The Christmas Tree, an Idol??
6 min Read
This was another shock to me. Christmas was under attack... by followers of Jesus! I couldn't believe it. One of the most revered Christian holidays, one that I looked forward to every year, under attack by the very people that should be rejoicing in it? There was absolutely no way I was not going to give this a closer look. If wholehearted believers were serious about this, maybe they saw something I didn't see?
If a brother or sister that truly believed and placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ came to me with a concern, even as radical as this, didn't I owe it to them to investigate myself? Or course—by all means! Paul tells us we should test all things and hold on to what is good! How am I honoring my heavenly Father by not loving my brother enough to check the validity of his concerns? And even worse, how could I not take the time to unearth the truth and tell him that he could be blaspheming against God and his Son?? If this was of God, I was determined to find out!
One of the claims was that the practices and dressings of Christmas were rooted in pagan worship. Well, naturally, I thought that one of the most prominent aspects of the holiday was the Christmas tree. It did not take long to unearth that the Christmas tree did in fact resemble a facet of pagan worship. Even more so, there was scripture that spoke of the very thing and its abominable nature!
Hear the word that Yehovah (the LORD) speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says Yehovah (the LORD):
"Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an ax by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move. Jeremiah 10:1-4
WOW! I was stunned! What Jeremiah warned against and told Yehovah's people not to do, sounded an awful lot like a Christmas tree!
Do not do what the other nations do, for their customs are vanity! A tree from the forest is cut down. They decorate it with silver and gold and they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move... That sounds like a Christmas tree to me!!
But wait a minute... verse 3 speaks of a craftsman working with the cut down tree. Couldn't that just be a carved image? Like a statue made of wood and metals? And decorating it with gold and silver—couldn't that mean coating it in silver and gold, similar to the golden calf in Exodus? Still, I could not shake that Jeremiah seemed to describe the very Christmas tree we put up every year.
This caused me to dig deeper into this whole conspiracy! What I found only substantiated the claims. Many sources referring to similar worship practices of cutting down an evergreen tree connected to sun-god worship. Furthermore, many examples of pagan sun-god worship sounded very similar to the practice that Christians call Christmas. I discovered that trees have been worshiped by almost every pagan culture around the entire world for ages!
This caused me to question, "Wait, why do we even have a 'Christmas tree' anyways? What is the purpose of this practice and what does it have to do with the birth of Christ?"
The only answer I could seemed to find that supported the use of a Christmas tree to celebrate the birth of Christ was rooted in symbolism that sounded more like a grasp to protect its use rather than supporting it with scripture. In other words, there was no scripture—nothing in the Holy Word—that condoned, encouraged, or instructed us of its use in worship of our Messiah and our Father. What stood out above all, was the use of this object in the worship of other pagan gods. That did not sit right with me.
I had read all over scripture how serious Yehovah was about the use of other nation's worship practices. Scripture is crystal clear: we are to be holy—which literally means to be set apart. Yehovah is Holy Holy Holy, the epitome of being set apart. It should be no surprise when he gets so angry when Israel adopted other nation's worship practices. But in this case was Jeremiah really referring to a Christmas tree? Is the Christmas tree really an idol??
Maybe Jeremiah (on Yehovah's behalf) was not specifically speaking of a Christmas Tree...but his statement surely condemns them anyways!
The idea that Jeremiah is in fact speaking of what we now call a Christmas tree, is a highly debatable subject. In order to be concise, I realized it does not even matter if Jeremiah was speaking of a Christmas tree specifically. His statement is clear enough for one to understand that his message condemns the use of a Christmas tree in the worship of our Creator and Messiah. Look closely:
Hear the word the Yehovah speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says Yehovah, "Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of heavens, because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. Jeremiah 10:2.
Believers should know that they are Israel. So any time scripture speaks of Israel, they are speaking of you—a believer and hopeful son or daughter of the Most High. Yehovah, in this one of hundreds if not thousands of instances in scripture, was reminding—no, rebuking—his people and commanding them not to be like the other nations by performing customs or practices like they did. He called it vanity. Worthless. Futile. In other words, this is another instance of our heavenly Father reminding us to be holy and set-apart. In the world, but not of it.
And then Jeremiah records Yehovah citing a specific example of a vain practice of the other nations:
A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an ax by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Jeremiah 10:3b-4.
Again, this could be speaking of a well-shaped tree—an idol shaped into a figure and plated with silver and gold. But does it really matter? Doesn't this statement cover any and all types of idols?
I thought deeply about this and it became as clear as day. Do we not do this very practice every year? Sure, usually someone goes out and cuts the evergreen tree down for us, but we bring it into our home and fasten it with a tree stand so it will stay upright and not move. And not only do we cover it in gold and silver, we deck it with lights, tinsel, and other ornaments. Is this not the same as any other idol? Other than the branches being preserved, do we not "shape" it by decking it with the ornaments we place around it?
I had to be honest with myself. Either I could accept that I was in fact bringing an idol into my home, or I could do what many others chose to do and dismiss it and say that Jesus redeems Christmas because of his shed blood. In other words, the grace of God covers this practice. Besides, wasn't I celebrating Christmas in honor of Christ?
Well, no. Not always. You see, even as a child I was not very religious and as I grew older I adopted the title and claim that I was an Atheist. Yet I still celebrated Christmas. Joyfully! Isn't that a little odd? As I tested Christmas to scripture, I surely thought so. There I was, a vocal unbeliever that literally blasphemed the Almighty and tarnished his image to anyone who was in ear shot, yet I happily and excitedly celebrated Christmas?? The more I learned about Christmas from a historical perspective and the more I tested its practice to scripture, the more I began to realize why I was so comfortable as an Atheist to enjoy its celebration.
Even so, I did not need to have this life experience to justify my growing concerns of Christmas. Scripture is always sufficient. And I did not need Jeremiah 10 to be proven to speak specifically of a 'Christmas tree' to know, that in fact, Jeremiah was still referring to a Christmas tree! Put differently, even if Jeremiah was not talking about the exact object of our coveted 'Christmas tree', his description in and of itself was proof that it was to be considered an idol. Besides, aren't we commanded to make no graven image of heaven above or the earth beneath? Yes, it's one of the 10 Commandments!
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I am Yehovah your Elohim (God) am a jealous Elohim, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6
"But I do not bow down to my silly Christmas tree, it's just a decoration, a tradition—I do not worship it!"
Or so I thought.
It is cut down and brought into our home. Do we not deck it with silver and gold? Do we not ask Saint Nicolas for all the things we would like—all the presents that we desire that year? Are they not wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree? Every year, do we not bow down and kneel before the tree to receive our gifts on Christmas Day? Does this not sound like a ritualistic practice? What does this have to do with our Messiah?
This was just the beginning of my journey towards the heart of our Creator. It pressed me to study scripture on a whole new level. Not only did I learn more about the abominable history of Christmas, but I was lead to learn more about the Biblical Holy Days that our heavenly Father created and commanded his people to celebrate. There was not an ounce of scripture that encouraged me as a believer to observe Christmas...
The sad truth about the start of this journey that I only realized later:
I had never even questioned why we as believers celebrated Christmas...
Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and his flawless son.
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