18th Feb

Ash Wednesday, Christian or Pagan

ash-wednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lent season observed in the Catholic and a few Protestant traditions. But is this day or this season a Christian or even a biblical holiday?

Lent, the forty day period before Easter Sunday is not a biblical period commanded by God to observe. Lent was really an older celebration from the pagan worship of Baal, it’s history goes all the way back to the grandson of Noah.

Ham the son of Noah, had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis. Cush and Semiramis then had a son that they named Nimrod. You can find a little about Nimrod in Genesis 10:8-10. Nimrod married his own mother Semiramis and was eventually killed by an enemy.

After his death, his mother and wife declared him to be a “god”. She changed his name to Baal and then claimed that she was pregnant by immaculate conception. She claimed this was possible because the moon was a goddess of fertility (after all it looks like a giant egg) and that egg was fertilized by the rays of the sun.

She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when full and that she had come down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River at sunrise at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox

Eventually, Semiramis became known as Ishtar, pronounced “Easter” and soon gave birth to another son, Tammuz. Tammuz was also declared a god by his mother and it was not long before Tammuz was killed by a wild pig.

Queen Ishtar declared that a forty day period of mourning would be observed each year ending just after the first full moon following the spring equinox on what we now call Sunday. During this time the people were not to eat meat and were to eat a pig on that ending Sunday.

As the “mystery” religion grew, Ishtar began to be worshiped as the “Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven”. The worship of Baal was observed with flames in general and candles specifically. Following the death of Tammuz, he too was worshiped using the  the sacred candle or lamp flame.

Many of you may remember that Israel had numerous periods when they worshiped this false god, they even offered their own children to this lie. The babies were sacrificed in the honor of these pagan gods and their blood was consumed by the worshipers.

It was for this reason that the Lord removed Israel from the land that He gave them. (Jeremiah 7:17-19; 44:19-29, Ezek. 8:14)

The fertility rites were extended to agricultural processes and to ensure a prosperous growing season, Pagans rolled eggs decorated with the bright colors of Spring in their fields, hoping to imbue fertility. These eggs were then hidden from “evil spirits” in rabbits’ nests, another symbol of fertility.

Following Emperor Constantine’s declaration that all of the Roman empire was now Christian, the “mystery” religions were absorbed into Christianity which had been un-moored from the Jewish traditions and the scriptures.

The historian Eusebius of Constantine’s era, records “When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner?”

Alexander Hislop, author of “The Two Babylons” wrote, “It was an essential principle of the Babylonian system, that the Sun or Baal was the one only God. When, therefore, Tammuz was worshiped as God incarnate, that implied that he was an incarnation of the Sun”

Connected with his worship was a pagan “Lent” of forty days. Hislop adds, “Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing . . . being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the ‘month of Tammuz;’ in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April.

To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity — now far sunk in idolatry — in this as in so many other things, to shake hands”

A clear reading of scripture indicates that the Lord did not intend for us to commemorate and mourn the death of our Savior Jesus Christ, but that we were to celebrate the freedom from sin and death gained by our Lord. Passover is the biblical feast we observe according to the Lord’s commands, followed by Resurrection Sunday or the Feast of First Fruits.

The word “Easter” appears in the KJV translation, but in the Greek from which it is translated, it is ‘pascha’, and it means Passover, from the Hebrew word “Pesach”. All scholars admit that this is an error in translation, and it only appears once, at Acts 12:4.

Consider what it is that you observe during this season. Many will say that it does not matter how we observe or what we call this time, but I disagree. Words do matter as do keeping the seasons the way the Lord intended. The choice is yours.