Every year at the season of Christmas some very sincere folks complain that God does not approve of us decorating Christmas Trees.
What are we to make of such statements?
Most just shrug them off and go on with their tree-trimming. I think that is dangerous though. Hasn’t God told us to “study to show ourselves approved; a workman that needs not to be ashamed?”
If you are a Christian and you believe it is okay to decorate and use a Christmas tree inside your home; you should know WHY. If you think this is a pagan practice; you should also be ready to explain yourself and to be a good witness as to why you do what you do.
I’ve found that the people who KNOW why they don’t are usually more vocal and more obvious on this subject than the people who KNOW why they do; because it is pretty much tradition these days to put up a Christmas tree in December. Let’s look at some facts from both sides and see if either of us KNOWS what we KNOW. In most instances people are simply following tradition and doing what their parents and their grandparents taught them to do; with no logic whatsoever; just tradition.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that tradition just for the sake of tradition is always wrong; if you don’t know the logic behind your traditions; they are totally useless. The scriptures tell us not to follow the traditions of man. Let’s take a closer look at where these traditions of the Christmas tree originated in the first place. Let’s just go all the way back to the garden of Eden. (I’m sorry if this becomes a little long – but that is a LOT of history!)
This subject is actually something that I’ve pondered for many years now; because I understand people who want to live authentically within God’s commands. I always listen when people question traditional things. That is something that I really admire; especially in today’s slowly sinking culture. My logic is based on truth and truth alone though. I believe that God is truth and He will stand for nothing else. We have to be very careful with these things and we can’t just jump to conclusions.
I’ve never done a whole study through the bible on the subject of Christmas trees; so here goes. Let’s just see where it leads us.
If we do a little more extensive research of the scriptures for ourselves; perhaps we will learn how God truly feels about trees. We can’t just pick and choose scriptures though; we’ve got to look at the whole picture. ALL of the scriptures have to be considered and that will take a HUGE amount of time and research; but if you want to join in on this; I’m game.
I’m sure we are going to find some pros and cons and we will need to iron out the wrinkles when we are done.
Let’s do it.
SUCH AN EXTENSIVE SUBJECT TO COVER
I think this subject is so BIG and so popular right now that it might deserve an extensive search for all the correct answers. I want to look at all the passages about trees in the scriptures and then draw my conclusion based totally on all of the Word of God.
Let’s start at the beginning; with the book of Genesis.
TREES IN GENESIS
The book of Genesis tells us that God made the trees. He even made one very special tree and planted it right in the center of his own garden in Paradise. He called it The Tree of Life. If you eat from this tree; you will live forever.
The creation of trees by God is found in Genesis 2:9 – And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So we know that God created the trees.
Are we to despise the things that God created?
I don’t think so.
Clearly God created the trees. But what is the proper use of them?
Genesis also clearly states that God created trees to be PLEASANT FOR THE SIGHT, and GOOD FOR FOOD. Apparently we are to enjoy looking at them and eating the fruit from them.
TWO SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT TREES
God must have approved of having these trees around because He put two trees right in the midst of the garden where he walked with the first two humans. Adam and Eve knew of the two trees. They shared the existence of God’s special trees with God inside God’s garden.
One was the Tree of Life and the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The thing that they KNEW was that God had forbidden them to eat from these two trees. They could have ALL they wanted from the other trees in the garden; just not these two trees.
In Genesis 2:16-17 we first hear of God instructing man on what to do with a tree. “And the Lord commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any trees in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” God was telling them the truth; they were not paying very close attention though.
Ever notice that God tells us stuff; and even EXPLAINS why; and STILL we humans often fail to listen?
From reading this passage it seems that God is okay with men looking at, enjoying and eating from trees; except for that one tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Every other tree seemed to be okay for men according to God.
WHEN EVE FORGOT TO LISTEN TO GOD
Then that woman named Eve came along and Satan tempted her to eat from the one wrong tree.
Suddenly she knew good from evil.
Before that she had lived in complete innocence; as did the man. There is no way to condemn an innocent being; but once they have knowledge of good and evil; they must be held accountable. Now they had knowledge of things that would make life much more complicated for the whole human race.
God came looking for them; knowing what they had done and where do you think they hid?
In the trees. Hmmmm…..trees seem to be very important in many ways in the Garden of God.
We can see that there are trees that can be used for good; and there are trees that are best left alone. And God asked the man the big question: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
Then Adam confessed to God that the woman had given him fruit from the tree and he had eaten it. So God turns to Eve and says “What have you done?”
And Eve says: “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”
Yes, there was a lot of passing the blame around; but in the end – ALL were guilty, the man, the woman and the serpent.
So God first curses the serpent, then the woman, then He turns to look at Adam and reminds him that he ate from the tree that God commanded he should not eat of; and therefore Adam was punished by having to eat his food from whatever he could produce from the dust of the ground. And in the end of that time; Adam would be doomed to return to dust; the same dust from whence he had been created.
I’m sure all of this eating from the WRONG tree made God very, very sad with the people.
Be sure to notice that God punished the people for doing the wrong thing; not the trees. It wasn’t the tree that had done wrong and the tree wasn’t cursed by God; it was that the people and the serpent had done the wrong actions with the wrong intentions. They put themselves above God.
The punishment had nothing to do with the trees; and it changed nothing at all about the trees.
The punishment had to do with the wrong intent of the actions of the people.
Their hearts were turned toward only themselves and their own desires; not toward the worship of God.
IN PARTAKING FROM A WRONG TREE INNOCENCE WAS LOST
Innocence was lost forever.
From this point forward all of mankind would be held accountable to God for their actions.
Because of this sin of disobeying God, Adam and Eve would not be allowed to eat from the other special tree that God made called the Tree of Life; because they would then live forever and sin could not be allowed to exist forever. Adam and Eve had not proved that they were capable of living otherwise. And they were then banished from the garden and an angel was appointed to guard the Tree of Life so that they would not be able to return and eat from that tree and live forever (until there was a way for them to somehow eliminate sin from their lives.)
THE TREE THAT BUILT AN ARK
So; Adam and Eve leave the garden and begin to populate the earth.
They are still carrying around sin inside of them. Humans grow more and more evil as time progresses.
The next time we hear about a tree is when men have become very evil and wicked; so wicked that God did not want them on the earth anymore. One man was different though. One man was good. His name was Noah. What made Noah different and good in the eyes of God? It was the fact that Noah worshiped God and God alone.
God told Noah to make an ark out of cypress wood.
So it was that the use of the cypress tree being formed into an ark was used by God to save Noah and his family and two of every animal (and seven pairs of the “clean” animals) in the great flood that God brought to the earth to destroy sin and wickedness.
God told Noah to go inside the ark. The tree that was made into an ark floated them above the waters and kept them safe. This was a total reversal to the act of Adam and Eve. Using that tree had brought condemnation to them. Using the cypress tree for the ark brought salvation from the flood for Noah and his family and the animals of the earth.
Have you ever noticed that our God is a God of great reversals? What men intend to harm; God can always turn for good. He reversed the use of the tree that was used for evil and let it be used for good.
What was the difference in how Noah used the tree and how Adam and Eve used the tree?
Noah was obeying and honoring God with his behavior; Adam and Eve were disobeying and dishonoring God with their behavior.
THE SIGN FROM THE OLIVE TREE
After many, many days of floating through the flood Noah sent out a dove who returned to him with an olive leaf from an olive tree. The sign of this olive tree told Noah that things were once again going to be safe for his family on the earth.
Here again; God used a tree for good; to show those who were obedient to Him that they were loved and cared for by their God.
Trees can be used for good and trees can be used for evil.
SEED TIME AND HARVEST ARE PROMISES FROM GOD
And God put the rainbow in the sky and made a promise to Noah: God said; “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
So again; we hear of trees in the statement where God says “seed-time and harvest.” God says He will never completely destroy life on the earth again; even though the hearts of men are evil. As long as the earth endures; there will be seed time and harvest!
There will always be fruitful trees among us! This is the good promise of God! These trees signify our provision from our Great God. The trees are innocent; it is the hearts of men who bring evil into the earth; not the trees.
In Genesis 9:3 we read of God saying: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
And it seemed as if God had already given man the green plants, from the very beginning, which would include all of the trees (except one.) And it seems to be stated again in that last line; “I now give you EVERYTHING.”
God gave us the trees to tend in the ways that we wished to tend to them.
EVERYTHING IS GOOD FOR FOOD
God went on to say that everything was good for food except those things that contained life blood. God demands an accounting for those who take life blood. Life is very sacred to God; and God IS life.
THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH GROW AFTER THE FLOOD
So out of the ark came Noah’s sons and out of Noah’s sons came the nations of the earth.
A tree had been used to save the nations from a flood; and the people and the nations multiplied on the earth from Noah’s seed and after a long time, the day came that God blessed Abram and set him on a journey to Canaan.
THE TREES AND ABRAHAM
This is the next place where the scriptures speak of a tree. There was a tree in the place where Abram came to on his journey. It reads like this:
“Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” (Genesis 12:6.)
What do we learn from this passage of scripture about trees? That they can be used to mark places in time and history that are important.
ABRAHAM BUILT THE FIRST ALTAR AT THE TREE OF MOREH AT SHECHEM
A famine came and Abram had to move to Egypt.
A lot of things happened in Egypt; then Abram and Sarai went back to that same spot where the tree mentioned earlier existed; and this seems to be the first place where Abram ever built an altar and called upon the Name of the LORD.
I would say that tree marked a pretty important spot in history!
How was it used? It was used to “call upon the name of the LORD.”
THE PLACE OF THE TREE MARKS WHERE ABRAHAM AND LOT PARTED
It was also in the spot of that great tree that Abram and Lot parted company.
Abram told Lot to choose the direction he wanted to go and Abram went in the opposite direction. So Abram went to live in the land of Canaan again. Lot went toward Sodom and Gomorrah. God promised to give Abram all of the land in all directions around him; and it is then that we hear of the next tree. Genesis 13:18 says: “So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the LORD.
Do you notice Abram keeps living near great trees?
Do you notice that he keeps using the location of the trees for godly purposes and worship?
Do you hear the scriptures pointing these things out?
These “great trees” seem to be good in the sight of the LORD.
No one is complaining and the areas where they exist seem to be the areas of choice for God’s people.
Maybe it is okay with God to use the locations of trees for worship; at least Father Abraham seemed to think it was.
UNDER A TREE GOD’S PEOPLE WERE MARKED FOR GOD
In Genesis 18; after Abraham and Ishmael have been circumcised; where do you think God comes to them?
In the trees at Mamre!
God doesn’t seem to be afraid to appear to His people to bring His messages to them beneath the trees.
NEWS OF A SPECIAL BABY BEING BORN WAS DELIVERED BENEATH A TREE IN MAMRE
Again; God is bringing good news; that of a son who will later be named Isaac who will be born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.
They heard the news under the shade of those old trees at Mamre.
I’m getting the feeling that God loves trees; aren’t you?
I’m even thinking that maybe hearing the news of Baby Jesus coming into the world would be okay to be announced beneath a tree.
Wasn’t Isaac a shadow of Christ to come?
Genesis 18:7 tells of Abraham preparing a meal for The LORD; “Then he ran to the heard and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
There is Abraham, God’s servant standing underneath a tree after he had prepared a feast for God.
The tree just seems to fit into this occasion.
Ever prepared a feast for your family to celebrate an announcement of good news from God on Christmas Day where you all sat beneath a special tree?
I promise you I could not justify or reconcile this while reading the New Testament scriptures; until after I began to look into the shadows of the Old Testament; and I began to see that I could easily be led astray about trees if I did not pay closer attention to Father Abraham.
Knowing Abraham better has saved me from a lot of huge mistakes.
There seems to be a lot of feasting going on around a lot of trees in the Old Testament times.
I never once hear of God saying “don’t do that!” to Abraham.
THE TREE ABRAHAM PLANTED NEAR A WELL
Later Abimelech and Abraham had a disagreement because Abimelech’s men were fighting with Abraham’s men over a well Abraham was using in Beersheba. Abraham gave Abimelech seven ewe lambs to make a treaty with him agreeing that Abraham had bought the well in Beersheba, and Abimelech agreed to the treaty.
Genesis 21:33 says: Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
This place where Abraham planted the tamarisk tree was the first place that Abraham began to note that God was eternal and forever.
Abraham marked that occasion by planting a tree.
So would it be proper to mark special occasions in our lives today by using trees?
It is something worth pondering.
THE WOOD FOR THE ALTARS OF GOD
All of the altars where Abraham prayed and spoke with God about various things over time used wood from trees for their fires.
The wood furnished the fire for the burnt offerings that Abraham would bring before God. The wood of the altars came from trees.
One day Abraham had to collect some wood for a very special offering that he would offer to God on Mount Moriah; his very own precious son; Isaac.
The scriptures speak of Abraham gathering the wood for this precious sacrifice. It must have been a very hard thing to do. Abraham allowed Isaac to carry the wood himself; while he carried the fire and the knife. I can never read this passage without remembering how Jesus was forced to carry His own cross. He did so willingly; without resisting; as did Isaac (who was the shadow and type of Christ.)
Yes; I have learned a lot about trees by observing the altars of Abraham. I’ve come to relate that they were shadows of the altar of God. There was a tree that formed a cross; a tree that Our Father God used to sacrifice His Only begotten Son; Jesus. God too used trees as altars. It was a tree that held God’s greatest sacrifice that saved all of mankind. It was a tree that provided the altar that reversed the curse of mankind.
I’ve learned a lot about how God and Abraham used trees in their times of worship.
Abraham arranged the wood chopped from a tree on the altar and bound Isaac on top of the wood from a tree.
We all know that God provided a ram in Isaac’s place; but we don’t really think about the fact that the altar used wood from a tree to offer the sacrifice to God.
Trees seem to be acceptable to use in offerings for God.
God’s chosen leader; Abraham, was using portions of a tree to make this, his most important sacrifice ever, to God.
Abraham was definitely NOT a pagan.
Abraham had been born into a pagan family; but God had brought him out of that family. Abraham had run as far away from the land of the pagans as possible. He had left all idol worship behind as soon as he had realized there was ONLY One True God.
Yet; Father Abraham had used the wood from a tree for the sacrifice of his precious son to God.
God too later used wood from a tree for the sacrifice of His precious Son.
It was a tree that brought us the gift of eternal life. The tree called a cross is very comparable to The Tree of Life that still lives in the garden of God. Both trees remove the curse on mankind. Both trees provide a way for man to live forever with God.
How do you think a tree looks in the eyes of God today?
Genesis 23:17 – 18 seems to be the one verse of the bible the proves that Abraham OWNED land in Canaan.
It was during the time right after Sarah’s death. Abraham bought the field that contained the cave where he wanted to bury Sarah his wife. He paid 400 shekels of silver to Ephron the Hittite for this property. It was done in the proper manner before the gates of the elders in the city.
We can read the interesting passage in verses 17 – 18: So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city.
Did you notice how the description of Sarah’s burial place, and Abraham’s deed to land in the promised land was described here?
There is a certain mention of “all the trees that were in the field” belonging to Abraham.
Here again; the use of trees are important and descriptive to one of God’s most respected and revered servants.
Trees mattered a LOT in the old testament passages. They are referenced in one of the most important parts of the scriptures. As I mentioned earlier; this passage is proof positive that Abraham is the owner of this land that has been fought over and denied to his descendants for thousands and thousands of years.
Yet; the deed was recorded in the city gates; and Sarah is buried in the cave there in that grove of trees.
The trees matter!
HOW THE TREES MATTER SO MUCH
Could these be the same “trees of the field” referred to in Isaiah 55:11-12? That passage reads: So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It will not return to me empty. Without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. “For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn-bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the LORD for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
Did you catch it? Did you see that THE TREES OF THE FIELD WILL CLAP THEIR HANDS?
Did you catch that part that says the cypress and the myrtle trees will come up and it will be a memorial to the LORD?
Did you see that part that says they will be an “everlasting sign which will not be cut off?”
The same prophet who predicted the coming of Christ; gave us the sign of the trees!
Who isn’t going to listen to Isaiah?
The above passage seems to be a prophetic passage from the prophet Isaiah for the latter days.
I am thinking it will be a time when the dead shall come out of those caves and Sarah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will join the masses of their people after the resurrection.
It will be a time of great joy on the earth!
The use of trees is so positive here – the trees of the field will clap their hands!
At the end of time as we know it; the trees once again will be used to proclaim joy and peace and resurrection to eternal life.
Isn’t that what they do at Christmas time inside Christian homes?
If Isaiah saw this in the future Kingdom of God; why would we want to stop such a practice and call it evil today?
I would have gone there once; but now that I’ve done this more intensive study; I don’t think so now.
My eyes have been opened wide to the use of good use of trees; notably cypress trees which are mentioned in building the ark of Noah and also here in this passage from Isaiah.
The cypress and myrtle trees will replace the scrubby brushes where things would not grow because of sin and decay; and when the One of Righteousness returns and reigns forever; the trees of the field will bring new life into a dry and desert land.
God hasten the day!
And what do you guess is the most popular type of Christmas tree used today?
You guessed it – the Leland Cypress.