Jeremiah 10:1-5: Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 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. 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 axe. They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. 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.”
The people that the Lord is rebuking here are the Jews. They are living in a time where they had been sucked into a way of life that was opposite to what they had been taught by God. The people of that society took a tree from the woods, fixed it to a wooden structure, and decorated it with silver and gold. But the Lord says that there is no life in that tree; it doesn’t have the power to do good or evil but the practice is futile.
Well, that brings up some problems doesn’t it? Because I have proudly sitting in my lounge a beautiful Christmas tree, fixed so that it won’t topple and adorned with silver and gold ornaments. The question arises: why would we do that if there were a clear indictment in the Bible not to do that? Well, you know, that whenever there is a truth, there are a number of counterfeit truths. False hoods or half-truths, that are designed to take our minds away from the original meaning.
In this series I will be taking a look at a number of these counterfeit truths and how we can gain any benefit as Christians with Christmas.
The one story in the Christ’s nativity that really gets my imagination going is the story of the Magi (a.k.a wise men/kings). Think about the star that the wise men “followed”. This can cause all kinds of questions for the Christian about astrology. In the Old Testament we know that the signs in the heavens were meant to proclaimed God’s calendar. The Hebrew Mazzaroth, from which we get our signs of the Zodiac, were not for predicting if today we will meet a our future partner, have some bad news or win the lotto but to provide evidence for a Creator and His plan for mankind. Think about it: the virgin birth represented by Virgo; the balancing scales of Libra (showing that mankind’s good works and his sin don’t balance out – we can never do enough good to out weigh our bad); the sting of death of Scorpio where the Messiah suffers in our place so that Paul could declare “O death where is your sting?” Next comes Sagittarius, the Archer who is depicted pointing his arrows towards Scorpio. It’s the triumph over the curse of death that the writer to the Hebrews describes Christ who was offered once to bear the sins of many. But Jesus didn’t stay there, in the grave. Capricorn, the Sea Goat, is picture as life out of death: the resurrection of the Messiah. We know from the gospel accounts, and from Acts that after Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers (Aquarius, the water bearer) and the church (Pisces the fish) was born. The story behind Aries is about the glory that comes from humiliation) which points to the rebirth of Israel (Daniel 7:27)
Finally, the end times scenarios are depicted in the coming of Taurus, the Gemini twins (Revelation 11), the cancer protector of the Holy City crab, and Leo, the Lion returning in victory.
Now, this is not to support Astrology as some try to claim, but rather, it is a declaration of God’s Plan for Mankind through the role of Jesus. The counterfeit, oh yeah … well take a look in any newspaper. People read “their stars” to find other meanings in them. Today it is a multi million pound industry that has nothing to do with Jesus birth. Astrology is a counterfeit. But Jesus said of himself in Revelation 22 “I, Jesus, … am the … Bright and Morning Star.” The star points to Jesus – but astrology points back at you!
So remember the star this Christmas that it isn’t a pretty decoration to stick on top of the tree, it speak of Jesus!