Have you ever wondered how so many pagan holidays made their way into mainstream Christianity? Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, St. Valentine’s Day and Easter are just a few holidays celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike, many of whom have very little knowledge of the origin of the holiday. More than once I have been confronted by a non-believer who took great pleasure in shedding light on my ignorance. Here I was, thinking I was honoring God, when in fact I was taking part in “traditions of man” with roots in ancient paganism. “God’s ways are higher and better than man’s” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To help ensure that you do not get caught in that same trap or worse, adding to the confusion of others (a tool of satan himself), let’s look at the historical foundation of the most sacred season of the liturgical calendar – the season of Lent.
Believe it or not, Lent was not observed by Christ or His apostles. There is a certain significance given to 40 day periods throughout scripture: It rained 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:4,12), Moses on Sinai for 40 days (Exodus 24:18, 34:28), Jonah warned Niniveh of judgment in 40 days (Jonah 3:4), Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2) and Jesus was seen for 40 days after His crucifixion (Acts 1:3). Many more examples exist. However, we find no mention of Jews or Christians observing an annual period of 40 days of fasting and abstinence preceding the festival of the Passover, yet today a large number of the Christian world observes a 40 day period called Lent, which precedes the festival of Easter Sunday.
Lent was also not observed by the first century church. It was first addressed by the church at Rome during the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, when Emperor Constantine officially recognized the church as the Roman Empire’s state religion. In A.D. 360, the Council of Laodicea officially commanded Lent to be observed.
Initially, people wavered in the amount of time they observed Lent. Some kept it for one or two days, some for 40 hours, but none for more than a week. Eventually, it became a 40-day period of fasting or abstaining from certain foods.
Today, according to the Catholic church, Lent is the 40-day period (excluding Sundays) prior to Easter and commencing on Ash Wednesday, which is used for “fasting from sin and from vice…forsaking sin and sinful ways. The emphasis is not so much on the fasting as on the spiritual renewal that the preparation for Easter demanded. It is a season for penance, which means sorrow for sin and conversion to God. The purpose of Lent is to provide purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.” This tradition teaches that fasting and employing self-discipline during Lent will give a worshipper the “control over himself that he needs to purify his heart and renew his life.”
But wait! The Bible teaches that self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, and comes from having God’s Holy Spirit working in the life of a renewed mind. (Galatians 5:16,17, 22) Godly self-control does not come as a result of fasting or abstinence, or of your own will.
Also, you cannot create within yourself “the desire to do God’s will.” Why? Because the carnal, natural mind will not submit to God. Romans 8:5,7 tells us “the carnal mind is hostile against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Further, “to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts” is a false tradition taught by misled brands of Christianity, and is not biblical.
In fact, the 40-day period observed in the springtime has roots far deeper than the Roman Catholic church. Lent originated in the mystery religion of ancient Babylon. Read on:
After the great flood, Noah had a talented, but evil, great-grandson named Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12). “Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” Nimrod build and organized cities of great evil and perversion. After he died, his wife, Queen Semiramis, deified him as the Sun-god Baal, Baalim, the god of fire, Molech, etc.
Later, when she gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that the son, Tammuz, was Nimrod reborn. She claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived and that he was the promised seed, the ‘savior’ promised by God in Genesis 3:15. She and her son were worshipped, and she became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc. According to ancient Babylonian legend, when Tammuz was killed (slain by a wild boar) his mother wept for 40 days, until he was magically resurrected in the spring.
It was around this time in history when God, seeing the abomination of mankind, confused the languages and scattered the population (Genesis 11:7). So, from Babylon, this evil Sun-God cult spread to many nations, and Queen Semiramis and Nimrod took many names. Some called the Mother Goddess “Ishtar” (pronounced “Easter”), Eostre, Astarte, Ostera, and Eastre, as well as Wife of Baal, and Queen of Heaven. She was frequently worshipped as the goddess of fertility, springtime, sexual love and birth. Many immoral and perverted rituals were carried out in her name. A modern symbol of her worship is the Easter bunny (the rabbit is well known as a sexual symbol of fertility) and the egg, which was a sacred symbol of the Babylonians.
The observance of Lent, Easter Sunday (better to be referred to as Resurrection Sunday) and seemingly harmless traditions such as coloring eggs and enjoying chocolate bunnies in Easter baskets take on a new meaning once you become aware of the twisted and godless history of the ancient pagans. Ash Wednesday and Lent are not found in the bible and can be traced back to the “mother and son” cult. The pagans even held a wild, “anything goes” celebration to make sure they got their fill of worldly pleasures, before the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz – what the world celebrates as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras today.
Lent found its place on the calendar when the early Roman church took mearures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals to coincide, and skillfully adjusted the calendar to accommodate both traditions at once. Passover was replaced with Easter, moving the pagan Feast of Tammuz to early spring, and bringing Lent right along with it. In hindsight, it seems that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to Christianize pagan celebrations – adopting the name Easter (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ.
We have barely skimmed the surface of a rich, although misguided, church and pagan history. Numerous books and resources are available on the subject, and we encourage you to be prepared with basic knowledge for anyone who questions you on the topic, no matter what their intention. You may also find yourself faced with a question: “Will I celebrate the traditional Easter?” I find myself torn at times, being a conformist by nature, and wanting to blend in and go with the norm. However, being called by God to live a holy life, “set apart” from others, does not agree with being a conformist. I am forced to rethink stuffing Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies, as now the word “Easter” has been forever tarnished in my heart and mind, and it will lovingly and willingly be replaced with Resurrection Day as we celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus, our savior.
God commands His people to follow Him – not the traditions of man. He commands us in Revelation 18:2-4 to flee from the pagan traditions and customs of this world. “With a mighty voice he shouted: Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Then I heard another voice from heaven say: Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”
Lent may seem like a sincere religious observance, but it is deeply rooted in a pagan cult that is contrary to God’s plan, and He hates all pagan observances. It is our honor to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and to be a witness to our fellow believers and the secular world when choosing how to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
Certainly something to pray about.
Sources include christiananswers.net; Aloha.net; The Restored Church of God (thercg.org); Dr. Hank Lindstrom of the Calvary Community Church in Tampa, Fl (biblelineministries.org).
We thank you for your unconditional love
And for your forgiveness in our sins,
We thank you for inspiring us through your word
To joyfully follow in Christ’ footsteps and obey your commands.
Lord we pray you will continue to lead our ways
And guide us to the gates of the new Jerusalem,
We pray you will provide all we need
To serve you and witness to those around us.
Father allow us to recognize the work of the enemy
That surrounds and hides among us each day,
May your light continue to shine bright upon us
Upon our families, our friends and all those in need.
God we love you and thank you for all that you make possible through Christ!
This message was written by Elizabeth St.Pierre