This is the second in a series about counterfeit truths and Christmas. It comes from my musings about all the traditions at Christmas time and what significance, if any, they hold for the Christian. I guess that with all of the commercialization I just want something to hang on to. I’m convinced 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. So, this part is about the humble Christmas Tree:
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.”
Once again, the people that the Lord is rebuking here are the Jews. I feel like the Lord is speaking directly to me sometimes! The Jews were living their lives in way that was opposite to what God had taught. They had let society influence them rather than them influence society. 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. I think that this is a half-truth – a counterfeit truth that has robbed us of our understand of the Christmas tree. Here’s what I mean:
The idea of a the tree, as a counterfeit, goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden. There in the paradise home of Adam & Eve were many trees. They walked with God as a man walks with his friend, until they took the fruit and ate the fruit that was forbidden. We are told in Genesis 3 that they realized that they were naked before God and they found a fig tree and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Fig leaves represent mankind’s attempt to make himself accepted by God: good works, keep rules and regulations, mankind attempting to reach up to heaven. Nathanael was doing that when Jesus confronted him. There in John 1 we read: Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
In essence, Jesus was saying “Nathanael, I saw you when you were trying to reach me, I saw you when you were using your religion and good works as as a badge of honour. But I see you, Nathanael. I see see that you know you can never reach me on your own.” And you know from that moment on we see Nathanael leaving the fig tree and followed the Christmas tree. Because the Christmas tree speaks of Jesus! How? Think about it …. the Christmas tree is an evergreen tree that is fixed to a wooden structure. Well, there is One who is eternal ( and who gives everlasting life) who was fastened to a wooden structure with nail and hammer. Someone who was not adorned with silver but sold for silver. Someone who was not adorned with a golden crown but with a thorny crown. Someone who was fastened so that He didn’t moved.
If it wasn’t for the Christmas Tree, I’d still be sitting under the fig tree, trying to be good enough but failing miserably. Remember that this Christmas!