THE CHRISTMAS TREE

 

This is the time of year when some folks come out with their “anti- Christmas tree” rhetoric because they think the Bible forbids Christmas trees based on Jeremiah 10:3-5.

Well, Jeremiah 10 is not referring to Christmas trees and if this bursts the bubble of any of my anti-Christmas tree friends just know it’s gonna be OK and I am not a pagan if I have one up because I enjoy Christmas decorations.

Not everyone is in over-kill mode, some people really do enjoy Christmas with a pure heart because to the pure in heart everything is pure (Titus 1:15).

But what about Jeremiah 10:3-5, doesn’t it forbid Christmas trees? No it doesn’t.

First of all, there was no such thing as a Christmas tree in Jeremiah’s day. Secondly, it’s not the act cutting down and decorating of a tree that Jeremiah is addressing. It is the making of an actual idol (for worship) from the tree which is then decorated (after the idol has been carved) that Jeremiah is referring to. Those who cut down the trees in Jeremiah 10 first have it fashioned into an idol then decorated, but you won’t hear it this way from those who like to proof-text from Jeremiah 10.

Here are some other translations which bring clarity to the text that we are sometimes blind to when reading the (KJV).

For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, AND A CRAFTSMAN SHAPES IT WITH HIS CHISEL. They adorn it with silver and gold… (NIV).

Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and A CRAFTSMAN CARVES AN IDOL. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of SUCH gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good” (TNLT).

For the customs and ordinances of the peoples are false, empty, and futile; it is but a tree which one cuts out of the forest [to make for himself a god], THE WORK OF THE HANDS OF THE CRAFTSMAN with the ax or other tool. They deck [THE IDOL] with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so it will not fall apart or move around. [Their IDOLS] are like pillars of turned work [as upright and stationary and immobile as a palm tree], like scarecrows in a cucumber field; they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it possible for them to do good [and it is not in them] (THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE).

For the statutes of the peoples are vanity, For a tree from a forest hath one cut, Work of the hands OF AN ARTIFICER (a craftsman) with an axe, With silver and with gold they beautify it, With nails and with hammers they fix it, And it doth not stumble. As a palm they [are] stiff, and they speak not, They are surely borne, for they step not, Be not afraid of them, for they do no evil, Yea, also to do good is not in them (YOUNGS LITERAL TRANSLATION).

“…for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; A CRAFTSMAN WORKS IT WITH HIS AXE; they deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won’t move. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak. It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it —it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!” (COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE).

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THE NARRATIVE OF THE STORY OF ISRAEL WAS LEADING TO CHRIST

In Matthew 12:48-50 Jesus asks, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?

He then stretched his hand toward his disciples, and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren”! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

All throughout the old and new testaments we see consistently the distinction between those who are God’s people and those who aren’t is based on these truths.

On the contrary, some Christian Zionism advocates claim that ethnic Israel has a covenant with God and it is the moral and spiritual duty of Christians to support national Israel unwaveringly because they remain the people of God, regardless if they are doing right or not.

Some Christian ministers actually call unbelieving Israel our brothers and sisters even though they are not followers of Jesus and in some cases these Jews are hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christian Zionism, which is based on a “proof –text theology” advocates that there are unfulfilled promises concerning ethnic Israel and that end time Bible prophecy revolves around ethnic Israel because God has unfinished business with them and ultimately they are at the center of God’s agenda for the yet future.  This theology often views the Church as a Gentile entity and a parenthesis until God get’s back to ethnic Israel.

On the contrary, the Church is the body of Christ and the body of Christ is the temple of God consisting of Jews and Gentiles. The church is not a mere stop-gap until God gets back to dealing with Israel; rather, the church is the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny and identity in the Messiah. The mystery that was hidden in past generations was that the Gentiles would be fellow heirs with the Jews in one body of believers in the Messiah through the power of the gospel (see Ephesians 3). Therefore the church consists of believing Jews and Gentiles in one body with a covenant that God said he would make with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.

Christ is the King of Israel and it’s only in Him, i.e., becoming a part of HIS BODY which is the church, that the Jew finds his true identity. If we’d think in terms of “the body of Christ” and “the temple of God” when we refer to the church, we wouldn’t see the church as Israel’s replacement but Israel’s calling and destiny in Christ.  

The hope of Israel is in the Messiah and that hope becomes a reality when the Jew believes in Jesus. In Jesus the Messiah, the Jew and Gentile have become united in one body and have become the Temple of God through His Holy Spirit.

A term that many have heard but few may have ever taken time to research is “church age.” Yet, the Bible never uses this term or concept.

Paul, who gave us the concept of the body of Christ never refers to the church within the framework of an age or dispensation which will eventually give way to another. Paul refers to the church as the body of Christ in whom God will FOREVER be glorified (Ephesians 3:21).

Yet, the belief of a church age is very prominent within Christian Zionism theology because it helps support the idea that God has unfinished business with ethnic Israel.

Christian Zionism makes no connection between Israel in the flesh under the Law and the Church in Christ Jesus under grace.

Israel was called to be the light to the nations and Israel failed in her commission because Israel, like the rest of humanity, was under the power of sin and in need of redemption. Yet, God in His faithfulness has done what Israel failed to do. God sent His Son Jesus, who is Israel’s Messiah and through Him God has provided salvation for the whole world.

Israel’s history as the people of God in the flesh came to an end in the death of the Messiah because the Law Covenant given to them through Moses, which covenant brought them under the curse, was fulfilled in the death of Jesus.

Through the cross Israel’s history continues as she is transformed from God’s people in the flesh to God’s people in the Spirit. That is why Israelites who reject Jesus are cut off from being God’s people and Israelites who believe in Jesus have life from the dead and are partakers of a New Covenant which God promised to give to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This new Covenant is not a covenant with Israel as an ethnic people. It is with Israel as a spiritual people and believing Gentiles are grafted in with them, having their hearts and not their flesh circumcised.

God’s covenant people no longer limited to the physical borders. Abraham’s descendants are from every nation under heaven. The promise of God to Abraham was to make Him the Father of “many nations” and that promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. It was to this end that Israel was called and chosen.

 

 

MY TESTIMONY OF HOW I BEGAN SEEKING TO KNOW THE POWER OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS

The finished work of Christ (the blood, the cross, and redemption) has been my life’s work as a minister of the gospel more than any other Biblical subject. This is only a guess, but I think it’s possible that I may have spent more time in this area of study than all other areas put together in more than 37 years as a Christian. I am still learning and growing, but I have learned a lot over the past nearly 32 years since I first began to study in this glorious truth.

Allow me to give you some back ground as to how I have gotten to where I am today. I was saved when I was 14 years old. I am now 50. Early on, in the beginning of my walk with the Lord, I was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. I was very fearful and tormented in my mind. The doctor who diagnosed me as schizophrenic told my parents I would never live a normal life. I was in very bad mental condition, too detailed to go into here. My mind was so tormented that it seemed as if I were hearing voices and that’s how I describes it.

These voices became very tormenting to me and not long after I was saved (about 4-5 months) I was admitted into the hospital and I went downhill from there. If you had walked into my room on one particular day (I remember vividly) you would have seen me lying on the bed with one leg in the air, while I clutched my arms together and gnawed my tongue, while straining making a grunting noise. It was bad.

I did everything “those voices” told me to do. It was total torment and bondage.

One day while I was walking in my hospital room, I heard another voice, but this one was different. It was a calming voice and a voice of hope. This voice came from the Lord, and whether or not I knew at the time that it was the Lord’s voice, I can’t say, but these words definitely got my attention. The Lord simply said to me “Don’t give up.”

After I was released from the hospital, the next 4-5 years were a constant struggle with fear, condemnation, torment, and it was during those years that I began to think I had committed the unpardonable sin. The darkness was overwhelming at times.

My senior year in high school, I begin attending a Bible Study just down the road from where I lived. It became a safe haven for me. The Bible study was held in a mobile home behind the house of the gentleman (Mr. Grimes) who led the Bible study. One day he told us that we could come to the building (the mobile home where the Bible study was held) to pray and seek God any time we wanted to. He said he would leave the building unlocked for that reason.

Not long after I graduated from high school, I had a life changing experience. I had gone to work one morning and was struggling terribly. I prayed a simple prayer and cried out to God, asking for Him to relieve me from work that day so I could go and pray. Not long thereafter, the manager came over where I and some other employees were standing. He asked, “Who wants to go home?” I gently raised my hand and he gave me the rest of the day off.

From there I went to a wooded area to pray. While I was there praying, I remembered that the place where I attended Bible study was unlocked and I could go there to pray, so I did. While I was there praying, I noticed a magazine from Kenneth Hagin’s ministry. I picked it up and began to read it. In this article, Brother Hagan addressed the lies of the devil concerning “the unpardonable sin” and how Satan uses this lie to bring people under condemnation. Towards the end of the article I remember reading a line that said something like this; “don’t let the devil bother you about this anymore”.

I knew God was speaking to me!

In this article Brother Hagan also shared truth about the blood of Jesus. That was the moment when a desire for a strong faith in the blood of Jesus was conceived in my heart and that is where my journey with regards to learning, and teaching about the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ and our redemption in Christ, actually began.

So the things I teach today about the cross are more than what I have studied. They are the result of my desperation for God. Early on Hebrews 10:19 became the lifeline that sustained me. Hebrews 10:19 says, having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

Through that verse I latched on to the hope, that if I had faith in the blood of Jesus, nothing could separate me from the presence of God. My desire and prayer was to have strong faith in the blood of Jesus

My journey of learning about the death and resurrection of Jesus began out of real desperation because I needed hope!