Resurrection Sunday is Actually First Fruits According to Jewish Calendar NOT Easter

April 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM 6 comments

firstfruitsHere in America, we Christians celebrate things that were not celebrated by the early Christians, at least not in the way they celebrated them. Easter is a prime example.

The word “Easter” is actually a derivative of Ishtar, which is where we get the word “Ashteroth,” which is the goddess of fertility. I don’t think God appreciates the fact that we use a word associated with a goddess (mentioned numerous times in the Hebrew Bible). Yet, that’s what we’re doing.

“This same goddess, incidentally…is the Ashteroth, or Astartes, of Scripture (II KIngs 23:13; I Samuel 7:3,4). We derive our modern word ‘Easter; from Ishtar, one of the biblical variants of the word Ashteroth. Ashteroth was the goddess of love and fortune, the Queen of Heaven. She was also the goddess of fertility. Thus we have our ‘innocent’ Easter symbolism involving bunny rabbits (What’s more fertile than a rabbit?), eggs, and baby chicks.” [1]

Some churches are moving away from that by referring to the day as “Resurrection Sunday.” Certainly, that’s closer to the mark, but why not simply focus on the fact that just as Jesus fulfilled the Passover as THE Passover Lamb, who took away the sins of the world (for those who place their faith in Him and His atoning work)?

I believe the simple answer is due to the fact that it reminds too many of Jewish holidays/feasts. Aren’t those things part of the past? Are they really appropriate for Christians today? I have absolutely no doubt that all Christians should become aware of the meaning of each of the feasts introduced by God through Moses to the nation of Israel. It is also interesting to note that everyone who was part of the nation of Israel – even if not Jewish – were supposed to take part in the feasts.

Yet, here we are today and too many of us Christians celebrate Christmas, Easter, and other things that were not celebrated by the first century Christians. Those Christians (as well as Messianic Jews) celebrated the feasts as outlined in Scripture.

I believe there is good reason for it. God provided those feasts as clues and information about how His redemptive process works.

I wonder though why we don’t celebrate the fact that Jesus is (present, perfect, and continuous) our High Priest? The fact that He literally stands in for us as a perfect High Priest who does not have to deal with sin in His life (since no sin in His life exists) makes Him the absolutely perfect Person to plead our case before the Father.

Because Jesus does not have to deal with anything sinful in His own life, He is free to serve us, those who follow Him. We are told in Hebrews 4:16, that we are to “…draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

As authors Klein and Spears point out, Christians today don’t have an accurate understanding of that passage. We somehow think that because the veil has been torn from the top to the bottom, we can simply run into the Holy of Holies without a care in the world. Isn’t that what the word “boldly” means? No.

In Jewish thought, the idea is that now that the veil has been torn, we are free to boldly go to up to the line where the curtain still stands (though completely torn) and see into the Holy of Holies. But just like the Hebrew Bible tells us, only one High Priest was allowed into that very sacred place (and only once per year).

We do not go into the Holy of Holies. We go up to it and look in! This is far different from what we normally assume. Jesus – as our High Priest – sits on the Mercy Seat and intercedes for us constantly. There cannot still be more than one person in the Holy of Holies at a time and right now, the fact that Jesus Himself is sitting there making intercessory prayer for us is the absolute best we can have! If Jesus is there on our behalf, why would we want to go into the Holy of Holies? What can we do better than Jesus? Nothing!

The veil is gone, allowing us to boldly go up to the curtain and peer into the Holy of Holies. We learn in Hebrews that Jesus is there, always praying on our behalf, always bringing our needs before the Father, and always fighting for us over the din of accusations coming from the “left” (Satan).

Jesus is always at the right-hand of the Father. Satan is always on the left. That tells you something about political parties in America too.

What I’m learning is that by going back to our Hebrew roots (and remember that Christians are grafted into the vine as a “wild” plant), we gain a far greater understanding for what it all means for us as Christians today.

Resurrection Sunday is actually the Feast of First Fruits. We need to call it that. We need to understand the depths of knowledge and wisdom that comes from that designation. It is not Easter Sunday. It is First Fruits and Jesus Himself is the First Fruits.

 

[1] John Klein and Adam Spears, Lost in Translation, Volume 1 (2007), p. 134

Entry filed under: Judaism, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

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6 Comments

  • 1. Sherry  |  April 19, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Actually, it IS Easter and not Resurrection Sunday. According to Josephus Jesus rose from the dead on April 5th, 33 AD-on the feast of First Fruits of that year. We would be better in line with the truth if we would celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection on either the First Fruits of the Jewish Calander or the date of April 5 on the Roman calander. Or, we could celebrate it daily… 😀

    • 2. modres  |  April 19, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      I’d be happy if people called it Resurrection Sunday, but I’d be happier if it was referred to in the church as First Fruits since that’s what it truly was all about. 🙂

      • 3. Sherry  |  April 19, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        And that would make me happier, too. In any case, 😀 He is risen!…

      • 4. modres  |  April 19, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        Amen!

  • 5. Lester  |  April 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Thank you Fred! The groups I have been with for over 40 years do not recognize almost all Orthodox so called holy-days. It is almost an insult! As for celebrating the feasts of Israel, you are correct that they have very special meanings for the plan of God. They are also celebrated in a macrocosm sort of way in the whole body of Christ in a way of experience in every individual that follows on to really know Christ. One thing that bothers me about what you say is the grafting in, Jesus is the root and trunk of the tree and we of course are grafted in. Israel in the natural must be restored to be actually part of the tree of life! Anyway, The resurrection is a MAN, the man Christ Jesus.Son of man Son of God and we are part of these first fruits, Praise His Name/Nature.

    • 6. modres  |  April 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Hey Lester, thanks for your comments.

      The grafting in that I’m referring to is from Romans 11 when Paul speaks of the fact that we are grafted in as wild olive branches (Romans 11:17).

      I agree with you that Israel (or at least the Remnant of Israel) must/will be restored and that I believe will happen. I think we are saying the same thing.

      This Sunday, I will be seeing things differently about Jesus’ resurrection, not as “Easter,” but as the First Fruits!


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