by Ken E Murray
You know …if you were to try to tell an Australian: “Pigs fly” …they’d probably look at you with a wise smile and say … “I think you’re having a loan of me.”
Same with Lent. When churches direct people to observe Lent, they’re really ‘having a loan of people’.
Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons (1959), explains how Lent was originally part of the pagan rituals of the Chaldeans of Babylon, being 40 days of fasting, leading up to Easter. “Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was . . . Ishtar” (p. 103).
Hislop explains that “the forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess” (p. 104). In Egypt a similar 40-day period of abstinence “was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god” (p. 105).
How, then, did 40 days’ abstinence come to be associated with a resurrection? Hislop continues: “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” (p. 105).
Tammuz was a chief Babylonian deity and husband of the goddess Ishtar. Worship of Tammuz was so widespread in ancient times that it even spread into Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 8:12-18 God describes that worship and calls it an abomination—something repugnant and disgusting to Him.
The Babylonians held a great festival every spring to celebrate Tammuz’s death and supposed resurrection many centuries before Christ walked the earth (see “The Resurrection Connection” on page 18). Hislop comprehensively documents evidence showing that Lent and Easter’s origins precede the modern Christian holiday by more than 2,000 years!
Hislop cites the fifth-century writings of Cassianus, a Catholic monk of Marseilles, France, on the subject of Lent and Easter’s being a pagan custom, rather than a New Testament observance. “It ought to be known,” the monk stated, “that the observance of the forty days [i.e., the observance of Lent] had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate” (p. 104).
Sir James Frazer describes Lent and Easter ceremonies entering into the established church: “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 Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis [the Greek name for Tammuz], which . . . was celebrated in Syria at the same season” (The Golden Bough, 1993, p. 345).
This week the Pope and the Roman Curia (inner circle of Cardinals) spend the first part of Lent in their “annual retreat”, together, which concludes this coming Saturday.
Cardinal Arinze told Vatican Radio, at the start of this month. “The first day the priest follows Jesus to encounter God, who must have first place in our life.”
It certainly would be a good move, to heed and follow the words and example of the true Jesus Christ, “who must have first place in our life”. So, just as the true Jesus kept God’s Holy Days and not pagan days, we too, should not observe Lent or Easter.
We should follow Jesus example of keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“And because he (Herod) saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Passover (Greek: “Pascha”) to bring him forth to the people. (Acts 12:3-4)
Note carefully, that the Greek word “Pascha” means Passover and is connected with the Days of Unleavened Bread. These are the Holy Days that God has commanded us to keep, not Lent and Easter.
Referring to this 2009 year that the Roman Catholics have dedicated to the Apostle Paul, the Pope stated on Vatican Radio, 26 February 2008: “Paul experienced in an extraordinary way the power of the grace of God, the grace of the Paschal mystery which Lent itself lives.”
“Pascha” or “Paschal” in the scriptures refers to the Passover and has nothing to do with Lent or Easter, which are of pagan origins. So, it is quite a mystery how the Pope would think to try to syncretise Passover with Lent, when Paul never kept Lent, but he did keep Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Any connection with Lent and Easter (Ishtar) would have been anathema and an abomination to the Apostle Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI at Mass in the Basilica of St Sabina, 26 February, also stated: “It is a consciousness that emerges in all his (Paul’s) writings that functioned as an interior ‘leaven’ on which God was able to act to push him forward, toward ever farther frontiers, not only geographical but also spiritual.”
The Apostle Paul would have been horrified to hear those words. Notice how Paul would answer the Pope and explain to him the problems of spiritual “interior leaven” and how we should become spiritually “unleavened”, like Jesus Christ.
“Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast (of Passover and Unleavened Bread), not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
Paul was inspired to encourage us to keep the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, following the example of Jesus, our Saviour.
Contrary to the Pope saying we should have an “interior leaven”, Paul advised us to put away spiritual leaven (sin) and become internally, in mind and spirit “unleavened” (without practicing sin). We are to become spiritually “unleavened as Christ is unleavened”, without practicing sin.
It’s about time worldly Christianity stopped keeping pagan customs like Lent, which are ‘taking a loan of people’ …and began keeping God’s Holy Days, such as Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.
That’s what we’ll be doing.
How about you?
Meantime …keep pumpin’!
PS: You can obtain FREE copies of this literature and the FREE Good News Magazine by contacting the United Church of God-Australia, Office on FREE CALL 1800 356202 or write to: PO Box 535, Brisbane, Qld 4001 OR as shown under Literature Request on the Church webpage …OR you can FREE download by clicking on to: Bible Study Course AND God’s Holy Day Plan.
PPS: “Why not have Your say?” Feel free to click onto these next 4 words and drop me an email.