Christmas Without The Tree?
When I learned that the Bible refers to the decorating of chopped down trees as a heathen practice and that God forbids it, this was one of the great shocks of my life, and yet I was strangely relieved at the same time.
I can hear somebody already – “What in the world are you talking about?! We’ve always had a tree in our house at Christmas time, and we ain’t gonna stop now no matter what you say! Who are YOU anyway?”
Oh, how endeared all of us have become to the Christmas tree!
This is not a matter of controversy or popularity, but simple trust and obedience; Is the tradition we’ve always known and love right, or is God’s Word right?
Can Christmas still be Christmas without the tree?
While very few preachers actually teach this or dare to speak on the subject, the argument is not with me but with God’s Word:
“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven: for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the wormkman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. Jeremiah 10:2-4″
Even though this scripture doesn’t use the literal words ‘Christmas tree’ the practice of chopping down trees, fastening them to stand upright and decorating them with silver and gold is exactly what we do at Christmas time.
Why would God forbid such a seemingly ‘harmless’ act? Aren’t we honoring God and the birth of Jesus with the Christmas tree?
The context of Jeremiah 10 can be found by reading the verses before and after this passage. It’s dealing with the heathen practice of worshiping created things rather than or in addition to the Creator Himself, which is idolatry.
Evidently, there is an acceptable and unacceptable way to honor Him, and tree worship displeases the Master.
It’s been over 15 years now since I stopped assembling Christmas trees in my home, and I’ve come to find that while many (including loved ones) think I’m a crazy oddball from a cultish religion, celebrating the birth of Jesus is not about what we do or don’t do because it’s all about Him and the things that He says are important to HIM.
There are many ways for families & friends to come together, and for children to have a great time celebrating the birth of God’s Son without disobeying God’s Word. People need to find their own way of doing this by way of their personal and loving relationship with Him.
One thing I do know for sure; it makes no sense to ‘honor’ God by doing something that He says is offensive to Him. Not knowing any better is one thing, but to know better and STILL disobey? That’s just like going to the King of Kings’ birthday party and flipping Him off to His face. Where is the honor in that? He’s been too good for me to treat Him that way!
If you google ‘tree worship’ you’ll find it’s a huge pagan practice even today. In Jeremiah 10 God forbids His people from doing the things tree worshippers do by saying “learn not the way of the heathen.”
I don’t expect people who don’t read or believe their Bibles to see this, but if tree worship matters to God enough for Him to warn His people against it, should it not matter to His people?
This is a matter of an individual’s personal conviction after having read the scripture, meditated on it, prayed, asked God, and heard back from God about it….
I can tell you right now, God is not like us: He is not going to contradict Himself by saying it was wrong then, but it’s not wrong now. God’s Word changes not.
Whether we acknowledge it, recognize it or not, bowing and kneeling before the tree (i.e. to receive gifts that tree did not provide) is indeed symbolic of false worship.
If you choose to do so that’s between you and God, because it’s His issue. It’s good to know why we do a thing. I agree, on the surface decorating trees seems harmless. Let’s consider a few things:
In view of this tradition, did God tell us to commemorate the birth of His Son this way, and if He did not – why do we do it? By the way we adamantly adhere to this tradition, you’d think God commanded us to do these things, and we would suffer great judgment if we don’t do these things. ☺
So far in scripture I have not found where God tells us to commemorate the birth of His Son with trees the way we do, but I have found where He says NOT to set up and decorate trees the way unbelievers do….
And in that same passage of scripture He explained the origins of this widely accepted tradition as being a pagan practice of idolatry. The Bible says we are in the world but not of the world; we don’t do the same things unbelievers do. For some people that’s good enough.
But if not, even if we have ‘good intentions’ by setting up decorated trees in our homes, God told us in Romans 14:13-16 not to put a stumbling block in our brother’s way, and not to let our good be evil spoken of.
The ones who don’t know any better will get the wrong impression and when we as Believing Christians do things that violate scripture knowingly, it becomes ‘double-wrong’ because now we are setting others up for a fall. This is why I taught my children what the Bible says, and stopped setting up trees in my home.
If we do the same things the heathen do, where is our witness, and how are we distinguished from them? We can’t take something that God says is sin and re-define it into something good.
What better way for the devil to have Christians advocate disobedience to God?
Be Blessed– Rev. David J. Dill
The above article is an edited reprint of the original with many blog comments dated 12/09 found by clicking here.
Another revealing ‘tradition-buster’ as to when Jesus was actually born can be found by clicking here.
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