Why Fast For 40 Days of Lent?


Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is the day on which the faithful have their foreheads signed with ashes in the form of a Cross. It is also a day of fast and abstinence. But Jesus said, "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they DISFIGURE their faces (with a cross), that they may APPEAR unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and WASH THY FACE; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Matt. 6:16-18).

Jeremiah wrote, "Learn not the way of the heathen ... for the customs of the people are vain" (Jer. 10:2). "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Th. 2:3,7). "Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a FALLING AWAY first" (2 Th. 2:3). "Take heed that no man DECEIVE you. For MANY shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall DECEIVE MANY" (Matt. 24:4-5) -- "speaking PERVERSE things" (Acts 20:30) "and MANY shall follow their PERNICIOUS ways" (2 Pet. 1:2) "turning the grace of God into LASCIVIOUSNESS" (Jude 3,19) "and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

The practice of putting ashes on one's forehead has been known from ancient times. In the Nordic pagan religion, placing ashes above one's brow was believed to ensure the protection of the Norse god, Odin. This practice spread to Europe during the Vikings conquests. This laying on of ashes was done on Wednesday, the day named for Odin, Odin's Day. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, one of Odin's names is Ygg. The same is Norse for the World Ash. This name Ygg, closely resembles the Vedic name Agni in pronunciation.

The Norse practice which has become known as Ash Wednesday was itself, drawn from the Vedic Indian religion. Ashes were believed to be the seed Agni, the Indian fire god. It is from this name that the Latins used for fire, ignis. It is from this root word that the English language got the words, ignite, igneous and ignition. Agni was said to have the authority to forgive sins. Ashes were also believed to be symbolic for the purifying blood of the Vedic god Shiva, which it is said had the power to cleanse sins.

We read about "a MARK ... in their FOREHEADS" (Rev.13:16) that also indicates the name of a man (13:16-18). Who is that man? The mystic Tau, the T, the initial of Tammuz's name was written in Egyptian hieroglyphics and in the old Wemitic languages as, representing the CROSS. This mark of Tammuz was depicted on the forehead of Aphrodite (Semiramis the mother of Tammuz): Tertullian (d. ca. 250) says, "In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our FOREHEADS with the sign of the CROSS " (De corona, 30). The mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries (Tertullian, De Proescript. Haeret. cap. 40, vol. 2, p.54).

The day before Ash Wednesday is popularly known as Mardi Gras (or "Fat Tuesday" or "Shrove Tuesday"). It has developed into a time of partying and carousing, exemplified by the extravagant celebration in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is better known than the following day, Ash Wednesday, and represents the custom of living it up to get our fill of all the enjoyment the world has to offer before setting off to “Church” in mock repentance on Ash Wednesday. Such celebrations are an indication of the hypocritical spirit behind the facade.

The Yezidis, or devil worshippers of Koordistan hold a 40-DAY spring FAST (Layard's Babylon and Nineveh p.93). It was held in Rome to commemorate the sorrows of Ceres (Julius Firmicus, De Errore, p.70). In the early 19th century, German explorer Alexander von Humboldt noted the practice among the pagans in Mexico, being held in the spring. His account states: "Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn FAST of FORTY DAYS in honour of the SUN." (Mexican Researches 1:404) A Lent of forty days was also commemorated in Egypt. According to by English scholar John Landseer, in his Sabean Researches (1823), an Egyptian LENT of FORTY DAYS was held in honor of ADONIS or OSIRIS (p.112).

WHY the Churches Observe Lent

"Howbeit you should know," wrote Johannes Cassianus (John Cassian) in the fifth century, "that as long as the primitive church retained its perfection unbroken, this observance of LENT DID NOT EXIST " (First Conference Abbot Theonas, chapter 30).

Irenaeus, Bishop from France, wrote to the Bishop of Rome about Lent: “For the controversy is not only concerning the day” (the time to celebrate Easter) “but also concerning the very manner of the FAST (of Lent). For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more, and some FORTY. And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to private fancy” (Eusebius' Church History, book 5, ch. 24). "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:33). Lent came into the Church through custom -- through PRIVATE FANCY. The churches observe Lent, not because the Bible commands it, but because professing Christians adopted the custom from their Gentile neighbors.

The Origin of Lent

In the early Catholic Church, Lent was always called tessarakoste, in Greek, or quadragesima, in Latin. These two words mean “count forty.” Lent --though sometimes celebrated for only one or two days, or for several weeks -- WAS ALWAYS CALLED THE CELEBRATION OF FORTY DAYS! Why?
Why should a period of abstinence have gone by this name even though it was not until the beginning of the eighth century after Christ that the final number of forty days was fastened on the whole Church? The answer is obvious -- abstinence among the pagans was called by the name “count forty” because that is the length of time they celebrated their spring festival! Remember, Lent means “spring.”

Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia records: “In any case it is certain from the ‘Festival Letters’ of St. Athanasius that in 331 [he] enjoined upon his flock a period of FORTY DAYS of fasting preliminary to ... Holy Week, and second that in 339 after having travelled to Rome and over the greater part of Europe, [he] wrote in the strongest terms to urge this observance’’ -- Lent -- upon the people under his jurisdiction. Athanasius was influenced by Roman custom. It was at Rome that not only Easter, but also Lent, entered the Christian Church. Irenaeus wrote that Lent and Easter were introduced during the time of Bishop Xystus of Rome. This Bishop “did not permit those after him” to observe the practices of the apostles, but instead introduced the custom of Easter and of Lent. But where did Lent originally come from?

The historian Wilkinson, in his book Egyptian Antiquities, chapter 111,p. 181, wrote that the pagans kept “fasts, many of which lasted from seven to forty-two days, and sometimes even a longer period.” The Christians, after the death of the apostles, were also divided as to the length of their periods of fasting! But the original length of the fast, traced back to ancient Babylon 4000 years ago, was a “forty days’ fast in the spring of the year! ” (from Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon, chapter 4,page 93). That is why it bore its name of “forty days!” Each nation gradually changed the length of celebration, but they all retained the name. The apostatising Christians merely adopted the customs found in their respective countries -- that is why they were divided as to its length from the beginning. It took the churches of the Western World nearly eight centuries to impose a total period of 40 days abstinence as had been the original custom at Babel! Christianity today has turned to the pagan customs of Babel instead of the commands of God in the Bible!

Weeping For Tammuz Condemned in the Bible

Lent is nowhere commanded or mentioned in the New Testament. But it is mentioned in the Old Testament! “Lent,” remember, “seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz” -- the pagan Babylonian Messiah. The month of June was named in honor of the false Babylonian Messiah. Forty days preceding the feast of Tammuz (usually celebrated in June) the pagans held their Lenten season! Ezekiel describes it vividly in Ezek. 8:13-14: “He said also unto me, ‘Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.”’Notice that God calls what Ezekiel is about to see an ABOMINATION. What does the prophet see? “And, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz!” They wept for Tammuz, the false Messiah of the pagans! That weeping preceded the pagan festival in honor of the supposed resurrection of Tammuz. Fasting was joined with weeping FOR A PERIOD OF FORTY DAYS before the festival in honor of Tammuz. The period of weeping and semi-fasting fell during springtime. That is why the word Lent means “spring!” Lent is a continuation of the pagan spring-time custom of abstaining from certain foods just prior to celebrating a fake resurrection! And God calls LENT an ABOMINATION! That is why Christ and the true New Testament Church never observed it! Paul forbad Christians to observe these pagan “times” or “seasons” (Gal. 4:10). "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).

Jesus Christ Forbids Lenten Celebrations

“Is it a light thing ... that they commit the ABOMINATIONS which they commit here? ... Therefore will I deal IN FURY: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice yet will I not hear them!” (Ezek. 8:15-18). Here is what Jesus Christ said: “Take heed ... that thou inquire not after their gods, saying: ‘How used these nations to serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.’ THOU SHALT NOT do so UNTO THE ETERNAL THY GOD; FOR EVERY ABOMINATION TO THE ETERNAL, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods” (Deut. 12:30-31). Jeremiah was inspired to write: “Learn not the way of the heathen . . . for the customs of the people are vain?” (Jer. 10:2). Jesus Ieft us an example of what we ought to do -- and that example is not Easter or Lent!

What about Easter?

In the large five-volume Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, only six brief lines are given to the name "Easter," because it occurs only once in the Bible—and that only in the Authorized King James translation. Says Hastings: "Easter, used in Authorized Version as the translation of 'Pascha' in Acts 12:4, 'Intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.' Revised Standard Version has substituted correctly 'the Passover.'"

Here is what Socrates Scholasticus wrote in his Ecclesiastical History, not long after Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century after Christ: “Neither the apostles, therefore, nor the Gospels, have anywhere imposed ... Easter ... Wherefore inasmuch as men love festivals, because they afford them cessation from labor: each individual in every place, according to his own pleasure, has by a prevalent custom celebrated [Easter] ... The Saviour and his apostles have enjoined us by no law to keep this feast ... just as many other customs have been established in individual localities according to usage, so also the feast of Easter CAME TO BE OBSERVED IN EACH PLACE ACCORDING TO THE INDIVIDUAL PECULARITIES OF THE PEOPLES inasmuch as none of the apostles legislated on the matter. And that the observance originated not by legislation, BUT AS A CUSTOM the facts themselves indicate” (chapter 22).

A Counterfeit Resurrection Of "Another Jesus"

Notice that Lent immediately precedes the celebration of a Sunday resurrection -- supposedly of Christ! But Christ was not resurrected on Sunday!

Nowhere does the New Testament command us to observe the resurrection of Christ! We are commanded to observe the MEMORIAL OF HIS DEATH -- “Do this in remembrance of Me,” commanded Jesus! The early inspired true New Testament Church did observe that memorial, but it never observed Easter or Lent! God never commanded Easter in honor of the resurrection! Easter is in honor of the false Messiah -- Tammuz. Easter and Lent celebrate the resurrection of a false Christ. Paul warned that this very custom would develop -- “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached” -- and that is exactly what has happened (2 Cor. 11:4). Lent celebrated another Jesus, a false Messiah from Babylon! The celebration of a festival on Sunday in honor of the resurrection comes directly from PAGANISM. The pagans celebrated the resurrection of Tammuz, the false Messiah, immediately after Lent. This festival crept into the professing Christian world after the death of the apostles. The Christians began to neglect the annual memorial of Christ’s death. They substituted a Sunday Easter in its stead.

Notice that immediately after the Lenten observance, the prophet Ezekiel sees the people observing an Easter sunrise service: “Then said He unto me, ‘Hast thou seen this?’” -- the Lenten fast. “‘Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see GREATER ABOMINATIONS than these. And he brought me [in vision] into the inner court of the Eternal's house, and behold . . . between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with . . . their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing . . . that they commit the abominations which they commit here? . . . Therefore will I deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them"! (Ezekiel 8:15-18.) -- EASTER SUNRISE SERVICES -- the climax to the 40 days of Lent! (Ezek. 8:16)

Quartodecimen Controversy

Here is the quick, brief history of "Easter", from the Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th edition, Vol. VIII, pp. 828-829):

"There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. . . . The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals, though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to it, of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb and the first fruits from the dead, continued to be observed...

"Although the observance of Easter was at a very early period in the practice of the Christian Church, a serious difference as to the day for its observance soon arose between the Christians of Jewish and those of Gentile descent, which led to a long and bitter controversy. With the Jewish Christians . . . the fast ended . . . on the 14th day of the moon at evening . . . without regard to the day of the week. The Gentile Christians on the other hand, unfetteredby Jewish traditions, identified the first day of the week with the resurrection, and kept the preceding Friday as the commemoration of the crucifixion, irrespective of the day of the month.

"Generally speaking, the Western Churches [Catholic] kept Easter on the 1st day of the week, while the Eastern Churches [containing most of those who remained as part of the true Christian Church] followed the Jewish rule. [That is, observing Passover on the 14th of the first sacred month instead of the pagan Easter.]

"Polycarp, the disciple of John the Evangelist, and bishop of Smyrna, visited Rome in 159 to confer with Anicetus, the bishop of that see, on the subject, and urged the tradition which he had received from the apostles of observing the fourteenth day. Anicetus, however, declined. About forty years later (197), the question was discussed in a very different spirit between Victor, bishop of Rome, and Polycrates, metropolitan of proconsular Asia [the territory of the Churches at Ephesus, Galatia, Antioch, Philadelphia, and all those mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3—the Churches established through the Apostle Paul]. That province was the only portion of Christendom which still adhered to the Jewish usage. Victor demanded that all should adopt the usage prevailing at Rome. This Polycrates firmly refused to agree to, and urged many weighty reasons to the contrary, whereupon Victor proceeded to excommunicate Polycrates and the Christians who continued the Eastern usage [that is, who continued in God's way, as Jesus, Peter, Paul, and all the early true Church had done]. He was, however, restrained [by other bishops] from actually proceeding to enforce the decree of excommunication . . . and the Asiatic churches retained their usage unmolested. (Eusebius H.E. v.23-25) We find the Jewish [true Christian Passover] usage from time to time reasserting itself after this, but it never prevailed to any large extent.

"A final settlement of the dispute was one among the other reasons which led Constantine to summon the council at Nicaea in 325. At that time the Syrians and Antiochenes were the solitary champions of the observance of the 14th day. The decision of the council was unanimous that Easter was to be kept on Sunday, and on the same Sunday throughout the world, and that 'none hereafter should follow the blindness of the Jews.' (Socrates H.E. i.9) [The Roman Church now decreed that none should be allowed to follow the Scriptural method of celebrating Passover!]

"The few who afterwards separated themselves from the unity of the church, and continued to keep the 14th day, were named 'Quartodecimani,' and the dispute itself is known as the 'Quartodeciman controversy.'"

"This Do in Remembrance of Me" Annually

In I Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul tells the Corinthians: Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven . . . but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." And in the 11th chapter he gives the directions regarding this ordinance.

Some misunderstand verse 26 which says: "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup," by interpreting it "take it as often as you wish." But it does not say that!

It says "as often" as you observe it, "ye do show the Lord's death till he come." Even Jesus commanded, "This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (verse 25). We do it in remembrance of the Lord's death—a memorial of His death. As you know, memorials are celebrated annually, once a year, on the anniversary of the events commemorated. So we observe the memorial of Christ's death annually. And just as often as each year comes around, we are to "show the Lord's death till he come," by keeping this memorial.

Christ instituted this ordinance on the eve of His death. It was the 14th of Abib, by God's Sacred Calendar, in the very beginning of the day. God starts days at sunset, not midnight. So, later that same day, after Jesus had gone out to Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot led the crowd to seize Jesus. Then He was crucified later that same day, in the daylight part of this same 14th of the month Abib.

By following the example of Jesus in observing this sacred ordinance at the same time He did—the very same time the Passover was forever commanded to be observed—we continue to remember His death, annually, on the eve of the crucifixion.

Some always question the meaning of Paul in verses 27-29 in I Corinthians 11. The apostle is not speaking about a Christian being worthy or unworthy to take it. It is speaking of the manner in which it is done. We take it unworthily if we take it wrongly, in the wrong manner. Once we learn the truth about its observance, and yet take it at any other time than when God says, then we take it unworthily. We take it unworthily if we do not accept the body and blood of Christ. So let's not take this most sacred ordinance to our condemnation, but take it worthily instead!

True Christians Kept Passover

The New Testament reveals that Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament Church, both Jewish- and Gentile-born, observed God's Sabbaths, and God's Festivals—weekly and annually! Take your Bible and carefully read Acts 2:1; 12:3-4 (remember the word "Easter" here is a mistranslation in the King James Version—originally inspired "Passover," and so corrected in the Revised Standard Version); Acts 18:21; 20:6, 16; I Corinthians 16:8.

Eusebius, historian of the early centuries of the Church, speaks of the true Christians observing Passover on the 14th of Nisan, first month of the Sacred Calendar.

"A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Savior's passover . . . the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him:

"'We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles . . . and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord . . . and Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia . . . the bishop and martyr Sagaris . . . the blessed Papirius, or Melito. . . . All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith"' (Ecclesiastical History, book V, chapters XXIII and XXIV).

Jesus Christ kept the Passover. So did the Apostle John. And so did some Christians in Scotland even until the 7th century AD.

This information comes from no less an ecclesiastical authority than the church historian Bede. His Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation would astound many who have assumed that Christ and the early apostles all kept Easter.

He writes that "John, following the customs of the Law, used to begin the Feast of Easter [actually the Passover] on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, whether it fell on the Sabbath or on any other day" (III, 25).

The Apostle John was the author of five books of the New Testament and the "disciple whom Jesus loved." Yet he kept the Passover on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) just as God commanded in the time of Moses. That is the plain statement of this early Catholic theologian!

But where did John's custom come from? From the very example of Jesus Christ! "Nor did our Lord, the Author and Giver of the Gospel, eat the old Passover or institute the Sacrament of the New Testament to be celebrated by the Church in memory of His Passion on . . . [any other day], but on the fourteenth" (Eccl. History, III, 25).

Bede thus reiterates what the Bible itself plainly tells us—that Christ partook of the Jewish Passover and then attached new significance to the symbols of the matzos and wine on the 14th of the first month.

The custom of keeping the New Testament Passover, after the example of Christ and John, persisted among isolated groups for centuries. Bede tells us that some faithful were still keeping it in Scotland in the 7th century! (II, 19.)

Next Lesson: Why Two Resurrections? | Back to Home | Email Us