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Trees...And the Christmas Story

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 25, 2020 12:00 am

Trees...And the Christmas Story

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 25, 2020 12:00 am

Were evergreen trees a symbol of pagan worship? Did the Romans really decorate their temples with holly, ivy and mistletoe? Should sincere Christians have a Christmas tree in their living room? In this special holiday message, Stephen will trace the extraordinary relationship between trees...and the Christmas story.

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Throughout the Bible.

Trees play a pretty significant role here Stephen Devi with an opening thought. I've been to France I have seen where America is going as well as a creation over the creator. I watched people literally hugging 250-year-old trees believing they were receiving a spiritual energy.

A connection, headed there but has it ever occurred to you that the Christmas story has in its fullest sense the connection to many of us decorate trees as part of our festivity. You might be gathering near a tree today to exchange gifts with those you love. If you considered the significant role that trees have in Scripture. There was a prohibited tree in Eden. Our Savior died on a tree and there's a tree of life in our future eternal home.

These trees form the basis of our lesson today here on wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi. I hope you will be encouraged on this Christmas day with this lesson. Stevens calling trees and the Christmas story. I love Christmas.

It's beautiful decorations. I enjoy Christmas trees. My wife is kept all of the tree.

The artificial trees we had over the years.

I love the weather decorated the girl surprised me by putting one in my study with lights and ornaments and so nice as love the season some probably could argue that their corrupted symbol of pagan worship trees. We can trace the Evergreen back.

Of course, including mistletoe and howling of pagan mythology and ceremony of the Romans during the season is to decorate their temples with greenery and candles and some of these things and found a way to Christmas custom somewhat.

They were borrowing a little too heavily or maybe two dangerously, but I happen to believe the pagans were the first ones that came out with money they borrowed from us. You can track a number of different things through the Scriptures, but I think if you study the religions of the world is really interesting to read and hear the kernels of truth embedded in their repackaging of lies and superstition. I've been reading a little bit of what's happening with Hinduism.

How they have basically admitted to the fact that back 1900 years ago or a 2000 years ago.

They adapted some of their beliefs.

Some of their key core doctrine. They changed to conform to Christianity. The sacred text called the Vishnu Purana reveals how their god Vishnu had several incarnations.

The most important one was Krishna, according to the story. Krishna's foster father journeyed with his wife to pay their taxes. The result is a Christian is born while on their journey in a cow's stall with shepherds coming to adore the baby powerful meteor appeared in the birthplace, and a prophet told the king the child would overthrow him in the king's name is Khan's orders. All the male children of the country put to death sounds vaguely familiar, take the use of the tree on the beauty of the tree anything of what Isaiah wrote when he quoted God saying the glory of Lebanon will commonly use of the Juniper and the cypress tree together to beautify the place of my sanctuary. We have no idea the beauty of the decoration of the material in the sanctuary. But God was honored by these were things he created. So would be no surprise. The pagans would take from this and wrestled from the truth. Things used to honor God and use them to honor as it were their unbelief or their disbelief and their faith in other gods, Martin Luther, it's interesting the middle 1500s. This converted monk took the Christmas tree.

The Evergreen and attached to it significance by being we believe the first person to hang from the lambs globe candles.

He said it would be a way of signifying during this season that Jesus Christ is the light of the world.

So we, wrestled back from paganism.

This and identified it with the gospel, gave a new meaning. I kinda like to take things like that, away from the world and use them for own benefit.

So on with the decorations. I didn't say on prancer and Dixon. I sit on with the decoration I've been thinking a lot about Christmas trees these last days breath because one's been in my study, but I wanted to do something a little differently. The day when initially prompted my thinking was a magazine I received in the mail which listed sort of randomly verses of Scripture on the back of the magazine. The back cover without any statement just verses and as I reread those verses that summarize God's plan of redemption beginning in Genesis, ending in Revelation struck me that the gospel of God is undeniably uniquely related to a couple of trees I say that I feel like a new ager you know and if you know me very well, you know, I have none of that in me. I have been to France and I have seen where America is going as we elevate creation over the creator.

I watched people literally hugging 250-year-old trees believing they were receiving a spiritual energy.

A connection, headed there but has it ever occurred to you that the Christmas story has in its fullest sense the connection to a couple of trees you open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 2 will take you to the first tree a very special tree created by God in the garden are two trees there that are specifically mentioned.

One is the tree of life and the other is a tree that would represent prohibition.

If you look at verse 15. Reread the God took the man and he put them in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it in verse 16 says the Lord God commanded the man saying out of any tree of the garden you can freely eat all your however from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat from the day you eat from it you will die you will experience separation in your fellowship with me and you will begin the physically and ultimately experienced death. So this tree would represent the only prohibition in this garden of delights which is what the Hebrew word Eden means you can have anything you want in the garden of delights.

This one that prohibition would reveal the preeminence of God in the heart of Adam. What would Adam follow Hu and Adam obey with the obey and worship and follow in fellowship with God or with his selfish desire and disobedience and independence from God, be viewed in this choice that he had the May course you know the answer.

Satan came to even gave the first recorded question in human history, hath God said he was crafty to begin with that question because he knew that she had heard God say it. She had been fashioned yet God set a due Adam got it held Adam responsible to safeguard his bride to teach her.

Would God had taught him that he had evidently expected him serving as the head of his wife to communicated to explain the prohibition of this tree and so even in this very first marriage. We have the implication that God intended the man to theologically safeguard his wife that Adam Shepard her evidently not well enough. Did he teach her.

Evidently not well enough to give her the reasons why God prohibited the tree evidently not. In fact, when Satan came to her and asked her, hath God said she exaggerated her answer.

Some could believe that she made it up out of disgust for God by adding while he said we can even touch it.

Others could easily take of that, Adam had never really given her the answer she was not dated, and maybe I'm in a very cynical way is that yellow guy just don't touch it.

She Paul wrote to Timothy was deceived.

She literally thought she was doing the best thing Adam was not deceived. Adam defied the word of God. He knew full well when she handed him his fruit what it meant and he defied God he acted in independence of the will of God.

He disobeyed the word of God, and they both fell. They lost their innocence for each other. They lost their intimacy with God even doubted the word of God and Adam defied the word of God.

I find it interesting we can take a little rabbitry for just a minute that when the second Adam, Jesus Christ came and was introduced by the prophet John the baptizer as his ministry began.

It's interesting that at that moment. That's when Satan come. Jesus is led into the wilderness. Perhaps significant illustration of paradise lost. He's in the wilderness and Satan hurls at him three temptations. The question is, will Jesus honor the word of his father or will lead affiant will he disobey it and Jesus Christ responds to each of the three temptations by saying three times its is what written it is written, it is written, God has spoken and he follows the word I want you to let the Messiah teach you a lesson myself as well.

The path of spiritual victory is bound up in those three words, no matter what the attraction the matter what the allurement what the pressure matter what the temptation if you will obey what has been written, if you will follow what has been written, if you will apply what has been written. If you'll surrender to that which has been written, you will stand and not stumble.

But Adam and Eve both stumbled and they ran from God and Adam would later explain the God of came and found him.

I heard the sound of the in the garden and I hid myself because I was afraid this is the first time in human history that you have the experience of fear.

This is the very first time in the word of God that the word afraid appears because of sin, when God came to the garden to visit they ran from God rather than to God because they are now afraid of God before God expelled them from the garden he revealed a lot to them that were not even told me to see the action occurring through the death of the sacrificial animals to their son before he expelled them, though we did tell them this promise in Genesis 3 verse 15.

If you look over there, God is explaining to them that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, the seat of the law and is the Messiah, he will, he will crush the serpent's head. He will be victorious over the serpent. However, he will have a zeal bruise that is, he will suffer, but it will only be temporary. This text is called the proto-event bdellium this is the first evangelism. This is the first gospel. The first mention of it in the word and plan of God, the coming Messiah who would bear the penalty of Adam's sin will be bruised in the process. But in that same redemptive plan. He will crush the strategy he will crush the plan of Satan by defeating death and conquering the grave you see them there at the first tree. Adam and Eve are in effect told that something is going to happen and we know what will happen on another tree exhibited the Old Testament saying understand the gospel. They know it. We know from some text that they know and they knew more, far more than we could ever imagine.

According to Galatians 3 were told that Abraham had preached to him the gospel and the gospel defined by Paul in first grievance 15 is the death of Christ. The burial of Christ and the resurrection of Christ. My job told us where the Messiah would be born. Isaiah tell us what he looked like told us that he would be born of a virgin. David specifically refers to in one of his messianic Psalms, the crucifixion he writes in Psalm 22, they have pierced my hands on my feet. They cast lots for my clothing they knew a lot more than we give them credit for knowing the gospel for the Old Testament believer was a look forward to the second three the gospel for us is to look backward to the one who I think of these fearful people right here. Adam and Eve terrified of the consequence of their sin. I think it's a wonderful thing that the Angels deliver on that night. The message of Christ birth that he, the Messiah.

In fact, his calm he the one would crush the head of the serpent and defeat death forever. He is, and I find it fascinating that the very first words to the shepherds were due not be afraid to not be afraid God was coming back as it were, the garden lost as it was infested with sin as it was, it was indeed groaning under its guilt. But God was coming back as it were, to physically walk this time in the flesh on planet Earth with lost mandible but more than that Jesus Christ came headed for the second tree Polaroid to the Galatians the truth what he would say Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written curse.

It is every one who hangs upon know what a tree. Galatians 313 accursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree in ancient Judaism. The criminal was executed usually by stoning would be tied to a tree until sunset wears body would hang as a visible representation of rejection by God.

He did not become cursed because he hung there. He hung there because he was curse and so Jesus Christ will hang on a tree representation of the rejection of God. Bearing in his own body. All of our rejection. All of our guilt, all of our sin. All of our curse. It'll be upon him. So you see the critical issue of Christmas is not the Jesus came, but why there was no salvation in his birth alone. There was no salvation in his sinless life alone.

There was no salvation in his incredible teaching alone. He had to die. Jesus Christ was born, headed for tree and I know it's Christmas but I want to talk about the tree for minute the Persians believed the earth was sacred and they didn't want to defile it and so they created this form of execution that had been around for centuries. They sort of perfected Alexander the great seen fond of this form of execution. On one occasion he crucified 2000 prisoners of war. One time he introduced the practice to the Carthaginians and later gave it to the Romans who perfected it even further in its torture and its slow death to prolong the process. The Romans introduce something new was called the secular. It was a block of wood called the seat which would allow the criminal to live up to for five days or more usually died from a combination of malnutrition and dehydration shot, blood loss, paralysis of the diaphragm and sometimes impatient vulture. Sometimes the Roman soldiers would come along really out of an act of pity or mercy, and break their legs pushing them off the said Gillam.

They would be unable to push back up and they would die of asphyxiation.

Unable to exhale properly, they would be pinned there with stakes through their hands.

You need another hand to the ancients included not only the fingers in the palm of the wrist because the spikes would have torn through the flesh and fragile bones of the hand they would pin the one to the tree through their wrists. We know from historical accounts that the Romans actually drove those stakes. Is it worth to the wrist.

Next, defeat would be nailed the legs would be put together, invented a crouched position and then turn the one side and one nail will be driven through the ankles. It's interesting the last 24 months young man skeleton was found in the Middle East, dating back to this time is wrist bones were punctured and a spike was still embedded in the bones of his ankle pain would have been excruciating. It's interesting that the word excruciating is a Latin word which comes from acts Chris Io out all the cross.

It literally means out of the cross, which means that this was such a torturous death that it created its own vocabulary, godly men typically godly women of the city took upon themselves the ministry of mercy.

We know from records historical records that have been preserved at more than a thousand people were crucified. The same year Christ was these women in obedience to Proverbs 31 six which says give strong drink to him. It was perishing. They would mix a narcotic with wine and they would go out to the sites of crucifixion and they would offer this drink to mute the pain.

Jesus you remember from the story refuse this narcotic he would allow no alleviation for this drink of his pain and suffering he would maintain his elusiveness so that he could minister to the one thief who would believe in him and those that gathered around him and honor those incredible words including the last ones. It is finished. There was a tree in Eden.

But there was a tree on Calvary. The first was a tree of prohibition. This one was a tree of pardon.

If you are a Roman citizen.

You never fear death. This way, Cicero Roman historian, said let the cross never come near the body of a Roman citizen may not even near his thoughts or his eyes or his ears cultured Gentiles would never even say the word cross which I find fascinating because the record of the New Testament glories and it we are told were crucified with Christ. The apostle Paul said, God forbid that I should ever glory, except in the lot, the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord. In the 17th century, a popular devotional writer wrote a book a little book was given to John Bunyan Manor Road Pilgrim's progress and I want to read a few lines of an imaginary a profound conversation in this little devotional book between a soul and its Lord, Lord, why would Snell be taken when no mightiest have escaped by enemies. The answer that thy spiritual enemies should not take the Caspian to the prison of utter darkness, Lord, why wouldst thou be bound that I might loose the court's of thine iniquities, Lord, why wouldst thou be lifted up upon a cross that I might lift the up with me to have Lord why were the hands and feet nailed to the cross to enlarge thy hands to do the work of righteousness, and to set thy feet at liberty Lord, why wouldst I have thine arms nailed abroad. Oh, that I might embrace the more lovingly Lord why was thy side opened with a spear of that thou mightiest have a way to my heart. The tree in Eden represented the pride of man the tree on Calvary, represented the part of God. The first tree brought separation from God, the second tree offers reconciliation to God that were all that would be enough. But there is another tree there is another reference to a unique tree that appears yet future for all of us here today when John saw heaven and he described his tour in his visit of this magnificent place. He described the new Jerusalem, which will hang suspended above the old city even gives its measurements.

He talks of its material rare and precious gems, translucent gold made throughout gates of singular pearl. The dimensions he gives are interesting enough, even if the cube the city you can travel up and down and left and right and were not sure how all those dimensions work, but we know just the ground floor is 40 times the size of an city as a main boulevard that comes as it were, from the throne of God and in the middle of the Boulevard is not flowing crystal clear river and planted along the side of the river is what the tree of life.

It was back there in the garden and when Adam and Eve fell God posted a sentinel love angels so that fallen man and woman could not eat of that fruit, and live physically immortal, bound to their sin. And here's a reference again to that tree in the heavenly city whose fruit abounds with a fresh crop of the original construction in Revelation may indicate that is not just one tree, but here in the heavenly city.

It is an orchard as paradise is in effect re-created in the new heaven and the newer my friend. If you have been cursed by the first tree and you have been for all send an follow-up short of the glory of God.

You must run to the second tree and find their Savior, who became a curse for you. Who became reviled for your sake, who bore your sin in his body on that tree Peter right and if you come there discovering the pardon from God you have in your future. Another tree, the tree of life, signifying the internal splendor and celebration of the redeemed in the new heaven and the new earth. So when you look at a Christmas tree. I want you to remember the fuller story I want to remember the trees of Christmas trees of this gospel story. The first tree communicated prohibition. The second tree communicated pardon the third tree communicates paradise. The first tree represented the pride of man. The second tree represented the humility of God. The third tree reveals the glory of heaven in the eternal joy and celebration with the lavish great sport worth thanks for joining us on this Christmas. This is wisdom for the heart. I'm your host Scott Wiley and on behalf of Stephen and the entire wisdom team. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. I want to share with you some notes we received from some of your fellow listeners.

They encouraged us and I hope they encourage you as well. This first one comes from David and Oak Ridge, North Carolina. He says I've been a believer since I was a child and I'm now 62 years old your sermons on Hebrews have been the most profound messages from my spiritual life and walk with Christ than anything else I've ever heard. The truths of Christ, that creation proclaims leaves me filled with gratitude in a deeper sense of love for the Savior.

Thanks, David. This note is from Lottie who listens from Alabama. My grandson was serving in the Armed Forces in Hawaii and I sent him a copy of the tightest commentary. A few weeks later he told his mom that he was feeling called to serve the Lord as a chaplain.

I believe that Stephen's tightest commentary played a large role in my sweet grandsons call to serve the Lord and just one more from Jeannie who listens from Germany. She writes I wanted to send a note thanking you for your email to me. I've enjoyed the wisdom for the heart ministry for over eight years I've begun to send monthly support in order to help the ministry continue, 68-year-old widow from South Carolina, but I'm presently living most of the year in Berlin, Germany. My husband passed away very suddenly in 2012 my daughter and son-in-law began a ministry to the refugees in Berlin and they asked me to come with them. We've been here since July 2017 I began listening to the wisdom broadcast on the radio and continue to use the resources online. While in the states and in Germany. I'm very thankful for all that's available. It's a blessing to me daily. So thank you to everyone involved in this ministry and especially Stephen.

I pray that God will richly bless wisdom for the heart. Well thanks Jeannie, we have so much to be thankful for and on this Christmas day were most thankful for Jesus Christ came to this world to bring us salvation and everything we do is centered on him.

Russell thankful for you are wisdom family.

So again we wish you a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at wisdom

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