by Fred R. Coulter

The Christian Passover, by Fred R. Coulter. If you are interested, please write us at our Contact Us page to request a copy of this book.

Prologue to 'The Christian Passover'

by Carl D. Franklin

The controversy over a 14th or 15th Passover is an ancient conflict spanning over 3,000 years. This conflict can be traced to Israel's early years in the Promised Land, when the idolatrous worship of Baal began to take hold. Baal, the false "Lord" of the heathen, was the chief rival of the true Lord God of Israel. The worshipers of Baal continually enticed and seduced the people of Israel to replace the worship of the true God with the counterfeit practices of Baalism.

After the twelve tribes of Israel split into the northern kingdom, called the Kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom, called the Kingdom of Judah, the ten tribes of the northern kingdom rejected the worship of the Lord God and embraced Baalism as their official religion. So universal was this descent into Baalism that in the 900's B.C., about seventy years after the division of the kingdom, Ahab, who ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, took Jezebel as his wife. Jezebel, who was the high priestess of Asherah and Baal, used her royal authority to promote her pagan religion and suppress the worship of the true Lord of Israel.

Under the leadership of Ahab and Jezebel, Israel abandoned her covenant with the Lord God and covenanted with the false imposter Baal. Forsaking the Nisan 14 Passover and the Nisan 15-21 Feast of Unleavened Bread, which the true Lord had commanded, Israel embraced Baal's counterfeit Nisan 15 transub- stantiation meal and a Nisan 15-21 leavened bread observance.

Israel's infidelity so angered the Lord God that He shut up the heavens. He sent Elijah the prophet, who prayed that the latter rains of the spring might fail. The rains failed for three successive years. For three Passover/Unleavened Bread seasons, the skies were like iron and the fields were like brass. For three long years, the children of Israel and their pagan priests cried out to Baal, the rain-god, "El is Baal, El is Baal, El is Baal." Still the rains did not come. The priests and prophets of Baal leapt and shouted, slashing themselves until their blood gushed onto "Mother Earth." The offering of their blood was meant to provoke Baal, "Father Sky," to anger. They believed that Baal would then strike out at the drought and angrily thunder across the sky in tumultuous, raining fury. But the rains never came.

At the end of three and one-half years, in the fall, perhaps at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, Elijah called the children of Israel and the priests and prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel. He challenged them to return to the worship of the true Lord God. Elijah's challenge rang out across the slopes of Mount Carmel: "How long halt [leap] ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal [be God], then follow him. And the people answered him not a word" (I Kings 18:21, KJV).

Elijah called upon the children of Israel to repent and return to God's true covenant with all their hearts. This repentance meant returning to the true worship of God, including the Nisan 14 Passover, the weekly Sabbath and the annual holy days of God. Israel was called to repent of honoring Baal on Nisan 15 with an animal sacrifice and a meal of transubstantiation. This "passover of Baal" was one of the most sacred days of Baal worship, for it was believed that on the full moon of Nisan 15 the leavened bread and wine offered to Baal actually became the body and blood of Baal. This counterfeit "passover" service was followed by a feast of seven days of leavened bread. It was accompanied by orgiastic, sexual worship of Baal. Elijah was calling Israel to repent and turn from these idolatrous practices.

It was agreed in this confrontation between Elijah and the priests and prophets of Baal that the God who answered by fire would prove Himself to be the true Lord God of Israel. As the priests and prophets of Baal began their ritual dancing and bloodletting, Elijah provoked them with repeated challenges. Elijah's mocking continued through the day while the priests of Baal called fruitlessly upon their god. The four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the groves leapt, shouted and gashed themselves with knives until "Mother Earth" ran thick with their blood. But Baal, "Father Sky," remained silent and windless. The prophets' blood spilling on the barren ground brought no response from Baal.

After the priests of Baal finished their futile, bloody rituals (perhaps on the last high day of the Feast of Tabernacles), Elijah acted. "And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

"And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

"And it came to pass at the time of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD [Jehovah], he is the God [Elohim]; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there" (I Kings 18:30-40, KJV).

Convinced by this awesome display of power, Israel was ready to turn from Baal worship and to renew her covenant relationship with the true Lord God by worshiping Him on His weekly Sabbath and by observing the 14th Passover, the seven days of unleavened bread and all the holy days of God. But Israel's repentance was short-lived, and the people soon returned to whoring after Baal. When Israel again broke her covenant with God, she was rooted out of the land in accordance with the mutually agreed terms of that covenant. Between 721 and 718 BC, nearly all the Israelites from the ten northern tribes were carried into Assyrian captivity, disappearing into the hot, dusty wastes of what are now the nations of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkestan and Afghanistan. The southern kingdom of Judah also refused to repent of her whoring after Baal and, beginning with a series of Chaldean-Babylonian invasions in 609 BC, was carried into captivity.

Baalism was the stumbling block that turned both Israel and Judah from their covenant with God, ultimately bringing their captivity. Central to their worship of Baal was a Nisan 15 transubstantiation meal. To this day, Judah insists on observing the Passover on Nisan 15, clinging to the day that she was accustomed to observe in commemoration of Baal. She refuses to acknowledge Christ Jesus as the Passover Lamb of God, slain on Nisan 14.

Christianity itself has not been immune to the insidious influences of Baalism. Deliberate attempts to pervert the true worship of God through the counterfeit teachings of Baalism are recorded in the writings of the New Testament. The force behind these attempts was the centuries-old assertion that Nisan 14 was not the true Passover day of God. The epistles of Paul are rife with this doctrinal combat (Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews), and the Gospel of John attests to this spiritual and doctrinal combat in which all true Christians were fully engaged by AD 70. By AD 95, the leadership of the Roman church (ekklesia) was abandoning the seventh-day Sabbath for Sunday, the first day of the week, and abandoning the 14th Passover for Easter Sunday worship.

This was the battlefield of doctrine on which the early New Testament church, the new Israel, engaged Baal and his priests (Jude 11, Revelation 2:14). These priests of Baal, called kohens or khns in the ancient language of the Caananite, launched a three-pronged assault against the true Christians of the first- century church. One prong of the assault was launched from Jerusalem; a second assault was launched from Alexandria, Egypt; and the third assault was launched from Rome.

These three movements soon coalesced into a weekly communion service-- a meal of transubstantiation to Mithras, the Baal of Persia, and the annual sunrise service in honor of Mithras' supposed resurrection. This service, now renamed Christian, was adopted by growing numbers of churches throughout the empire until it eventually replaced the true Passover service of Nisan 14. This push to paganize the worship of God was championed by Orthodox and Gnostic Gentile leaders of Asia Minor and Rome.

By AD 135, nearly every church congregation (ekklesia) in the Mediterranean region had abandoned the true Passover for Sunday Communion and the yearly Easter sunrise services. By AD 195, a mere sixty years later, the Orthodox Gentile bishops of Palestine had fully succumbed to this onslaught. Let us not forget that the first step in this dastardly departure from the true worship of God was the seemingly innocuous introduction of Baal's communion meal of Nisan 15 by the Middle Eastern conspiracy and of Baal's weekly Sunday worship by the leadership of Rome.

By AD 200, the only remaining bastion of truth to be found west of the Great Syrian Desert was in the province of Asia. As the book of Revelation and early church histories record, the true Christians of Asia, led by the Ephesus church (ekklesia), manned the ramparts of righteousness as received from the Lord Jesus Christ and the true apostles, and repelled assault after assault against the weekly seventh-day Sabbath and against the 14th Passover.

Eusebius records the testimony of Polycrates, the leader of the Ephesian resistance, who held fast against this invasion of false doctrine: "...but the bishops in Asia were led by Polycrates in persisting that it was necessary to keep the custom which had been handed down to them of old. Polycrates himself in a document which he addressed to Victor and to the church of Rome, expounds the tradition which had come to him as follows: 'Therefore we keep the day undeviatingly, neither adding nor taking away, for in Asia great luminaries sleep, and they will rise on the day of the coming of the Lord, when he shall come with glory from heaven and seek out [literally to raise up] all the saints. Such were Phillip of the twelve apostles, and two of his daughters who grew old as virgins, who sleep in Hierapolis, and another daughter of his, who lived in the Holy Spirit, rests at Ephesus. Moreover, there is also John, who lay on the Lord's breast, who was a priest wearing the breastplate, and the martyr, and teacher. He sleeps at Ephesus. And there is also Polycarp at Smyrna, both bishop and martyr, who sleeps at Laodicea, and Papirius, too, the blessed, and Melito the eunuch, who lived entirely in the Holy Spirit, who lies in Sardis, waiting for the visitation from heaven when he will rise from the dead. All these kept the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the gospel, never swerving, but following according to the rule of the faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, live according to the tradition of my kinsmen, and some of them have I followed. For seven of my family were bishops and I am the eighth, and my kinsmen ever kept the day when the people put away the leaven. Therefore, brethren, I who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord and conversed with the brethren from every country, and have studied all the holy Scriptures, am not afraid of threats, for they have said who were greater than I, "It is better to obey God rather than men" ' " (Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I, pp. 505-507).

After the death of Polycrates and his fellow Christian warriors in Asia Minor, the only remaining resistance to the relentless pagan conspiracy was in the distant Mesopotamian Valley and in the mountainous regions of Europe. Our true Christian brethren in these regions faithfully preserved the Old and New Testaments from the ravages of the Roman Orthodox, Jewish Orthodox and Gnostic communities. Opposing all corrupting influences, they preserved the only true testimony of our Messiah and His Passover.

As Elijah confronted the prophets and priests of Baal, and as our New Testament brethren resisted false prophets in their days, we also are engaged in a conflict. At stake is our eternity. Our combat is not against flesh and blood, but against the diabolical strongholds of reasonings--seductive reasonings that draw us away from the true worship of God and into the counterfeit worship of Baal.

We who are true Christians are the "New Israel." As Baalism was a stumbling block to the Israelites of old, tempting them to forsake their covenant with God, so our covenant relationship with our Lord is being severely tested. Will we falter in that relationship and succumb to the false teachings that our earlier brethren so faithfully resisted? Will we retreat from conflict and betray this ancient cloud of witnesses, whose blood figuratively cries out from the altar of God? Or will we overwhelm the strongholds of evil by continuing to follow our Lord and remaining faithful to the 14th Passover?

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, instituted the new symbols of the Christian Passover on the night of the 14th of Nisan. If we have truly accepted Christ as our Passover sacrifice, we must defend the 14th Passover that He established as the Lord God of the Old Covenant and fulfilled as the Mediator of the New Covenant. If we desire that God the Father continue to "pass over" our transgressions in grace and forgiveness, we must remain under the blood of the only Passover sacrifice that can cover our sins--Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

To worship God on a Nisan 15 Passover is to betray Christ and remove ourselves from His protective blood of the New Covenant. The choice is ours! If Christ be Lord, let us follow Him. For the worshipers of Baal are once again on the assault!

In The Christian Passover, Fred R. Coulter gives us a sharp doctrinal sword with which to engage and defeat the enemies of Christ. He offers us the strong shield of God's Word to protect ourselves from the darts of Satan as we battle the strongholds of perverse doctrine. This carefully researched book confronts the 14th-15th Passover controversy with faith, courage, force, and scholarly honesty to expose the errors of heresy and to reveal the light of the Word of God. Every argument, every doctrinal question and every difficult Scripture has been thoroughly examined, and the truth of the Word of God has been made clear and easy to understand.

The task of defending the truth of God's Word has fallen to us in this end time. Let us therefore be diligent to study every Scripture in this vitally important book. Let us gird up our loins, take up this doctrinal sword and shield, and fight the good fight of faith!

Carl D. Franklin
Winter 1993
Fall 1999