The Christmas tree has become one of the symbols of the American Christmas. Putting it up the day after Thanksgiving signals Christmas time is truly here. Now, in my opinion, there is some silliness when it comes to Christians and whether or not you should have a Christmas tree. Usually, the argument comes from Jeremiah 10:1-4. The internet is full of people quoting these verses on why we should not have a Christmas tree (Don’t tell anyone this, but we have one up in our church – oops!). Here are the facts from the text:
- He was not talking about Christmas trees because they did not even exist yet. You can do hours and hours of Google searches on the origin of the Christmas tree and find all kinds “truths” about when and where the Christmas, or Yule Tree, began. So whatever your argument is, you can probably find a source of “authoritative truth” to back it up on the internet somewhere. The actual truth is probably lost somewhere in time because it is just not that important.
- The context (I know, context often gets in the way of “good” preaching ) of Jeremiah’s statement was about idol worship and using the wood to build an idol to worship. We see that from the word “Palm Tree” used in verse 5. It is a Hebrew reference to a modern scarecrow in a cucumber patch. So the context of these verses is about someone who takes wood that they chopped down, fashions it into an idol, and worships it instead of God.
- Now, if you are bowing down and worshipping your tree and teach your kids that at night gifts grow on its branches for them, or if you are allowing all the commercialism and trappings of the holidays to cause you to lose your focus on worshipping God and the earthly birth of God Incarnate – then there is a problem. But if not, there really is no big deal about the Christmas tree, one way or another. Those who argue these things usually don’t have a proper interpretation of Romans 14 and the issue of personal liberty in Christ. If you choose to not have a tree, then GREAT. If you choose to have a tree, that is fine, too. There is nothing to get worked up about. When we get worked up over these things, we show that our focus is not where it should be.
The tree will be our theme this Christmas season at our church, and I want to share with my readers my messages from the pulpit for this Christmas season. There are many trees that become a focal point throughout the Bible. In this blog series, we look at ADAM’S FORBIDDEN TREE – which is found in Genesis 3. (NOTE: It is my suggestion that you have your Bible opened to Genesis while reading these post. I will try to link the other Bible references for you.)
This is where it starts for mankind, and where it starts for us. If we don’t understand this chapter and this tree, we will never have a proper understanding of the rest of the Bible, salvation, grace, or how we are to live and our limitations in this life.
THE FRUIT – 3:1-5
The first thing we notice is The Deception – 3:1-3.The Bible tells us this about Satan in Revelation 12:9, “…Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Satan is described as a liar by Jesus in John 8 and a deceiver, and here we see why. The word used to describe him here is Subtil, which means “crafty or cunning.” His subtlety is seen in his twisting what God had said. From the very beginning of man’s existence, Satan has desired to deceive man and lead them away from God. The same is still true today.
We notice in vs. 2-3 that Eve quotes to Satan God’s command. How did Eve know this was God’s command? Read carefully Genesis 2:15-17. Did you notice that this command was given before Eve was created in 2:18-25? When Eve quoted it, it was not exactly as we have it in chapter 2. There is lots of debate and discussion about the reason why. The difference could be explained one of these ways:
- Adam added on to it for Eve’s warning – this is not likely because Adam would have been adding to God’s command, and this would be considered the first sin.
- Eve added her interpretation to it because she misunderstood the phrase “surely die” and thought there might be something poisonous about touching the actual tree – not likely.
- Most likely – We can surmise from 3:8 that God commonly walked with Adam and Eve while in the Garden. It was probably during one of these times that God and Adam talked with Eve about this one forbidden tree and they went into further instruction about it.
Either way, we see both the deceptive and subtle work of Satan already at hand, which leads to…The Doubt – 3:4-5. Pay careful attention to Satan’s wording – “surely.” The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtilty (Craftiness),… (parenthesis mine)” Satan was clearly being deceptive in his wording in deceiving Eve, just as Herod was in speaking to the wise men in Matthew 2:8 when he said, “…Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” Herod never planned to worship Jesus, but instead planned to kill Him.
The devil deals in deception to cause God’s children to doubt. His desire is to get you to think that sin is not that bad…not that big of a deal…God’s way is outdated…etc. He was trying to get Eve to doubt God’s love and goodness by withholding this one tree from her. Yet, God’s love is displayed in the fact that He allowed them to freely have every other tree in the Garden!