The use of trees or wooden poles as an object of worship in the ancient world was universal as a fertility or phallic symbol. In many places, the Bible strongly condemns involvement with this pagan custom. Obviously the tree of Jeremiah 10:1–5 is not the modern “Christmas tree” as we know it, since Christmas wasn’t invented by the Christians until about the late fifth century AD. However, the decorated tree is a pagan symbol as evidenced by history, which is why it was outlawed by the Puritans and many other religious groups in America in the 1700s. It was not until the 1850s with many Germans migrating to America with their Christmas tree tradition that Christmas became popularized again in this country.
The Scriptures advise us to abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22). At the very least, because of its pagan connotation, a Christmas tree is an appearance of evil. Furthermore, where in the Bible do we find any examples of YHVH’s people reclaiming a pagan tradition, sanitizing it, and then practicing it? This occurred only when Israel was in a state of apostasy or was attempting to syncretize the religion of the Bible with the pagan practices of the surrounding nations.
True, many things in our daily lives have been tainted by paganism. If we were to toss out everything that fits that category, we probably wouldn’t be able to say anything, wear anything, eat anything, or do anything. Some of us would even have to change our names! What we are to throw out are those things that the Bible forbids, anything that is indigenously pagan, or anything that leads us away from YHVH and his Word.
Often our view of the Scriptures is filtered through our emotions. We all struggle with this spiritual disease. When we’re extremely partial to a belief or an idea, we have a hard time conforming our lives to those biblical scriptures that disagree with us. Thus, we have a spiritual blind spot. For many, Christmas has become a spiritual blind spot because it is so ingrained in our families and the culture around us. It is perhaps the hardest thing for people to let go of because of family and emotional ties. Each of us has to make the choice: Do we love the praises of family or the praises of Elohim more (John 12:43)?
Jeremiah 10:1–5 is the perfect description of what has come to be known as a Christmas tree. The Word of Elohim says don’t do it. This is fact. I didn’t make it up, I just read it and believe it. Further, Jeremiah 10 isn’t a stand alone scripture. When this passage is placed against the backdrop of the heathen practices of the Gentile cultures around ancient Israel, and against the Bible’s repeated prohibitions against (a) Israel’s adopting pagan religious practices of any kind, and (b) more specifically, not bringing into Israel the worship of the pagan fertility symbols of which the tree was a central object, YHVH’s prohibition against the Jeremiah 10 tree was much wider and broader implications. Basically, YHVH says “don’t do it,” and for the serious follower of Yeshua, that should settle the issue. YHVH is searching for a people to be his own who have of a contrite heart and who tremble before (i.e., obey) his word (Isa 66:2).
As opposed to Christmas, Elohim has given us seven biblical feasts that we can do that will bring glory and honor to him. Let’s practice and rejoice in what he has given us.
For the record, I don’t view the celebration of Christmas or putting up a Christmas tree as a cardinal sin. Christmas is the one time of the year the world chooses to focus on Yeshua. Halleluyah! May it cause many people to turn to him. Remember what Paul said about Yeshua being lifted up even under questionable circumstances?
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Phil 1:15–18)
Most well-informed individuals know that Yeshua wasn’t born in December, and that the pagans had festivals at the winter solstice to celebrate the rebirth of their pagan sun gods.
I for one don’t lament Christmas (I do lament the pagan practices associated with it, though). I don’t do Christmas, although I certainly affirm and rejoice in our Savior’s birth. Actually, the best biblical evidence points to the probability of his being born in the fall about the time of the biblical festival of the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot in Hebrew). There is ample biblical proof to confirm this, but this will be for another discussion.