Easter, Obama, and ‘Holy Fire’

The Miracle of Holy Fire painting


Today is celebrated as Pascha by the Greek Orthodox (which is the Greek word for Passover) and is known as ‘Easter‘ to Protestants and Catholics. US President Barack Obama made some comments about it:

U.S. President Barack Obama used his weekly address to reflect on the meaning of the Holy Week and Easter to Christians…

The president said he and countless Christians during the Holy Week and Easter “remember the grace of an awesome God, who loves us so deeply that He gave us his only Son.”

Obama said this time of year is a good time to remember the “common thread of humanity that connects us all – not just Christians and Jews, but Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs – is our shared commitment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”  http://www.voanews.com/content/obama-reflects-on-easter/1896813.html

Barack Obama has made several public statements that seem to suggest that he is in favor of the type of ecumenical cooperation and unity that people such as Pope Francis are working towards. Let me simply state here that the type of ecumenism that Barack Obama and Pope Francis seem to support is condemned by the Bible (Revelation 17:2-4; 18:4, Zechariah 2:6-7) and true Christian unity will occur after the destruction of the ecumenical religion that is currently gaining traction around the world (Zechariah 2:6-11).

Now, there is an odd thing that many of the Eastern Orthodox believe about this time of year.  Each year, many believe that ‘holy fire’ appears in Jerusalem the day before their Easter celebration:

April 19, 2014

JERUSALEM (AP) — The dark hall inside Christianity’s holiest shrine was illuminated with the flames from thousands of candles on Saturday as worshippers participated in the holy fire ceremony, a momentous spiritual event in Orthodox Easter rites.Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected at the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the source of the holy fire is a closely guarded secret, believers say the flame appears spontaneously from his tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years.

Thousands of Christians waited outside the church for it to open Saturday morning…

Top Orthodox clergymen descended into the small chamber marking the site of Jesus’ tomb as worshippers eagerly waited in the dim church clutching bundles of unlit candles and torches.

After a while, candles emerged lit with “holy fire” — said to have been lit by a miracle as a message to the faithful from heaven.

Bells rang as worshippers rushed to use the flames to ignite their own candles.

In mere seconds, the bursts of light spread throughout the cavernous church as flames jumped from one candle to another. Clouds of smoke wafted through the crammed hall as flashes from cameras and mobile phones documented what is for many, the spiritual event of a lifetime.  http://www.burlesonstar.net/nationalnews/ci_25599440

Of course, real Christians do not believe that the above ceremony is a God-ordained miracle. The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem should have the integrity to tell people the truth about this, but never does.  The Bible itself warns about deceivers and forms of deception (2 Timothy 3:13).

For those unfamiliar with it, here are a couple of Wikipedia comments:

Holy Fire

The Holy Fire (Greek Ἃγιον Φῶς, “Holy Light“) is described by Christians as a miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter. It is considered by many to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world. (Holy Fire. Wikipedia, April 4, 2010).

Some, however, who have been associated with it question it and understand that this is not a miracle of God. Furthermore, I noticed that Wikipedia removed the statement ” It is considered by many to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world” from the above article. In 2013, Wikipedia had the following statements:

Holy Fire

The Holy Fire (Greek Ἃγιον Φῶς, “Holy Light“) is described by Christians as a miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter.


Orthodox tradition holds that the Holy Fire is a miracle that happens annually on the day preceding Orthodox Easter, in which a blue light emanates either from the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or from the slab believed to be the “Stone of Anointing” upon which Jesus’ body was prepared for burial, which eventually forms a column containing a form of fire, from which candles are lit, which are then used to light the candles of the clergy and pilgrims in attendance. Pilgrims and clergy claim that the Holy Fire does not burn them.

The Holy Fire is brought to certain Orthodox countries, such as in Georgia, Greece, Russia, Belarus, Cyprus, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Macedonia, every year by special flights, being received with honors by state leaders at the respective airports.


The Holy Fire is first mentioned by the pilgrim Bernard the Monk, in 870 AD.[5] A detailed description of this phenomenon is contained in the travelogue of the Russian hegumen Daniil (Daniel), who was present at the ceremony in 1106 AD…


As with all alleged miracles, many question the validity of the Holy Fire, noting, for instance, that cold-handed pilgrims generally withstand the fire for the same very brief periods of time as can be achieved with any fire.

Criticism dates at least to the days of Islamic rule of Jerusalem, but the pilgrims were never stopped, because of the significant revenue they brought to local governments even at the end of the first millennium. When the apparently uninitiated Crusaders took over the Orthodox clergy in charge of the fire, it failed to appear, increasing the skepticism among Western Christians. But feeling the lack of pilgrim revenues, Baldwin I of Jerusalem reinstated the Orthodox priests in charge, and the fire, as well as the stream of revenues, returned.

In 1238, Pope Gregory IX denounced the Holy Fire as a fraud and forbade Franciscans from participating in the ceremony.

The Ottoman traveller, Evliya Celebi, claimed that a hidden zinc jar of naphtha was dripped down a chain by a hidden monk…

Dobrokhotov and other critics, including Russian Orthodox researcher Nikolay Uspensky,Dr. Aleksandr Musin of Sorbonne, and some Old Believers quote excerpts from the diaries of Bishop Porphyrius (Uspensky) (1804–1885) which told that the clergy in Jerusalem knew that the Holy Fire was fraudulent. (Holy Fire. Wikipedia, May 5, 2013)

So, this ‘holy fire’ event supposedly began over eight centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. Hence, it is certainly not an original Christian practice, and I (and many others) do not believe that it is a miracle from God.

Additionally, notice the following:

Holy Fire brings Jerusalem Easter to joyful climax

By Alastair Macdonald

Saturday, April 3, 2010; 2:47 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters)…Roman Catholics and Protestants, however, eschew the Holy Fire rite; Western visitors have for centuries scoffed at the ceremony in which the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem produces a lighted candle from the sealed and empty tomb — without the aid of matches or other, visible, terrestrial aids.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/03/AR2010040301634.html
Mystery of Jerusalem’s Holy Fire comes to light

Telegraph, London – April 16, 2001 By Alan Philps in Jerusalem

… one Armenian torch-bearer, Soukias Tchilingirian, felt the truth had to be told. He said: “It’s not a miracle. The Greek priests bring in a lamp – one that has been kept burning for 1,500 years – to produce the Holy Fire. For pilgrims full of faith who come from abroad, it is a fire from Heaven, a true miracle. But not for us. Of course the source of the fire is ancient and symbolic. I heard this from my father and I think he knew the truth.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/1311064/Mystery-of-Jerusalems-Holy-Fire-comes-to-light.html

Why is this important?

The Bible warns that someone will come with signs and lying wonders to mislead the world:

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)

Furthermore, “fire from heaven” will be one of those signs:

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. (Revelation 13:11-15)

By currently believing in “holy fire” many Orthodox are unknowingly setting themselves up to accept the signs and lying wonders that the Bible warns about. All, including the non-Orthodox, need to understand that signs and wonders are NOT of themselves proof that something is of God, including the annual ritual of “holy fire.”

So, when reports come out about this, please realize that just because fire is shown, does not mean that God caused it.

I should also add that while it is good that unlike many American Catholics and Protestants, the Eastern Orthodox realize that what is called ‘Easter’ is really supposed to be Passover. However, like the Catholics and the Protestants, the Orthodox do not observe Passover like the early Christians did (and the faithful still do) or even when they did (Nisan 14, and the Orthodox realize that this was the original date that many that they claimed to descend from observed).

Easter was NOT celebrated by early Christians.  They observed actual Passover which occurs in the evening.  Notice that even the Eastern Orthodox realize this:

Pascha is the feast of universal redemption. Our earliest sources for the an­nual celebration of the Christian Pascha come to us from the second century…The feast, however, must have originated in the apostolic period…According to the earliest documents, Pascha is described as a nocturnal celebration…(Calivas, Alkiviadis C. The Origins of Pascha and Great Week – Part I. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1992. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8504 viewed 11/04/2011)

Yet, they and others do not observe it when or how the early Christians did.

In addition, notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig.  A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

Notice also:

The first Christians celebrated the death of Jesus with a Pascha meal (eucharist) on the lunar date of the Jewish Passover (note 1 Cor. 5:7-8).

At first there was no annual celebration of the resurrection. Eventually, in the gentile world, the day of resurrection was added to the Pascha festival. That day was Sunday. At the Council of Nicea (325) it was ruled that Easter Sunday would be celebrated on the Sunday immediately following that full moon which came after the vernal equinox. At the same time the Council decided that the vernal equinox would be March 21 in the Julian calendar (Eusebius, Vit. Const. 3.18). (Synder GF. Irish Jesus, Roman Jesus: the formation of early Irish Christianity. Trinity Press International, 2002, p. 183)

While some will make excuses, early Christians did not celebrate an Easter morning resurrection holiday.

Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)…

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians…

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to “the inclination to break away from Judaism.” In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid “even the semblance of Judaism” (Bacchiocchi S. God’s Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

Other compromises also occurred, which is why the date is named after the Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Here is a link to a video titled Why Easter?
Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 Who is 666? This article explains how the CCOG views this, and compares this to Ellen White.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist? This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet.” Plus it shows that several Catholic writers seem to warn about an ecumenical antipope that will support heresy.
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? There is also a video: Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware!
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Edition for Second Obama Term This is a 160 page book for people truly interested in prophecies related to Barack Obama and the United States, including learning about many that have already been fulfilled (which the book documents in detail) and those that will be fulfilled in the future. It also has a chapter about a Republican choice. This book is available to order at www.barackobamaprophecy.com. The physical book can also be purchased at Amazon from the following link: Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States: Is Barack Obama Fulfilling Biblical, Islamic Catholic, Kenyan, and other America-Related Prophecies? What About Republican Leaders? Second Edition for Second Obama Term.
Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Term-Amazon Kindle edition. This electronic version is available for only US$2.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Second Term-Amazon Kindle edition.

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