It's that time of year and Christmas trees are everywhere and Church of God leaders are popping their corks on how evil Christmas is compared to the fraudulent "holy days" that they have appropriated and changed to fit their needs.
One of the biggest myths in the Church of God about Christmas is the Jeremiah 10 malarkey that so many of them trot out this time of year. All of them are just passing on information that they were fed at the feet of theologically bankrupt men from Pasadena.
Bobiniah Thiel is one of the most whiney guys about this that the church has ever seen. He has produced a long list of things that wank him off about Christmas and Jeremiah 10 is in that list.
In Jeremiah 10, God says not to follow pagan practices, such as using a decorated tree, in the worship of Him.
Here it is, 2021 and real theologians have understood this verse for hundreds and hundreds of years and yet The Great Bwana to Africa actually believes this verse is about decorating Christmas trees. I guess that is what we should expect since he has no formal theological education about the Bible from REAL professors. He has to rely upon COG booklets and crackpot teachings of Rod Meredith and others. Plus, it is always important to remember that COG ministers and leaders are experts at "proof-texting." Picking, choosing, and isolating one or two scriptures while ignoring the previous verses and those that follow; is how these guys operate.
Ralph Woodrow was, unfortunately, one of those that contributed to the fallacies taught by the Worldwide Church of God through his book, Babylon Mystery Religion much of it based upon the errors put forth in Hislop's, Two Babylons. WCG ministers embraced this book with gleeful spitefulness. It was their proof to denigrate Christians around them. To Woodrow's credit, he later repudiated his erroneous book and its teachings with another book, The Babylon Connection?.
Woodrow later wrote a book in 1994 called, Christmas, Reconsidered.
He has this to say about Jeremiah 10. You will also notice veiled references to Amstrongite mythology.
Did Jeremiah in the tenth chapter of the book that bears his name, forbid the use of Christmas trees?
A number of years ago, I received a phone call from two men. Both help positions in an organization which has distributed multiple thousands of booklets that claim Jeremiah condemned the Christmas tree. But contrary to this booklet, written by their founder, they pointed out to me that the Jeremiah text, when taken in context, simply will not allow this meaning. Though not wanting to be disloyal, they could not in good conscience continue to hold a view that was contrary to what the text actually said.
For any who will study it out, the Jeremiah text clearly condemns idol worship. The subject is not the Christmas tree as we know it today. Here is the text - Jeremiah 10:3-14:
Learn not the way of the heathen...the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree ou of the forest, the word of the hands of the workman, with the ax. THey deck it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it might not move. They are upright as the alm tree, but speak not: they must needs be bourne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of then; for they cannot do evil, neither also si it inthem to do good...the stock is a doctrineof vanities. SIlver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the wor of the workman, and of the hands of the founder...Every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten images a falsehood, and there e is no breath in them.
There are five points about this passage that should be carefully noticed:
First, consider the workman: "...one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman." A surface reading has caused some to supposed this workman to be a lumberjack, going into the forest to cut down a Christmas tree. But this is not the intended meaning. A "workman" was one who took material - in this case, the wood from the tree - and formed it into an IDOL. Later in this passage, the "workman" is portrayed as plating an idol with silver and gold - clearly not a lumberjack!
The same word appears in a parallel passage about making an idol from a tree: "He that is so impoverished that he had no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image" (Isaiah 40:19, 20; see also Hosea 8:4-6) Idols were commonly made out of tree stock (Jer 3:9)
Second, notice that the tool the workman uses is called an "ax." Though the word as (or axes) appears 18 times in the Bible (KJV), the word here translated "ax" is a different word! It is not the ax that a lumberjack would use to cut down a tree, but is, more specifically, a carving tool. The workman would use this tool to form an idol from the tree already cut down. Some translations use the word chisel; "For the customs of the people are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel" (NIV).
Third, the idol described in Jeremiah 10, carved from the "stock" of a tree (margin: "wooden idol"), was "upright as a palm tree (verse 5) - as a person standing. This does not fit today's traditional fir or spruce "Christmas tree" which is not shaped like a palm tree.
Fourth, Jeremiah spoke against worshipping an idol made from a tree, not the tree itself. though the workman could make the idol look like a living, walking, talking being, yet it was lifeless.
The prophets commonly pointed out the absurdity of believing in "idols...the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet they have, but they walk not" (Psalm 115:4-7)
So here, the idols Jeremiah described, "speak not" - implying a mouth, not speech. The same point could not be made if Jeremiah was speaking of a Christmas tree - no one expects a Christmas tree to talk! These idols apparently had legs, yet could not walk. They must be carried, "because they can not go" (Jer 10:5). Had Jeremiah been speaking of a Christmas tree, his whole argument would break down; everyone realizes a Christmas tree must be carried - no one supposes a Christmas tree should walk.
Fifth, these idols were dressed in clothing" (Jer 10:9). A Christmas tree may be decorated, but no one puts clothing on a Christmas tree, not blue, purple, or any other color.
Jeremiah comes right out and uses the term "graven [carved] image" (Jer 10:14) - not a Christmas tree - but an idol carved in the likeness of a man. Isaiah described the same thing: "They that make a graven image...the carpenter stretched out his rule...and maketh it after the figure of a man...he heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak...eh maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto" (Isa 44:9-15).
By simply applying sound, recognized, and basic biblical interpretation, it is clear that Jeremiah described idol worship, not tree worship.
But even if Jeremiah's subject had been actual tree worship, what bearing would this have on our subject? At the Christmas season, thousands of people have a Christmas tree, but I am not aware of any of them worshipping it.
I have seen ant-Christmas booklets that argue that people worship the Christmas tree because they bow on their knees to place presents around it! The very weakness of this argument exposes the absurdity.
It could be argued that time and expense are wasted on a Christmas tree. It could be argued that leaving a tree to grow in the forest might serve a better purpose. It could be argued that the lighted tree presents a fire hazard. But to argue that Christians worship Christmas trees - no way! Christians worship Christ, not trees. When the season is over, they get rid of their trees: they burn them up hand them over to the trash collector! - not something people would do with an object of worship.
A Christmas tree is a seasonal decoration. If there is was a danger of Christian people veering off into tree worship, then not only a seasonal tree, but perhaps even trees for landscaping would be condemned. Imagine someone preaching that we should destroy all trees on our property lest we be tempted into tree worship!
The fir tree and pine tree were considered objects of beauty, even for the sanctuary of the Lord (Isa 60:13). Some believe there were avenues of trees leading up to the sanctuary, while others think in terms of wooded slopes around the sanctuary. In either case, an ornamental purpose is implied, not merely lumber from these trees for building purposes.
Inspired prophets often used the tree as a symbol of that which is good. A man who serves the Lord is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water" (Psalms 1"3). The righteous flourish "like the palm tree" and gro "like the cedar in Lebanon" (Psalms 92:12). They are "trees of righteousness" (Isa 61:3). Wisdom is "a tree of life" (Pro 3:18). The blessing of long life is likened to a tree (Isa 65:22). Those who overcome wat of "the tree of life" (rev 2:7). god's people are symbolized as an olive (from 11:17). These and many more references show how trees can symbolize good things.
The Christmas tree, as we know it, only dates back a few centuries. In those earlier times, trees were decorated with fruit, which some considered symbolic of the tree of life 9rev 22:2). Today's round Christmas tree balls are simply stylized fruit (unless you are a COG member and think they are Nimrod's testicles).
For some, anything round is a pagan symbol. But who made the fruit round, who made manna round, who made the moon round, who made the sun round, who made the earth round" Roudnis not wrong.
Ideas about paganism can be carried to a fruitless extreme - even innocent things become suspect. If someone sought to condemn flowers - a young man bringing flowers to his girlfriend, or placement of flowers on a grave - probably some pagan origin could be claimed even for this!
Some object to the star decoration that is commonplace at the top of a Christmas tree, pointing out that the star was the symbol of the ancient pagan god (Amos 5:26). But a much more feasible explanation for the star would be that found within the Christmas story: the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem.
A person who places a star on a Christmas tree is not worshipping a demonic god, knowingly or otherwise. It is only a decoration. those who are quick to brand anything linked to stars or the sun with some occult origin, need to remember that even Jesus is called a "Star: and the "Sun of righteousness" (Num 24:17; Rev. 22:16; Mal 4:2). Let's not accuse biblical writers like Moses, Malachai, and John of promoting paganism!
It is quite inconsistent to build a belief on some minor similarity, while ignoring vast differences. Consider the following examples: alcoholism is bad, so one should not use shaving lotion - it has alcohol in it. Smoking cigarettes is bad, so one should not eat smoked meat. It is bad for people to chew tobacco, so one should not chew gum. Jeremiah condemned idols made from trees, so people who decorate with a Christmas tree commit idolatry!
We have given reasons why we believe Jeremiah spoke against an idol made from a tree, and not the tree itself. Still, if a brother in Christ feels he shouldn't have a Christmas tree, let him follow his conscience. If another chooses to decorate his home with a Christmas tree, he should not be condmcned for this. The greater harm would be to allow a nonessential point to cause needless confusion and division among the people of God. Christmas, Reconsidered
If Church of God leaders will lie about this simple little verse, how can you trust them to interpret other scriptures?