Family / Home: Are Christmas trees referenced in the Bible?
Some people have felt that Jeremiah 10:1-5 is referring to what we, today, know as Christmas trees. Let’s look at these Bible verses carefully.
"1 Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel.2 Thus says the LORD:
Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
3 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.”
At first glance, it might seem that verses 3 and 4 are referring to Christmas trees, cut from the forest and decorated with gold and silver trimmings. But a more careful look at the entire section makes it clear that God is talking about making a carved image—or idol—from the trunk of a tree. He speaks of a craftsman shaping the wood, "the work of the hands of the workman" (verse 3).
This is made clear in the context of the following verses, specifically verse 8:
8 But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.
Later in the chapter the contrast is drawn between the false gods that have not made the earth and the true God, the Creator (see verses 9-11). Verses 14 and 15 speak of worthless idols and images that are only objects of mockery.
The practice of making an idol from the trunk of a tree is also referred to in Isaiah 40:19, 20 and 44:14-17. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah declare the futility and absurdity of making and worshiping idols.
When looking at the verses of Jeremiah, we must remember that Christmas, of course, came into being long after Christ’s death and resurrection—years after the Bible was written—as a day to honor His birth. And the practice of decorating Christmas trees originated even later. Therefore, these Bible verses are not referring to Christmas trees, but idolatry.
However, if one should have convictions about Christmas trees, it is a personal choice. There is no direct Biblical mandate regarding the use or improper use of a Christmas tree, and it would be unwise to enforce another either way. We must remember Romans 14:4-5, "Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind."
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