Dear Brethren and Co-workers with Christ,
Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina! My neighbor recently asked me how my Passover was. Of course, it is not my Passover. It is God’s, but I responded that it went very well. I then asked him, “And how was your Ishtar?” We were far enough away that I’m sure he thought I said Easter, but I know him well enough that a bit of gentle jostling would not offend him, as his question about Passover was a slight bit of needling on his part. He is a wonderful neighbor. We help each other as the need arises and are not easily offended.
Mainstream Christianity sees Passover as Jewish, Old Testament, Old Covenant. Instead of Passover, professing Christians keep what they call the “Lord’s Supper”—most often not on the night that Jesus kept Passover, but on Sunday mornings. And when it comes to this time of year, they observe what they consider to be the resurrection of our Savior, calling the event by the name of the pagan goddess of fertility—Ishtar, Istra, Ashtoreth, Astarte—from which the name Easter originates. Thus, eggs and rabbits form a connection with this goddess of fertility.
Why does observing the Passover sound strange to many Christians? After all, Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples on that fateful night in which He was betrayed. While some try to claim that was not the Passover, the fact is there for anyone willing to read the gospel accounts for what they say. The disciples understood that it was the Passover, and were keeping it as such: “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?’” (Mark 14:12). In preparing for the location, Jesus instructed them to ask the master of the house, “The Teacher says, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” (v. 14). And they dutifully “prepared the Passover” (v. 16). Jesus is quoted as saying, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
The evening in which Jesus gave us the symbols of the bread and wine is called the Passover four times in the book of Matthew, five times in Mark, and six times in Luke. Furthermore, Paul didn’t avoid the reference, as he reminded the mostly Gentile brethren at Corinth that “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). He then commanded them to do something else that is not on the professing Christian radar: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8). The Feast he refers to is the one that begins the next evening after the Passover—the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Does it not seem strange to you that so few professing Christians follow the example of Jesus and His first-century followers who kept Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread? And does it not seem strange that the most sacred observance of professing Christianity is called by the name of a pagan goddess, with all the accoutrements of her fertility celebration? I encourage any of you who have never read our booklet Easter: The Untold Story to order a free copy and check out these facts that ought to shock any truly thinking person.
Our attending members in the Living Church of God have already proved these things for themselves, but I realize that some of you co-workers might find offensive the truth I am passing along to you. While we never seek to offend, we must tell the truth, hoping that some will open their eyes to understand that “Christianity” as most know it today is a far cry from that of Christ, His apostles, and the early Church. We are not referring to how they dressed or what language they spoke. We are talking about the very core of how Jesus lived and His very message. Yet, even in His day, His message was discounted: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ [meaning Master], and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46).
Dear members and co-workers, you have chosen to support this Work voluntarily, and we thank you. You know well that all our literature is given out free of charge to any and all who ask for it. We do teach the biblical principle of tithing to our baptized members, but we don’t pressure our co-workers and donors to do so. That is between you and God. Our least-asked-for booklet, because we very rarely even mention it, is God’s People Tithe. While we need the support of members, co-workers, and occasional donors to carry on this work, what we seek more than anything else is you.
Is that not also what Paul told the Corinthians? Breaking into a long thought, he said, “And I will not be burdensome [financially] to you; for I do not seek yours, but you” (2 Corinthians 12:14). Yes, what we seek most of all is to save some of our fellow human beings from the terrible time coming on this earth due to man’s rebellion against his Creator, and to help some during this age to come out of paganized Christianity. Only then may they be born into the Kingdom of God at Christ’s return. So while I do not seek to offend anyone with the truth, I will risk that with the hope of waking up some. Paul also took this risk with the Galatians when he wrote, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
The Passover is a sobering highlight for all who keep it, a reminder of the price of sin. The Son of God endured horrific abuse, shedding His blood and dying on the day of the Passover to pay the penalty, reconciling us to God. The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us of our need to respond to that supreme sacrifice by repenting, leaving behind enslaving sin. And the last day of that Feast reminds us that as the children of Israel were symbolically baptized (1 Corinthians 10:2), so we must be literally baptized (Acts 2:38). We must put to death the old way and come up to a new way of life (Romans 6:1-7). We now look forward to the next Feast in God’s plan of salvation, the Feast of Pentecost—May 28 this year—which reminds us that the Holy Spirit is given to us by God to write His law in our minds and hearts (Acts 2; Hebrews 8:10; Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Every life is precious in God’s sight. So, yes, I am willing to lose some co-workers if I can awaken others not only to know the truth, but to step out and practice the truth. It is not yours that we seek, but you. How we would love to have you celebrate these wonderful days with us and come to understand the great joy it is to do so.
In the meantime, I share the thinking of the Apostle John, who wrote, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). I pray for you as I know you do for me.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston