Quite a few readers of the Spiritual Oasis live in the northern United States and Canada. Many others live in the balmy southern states. Some will really have to use their imaginations to appreciate this post. Others have already seen several snowfalls this year. Some haven’t seen snow for years and don’t plan on seeing it for years to come. Here in the mid-Atlantic region we’ve not yet had our first snow, but it’s been so cold the past couple of days it’s made me think it can’t be long in coming.
Some believe that snow-filled-skies produce a veritable winter wonderland. For others, the piles of small white ice crystals are a prolific powdery pestilence. When a single snowfall measures 36 inches, as it did in my neighborhood a couple of years ago, I tend to line up with the pestilence party.
When snow comes in abundance I tend to reflect on its biblical significance. (Perhaps this just means that snow days leave me with far too much time on my hands.) During these times I have learned what I believe to be some interesting things that I’d like to share with you.
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, snow is common in Palestine during winter. The snow-covered peaks of the Lebanon range are visible almost year-round. In ancient times, snow was transported to Tyre, Sidon, and Damascus as a luxury. Harvesters, laboring in the hot fields used it to cool the water they drank (Proverbs 25:13; Jeremiah 18:14). It is likely Herod Antipas, at his feasts in Tiberias, enjoyed the modern luxury of ice-water from this very source. Snow is also frequently used figuratively in the Scriptures. A couple of examples are:
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. —Psalm 51:7
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” —Isaiah 1:18
As I reflect on snowy days, several important lessons have come to mind. Among these are:
#1) The paradox of purity— Reflecting on the words of Isaiah makes me realize that only God could have worked this out. Scarlet-colored, sin-stained souls are purified by the scarlet-colored, sin-free blood of Jesus Christ. Thus cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, sinners are made whiter than snow. Wow! With David, we can confidently cry out to God, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
#2) The value of preparedness— Even though we usually get ample warnings when major storms are approaching, many are still ill prepared. Although I had made a grocery run the day before the last big storm arrived, there were a few items that I wanted to purchase. When I arrived at the parking lot at the shopping center in my neighborhood very early on a Sunday morning, I could not believe my eyes. Scores of drivers were zig-zagging between snowplows, automobiles and pedestrians in search of the rare, open parking space. Utter chaos reigned inside the grocery store. It seemed as though everyone was making their last minute preparations at the same time! More than an hour later I emerged with the few items I’d gone after to find the car blanketed with nearly six inches of snow. Argh!!
The lesson is obvious, isn’t it? We have been given ample notice to be well prepared for the ultimate appointment we must all keep. Hebrews tells us all people are destined to die once, and after this comes the judgment. No long sermons here—just a reminder: We need to be prepared!
#3) The importance of being in the presence of God with His people— Although snow storms seldom necessitate the cancellation of our regular worship gatherings, this has happened a couple of times since my family moved to Delaware. Sundays with gathering with brothers and sisters for worship are just plain weird, aren’t they? Most of us can count on one hand the number of times weather has caused a cancellation of worship services. When this does happen it helps us appreciate what a special privilege we’ve been given to gather with people of like precious faith and offer up the fruit of our lips in praise to God. It is good to be in the presence of God with those who share a desire to lift-up the name of Jesus—not just for the blessing we receive, but, also, for the blessing we impart.
What other lessons have you learned from this prolific powdery pestilence, I mean snow?
© Bill Williams, October 25, 2006