Does Jeremiah Chapter 10 Mean Christians Shouldn’t Have Christmas Trees? It seems every year at Christmas, a predictable thing happens. Christians are inundated with accusations that their celebrations all stem from pagan worship festivals. While this may be true in some case, the vast majority of these claims are overblown.
And there are some well-meaning Christians that claim that the Bible itself warns against incorporating the “pagan worship practice” of Christmas trees. The verse often cited as a prohibition on Christmas trees is Jeremiah 10:3-5. Let’s take a look and see what the verses actually say about Christmas trees.
Jeremiah 10:3–5 (NRSV)
3 For the customs of the peoples are false:
a tree from the forest is cut down,
and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan;
4 people deck it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
nor is it in them to do good.
These verses sure sound like an accurate description of a modern Christmas tree. But if we take a closer look at the context, and what is actually being described, we begin to get a different picture as to what’s going on here.
As with all books of the Bible, one of the key elements to understanding the message give is to understand who the book was written to. Jeremiah is warning the people of Judah about their coming conquest by the Babylonians. And in this verse in particular, is warning against the making of pagan idols.
In verse 3 we see that the tree is cut and “worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan”. More than just simply being cut down and decorated, the trees were actually fashioned into an idol. This idol would be in the shape of a god or goddess, and would then be decorated.
Ahead Of His Time
And this is what Jeremiah is talking about. While we should of course be wary of Who and what we worship, Jeremiah does not have Christmas trees in mind when making these prohibitions. The modern use of Christmas trees is in fact very different from fashioning an idol out of a piece of wood and decorating it with gold and silver. Celebrating the birth of our Savior is clearly not what in being addressed in this passage.
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