Recently a storm that dropped over a foot of snow on the dreary landscape of my backyard has transformed my backyard into a scene of beauty just like those Moonstone dishes transformed Judy’s dining room table. As children we couldn’t wait for a “snow day” which guaranteed us lots of fun and hot chocolate breaks. While Moonstone dishes are manufactured in a special way, it turns out that snowflakes are just as special. Each flake is made up of 2 to 200 separate snow crystals. There are four basic crystal shapes and the temperature determines which shape the crystal will take. As the snow crystals grow they become heavier and fall to the earth. If they spin like tops as they fall they will become perfectly symmetrical when they hit the ground, but if they spin sideways, they will become lopsided.
The purity of winter snow is a wonderful image of a promise God made in the book of Isaiah, “Come let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be like crimson, they will be like wool” (Is. 1:18). Have you ever really thought about the words of this verse? It should be surprising to hear about snowfall in a land that appears to be mostly a rocky desert. You might be surprised to learn that snow actually does fall in Israel. Mount Hermon, located in the northern most part of Israel, is 9,000 feet above sea level and sports a white cap throughout most of the year. I can imagine that when the people heard the words of Isaiah they thought of this beautiful snow-topped mountain.
If you read the first chapter of Isaiah you will learn that although the people were going through the motions of bringing sacrifices to the Lord, they were short-changing Him in many ways (vv. 10-15). Why was this? In verse 16 the Lord reveals the issue- their outward actions did not match with their inmost impurity. Their hearts were not intent on doing God’s will or following His Law. Instead of living for the Lord, they gave Him lip service. Isaiah warns the people that this path will only lead them into judgment. But if they repented (vv. 16-18), and looked at themselves through God’s eyes (v. 18), He would cause them to prosper once again (v. 19). If they did not repent, they could not avoid judgment (v. 20). These words of impending judgment can seem harsh from our viewpoint, but the writer of Hebrews reminds us that discipline is a form of love (Heb. 12: 5-11) and although unpleasant when administered, we benefit from it in the long run.
This may seem to be a strange subject to discuss just after Christmas and right before the New Year. But in reality, it is quite appropriate. After all Jesus was not born in order for angels to sing in the sky or for magi and shepherds to take in a baby viewing. He was not born to become a lawn decoration or passed over for Santa and his reindeer. Like Moonstone and snowflakes He was born to perform a transformation. And to perform this transformation He was born to die. The transformation which made us white as snow took place when He died taking on the judgment (the Lord’s discipline) that was rightly meant for us when He didn’t deserve it. We may not love “snow days” as much as we did in our youth or have a set of Moonstone dishes to put on our table but those gently falling crystals or a picture of those dishes should always remind us of the Savior (the Ultimate Transformer!) Who was born to make us “as white as snow”. His birth and death allow us to start the New Year as fresh and as white as the snow.
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre