Well, I suppose the title gave me away. I like snow. I like the look, the feel, the novelty, and the memories it brings. I like thinking back to the days of yesteryear and the evenings spent on my Radio Flyer tearing up and down ice-packed streets on its wax-slicked runners. I like remembering the night I joined in with a pack of other hoodlums in our neighborhood and – wanting nothing more than to see our winter joy continue on for a few more blissful days – attacked the poor man driving the snowplow with a barrage of snowballs. I’m not sure he recalls that evening as fondly as I do. PARENTAL DISCLAIMER: The pastor has not lost his mind (not entirely). I am not advocating the assault of public workers under any circumstances. Not really.
For those who live in climates where snow falls in abundance each winter, it’s something of a commonplace. The opposite, of course, is true for us here in “Tuckassee.” Even more so for the writers of the Bible where snow was (and still is in that part of the world) something rare and had a more exotic and noteworthy feel to it. I found the insights from The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (InterVarsity Press, 1998) helpful here. Snow would occasionally fall in Jerusalem, which is situated on a mountain top. But the sight of snow was usually from a distance, taking on a quality of transcendence (see Psalm 68:14; Jeremiah 18:14). The rarity of such wintry weather is hinted at in the account of Benaiah, “a valiant man” and a “doer of great deeds” (see 2 Samuel 23:20). One of his great deeds was to kill a lion in pit “on a day when snow had fallen,” a detail that would indicate the noteworthy nature of such a snowfall. When the psalmist says that God “gives snow like wool” and “scatters hoarfrost like ashes” (see Psalm 147:16), the point seems to be at least partly that God can control even the mysterious and unknown. In a climate where snow falls only once every several years and brings understandable hardship for those not prepared for it, snow is also linked to other hostile forces in nature – fire and hail, mist and wind (see Psalm 148:7). Thus, the resourcefulness of the godly wife described in Psalm 31 is reflected in the fact that “she is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet” (see Proverbs 31:21). In reminding Job of the mystery and power of His ways, God pointedly asks, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow…which I have reserved for the time of trouble?” (see Job 38:22-23; 37:6)
But snow is mentioned in other ways in the Bible, especially the figurative. Leprosy is compared to its whiteness (see Exodus 4:6; Numbers 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27). There are associations to harsh cold (see Psalm 147:16-17; 148:8; Proverbs 25:13; 31:21) and yet also refreshing coolness (see Proverbs 25:13). The inevitability of God’s purposes coming to pass is tied to the falling of snow to earth bringing growth to crops (see Isaiah 55:10-11). And the destruction of the wicked is compared to the sure melting of snow (see Job 24:19).
The most well known image of snow, however, pertains to purity and especially the forgiveness of sins (see Psalm 51:7; Isaiah 1:18). Indeed, there is also the transcendent brightness of God himself (see Daniel 7:9), the transfiguration (see Mark 9:3), of the angel at the resurrection (see Matthew 28:13), and of Christ standing amidst the lampstands (see Revelation 1:14).
It really shouldn’t surprise us that we would see so many references to natural phenomenon in the Scriptures. It is, after all, a story of real times and places. Nor should it surprise us that it lends itself to such rich imagery. We can learn from this. The Creator has left His fingerprints on all He has made. Indeed, we can learn much of the Creator from what He has made. Which should encourage us to open up our eyes a bit wider.
And pray for snow.