What Happened To The Lamb That Was Slain?
The anti-semitism of the church, as previously discussed, contributed to what we know as “Easter” today, and why the church has adopted the various pagan customs rather than keeping the Passover feast. The Christian church’s commemoration of the resurrection of Christ at the same time as Easter dates back to the year 325 A.D. when Constantine conviened the Council of Nicaea. Among the items to be discussed at the Council of Nicaea was the doctrinal question of the keeping of Easter, when the church would observe it. The Council did not meet behind closed doors, Christian laymen as well as pagan professors took part in the debate (Burn, 26). All of the churches agreed that observance should have some relation to the Jewish date, the 14th of Nisan, the day the Passover lamb is slaughtered. The question was what kind of relation. The anti-semitism of the meeting is evident in the following quote stated by Constantine during the Council of Nicea:
And truly, in the first place, it seems to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the customs of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who, polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practices of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our “Lord’s” passion even to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews (Council of Nicea 52).
At the conclusion of the debate the Council determined that Christ’s resurrection would be celebrated along with the pagan’s celebration of Easter. It would always be celebrated on a Sunday, but never at the same time as the feast of the Jews. If the 14th of Nisan fell on a Sunday, then Easter was not to be observed until the following Sunday (Burn, 46).
Remember that during the rule of Constintine it had suddenly became illegal to be a pagan, yet most of the populaton was still pagan in their culture and practice. This, along with the increasing anti-semtism from within the church, made an ideal climate for syncretism of the, suddenly politically correct, Christian church and the former pagan observances. In the book The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer comments on how the church compromised herself during this significant period:
When we reflect how often the Church has skillfully contrived to plant the seeds of the new faith on the old stock of paganism, we may surmise that the Easter celebration of the dead and risen Messiah was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis…Taken altogether, the coincidences of the Christian with the heathen festivals are too close and too numerous to be accidental. They mark the compromise which the Church in the hour of its triumph was compelled to make with its vanquished yet still dangerous rivals (344-347).
It is easy to see how the pagan worshipers of the various, simular but different gods and goddesses could be assimilated into the Christian faith simply by some minor adaptations. In an article, The Last Two Million Years by the Reader’s Digest Association, 1981, page 215 it says:
By a stoke of tactical genius the Church, while intolerant of pagan beliefs, was able to harness the powerful emotions generated by pagan worship. Often, churches were sited where temples had stood before, and many heathen festivals were added to the Christian calendar. Easter, for instance, a time of sacrifice and rebirth in the Christian year, takes its name form the Norse Goddess, in whose honor rites were held every spring. She is turn is simply a northern version of the Phoenician earth mother Astarte, goddess of fertility. Easter eggs continue an age-old tradition in which the egg is a symbol of birth; and cakes that were eaten to mark the festivals of Astarte and Eostre were the direct ancestors of our hot-cross buns.
The church’s adoption and “Christianization” of the pagan symbols of Easter eggs, Easter rabbits and Easter buns are explained in The Catholic Encyclopedia, “a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter…The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.”
The church’s modern day sycretism of pagan customs is no different than the abominations that God revealed to Ezekiel and Jeremiah with regard to the worship of Tammuz. The church does not have the authority to decide that it is okay to combine these pagan practices with the worship of God.
God spoke clearly to us in Deuteronomy 12:
…take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; (v. 30-31).