclusive answer to that would be: Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.
However, there is a high probability that Easter is based heavily in paganism. Like I said a moment ago, the unsaved world around us knows all of this, and even if they don’t they can look it up on their smartphone or some other similar device before you finish talking to them. We simply cannot and will not continue to win the lost if we continue to do things that they know oppose what our Bible teaches. At best engaging in these pagan traditions will allow you to fill your Church up with recycled Christians, but even many Christians today are waking up to the truth.
This leads us back to the question I asked earlier: Is it holy? If there were even the smallest of chances that God considers it pagan idol worship to celebrate Easter with its rabbit and decorated eggs, if there is even a fraction of a percent of possibility that this will provoke His wrath, and if there is even the slightest potential that doing these things will result in your being sent to hell for all eternity, why would you even consider being OK with it?
The way I see it, this is all a matter of a heart condition. Do you love God or do you love the ways of the world? Does your love for God drive you to abandon the traditions of man? How can you love God and do anything that even holds the slightest chance of opposing Him and His Word? There is no sense at all in that.
When it is time for any of these secular-pagan holidays you can easily find the shelves of major retail stores stocked full with products for the celebration of these days. Whether it is Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or whatever, the world loves these holidays as much or perhaps more than the Christian Church does. But try finding items to celebrate Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles in these stores. There are more retailers stocking items for Hanukkah, thankfully, as they are recognizing that more Christians are celebrating what is in the Bible, but that is a minor festival that many treat as a Christmas alternative. The point is, if you want to “come out from among them and be separate” as the Bible tells us to do, it would seem logical to just do what the Bible says instead of following the holidays that are popular even among the heathen in the world around us.
I came across an article while preparing notes for this study that referred to Ishtar by saying, “She is the worshiped feminine nature of Eve’s sin committed in the Garden of Eden, which is transmitted into the human traits via the pagan spring celebration of Easter.” The article looked questionable so I am not citing it as a source, but that statement stuck out to me. You know, if we would just try to live the way we were supposed to in Eden none of this would even be an issue. Everything goes back to Eden, God’s garden. That is the place where the will of God for our lives is revealed.
The final question remains for those who can read through a message like this and still think there is nothing wrong with things like Easter. One day you will stand before God face to face, the Bible is quite clear about that. In that moment you will be called upon to give an account for the deeds done in the flesh (Romans 14:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10). You will have to answer to your Creator for your rejection of His Torah to have no other gods before Him, to not worship a created image, and to not worship Him in the same manner as pagan people worship their gods. If you think there is nothing wrong with these things, this is the question that is staring you in the face right now: WHAT
IF YOU’RE WRONG?
SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL STUDY:
~Blessings and Shalom~
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