Winter is Here!

Winter is Here!

Winter is Here!

Richard Hollerman

If you are living in the northern hemisphere, you are now experiencing that season that we call winter. If you happen to be in the southern hemisphere you will be having summer at this time. And if you are living in the central part of the globe, you may not know great changes of temperature at any time of the year.

Assuming that you are in the northern part of the world (such as North America, Europe, or Asia), you are right now in winter. Although it may not actually occur on the calendar until a little later, you do know what the winter weather is like.

It may be true that when God created the world, much of the climate was mild and there were no great seasonal differences, We do know that at the conclusion of the great worldwide deluge, there were seasons as we know them. God said:

While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

Some Bible students think that between creation and the flood  the earth enjoyed a very temperate climate with no extremes of temperature. They find evidence for this in the fact that some large animals, such as mammoths, have been found with buttercups in their mouth before they were deeply frozen. Apparently these fossils are found in the far north, which would be beyond their normal habitat at present because of the cold weather. Others debate this conclusion. Whatever we conclude in regard to this, surely the Garden of Eden had a welcome and beautiful climate. This must have drastically changed either after the first sin (Genesis 3) or after the worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9).

There are a few references to “winter” in Scripture. The psalmist wrote: “You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter” (Psalm 74:17). We also read in Song of Solomon, “The winter is past” (2:11a). (Note also Zechariah 14:8).  When we come to the New Testament, the Lord prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem, He warned, “Pray that your flight will not be in the winter” (Matthew 24:20; cf. Mark 13:18). When the Lord walked this earth, we read that “the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; and it was winter” (John 10:22-23). We also read of winter in the life of Paul (2 Timothy 4:21; Acts 27:12; 28:11; 1 Corinthians 16:6; Titus 3:12).

The climate of Palestine is quite complex. (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 4, p. 577). Along the coast, we find “a mild climate, and frost is virtually unknown. In the mountains, however, temperatures fall off markedly with height, to produce a long lying snow cover in Lebanon and the mountains of Trans-Jordan.” In the Rift Valley, “winter nights are bitterly cold although winter day temperatures will rise high.” We conclude that Jesus our Lord, being raised in Galilee but traveling to Jerusalem, would know something of the cold of winter. As for the apostles, we do know that even in about April, Peter sat in the High Priest’s courtyard where they had to kindle a fire to keep warm (Luke 22:55).

It may be a consolation for us to remember that the apostles and early Christians lived and traveled in areas of modern Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Can you imagine the cold that they must have endured during the winter months or all of the months, from September to May. This was before there was central heating or the use of coal and gas to keep warm. They were required to tolerate sub-freezing temperatures and do so with joy! As Paul wrote to the Philippians (living in a cold region of Macedonia), “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). We may find this to be an encouragement—if these early believers could rejoice in the midst of frigid weather of all kinds, with snow and ice and the lack of heating, perhaps we can do so ourselves!

As we enter and go through the winter months, let’s keep some of these facts in mind and have a godly attitude about them. Personally, I love the warmer summer months and have a difficult time when the temperature drops below 40 or 50. But I do know a friend who goes through the winter in central Alaska where it can drop to 30, 40, or even 50 (with wind chill) below zero! I doubt that God had such bitterly cold weather in mind, but we must admit that God did tell Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). After the flood, He said, “Be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:7; cf. 9:1). We may not know precisely what He meant by this and how cold he wanted His creatures to endure, but this is worthy of consideration.

May we face the winter with its cold weather, snow, and ice, with grace. And let’s look forward to a better day when all climate will be perfect in every way—throughout eternity! (Revelation 7:15-17; 21:1-7ff).

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