Challenge Number Four:

Get Rid of the Tree

By Mary E. Stephens

If you haven't read the first page of this challenge series, please go here.

Jeremiah 10:2-7 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 workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

While Santa Claus is probably one of the most easily recognized deceptions of the Christmas holiday, the Christmas tree in my mind makes a close second. Though many people might not at first agree with that idea, if one steps back and views it with a "man from Mars" point of view the honest question would be, "What does that have to do with Jesus Christ's birth?" Clearly it is never mentioned in scripture in any relation to the birth of Christ nor in New Testament church practice. In fact, the only scripture that describes such a tree is the passage above, which is clearly describing a heathen custom.

Colossians 1:18 And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Now, the Christmas tree is probably one of the hardest things for most people to deal with.  It's fairytale aura is so incredibly attractive to both old and young, but especially to the young, that this challenge may well be one of the hardest for most Christians to deal with.  It certainly was for my own family. The tree has an almost magical quality and is given a place of preeminence so that it can be admired and adored by all.  It is for many the essential part of the Christmas tradition.

There have been some over the years who were disturbed by the history of the Christmas tree and wanted to give it up, but their families resisted to such an extent that they were forced to continue with it. To you I would point out that it says, "they cannot do evil." So, taken for what it says, we have to conclude that one is not bringing some kind of curse down on one's home for doing this.

But, to those who may already be feeling justified in keeping the tree, it also says, "neither also is it in them to do good." So, the wonderful, lovely Christmas tree is not going to teach you about the Lord Jesus Christ.  It can't do good.  It is unequivocally connected to the signs of heaven (the winter solstice in this case) and has nothing whatever to do with the glory and righteousness of God. How do I know that? Read on.

In verse 6 - 7 it says, "Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee."

This is the contrast to learning the ways of the heathen, to being dismayed with them at the signs of heaven - which is the true origin of the winter solstice "festivities." This is the point: All that superstitious ritual of bringing in the tree and setting it up and decorating it is so much silliness when compared with the Lord God Almighty! There is none like Him. He should be honored and adored and made the focal point, not a mere tree! Psalms 86:8-10 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.

Give Up the Christmas TreeI won't be the first to say this, but there is much that goes on surrounding the decorating, lighting and admiring of the Christmas tree that is too much like adoration and worship. And, because it is not focused on the Lord Jesus Himself, it smacks of idolatry. You who claim that you are celebrating Christmas to honor the Lord Jesus: How does it honor Him for you to be focused on a tinsel covered tree, to adore it, to admire it, to set it up as the focal point of your holiday rituals? There is NONE like Him. If He really is the central figure of your celebration, why don't you set up something that is at least reminiscent of the event you say you are remembering instead of this shimmering centerpiece that God says you got from the superstitions of the heathen?


May I just say this? As far as I know there are few truly spontaneous  inventions in Christendom. If it doesn't come from the scripture it usually comes from some previous heathen custom or secular society.
There are plenty of people who have come up with "alternative" legends about the origins of the Christmas tree, I know. If you don't want the truth about the Christmas tree, there are plenty of sources out there who will assure you that it has wonderful Christian meaning. The world, the flesh and the devil always have enablers. But, starting from scripture, rather than old Lutheran traditions or modern inventions, it is not hard to realize that the true origin of that "scared" icon is in the customs of the ancient heathen, not the New Testament church. 

For more information on the history of Christmas trees:  The Historical Origins of the Christmas Tree

So, the challenge here is to either just get rid of the Christmas tree tradition altogether, or to replace it with something that is actually reminiscent of the event that you are trying to celebrate - the birth of Jesus Christ. Obviously, the replacement could be a manger scene, which is actually something that some people have done. Some folks, especially those saved out of Roman Catholic or Orthodox backgrounds, might find that to be a problem still, but I would say that in many ways it is an improvement over the Christmas tree tradition. Best case scenario with the manger scene would be an empty manger, an empty cross and an empty tomb; and a reminder that He is coming again! Be creative!

In the final analysis, the fact is that Jesus Christ is so much better than the Christmas tree, why would you replace the Lord of Glory with things that cannot speak and "must needs be borne, because they cannot go"? It just doesn't make sense.

Psalms 40:4-8 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

In light of what the Lord had to say in Jeremiah 10 about the trees being brought in, set up and decorated; can you possibly think that it is God's will for you to mimic this same heathen ways? Do you delight to do the will of God? Are you willing to give up the Christmas tree for Him - or perhaps I should say, to replace the Christmas tree with Him? If you cannot or will not give up the Christmas tree for the Lord, then it is probably safe to say that it is an idol to you, not just a tradition. Please prayerfully consider this.

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Updated Nov. 2022