Easter or Passover…There Goes Peter Cottontail

Before I commit to this blog, let me say that I DO NOT believe that if someone dyes Easter eggs, and fills a basket with chocolate treats for the little ones to empty so they can collect the eggs that the Easter Bunny hid while they were sleeping, is going to hell.  I say this because we, as a nation, have cultivated tradition as it applies to our Holidays so deeply that the mere mention of their pagan origins not only incites hostilities, it almost always ensures a “slammed door” on the conversation. You see, I not only ran with fervor as a child to fill my basket, I faithfully filled baskets for my children and stayed up late to hide the bunny’s loot!  I get it.  I am not suggesting that Easter Egg Hunts be outlawed, or that Peter Cottontail be tarred and feathered; but that the fun and games not overshadow the reason we celebrate Easter…the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of the living G-d. For the most part, we as Americans are not aware of the feasts, or festivals that were ordained by G-d as they, among other Torah perspectives, have been perverted from their original meanings. We forget that he first believers in Jesus were all Jewish and not until the salvation of Cornelius, in the tenth chapter of Acts, do we see that the Good News of the Kingdom was opened to the gentiles. When the gentiles became co-heirs of the Kingdom, major changes took place, first among the Jews, and also among the gentiles. The gentile believers were known as the “G-d-fearers”, who left paganism and incorporated the teachings of the Torah with some even attending Synagogue. It is certain that within both groups of believers, the working of Messiah within the Sabbath, the festivals, and customs were understood. In the year 66 C.E., the Apostle Paul died and the Jewish nation revolted against the Roman Empire.  Four years later the Roman Legions encircled Jerusalem at the feast of Passover. Jesus was clear that the generation that was alive at the time of His death would see the destruction of Jerusalem. He had instructed that when the city was encircled by the enemy, they were to flee and this is what they did, enter, The Diaspora, or dispersion. The Jewish people became scattered throughout the Roman world, a world hostile to the Jews, where anti-Jewishness became popular and the opposite was interpreted as not being loyal to Rome. In spite of this, Jews were still becoming believers, as well as many Gentiles. Later, Constantine, the Caesar of Rome who, for political reasons, embraced a group that was now called Christians. In 325 C.E, The Council of Nicaea was formed. Included therein were the leaders of the churches throughout the land, with the exception of even one Rabbi. They prevailed to outlaw the Biblical Calendar, making the Sabbath a Sunday, as well as replacing Passover with Easter, in honor of the Babylonian goddess of fertility, and Sukkot with Christmas, for the Roman Sun God’s birthday.  Hence, the “Christian Creed” and the New Testament Writings came forth from the findings of this council. The faith was now a totally different religion; having Greek names, concepts, and holidays that substantiated the gentiles. Yet, in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, we see how the feasts, or festivals represent G-d’s appointed times. They are to teach of Messiah. In the festivals G-d explains, defines, demonstrates, and reinforces Himself, and His Plan. The Festivals are a picture of G-d’s plan for man. The first festival is called Passover. In Exodus 12, G-d instructed that on the 10th day of the month of Aviv (March 21), each family was to bring into their home a male lamb, without fault or blemish. For the next four days, they would nurture and inspect it.  It is no coincidence that the Lamb of G-d entered Jerusalem this same day. We see in Mathew 21. 7-9, that Jesus, the Lamb of G-d, followed the procession of the Temple Lamb, after which, he was “inspected” for 4 days; and no fault was found in him. Finally, at 3:00, or the ninth hour, the priest would blow the shofar to announce the lamb had been slain; and we see Luke 23:44–46, that this is precisely the time Jesus died. The feast of Passover, when a sacrificial lamb would take away the sins of the world, was a “holy convocation” (Leviticus 23), or recital, which pointed to Jesus as the perfect sacrifice…Jesus was and is enough. It would be precarious for me to even hope that we, as a nation, would integrate the Levitical Feasts into our culture as a social norm, however, I can hope that consideration of the Feast of Passover be honored with a fresh understanding of G-d’s Love for Man.