Lies of Our Fathers: A Must-Know on Lent

My next few posts challenge traditional religious beliefs, bear with me.

A few weeks back, my boss asked if I'd like to go to an Ash Wednesday service at his non-denominational church for the beginning of Lent. "Lent?" I thought to myself, "isn't that a Catholic holiday?" Apparently this isn't an observance limited to Roman Catholics.

For the sake of interest, I decided to go to the service, see what rituals were done and what reasoning a Protestant church had for observing the Lent ritual.

Not to my suprise, the simple and brief reason the pastor gave the congregation of 1,000+ was that Jesus had fasted for 40 days in the desert, and in doing so, we ought to join millions around to world and observe 40 days of Lent in remeberance of Christ's trials in the desert.

Most would say this sounds rather harmless, even God honoring. Seeing us in our solemn state for 40 days in honor of his fast in the desert, one can only imagine that our beloved Greek Jesus must be, in addition to the Sun-worshipper's solar-disc around his head, sporting a big grin in heaven right now...

<-- Our westernized view of Jesus is a total bastardization of the true Messiah. We view him as a Catholic Greek adonis with a halo; he was a zealous, Torah-observant Jew who rebuked the religious leaders of his time.

Yes, that's it, Jesus must be happy with the wonderful religion, festivals, and rituals we've set up in his name. Lent is just another one of those great festivals we've made, just for Jesus. Boy oh boy, how happy & proud Christ must be of us...

Or not.

A critical look at the Catholic observance of Lent will reveal that not only does Lent have no Biblical basis for observance, but in fact history tells us it is not a Christian festival at all, having its roots in the Babylonian Mystery religion. In particular, Lent was originally meant as a holiday in which Babylonians would mourn for 40 days in rememberance of the tragic death of a god named Tammuz. Let me prove it to you.

First off, what exactly is Lent? Why do some Christians celebrate it? An answer lies in The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert."


According to The Catholic Fact Book by John Deedy,
"Lent is the 40-day period (Sundays excluded) prior to Easter, which the church observes as a penitential season. It begins on Ash Wednesday (which can occur any time between February 4 and March 11,
depending upon the date of Easter), and it concludes with the passiontide, the two-week period during which the church's liturgy follows Christ's activity closely through the final stages of his life on earth. These two weeks are called Passion Week and Holy Week. It was once claimed that the Lenten practice was of apostolic origin, but historians fix its establishment at a later date, probably the 5th
century. Catholics are required to fast and are urged to adopt other
penitential modes during the season."


As stated earlier in my post, this ritual is not limited to Catholics; I personally visited a non-denominational Protestant Church a couple weeks ago for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. As a footnote, it would seem Protestants feel that the fasting part of this ritual isn't necessary, as the aforementioned church had a public luncheon immediately after the service, nor did anyone do anything silly like taping pieces of ash to their foreheads as many Catholics do.

<-- I hope that comes off with soap...


Now that you have some idea of what Lent is, let's have a quick overview of the early body of Christ, what did they observe, and whether they celebrated Lent.

Prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the followers of Christ were not necessarily known as 'Christians' (they were known as Nazarenes or Followers of the Way), nor did they meet in buildings topped with big steeples and crosses. During the time of Christ, in fact, believers met in the Temple & synagogues, hearing the Torah [edit: link changed, hi Val, Anna, and Rich! :-)] (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) tought to them every Sabbath (see Acts 15:19-21). This changed over time as followers of Christ were persecuted by the corrupt priesthood, the Rabbanites (Pharisees); believers then were forced to meet in homes in secret.

So the early 'church' was not a church at all, indeed, it was considered sect of Judaism for a time. After all, the believers were attending synagogues, hearing Torah taught in the Temple, observing Moses's words in the Torah, all while believing in the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua (Jesus).
To go on a wild tangent, it is my personal belief that Jesus did not come to start a new religion; doing so would be to say the original belief, faith in the God of Israel, was either false or flawed, which is contradictory to both Christian and Jewish faiths. That said, while Christ didn't come to start "Christianity", Christ certainly did not want to his followers to continue in Rabbanite Judaism; the corrupt Rabbanites (Pharisees) had extended the original faith in Yahweh into a man-made religion, polluting it with an abundance of rituals and rites (for example, the Talmud & "oral Torah") that are not a prerequisite to grafting into the original faith. The Messiah came not to start a new religion, nor to renew Rabbanite Judaism, but instead to bring Israel back to Torah, back to Yahweh, and give them a newfound faith & hope in the Him, the Scriptural Messiah.

Getting back on topic, Lent is not mentioned in the Tenach (what Christians call the "Old Testament"), the New Testament, the apostles, Jesus, nor by any of the first century church heads, one can only presume that the early believers had no such celebration of Lent. At the very earliest, Lent was addressed by the church at Rome during the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, when Emperor Constantine officially recognized that church as the Roman Empire’s state religion. Any other brand of Christianity that held to doctrines contrary to the Roman church was considered an enemy of the state. It wasn't until A.D. 360 when the Council of Laodicea officially commanded Lent to be observed (see The True Meaning of Lent for more information).

During the 4th & 5th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was trying to bring everyone under Roman control to the Catholic (dare I say, 'Christian') faith. A favorite means of the Church was to take the religion of the native pagan culture, and modify it so as to include Christ and the Christian story. While that by itself sounds harmless (at least for the Catholics), such integration has turned sour in the end for not only the poor pagans but also the mighty Church.

Let's have a look at the evolution of the 40 day fast period and how Lent came about as a global celebration for Catholics and also some Protestants in the present day.

The Babylonian religion tells the tale of a great man named Nimrod (yes, the same Nimrod found in Scripture). After his death, Nimrod's wife, Semeramis (also known as Ishtar), whom the Babylonians considered a deity as the "queen mother of heaven", through some miraculous conception, had a son named Tammuz. Because of this miraculous birth, Tammuz was considered the deific reincarnate of his father Nimrod. Alas, not all was well with our friendly false gods: when Tammuz was 40 years old, he was tragically killed by a wild boar in the wilderness. Tammuz, the god of heaven, dies the tragic death of a mortal! According to the myth, Tammuz was held captive in the underworld, unable to be set free until all the world wept for him. So his mother Ishtar weeps, fasts, humbles herself; she weeps until Tammuz is mystically resurrected (aha!), his resurrection symbolized by the budding of plants in the spring. Thus it became a ritual among the believers in this false religion to weep for Tammuz for 40 days, one day for each year Tammuz lived on this earth. After the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz, a pig would be slaughtered and eaten (the pig being significant as Tammuz was killed by a boar). Such weeping for Tammuz is mentioned in Scripture; God iterates it is an abomination to Him (see Ezekiel 8:14).

This Babylonian belief became widespread among cultures influenced by Babylon during its reign in Biblical times. It became so ubiquitous, in fact, that many different cultures had their own localized version of this story: The Babylonian "queen of heaven," Semeramis (Ishtar), the wife of Nimrod and mother of Tammuz, was the origination of the heathen goddesses, Aphrodite of the Greeks, Juno of the Latins, Isis of the Egyptians, Astarte of the Moabites, Ashtoreth of the Zidonians, Ishtar of the Babylonians, Ashtar of the Assyrians, and Eostre of the early Anglo-Saxons and Druids. (see this history lesson on Easter & Lent for more information). Additionally, even the Israelites -- God's own people -- gobbled up this same idolatry when they celebrated festivals in honor of the fertility goddess Ashtoreth, the Israelite version of Semeramis/Astarte/Ishtar/Eostre/Easter (see The fertility festivals being done in groves & high places for Ashtoreth in Isaiah 57:5-8, the sexual idol worship in Ezekiel 16:17, and Baal (husband god of Ashtoreth) worship in Ps. 106:28-39). From Biblical times up to the heyday of the Roman Empire, this Babylonian religion was well ingrained in the minds of virtually all the known gentile world, yes, but even into the minds of the Israelites.

The Catholic Church of the 5th century, looking to convert as many cultures as it could to the Catholic faith, modified the Babylonian myth so as to include the Christian story. Doing this, the massive number of pagans who believed this myth could now easily convert to the now-idolatrous Catholic Church. To convert, you could keep celebrating your Semeramis fertility festivals, you could continue with your pagan rituals & observances, just pretend Jesus is the reason for the season.

<-- Christmas is a "whole 'nuther story", but for Lent & Easter, false Babylonian gods Tammuz and Ishtar are the reason for the season.

They changed the Christian calendar so that Christians, too, would weep and humble ourselves for 40 days, just like the Babylonians. After the 40 days, we would, like the Babylonians, eat a pig at end of this 40 day period, on the day of Ishtar. In addition, the Catholic Church found it no difficult task to borrow the day of Ishtar and slap a Christian label on it ("Jesus resurrected on this day!"). To this day, of course, Christians fire up the oven and eat a pig on the 'holy' and 'Christian' holiday of Easter.



Above: Mmmm...mmm...freshly painted eggs for our fertility goddess Ishtar, complete with a big ol' whopping pig to eat. Christ must be grinning (cheek-to-cheek no doubt!) knowing we're celebrating his resurrection on a day named after a false fertility goddess! Oh and hey Christ? Mind if we eat some foods your father in Heaven told us not to? We can? Gee thanks!

The mother of heaven, the queen of heaven herself, was now Mary, mother of Jesus, rather than Ishtar. Sadly, even to this day the Catholic church encouranges praying to Mary, 'queen of heaven'. Citing as an example of the Catholic deification of Mary, making her the "mother of heaven" just like Ishtar, I quote a Catholic vigil, in particular the Evening Prayer of Holy Saturday through Morning Prayer of the Vigil of the Most Holy Trinity:


"Rejoice Mary, Queen Mother of heaven, alleluia;
Christ whom meetly thou bearest is risen, alleluia;
His forsaying thus fulfilling, alleluia:
Offer to God thy praying, alleluia."


The miraculous birth of Christ replaced the miraculous birth of Tammuz. Instead of 40 days of weeping for Tammuz, we would now weep for Jesus (which has evolved into humbling ourselves for 40 days, though Protestants can't be bothered to humble themselves). To this day, Catholics place ashes on their head, even go as far as to tape a piece of ash to their foreheads, for this 40 day festival.

<-- Silly, ain't it?

The Babylonian Mystery religion, being practiced in various forms among Teutonics, Saxons, middle eastern tribes, even peoples in the far east (see the writings of Cassianus the monk of Marseilles for more information) was merged into the Catholic church so as to convert these cultures to Catholicism. The Lent & Easter festivals were then proclaimed as holy by successive popes, borrowed by unwitting Protestants, and finally handed down to us as 'godly' by our apparently ignorant church leaders. This brings to the fore something God spoke to Jeremiah when he said,
"And when you tell these people all these words and they inquire of you, Why has the Lord decreed all this enormous evil against us? Or, What is our iniquity? Or, What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?

You must say to the people, 'It is because your fathers have forsaken Me, says the Lord, and have walked after other gods and have served and worshiped them and have forsaken Me and have not kept My Torah. But you! You have done even worse! You are stubborn, and instead of obeying me, you do whatever evil comes to your mind. Surely our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, emptiness, and futility, worthless things in which there is no profit!'

Therefore I will teach them about my power, and they will know that I am the true God."


We haven't changed much since the Catholic Church brought in the idolatry of pagans: We still humble ourselves for 40 days, we just pretend it's for Jesus' fast in the desert. We're still celebrating fertility festivals (eggs and rabbits!) named after false gods, we just pretend that Jesus resurrected on that day. We even eat the flesh of a pig on the day Tammuz was killed by a boar, we just pretend that God doesn't care if we disobey his commandments. And that's what Christianity has become; it's all pretend. We're pretending to be God's people when we are, as Jeremiah says, even worse than our fathers. God forgive us for our ignorance and lack of humility.

sources:
Watchmen's Prayers
Hope of Israel
Early Christian Writings by Julius Cassianus
"The True Meaning of Lent" by the Restored Church of God
"Fertility Cults"
"Queen of Heaven" by Rabbi Yaakov Farber
"The Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop
"Prove All Things" by Ed Stevens

6 comments:

  1. If you're going solely by Scripture, then it is more than obvious that the Sabbath is on the 7th day (not Sun-day!). For gentile Christians who've invested their lives into Christianity, this is a sticky one.

    On the actual observance of Sabbath, Scripture prescribes a day of rest and relaxation (fine by me!), unfortunately this isn't always possible today, given our work schedules and family life. That doesn't mean we should throw away the commandment, nor should we ignore it. We ought to try best we can to do zero work on the 7th day, that's what Yahweh asked us to do. You don't have to get religious about it, or condemn those that don't or can't observe it, nor will God zap you with a bolt of lightning if you don't observe it. For me it comes down to trying as best I can to follow Scripture.

    I am corrected and humbled on your point of dispensationalism. :-) I grouped dispensationalism and replacement theology together as one lump lie, when in fact they differ and were invented at seperate times. That said, early church heads such as Justin Martyr and others were planting the seeds of these false doctrines early on by saying God was done with the despicable Jews and now has a New People® of gentiles called the Church.

    Who is Israel? A good question that is very important to both Christian and Jewish faiths. Simply, Israel is Jacob (who's name was changed by Yahweh to "Israel") and his descendants. It is utterly important that this bit of truth not be missed: Yahweh gave the blessings and promises of Israel to Abraham's seed. In the Hebrew text, "zerah" is the Hebrew word used, which literally means the physical seed; sperm. We have recorded in Scripture that Abraham's physical seed, his descendants, were to inherit the blessings and promises. From Abraham, it was passed through to Isaac, and from Isaac, to his son Jacob (whom Yahweh renamed "Israel"), and from Israel to his 12 sons, who are the progenitors of modern day Israelites. Jews account for about 1/6th of all of Israel; modern day Jews decend from Israel's son Judah primarily, and also some trace decendance through parts of Levi and Simeon. The rest of phsyical Israel is lost; God mentions through Hosea how he scattered them throughout the world so as to turn them away from their sin. Only in the last days will the rest of Israel return, but that is a tangent for another time.

    So who is Israel? The physical seed of Abraham, factually speaking. Who is God's people? Israel. Does that mean anyone who isn't Jewish cannot be part of Israel? Of course not. As Paul says, despite our being born outside the covenant, gentiles are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel through faith in the messiah. Because believers in messiah are grafted into the covenant, we also share in the blessings and promises given to Abraham's physical seed. In summary, Israel is not a nation with borders, nor solely a genetic line from Jacob, but a group of people who are God's chosen.

    If Jews are the physical seed, and they are already God's people by birth alone, what then? Are they destined to spend eternity with God himself? Do they even need a messiah? Of course they do. Why? Simple: atonement of sins; where is the atonement coming from?! Even the rabbis will admit, without a Temple and without a messiah, Jews are living with their sins unforgiven, because there is no one to give them forgiveness but Yahweh himself. The Torah which Jews hold so dear is the very thing that condemns them to death; not a single Jew on God's green earth can claim perfect Torah observance, they can only look to Yahweh for forgiveness. And what has Yahweh done? Yahweh has offered forgiveness by sending the messiah, but most Jews today reject him, largely thanks to the 'holy' and 'christian' church that has persecuted them over the past millenium and a half.

    You ask if Jews ought to be converted, I say you are looking at it wrongly. God has never had a religion. God has had a people, Israel, who follow him. Those who choose to follow him become part of his people, Israel. To answer your question, it isn't so much a matter of conversion, only faith. A Jew, indeed anyone wanting atonement of sin and forgiveness, only needs faith in the messiah. Nothing more is necessary, no going to church, no formal conversion, no WWJD bracelets. :-) Yes, Jews need a messiah just as much as everyone else; we are no different than you gentiles, we sin as much if not more than the rest of the world (just look at the occult & secularism rampant in Israel today). Because of sin, we need a messiah for forgiveness and atonement. That Scriptural Messiah is Yeshua.

    I hope that answers your question of where I stand on Israel & the Jewish people.

    As far as being a "Messianic", I don't care much to be associated with religions. While I agree with some Messianic beliefs and I definitely love & enjoy Messianic music, Messianics seem all too bent on cloning rabbanite Judaism, which is corrupt by itself. It isn't really about "what are you", though, I think God cares more about your faith then your favorite flavor of religion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Um, to skip by the whole point with a grin and a smirk, i've always kinda liked Ash Wednesday, for blatantly obvious reasons. If you're stuck and not sure what to do, give me a thought instead. Hey, you could even send me gifts, i'm sure I'd be happy with that!
    Umm.. alright, i'm going before I ruin the mood here. Bye! :-)

    -Ash

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Ash! Good to see ya back, I thought you left never to return. Well with a name like yours, I can only imagine you like Ash Wednesday hehe. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Naw, don't worry, i'm always around! It's just a case of me trying to post or not! I'll try to make my comments more often.. so i'll see ya around!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Judah, your blogg is so cool, you really made the point. I hope lots of poeple understand, =)

    -Michaela

    ReplyDelete