February 14, 2014

The school of snow

by Jesse Johnson

Image from createdsign.com

Yesterday much of the US woke up to a winter wonderland. Sheets of snow fell in the night—at my house we got over a foot. School was canceled and the ground was covered. For some people (like Canadians) this is normal. But for many cities, this was extremely unusual.

Have you ever wondered why it snows? I’m not talking about the hydrological reasons. I get that water freezes at a certain temperature, and that granular ice particles form and if the atmospheric pressure and ground temperature match some sort of range, voilá! Snow. But at a more basic level, why did God design a world in which it snows? What is snow designed to teach us? There are two major lessons from the school of snow:  

Snow teaches that God has unmatched power: Pictures filled Twitter yesterday of people in North Carolina trying to drive/walk/flee burning cars in the snow. Obviously a storm like this paralyzes the country. Schools are shuttered, airports closed, and schedules are cleared. Conferences that were planned for months are canceled, and people spend hours shoveling out, only to have more snow fall. The point is that God did that. He is the one that causes the snow to fall, and it is done in such a way that is obviously easy (you could say “providential”) for him and it cripples us (Job 37:26).

With one storm, wars have been won and lost. Crops are destroyed and the effort of man is shown to be futile in the face of storehouses of snow—which are easy for God to send (Job 38:22). When you see the snow, remember the power of the one who designed it.

Snow stands as a symbol for purity. Scripture often uses the example of being made as “white as snow.” Yesterday the ground was brown and muddy, today it is pristine. You closed your eyes to a world of dirt, and opened your eyes to a world of white. When snow falls, it covers everything. It blankets the bright and the bold, the dark and the dreary. All of it is made to shine.

This is why snow becomes that symbol for purity (Dan 7:9, Mat 28:3, Mark 9:3, Rev 1:14). When someone is morally pure, the power for that purity is both external and transformative (Isa 55:10). It comes from God, it covers your life, and changes your heart. When you see the snow, be reminded of the fact that purity is moral attribute of God, and it comes from him.

If you combine these two points, you come away with a powerful picture that not only does purity come from God—but it is comes as a manifestation of his power. God alone—through Jesus Christ—has the power to change the lepers spots and melt the heart of stone. He can cover all sin—and he does so because of the death of his son. The blood of Jesus can wash your sins away, making you as white as snow, and all of this is a demonstration of God’s power (Isa 1:18).

Not only does he have the power to forgive sins, but he has the power to change your life. As the ground shines with snow, so the new life in Christ displays a righteousness that shines before the world (Psalm 51:7). This is because God gives righteousness, just like he gives snow (Psalm 147:16).


Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • smedly

    Jesse, you could add another “p” to power and purity: provision. Accumulated mountain snow provides much-needed water for crops and people when no rain falls, a remarkable feature of God’s care for humanity through the hydrological cycle.
    And perhaps a fourth “p”: play. It’s hard to beat making fresh tracks in waist-deep powder in a back bowl.

    • Thaks Smed. That’s what Bill Shannon told me this morning too (the provision part). We actually had this conversation at breakfast yesterday (the Shannons are snowed in here in DC–their flights were canceled), and this post was our breakfast conversation. But Bill did indeed have the third P: God’s provision.

  • george canady

    Thanks pastor for the reminder that He is the one who causes and allows.

  • Lyndon Unger

    Good thoughts on the theological ramification of snow (I hadn’t thought of that before, so thanks!) with one minor error. You wrote:

    “For some people (like Canadians) this is normal.”

    A foot of snow is abnormal even up here.

    I live in a part of Canada that doesn’t get snow. Fo realz.

    • Lyndon: what’s the point of living in Canada if you don’t get snow?

      • Howard Brown

        – good quantities of unconverted roughnecks, loggers, trappers, and truck drivers to evangelize
        – good quantities of elk/deer/lake trout within a short drive
        – colourful money that is worth less, yet not worthless
        – not too far from Shepherd’s Conference
        – the delightful look of bewilderment when one tries to explain your town of origin at Shepherd’s Conference
        – the sheer thrill of evading 6 pound mosquitoes in the summer
        Great post, and around here, snow means pasture – there will, by God’s grace, be grass this spring for the cattle (provision).

        • Guest

          I agree with Rodney.

          • Howard Brown

            Rodney? That’s a laugh.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. Is that sass I detect?

        Okay, you asked so I’ll add 20 more things to the list given by brother Rodney:

        1. Tim Hortons.
        2. Tim Hortons. (I know that’s technically 2 points, but it’s such an important one it’s worth mentioning twice.)
        3. Freedom from religious persecution: It’s not that Canada doesn’t have a bunch of restrictive laws, but people up here are too lazy to enforce them (political apathy up here is magnificent).
        4. Far tighter regulations on farming and public food preparation (that are strictly enforced).
        5. Longer life span.
        6. Rick Mercer & Brent Butt. You Americans can keep Jim Carey and Mike Meyers. We’re keeping the guys who are actually funny.
        7. You can actually go fishing and have an entire lake to yourself.
        8. You can get away from civilization, from anywhere, in 30 minutes or less.
        9. Free wifi EVERYWHERE.
        10. Generally next to no lawsuits.
        11. Lots of work.
        12. Low crime rates.
        13. Hollywood North: I have a better chance of getting into movies in Vancouver than in Hollywood, but there’s no skanky billboards EVERYWHERE.
        14. No pretend “iced tea” that tastes gross. That’s right. I said it.
        15. Properly cooked and handled food (i.e. no waiters asking me how I’d like my burger cooked…)
        16. Coca Cola made with real sugar, not the holy corn of Syrappus (or whatever satanic concoction from the Vatican America uses to sweeten it).
        17. Getting to spell honour, humour, and valour properly without getting marks docked on my papers by Yankee rebels who stole English but dropped the letter “u” as they were diving out the Queen’s window.
        18. Next to no fighting fundies (and every single fundie I meet up here has either come from the US or spends all their time reading fundie blogs/websites).
        19. Next to no KJV Onlyism (every KJV Onlyist I’ve met up here came from the US, but they’re usually also fighting fundies that nobody takes very seriously because they’re so utterly rude)
        20. Tax Free Saving’s Accounts. Those make 401(k)’s look like a joke.

        Now sure, our taxes are higher, our cost of living is far higher, we don’t have Amazon.com/Netflix/Hulu/other online goodies, cars cost 30% more, health care is far less efficient (though you guys are headed for a fiery crash in that department), we don’t have any good seminaries AT ALL, there’s not a single large & strong conservative church (of which I’m aware, and I’m fairly aware), our national television networks are boring enough to put a hummingbird to sleep, etc.

        You win some, you lost some.

        Speaking of losing, how’s them winter Olympics going for y’all? You’d think with 300+ million people wouldn’t be tied in the medal count with a country with less people that the metropolitan area of Atlanta (http://olympics.cbc.ca/medals/index.html)…but what can you do?

        Well, don’t feel bad. Sometimes the US loses contests in which it is GOOD to lose (http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-on/fattest-country-world-no-longer-u-191517809.html). Congrats America!

    • Pfff: everywhere in Canada has snow. In the summers, we only have about three feet of it. But during the other 11.5 months, we have perpetual snow.

      • Lyndon Unger

        The opinions of Wyatt Graham do not represent those of Environment Canada, Health Canada, the CBC, The National Post, The Canadian Association of Social Workers, Rita McNeil, Premier Alison Redford, Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi, or The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of Canada.

        In fact, speaking on behalf of all Canadians who are not Wyatt Graham, we disavow any and all information coming from Wyatt Graham regarding the Nation of Canada (A Mari Usque Ad Mare) or any of her colonies.

  • Thanks Jesse – nice post today. Now if one of your west coast contributors could come up with a blog regarding drought, for us in San Diego!

  • M Hill

    Fantastic article! I will be using this to teach our children more about the Lord and snow!

  • I love all things winter and snow! So this post is especially, cool 🙂

    How about “Peerless”? As each snowflake is unique, unmatched.

    As I watch the news reports I thought about all the ways we’ll never know that God’s been using things like this latest snowmageddon for His glory..

  • I live in the northeast where this winter we’ve been getting more snow than usual. This morning I was thinking about snow and what it teaches us just as you did in this nice post. I looked at it from a different standpoint. I see in it (snow) proof of an all wise and loving Creator. What I mean is this: To my knowledge, I’d say that the largest snowstorm I’ve experienced is about 36 inches of snow being dropped. While this can cause problems, I was thinking about what would happen if we received 10, 15, 20, 30 or even 50 feet of snow. This is certainly something that God could easily produce. It would be just as easy for Him as it is to send 1 foot of snow. If we did receive such a large amount it would cause the loss of a lot of life. We wouldn’t be able to function. In His loving care and wisdom He sends enough to demonstrate His power and authority and creativity but keeps it to a bearable amount to sustain life. The same is true of the temperature. The earth is situated at
    just the right distance from the sun. If it was a little closer or farther from
    the sun we’d either freeze or burn. He set and keeps it at just the proper
    distance to sustain life. All this demonstrates His loving care of His
    creation. All this points to the fact that our world has a Divine Creator. How can
    people deny the reality of such proof?

    • Thats a great point Scott. I hadn’t thought of it from the perspective. I wonder if the rainbow covers snow?

  • Heather

    A beautiful reminder of the beautiful Gospel message this morning. The beauty of snow mirrors the beauty of our Lord 🙂
    “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

  • Elissa

    Great post! And I’m behind on Cripplegate so I just read your post on the March for Life. Thanks for attending and covering it!

  • Eric Davis

    Amen’s all around from a place which averages about 500in per year. Thanks Jesse.

  • Snow to me is only a reminder of the cold, bone-chilling effect of sin.