Hebrew Highlights 98 Xmas Trees
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
In Hebrew Highlights I sometimes try to find scriptures you may not have pondered before. Naturally, some of them can either spark enlightenment, or trigger a desire for further self study. Before I forget, I’d like to thank by friend David DePew for helping me edit today’s program. What I am going to say today may start out reading like a lot of “Bah Humbug”. Trust me, I don’t at all mean to impart that kind of spirit. I truly want your Christmas to be “Merry”. Stick with me to the end, and let’s see if together, we can look at this holiday with open hearts, with an eye toward improving it.
First, let’s take a look at a passage which may refer to Christmas trees in the Bible. What? Is there such a thing? Well, not exactly, but we do find a passage that sounds somewhat like a description of a traditional Christmas tree.
JER 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 nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. "They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. "Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good."
“Unfair!”, you scream. This is talking about idols. Not Christmas trees.
OK, you may be right. However, I’ll ask you a few questions just to provide some food for thought.
1. How many of you have a 6 foot Christmas tree in your house, and a 6 inch nativity set?
2. Do you lay gifts under your Christmas tree, as defines an altar in many Bible passages? I am not saying this is bad. It just makes me wonder about its origins.
3. Is the gathering of your family around the tree centered on the gifts, or do you take time to remind each other of the Christmas story?
4. During the Christmas season, do you spend more hours in church, or basking in the beauty of the Christmas tree?
5. What if every year, instead of buying a Christmas tree, we sent $20 to Israel to plant a tree? Or any other place they are needed for that matter.
Each year, Americans cut down 33 million real trees to put up in their homes, enough to cover the state of Rhode Island. In doing so, they spent somewhere between $600 million to $1.1 billion. We now need 1 million acres of land for Christmas tree farms. This is one fifth of the size of the Country of Israel. These farms take the place of wild habitats or, even worse, old-growth forests. Of course, tree farms do not have the biodiversity or habitability that natural land or old-growth forests have.
Next, let’s look at the fact that polls show that many people believe Christmas has become too commercialized. It should be a time of family celebration, friendship, spirituality and reflection. Unfortunately, almost all methods of celebrating Christmas nowadays require spending money.
So great is the social pressure to spend that 44 percent of all Americans feel they spend too much on Christmas gifts. Americans will spend between $160 billion to $200 billion on presents — more than two-thirds the Defense budget! (That’s about $600 to $800 per person.) This doesn’t include the 5 billion Christmas cards, letters and packages that will be sent through the mail. Nor does it include the traveling expenses of nearly 50 million Americans who will travel over 100 miles during the Christmas and New Years holidays.
Now, here come a few more provocative questions:
1. Do you ever give a gift to your children hoping to make up for not having spent enough time with them?
2. Do you ever chose a gift simply because your children demand it?
3. Do you HONESTLY ever give a gift that is really NEEDED?
4. Do you ever give gifts to the poor or needy in your community?
5. What would happen if Americans spent an extra $160 billion to $200 billion on missions each year, instead of gifts?
Gift giving in itself is certainly a biblical act. God himself gives us spiritual gifts. If Yeshua came to our house on Christmas, I personally have serious doubts as to whether he would show up carrying a box containing a big screen TV.
Eating is also a Biblical act. However, I think we would all agree that it CAN be overdone.
Now I know that this little treatise of mine is not going to change the world. I just hope that we can use a little common sense when celebrating the birth of Yeshua, who came to save, not to spend!
May you have a merry, blessed, and unselfish Christmas.
Shalom, shalom from the Land of Yeshua’s birth.