‘Holy Fire’ and Orthodox Easter

The Miracle of Holy Fire painting


Today is celebrated as Pascha (which is the Greek word for Passover) and is known as Orthodox ‘Easter.’  Yesterday, as in past years, many of the Eastern Orthodox will believe that ‘holy fire’ appeared in Jerusalem:

May 5, 2013

Thousands of Orthodox Christian braved hours of waiting to witness the Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre – an important annual rite for the Church’s eastern denominations.

In what believers regard as a miracle, every year the day before Orthodox Easter, an unlit blue fire from a stone in the Church descends from the dome and ignites a candle held by the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.

Around 10,000 people squeezed into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – regarded by many as the place where Jesus was laid to rest and resurrected – with about as many waiting outside.

As the Patriarch received the fire, he passed it around, to other clergymen from other denominations (six of them share the church and consider it a holy site) and onto the gathered pilgrims.  http://rt.com/news/holy-fire-orthodox-miracle-826/

May 4, 2013

Tens of thousands of pilgrims have visited the Old City of Jerusalem impatient to observe what the faithful see as the miracle of the ‘Holy Fire’ ceremony.

The event takes place on the eve of the Orthodox Church’s Easter when a lamp placed in the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is mysteriously lit.

Immediately candles take up the flame and the ‘Holy Fire’ is rapidly passed among worshipers.  http://www.euronews.com/2013/05/04/holy-fire-ceremony-in-jerusalem-ushers-in-orthodox-easter/

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.

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).

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.

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