Advent wreaths and Christmas trees are traditions that stir deep seated feelings and memories in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians today. This year, many Christians are upset by atheists that attempt to rob them of the joy of the season. America has changed radically over the last several years. Atheists still see Christmas as a time to celebrate the winter solstice but there are more immigrants here who cling to other gods than ever before. Christmas can’t mean that much to them. I can only imagine what they really think of American Christmas traditions. Still there are many who simply enjoy and/or detest the materialistic experience of the season. I suspect that aspect of the season has probably been impacted greatly by the severe economic times Americans are facing.
Despite all of this, I want to point out something concerning the season many have never considered.
Jeremiah 10:3-5 says, “For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”
I remember the first time these verses caught my attention as I was reading through the book of Jeremiah. I thought to myself, this sounds like a Christmas tree. At that time, these verses were planted as a seed in my heart. From that point on, I became uncomfortable every time I saw a Christmas tree because I always thought of these verses. This seed grew once I finally began to seek my Hebraic roots.
When I first discovered these verses, I emailed my friends to see what they thought about them. One said, “It may sound like a Christmas tree but I don’t worship my Christmas tree.”
The Christmas season is now upon us once again. Trees and decorations are being sold like they are every year. Even churches erect these trees in their sanctuaries…and it breaks my heart. I know Christians don’t worship their trees and they are trying to celebrate Christ’s birth but celebrating Jesus’ birth involves worshiping the newborn King and a Christmas tree is a beautiful pagan idol that is in the way of that.
Have you ever considered Ezekiel 8? The Lord appeared to Ezekiel and brought him in a vision to Jerusalem, to the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was. The presence of this idol was causing God to be jealous. The Lord asked Ezekiel if he knew what the people were doing here to make Him go far away from His sanctuary. The Lord then showed Ezekiel greater abominations that were going on in the temple.
Deuteronomy 12:1-4 commanded the Israelites to observe God’s statutes and judgments their whole lives. They were to tear down the places of idolatry and not worship the Lord our God with the things the idolaters worship their gods with. These commands didn’t only apply to the Israelites but they apply to us as well.
Have you considered the practice of Advent? For four weeks prior to Christmas, a candle is lit and Scripture is read to welcome Jesus, the Light of the world to come during the time of the winter solstice. This is simply a pagan ritual that has been modified for Christian application. According to Deuteronomy 12:1-4, God is not pleased with this. This was originally the time when the Celts prayed for the return of the sun’s life-giving light. This is sun worship. That is the same abomination Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 8:16.
How about the 40 days of Lent? That’s in a different time of year. Forty days of fasting and self denial prior to Passover is not required by the Lord. That seems like a righteous thing to do but it is really linked with the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz. That’s exactly what they were doing in Ezekiel 8:14. The Lord called that an abomination.
What did God do about these abominations? In Ezekiel 9, He called a man clothed in linen to take his writer’s inkhorn and instructed him to put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all of the abominations that are done in the temple. After that he was commanded to kill everyone no matter how old they were who did not have the mark of the Lord on their foreheads. Ezekiel was distressed by what he saw because he thought the Lord God was going to wipe out the entire remnant of Israel in Jerusalem. The Lord explained that the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah was exceedingly great. It was full of bloodshed and perversity and that He would not spare them or have pity. Just then the man dressed in linen clothes with the inkhorn came and reported that he was done as commanded.
This vision that Ezekiel saw is a picture of what will happen in the future. An abomination of desolation will be set up in the temple to arouse God’s jealousy. Other abominations will be taking place as well. The 144,000 will be sealed with the seal of God and the wicked will eventually be destroyed by the plagues.
What will happen to the rest of us when that time comes? Will we fare any better? How can we when abominations, bloodshed (abortions and other murders), and perverse sexual immorality reign in our midst? Do you expect to be raptured before that? Don’t count on it because there’s as much Scripture to support a post-tribulation rapture as there is a pre-tribulation rapture.
If we don’t want to be destroyed for a lack of knowledge of God’s commands and lawlessness, we’ve got to study God’s word and get synchretized Christianity out of lives. We must also get rid of the excessive materialism of this season and the abominable parts of our traditions and cling to the Lord and obey God’s commandments.
As this season continues, obey Ephesians 5:18-21: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
Instead of celebrating Christ’s birth during Christmas, consider doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles without all of the Christmas traditions. After all, Immanuel means God “with us”…dwelling with us. That’s the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles anyway.
If you are one who already understands these things yet your spouse and the rest of your family doesn’t, this is obviously an extremely awkward time of year for you. Take comfort in the fact you are not alone. Maintain a quiet spirit and worship the Lord. May the peace of the Lord guard your heart and mind during the winter holidays and always.