For “Scripture Sunday”:
Is there any connection between the tree mentioned in Jeremiah 10 and the Christmas tree?
“Jeremiah 10:3-4 describes a custom involving cutting a tree from the forest; carving and then decorating it with silver and gold. Is this decorated tree connected to the modern day Christmas tree? What should we as Christians learn from these verses in Jeremiah about our relationship with God and the use of idols?
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Is there any connection between the tree mentioned in Jeremiah 10 and the Christmas tree?
The symbolism of Jeremiah 10 is briefly explained in this excerpt from our Bible study aid Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? :
Regrettably, the Israelites failed to permanently heed God’s warning. Time and time again they let their fascination with the religious practices of those around them get the better of them as they lapsed into idolatrous worship.
Around 600 B.C. God gave three more warnings against this kind of behavior. First, through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, ‘ Do not learn the way of the heathen; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them’ (Jeremiah 10:2). Here God cautioned His people against following the gentile (non-Israelite) practices of worshiping the heavenly bodies (like the sun on Dec. 25) and against astrology in general.
In the following verses (Jeremiah 10:3-5), God describes some of their idolatrous customs. They cut a tree from the forest, shaped it with an ax and overlaid it with precious metals. Although this account is specifically referring to the making of an idol (Jeremiah 10:6-8), God’s command, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles,’ applies to all pagan customs. Christmas trees, mistletoe and colorful lights that come from pagan winter-solstice celebrations, rabbits and Easter eggs as fertility symbols, and demonic concepts at Halloween, all fit this prohibition. In giving this instruction against learning the way of the gentiles, God wanted His people to avoid the type of sin their forefathers had committed with the golden calf.
A more extensive explanation of Jeremiah 10 is found in the UCG Bible Commentary :
In this chapter, God makes it very clear: “Learn not the way of the heathen…for the customs of the peoples are vain” (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV), stressing His total rejection of practices adopted from other religions even if they are intended to honor Him. For God is never honored by disobedience. We can read Deuteronomy 12:29-32 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 along with these verses.
God first points out here that pagans were “dismayed at the signs of heaven” (Jeremiah 10:2). As believers in astrology, they considered their lives to be controlled by celestial events. Today, it is no different among the huge number of people who make daily decisions based on their horoscopes. This practice is utterly condemned by God. Even if astrological forces existed—which they do not—the Almighty Creator and Ruler of the universe would have power over them.
Worse still, the sun, moon, planets and stars were actually worshiped by ancient nations—and their movements were used to determine times for worship. Again, this was all based on fear and superstition. For instance, the winter solstice was observed because the sun reached its lowest zenith on that day, the shortest day of the year. It was believed that worship, fires and sacrifices were needed to encourage and boost the sun god back to his higher station. Afterward, the people celebrated the rebirth of the sun.
Indeed, the sun god was understood to have been born of his mother goddess around the time of the winter solstice—in fact, by the reckoning of various ancient cultures, on December 25. Evergreen plants and trees were used in this particular worship because they seemed to retain life through the winter months. These customs have continued down to our day in the form of the Christmas tree and decorations of holly and mistletoe.
Continuing then in Jeremiah 10:3-5, at least in the King James, New King James or Jewish Publication Society translations, the Christmas tree must surely come to mind. However, many mainstream Christian scholars, and other Bible versions, identify the objects addressed in this section as wooden poles or idols. That is certainly possible. In fact, it may even be likely if the word translated ‘workman’ in Jeremiah 10:3 can only mean a skilled craftsman and if the word translated ‘ax’ here can mean a carving tool, as some have rendered it. The exact meaning of the verse remains unclear.
Interestingly, it should be noted that the Hebrew word translated ‘wooden idol’ in Jeremiah 10:8, ets, is normally translated ‘tree’ in the Bible. Notice God’s instruction back in Deuteronomy 16:21: ‘You shall not plant for yourself any tree [ ets ], as a wooden image [ asherah ], near the altar which you build for yourself to the LORD your God.’
There are a number of references in Scripture to Asherah—understood to be an idol representation of the goddess Ashtoreth or Astarte, the mother goddess referred to in Scripture as the ‘queen of heaven’ (mentioned in the highlights on Jeremiah 7:1-27). ‘From the Biblical references, it appears that Asherah is referred to in three manifestations: (1) as an image, probably a statue or figurine representing the goddess herself; (2) as a tree; and (3) as a tree trunk. The latter two are, in effect, symbols of the goddess’ (Ruth Hestrin, ‘Understanding Asherah: Exploring Semitic Iconography,’ Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.-Oct. 1991, p. 50). Indeed, the phrase ‘under every green tree’ (Deuteronomy 12:2), is used a number of times in Scripture to denote a pagan sacred place—that is, not just trees but evergreen trees.
Jeremiah 10 is indeed talking about the setting up of idols. But what many fail to realize in reading through the chapter is that sometimes trees themselves were set up by ancient pagans as idols. Depending on the exact meaning of the words translated workman and ax in the chapter, a carved idol or an actual tree could be meant. Both were cut from the forest, with stands fashioned to keep them fixed and upright but still able to be moved and set up anywhere (Jeremiah 10:3-5). Both, in the ancient world, were decorated with silver and gold and draped with costly fabrics (Jeremiah 10:4 and Jeremiah 10:9). With tree idols, idolatrous metal ornaments were sometimes fashioned and hung from the branches—which Jeremiah 10:9 could be describing. Yet the verse could alternatively be a reference to metal adornments for a carved idol.
In direct disobedience to God, the Jews under Manasseh actually set up an asherah in honor of Baal, the son and husband of Ashtoreth (see 2 Kings 21:3). Indeed, such was used in surrounding cultures to honor the sun-god Baal and his mother on the birthday of the sun, December 25—which is when this abomination of Manasseh may have taken place, in imitation of neighboring societies. Even if that’s not exactly what Manasseh did, it is rather likely that such decorated trees in winter would have been part of the Jews’ worship of Baal, as in other cultures.
More amazing to consider is the fact that in the syncretistic blending of religions, Baal (‘Lord’) was identified with the true Lord. Thus, the apostate Jews, in copying pagan worship customs, may well have set up decorated evergreen trees to worship the birthday of the true Lord—the One who later came to earth as Jesus Christ! And the Lord called their adoption of such customs to honor Him an abomination. Indeed, He still does.
While people today do not worship trees when they set up Christmas trees or other evergreen decorations such as holly and mistletoe, they are nevertheless using accoutrements of past idolatry to supposedly honor God. Yet the true God will have none of it. He sees it as disobedience and rebellion—and idolatrously clinging to tradition over His direct commandments. For anything that comes before the true God is an idol, whether we literally bow down to it or not. Indeed, it is even possible that modern Christmas trees are intended by Jeremiah’s words—particularly when we consider that this may be, as it seems to be on some level, an end-time prophecy to the ‘house of Israel’ that speaks of God’s coming wrath on the nations and the destruction of all idolatry (compare Jeremiah 10:1, Jeremiah 10:10-11, Jeremiah 10:15). For in the end time, the Israelite nations are not setting up wooden Asherah poles. But every winter, there are millions and millions of Christmas trees. And even if Christmas trees are not directly intended by the prophecy, the principle is the same.”
Which Scriptures Explain When Jesus Christ Was Born?
“Are there clear descriptions of the timing of Christ's birth?
While the Bible never gives an exact date (day, month and year), there are some general indicators of both the year and season of the year. Obviously the exact date of Christ’s birth is not needed for salvation, because the apostle Paul specifically told Timothy he had what was needed for salvation—the Scriptures he had learned since his youth (the Old Testament) with the added understanding of faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior (2 Timothy 3:15). Let’s look at the general information, though, that is given.
First, let’s start with the season of the year. Luke 2 describes the circumstances of Christ’s birth. Verse 8 says there were shepherds living out in the fields with their sheep at that time. Various sources will point out that shepherds around Jerusalem would not stay in the fields past the autumn. They would bring the sheep in for the winter.
For example, according to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (p. 309). Similarly, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.
Also, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). The Romans would have known better than to have taken such a census in the dead of winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition for traveling. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.
So from that passage of Scripture we can at least know one season when He was not born—the winter.
So was He born in spring, summer or autumn? A prophecy in the book of Daniel is helpful here. The last part of chapter 9 gives a prophecy about His coming and verse 27 mentions a “week” of His confirming the covenant, but that in the middle of the week He would bring an end to sacrifice and offerings. The book of Hebrews explains how His sacrifice ended the need for the Old Testament sacrificial system (chapters 8, 9 and 10).
A “week” in prophecy can stand for seven years, a day for a year (Numbers 14:34). We therefore conclude that His ministry lasted 3 ½ years, with the other 3 ½ years to be completed at some other time. We know Jesus Christ was killed at Passover time and that His ministry started when He was around the age of 30 (Luke 3:23). Putting all of this together makes it most probable that He was born six months before Passover—or sometime in the fall.
An autumn birth is also substantiated, and in fact more positively proven, by the timing of the birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1 tells that story.
John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest of the order of Abijah. In King David’s time the priests had been organized to serve at various times—a week at a time from Sabbath to Sabbath starting with the first week in the month Nisan. They would all serve together during the feast seasons. Abijah was the eighth course (1 Chronicles 24:10).
It is a matter of doing the math to realize he was serving around early June, so when he was able to go home to his wife, Elizabeth, so she could conceive, it would have been around mid-June. That means John the Baptist was born nine months later, probably in late March.
Then in Luke 1:26 we’re told the angel appeared to Mary telling her she would conceive her Son in Elizabeth’s sixth month. So Jesus Christ was six months younger than John the Baptist—meaning He probably would have been born in late September when Jerusalem was crowded with people coming to observe the autumn feasts. (The Feast of Tabernacles) This would explain why there was no room for Joseph and Mary at the normal hotels or “inns” near Jerusalem (Luke 2:7).
Now for the year. This has been the subject of some controversy, but again we seem to be able to find some clues. Luke 2:1-2 tells us Jesus Christ was born during Caesar Augustus’ reign at the time of the first census when Quirinius was governor. Matthew 2 also tells us that Herod (the Great) was still king immediately after Christ’s birth. Since Herod died somewhere around 4 or 3 B.C., and some records indicate Quirinius was ruling in 4 B.C., we believe Christ was probably born in late September of 4 B.C.
Although it’s difficult to determine the first time anyone celebrated Dec. 25 as Christmas, historians are in general agreement that it wasn’t until sometime during the fourth century. This is an amazingly late date. Christmas was not observed in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, until about 300 years after Christ’s death. Its origins show that it cannot be traced back to the earliest Christians.” From: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/which-scriptures-explain-when-jesus-christ-was-born
After Jay had cleaned the pine needles off the roofs of the house and mini-house we had several big piles to burn. It is going to take a lot longer burning them in the barrel than just a big pile at the curb, but the subdivision has now clamped down on that.
On Monday I had to see my doctor for the 10-days-before-surgery-check-up. She listened to me, thumped me. did an EKG, and said I was good to go. So apart from listing stuff for sale and making a long drawn out phone call to my cell provider, I did nothing but burn pine needles and go to The American Legion on Thursday with a neighbor for Thanksgiving dinner.
Then on Friday, while I was helping my friend at the storage unit next to the subdivision, my daughter called to say she was on her way with a pretty multicolored area rug for the mini-house. I really needed to see it before I chose the carpet for the mini-house living room. Now I know, it will be gray which will also match the heavy duty gray marble linoleum in the bathroom and kitchen. Wendy, my grandson and I had a nice visit.
For the church Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, I made a big pot of organic mashed potatoes, some halved, toasted croissants, and three kinds of gravy. The pastor’s wife brought the turkey and dressing. Others brought salads and desserts.
The Bible readings were Gen. 18:1-22:24, 2 King 4:1-37 and Luke 1:26-38. The Teaching was “Let God Be First in Our Lives”.
No way I can starve, because on Sunday, a neighbor brought me another dinner from her Thanksgiving Day.