LCG: Jesus, Green Trees, & Customs with a Curse


Here are excerpts from today’s and Tuesday’s LCG commentary:

By Gary F. Ehman | Thursday, December 22, 2011
Looking back over the years, it has become evident to me that the gap between what the Bible says to do, and what its alleged followers actually do, has reached near absurd proportions.

As an example, God carefully instructed ancient Israel to not seek after the ways of the pagan people they were replacing in the Promised Land, especially in the matter of worshiping their gods. He was painfully explicit about not adapting their perverse ways in terms of worshipping Him.

Notice His commands: “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:2–4).

They were instructed to get rid of pagan places of worship: mountains, hills and “under every green tree.” Interestingly the Bible uses this term in ten places. Each instance it is in reference to pagan rites, rituals and perverted acts of pagan worship in which the Israelites were practicing! (cf., 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10; 2 Chronicles 28:4; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6; 3:13; Ezekiel 6:13.)

What’s the big deal about this, in today’s modern, enlightened world? Does God really mind that the professing Christian church has sanitized pagan worship? After all, they are doing it to honor Jesus, aren’t they? We report, you decide…

God carefully outlined how He wants to be worshipped, but man under the sway of the god of this world perverted that worship, borrowing the name of Jesus Christ and creating a counterfeit religion. Please send for our free booklet Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. It will open your eyes to what really is hidden in pagan holiday traditions.  Read more

By Davy Crockett | Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Tis the season … a time for beautiful music, lovely pageantry, parties, fun and family time, the annual bedlam in shopping malls, specialty stores, discount houses and now the Internet.

But, in reality, the customs of Christmas really have nothing at all to do with Jesus Christ, far from it. These familiar customs long predate the birth of the Messiah. The evergreen tree, the mistletoe, the giving of gifts, and the lighting of lights all spring from the pagan religions of ancient times spoken of in the Bible. They were appropriated by the apostate church which simply recast them and renamed them to appear to pertain to Christ.

In fact, this sort of thing was even beginning to occur in ancient Israel in the time of Moses. God told the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 12.30-31 “Do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods… “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” The warning was to not attempt to worship God in the way the idolatrous peoples worshipped their false gods.

Later on, in Jeremiah 10, the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write, “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 ax. 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.”

Even in ancient times, people were decorating trees and using the other symbols revered in their idolatrous practices. It was paganism and it has come down to us today in our modern Christmas symbols.

These behaviors and the failure of God’s people to obey his commandments brought about curses which are detailed in Deuteronomy 28. Consider verse 15, “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”

It’s pretty plain that not following the instructions given by Almighty God carries with it curses, which are the very opposite of blessings.

How about you? Are you caught up in the grand merchandising scheme that springs from traditions, sights, sounds, and symbols from pagan peoples of long ago? If so, remember such celebrations are not pleasing to God and result in penalties being exacted on those who practice them.

More information is available on this interesting and vital subject in our reprint article on Christmas entitled “What’s Hidden by the Holidays”.  Read more

While most people equate the Christmas-New Year’s season with family gatherings, gifts, parties, and religious stories, a pagan worship season is its basis.

The early Catholic Church also did not celebrate Christmas. Furthermore, Tertullian (one of its leading 2nd/3rd century writers) warned that to participate in the winter celebrations made one beholding to pagan gods.  Notice what Tertullian wrote about winter celebrations, such as Saturnalia (from a pagan deity whose name meant plentiful):

The Minervalia are as much Minerva’s, as the Saturnalia Saturn’s; Saturn’s, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year’s gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens’ wives and the aediles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol’s birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter X. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But, however, the majority (of Christians) have by this time induced the belief in their mind that it is pardonable if at any time they do what the heathen do, for fear “the Name be blasphemed”…To live with heathens is lawful, to die with them is not. Let us live with all; let us be glad with them, out of community of nature, not of superstition. We are peers in soul, not in discipline; fellow-possessors of the world, not of error. But if we have no right of communion in matters of this kind with strangers, how far more wicked to celebrate them among brethren! Who can maintain or defend this?…By us,…the Saturnalia and New-year’s and Midwinter’s festivals and Matronalia are frequented–presents come and go–New-year’s gifts–games join their noise–banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself!…Not the Lord’s day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens! (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XIV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But “let your works shine,” saith He; but now all our shops and gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians. What does the case seem to be with regard to that species (of ceremony) also? If it is an idol’s honour, without doubt an idol’s honour is idolatry. If it is for a man’s sake, let us again consider that all idolatry is for man’s sake; let us again consider that all idolatry is a worship done to men, since it is generally agreed even among their worshippers that aforetime the gods themselves of the nations were men; and so it makes no difference whether that superstitious homage be rendered to men of a former age or of this. Idolatry is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship, but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

What Tertullian seems to be saying is that observing mid-winter celebrations make Christians appear to be followers of pagan gods, and since the pagans would not intentionally celebrate days considered by many to be Christian, Christians should not celebrate days that are honored by the heathen. Specifically, he felt that those who profess Christ should not celebrate Saturnalia, New Year’s, or other pagan days, as even the observance is a form of idolatry

Since the modern Christmas celebration is at the same time as the old Gentile Saturnalia holiday (and with many of the same elements, like wreaths and gift-giving), it is clear that Tertullian is condemning these practices by stating that those that keep it are of the pagan god Saturn. He also wrote against winter giving:

…gifts like those you have in the Saturnalia! (Tertullian. De Fuga in Persecutione, Chapter 13. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So basically, those who teach “Jesus is the reason for the season” are in error. The reason for the season appears to be that those who professed wanted to have a party. And did not care if the party was related to pagan gods.

It is interesting to note that Tertullian objected to keeping a celebration lasting until the Roman New Years, putting up wreaths, and giving gifts.  Since most of these quotes come from his writing titles “On Idolatry” apparently he considered those practices as idolatrous.

Perhaps Jesus words here will give some pause for thought:

3 “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?…6…Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:3,6-10, NKJV

The Christmas season is not biblically enjoined for Christians and certainly is based upon doctrines and traditions of men. Traditions that are condemned in various parts of the Bible.

The Apostle John wrote, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).  Will you listen to that or decide that green trees, wreaths, and other pagan symbols are acceptable to the God that inspired John to write that?

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?

Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day.

Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?

What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, wreaths, green trees, etc.?

Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.

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