If I've heard it once....I've heard it a million times (pardon the exaggeration). Certain circles look down upon the lowly Christmas as a sign of idolatry, the eyes of scrutiny and the fingers of mockery point to the passage of (Jeremiah 10 v1-5) as proof that placing a Christmas tree in your home is one that should be avoided at the highest degree.
Alright....let's view the actual passage then, and see exactly what Jeremiah..or better yet the Holy Ghost through Jeremiah was talking about.
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. ~Jeremiah 10
On face-value, I can see why these passages may be interpreted to Christmas trees, but a little understanding of idolatry and what constitutes idolatry easily diffuses this mis-understanding pretty quickly.
In Deuteronomy 4; God in my opinion gives the clearest explanation of what idolatry is, for the sake of length, I shall not paste the verses here, but I encourage everyone to read the chapter.
To summarise what idolatry is, it's the making of any graven image of any likeness in Heaven, Earth or in the seas - not to mention worshiping the sun, moon & stars or all the hosts of heaven. God not only forbids making these images, but he also forbids worshiping them. A two-fold command which not only is against the creating of images of God, but also against bowing down and worshiping them.
The LORD did not show himself in any manner for which the Israelites could copy as he states so in Deuteronomy 4, as he spoke in a voice out of the mount.
Alright! So how does this all relate to the Jeremiah 10 passage? Well if you do a bible-study of idolatry, it's always people taking wood, stone or metal and either melting it into a graven image or carving it into a graven image. In Jeremiah 10....it's no different.
V3-4 of Jeremiah 10 specifically make a point of explaining how a tree is cut down with the axe of a workman. The "ways of the heathen" spoken about continues to state in v4-5 how the tree is covered in gold and silver (no not gold balls and silver tinsels lol) but actual gold and silver. The tree is cut and propped upright with nails so it "does not move".
Idolatrous images were made in different ways, either from wood, stone or from metal. What the workman would do is either carve the wooden image, cut the stone into an image or melt the metal and form an image. This is what God specifically states He is against.
v5 of Jeremiah 10 is the most telling verse and the key which unlocks the right interpretation of these passages. God states in v5 how these carved trees cannot speak, move or think evil. Therefore "fear them not". What clearly is being described here is not just a tree cut down, but an idolatrous image propped up and decked with gold and silver made to resemble God or a god.
This my friends is not the same as a christmas tree, which is indeed cut down (if you want an real tree anyway lol) decked with tinsels, gold or red balls and covered in lights. What is described in Jeremiah 10 is a graven image "graven" being the keyword.
Of course, if people choose to worship a Christmas tree then that too is idolatry. Although having a Christmas tree to mark the occassion of Christmas is not wrong in itself since it does not even qualify as a graven image.
So yeah!! I would love to be more depth with this study, but I think I've spent more time than is necessary on such an unecessary subject as Christmas trees :)
Just got tired of people mentioning this passage in conjunction with Christmas trees, that I thought I would study the passage and prove what is really being spoken about.
If you want further proof of what I mean, just read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 10 and you will quickly see how this passage is dealing with graven images and idolatry...