[Taken from our archives of a past year.]
It is almost inevitable that we hear the background Winter songs and Christmas carols as we walk through the stores at this time of the year. One of the songs tells us:
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.
Just last night I called my brother who lives in Pennsylvania, the state of my birth and upbringing. I asked about how he and the family was and he told me that there were six to eight inches of snow on the ground, with more expected. He said that just 100 miles north of their community, where the sister of his wife (my sister-in-law) lives, they had 24 inches of snow! Living in the south, as I have been for half of my life, I can say that we seldom have snow at all!
Last year was a rare exception. For a couple of days we received snow and I showed Moni, my wife, what this delightful white coat of pure delight looked like. She is from a very temperate area, nearly on the equator, thus she had never seen snow all of her early years. She really enjoyed it, but it was quickly gone in about two days.
The song bids us imagine snow and all that goes with it. As I hear the lyrics when walking through Walmart, I imagine dwelling in the New England states and I see the typical New England Congregational church building in the distance. Or maybe I see a typical scene from Grandma Moses artwork, or a Currier and Ives print, with its farm house and barn and country lane, with a one horse sleigh sliding along in the deep white snow.
Smoke from the farmhouse chimney curls above the surrounding bare trees, assuring us that the house is cozy and warm even when the outside is windy and cold. I doubt that most of us have actually taken a ride in a one horse sleigh and many of us havent even seen one, unless it be in a museum. But the thought is delightful, wouldn’t you say?
The song goes on to bid us imagine that we are walking in the lane where snow is glistening. We view this whole panorama and think, What a beautiful sight, and we are happy tonight, as we walk in this winter wonderland. You will agree with me that these are only imaginations that few of us will ever experience but there is something charming about such a scene and experience that brings delight to our heart.
Snow. Snow can be a beautiful sight, but often we are merely struck with the danger it poses to our driving. Indeed, it can bring treacherous road conditions for those who must drive. Or we may think of the coldness that snow represents and the danger of illness. Or we think of the high energy bills that will come our way a month later. Some of us may think of missing school because the school board decides to cancel classes or maybe even missing work since the business closes for a day or two. But look beyond these consequences and think of the snow itself.
If we have eyes to see, I think that we will say that there is something about snow that is delightful and even peaceful. When I was a young boy, I would trek through the woods on new-fallen snow, wearing my heavy, black rubber boots and occasionally the snow would be higher than the tops.
I delighted in seeing how the snow had totally covered the darkness and grime of the barren winter grounds and made everything untainted and white. The landscape was utterly breathtaking, even thrilling. Those who live in southern Florida, Texas, or California probably have little idea of what I am describing, but I hope that you try.
Snow seldom comes in Israel. The mean temperature of Jerusalem in the winter time is 48 degrees Fahrenheit, thus they should never see now. However, snow occasionally does come to this place and the Judean hills when the temperature drops low enough. Snow does fall more heavily in the mountains of Edom, which is east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea (where an elevation of 5,000 feet is reached). Present-day Amman, Jordan has a mean temperature of 40 degrees.
Especially heavy snow falls on Mount Hermon (9,100 feet elevation) north in Lebanon and some snow remains all year around. This mountain top can be viewed from a distance to the south, within Israel proper, and this gave rise to Biblical imagery. (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible has helped with this information.)
Although the men and women in the Bible knew little about snow on a firsthand basis, they knew enough to use it as a symbol or as a comparison. God told Moses to put his hand into his bosom and then pull it out. When it came out, it was leprous like snow (Exodus 4:6). Especially significant and vivid are the words in Isaiah 1:18:
Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
We all can recognize the point that God is making here. The Lord is able to completely cleanse, completely wash away, our sins so that we are white as snow. This is good newsfor we all long to be cleansed completely from all of our unrighteousness, sin, and defilement. God promises to do this and He does so through the precious blood of Christ Jesus, His beloved son (1 John 1:7). It is a promise to you and me, if we will only come to Him in repentant faith and determine to renounce all sin and begin to walk in true righteousness.
This winter, let us look at the snow when it falls and blankets the ground and streets. Let us really see the snow and give thanks to the God who has given it (cf. Matthew 5:45). Further, let us remember that God wants to make our soul as white as the new-fallen snow! May we thank Him for this wonderful gift of grace!
(Our apologies to those readers of this article who are from the Southern Hemisphere where they now are enjoying their summer weather!)