Treasures of the Snow

February 15, 2009 / No. 3450

Dear Radio Friends,

We remember the story of Job in the Bible, how the Lord afflicted him so deeply: the death of his ten children, the loss of all of his possessions, and pain surging through all of his body. The whole book of Job, from that point on, revolves around one question: Why? Why did God bring such pain? His friends gather around him and they begin to question the wisdom of God in bringing so much evil into a man’s life. And after all of their discussions, God Himself arises to give Job an answer in chapter 38.

It is very striking that God’s response to Job is to appeal to the creation surrounding us. He calls Job’s (and our) attention to His power and wisdom in the creation, basically, in chapter 38ff. He says to Job and to us: You do not know very much. You must humble yourself.

In chapter 38:3, 4 we read that God says to Job, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth?” The chapter continues with question after question—from God to Job—intended to point out God’s power and wisdom in the creation. Job, have you done this? Did you do this? Do you do this? Job, what do you know?

The vast glory of the creation teaches us never to accuse God of doing anything unwisely, without a proper purpose known to Himself. In the text that I would consider with you today, God asks the question: “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” The word “treasure,” here, refers to a storehouse, a chamber or vault, a place where precious and priceless things are kept under lock and key. Job, have you entered into and beheld the marvelous wonders of the snow?

All of God’s works are marvelous. When you enter into the works of God, you should consider that you have entered into a very beautiful palace, a very beautiful museum, with much that displays the wonder and the majesty of God. Every aspect of the creation is as it were a treasure, a chamber of wonder and beauty, of awe and glory. And one of those treasures is the snow.

Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?

Let us enter today, with the Holy Scriptures as our guide.

With Job, we are prone to ask the question, Why? Why does the Lord lead me this way? Why does the Lord give my child this disease? Why must I contend with pain? Why am I in a nursing home?

In majestic rebuke and in infinite wisdom, God almighty answers: Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?

The treasures of the snow declare to us, first of all, that we must be humbled before the absolute sovereignty and power of God. The very first thing that God is saying in the snow is, “Humble yourself under the almighty hand of God” (I Pet. 5:6). When God sends a blizzard, there are winter-storm warnings, schools are canceled, traffic crawls, cars slide off the road, temperatures are sub-zero. God is saying, “New York, Chicago, Northeast, Midwest, Grand Rapids, bow down! You can’t make it snow. You can’t stop it. You don’t run the skies. You don’t direct the wind. You don’t position the clouds. Have you entered into the chambers of the snow?”

You say, “That’s just weather.” God says, “Can you do that? Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?”

I was thinking of this the other day while shoveling the driveway of my home. And I began to think, How much weight is in a good shovel of snow? Maybe five-to-ten pounds? And then I looked around at the neighborhood at all the tons of snow. And then I thought of the county, and I thought of millions and trillions of tons of snow. And then I imagined myself saying to an excavator, “Tomorrow morning, at six o’clock, and you may begin at one tonight, in five hours’ time, I would like to have a trillion tons of a light powder spread evenly over the whole county. Sprinkle some on the evergreens for a beautiful effect. And be done by six o’clock.” Can you do that?

No, Lord. We sweat trying to remove it. And we are thankful when You melt it. In Thee we live and move and have our being. Without Thee we can do nothing, Lord.

Humble yourself before the mighty God.

The treasures of the snow condemn our arrogance. Arrogance is the opposite of humility. Our arrogance shows itself in a striking way. And it has to do with snow, with getting to where we want to go, and doing what we want to do. In the words of James 4, it is easy for us to say, “Today or tomorrow we will do this and that. On Monday this is what we are going to do. And tomorrow, Tuesday, this is what we are going to do.” We make our plans of all that is going to happen this week—all the way through Friday and Saturday and Sunday. And James says, “Wherein ye ought to say, If the Lord wills.” To say “The Lord willing” is not false piety. It is the way we should think.

Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? God directs all things. We boast, in our arrogance, of what we are going to do. And God sends snow or flu or back pain. And all of these, to humble us. God is in charge. If we do anything it is because God has ordained it and given us strength to do it.

The treasures of the snow proclaim God’s absolute power over men and nations and His loving power over us, His church and children.

In verses 22 and 23 we read, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow…which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” There God is referring to the reserves of His forces—the snow is part of God’s army, part of His reserve force, held back to deploy at the strategic moment. It is very similar to what we read in Job 37:12, 13: “…that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy.”

God, in His sovereignty, calls forth His reserve force. God uses the snow for correction, for a rod; or for a blessing upon and mercy upon His land. There are some things that He wants stopped on the earth. So, from the treasures of the snow, He brings out His reserves—against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war. God uses His creation to direct the history of men. And snow is one of His reserves to use as a rod or for purposes of mercy.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was defeated, it is said, by General Mud and Snow. No, it was the almighty God.

In 1941, the Nazi’s were stopped before Moscow. They could see the spires of the city. It was the coldest winter yet known. The awful engines of war—panzer tanks and elite divisions—were reduced to nothing because God sent His swift commandment. “Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind fulfilling his word.” God uses the snow to declare His absolute sovereignty and His rule over nations and men.

But He also uses the snow for mercy. God uses the creation and all things in the creation for the good of His people. Snow and ice are His reserves to accomplish His good will for the church. Every particle of the creation abides at His command. And toward His own church every particle of the creation, even in fury and devastation, is controlled by Him for our good, for mercy.

A weather front moves through that is being tracked by Storm Team 8? No, God is directing His reserves to accomplish purposes of mercy for His church. Hearken, we read in Job 37:14, “Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.”

The chambers of the snow tell us of God’s loving power for His children. Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? Remember, God is answering Job’s question: “Why? Why have I been so grievously afflicted?” And the answer is: “Job, you cannot move without Me. I control all things. I swear that all in love and wisdom is done for your good. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

But, maybe you ask, “That’s the answer? Here is a man crying out for an answer: God, why, why have you done all this? And the answer is: Humble yourself”? Yes. That is the answer. The answer is: “I am God.” God’s will is to be trusted. All He does, and He does all things, flows through the cross and in mercy to accomplish the wonder of salvation. Enter into the treasures of the snow. The snow and the snowflakes and the ice—God causes them all to happen. Bow down. Get low. Be humble.

But God sends the snow not only to humble us before His sovereignty, but also so that we might be awed by His grace. The flakes of snow echo back God’s saving grace. Scientists spend a lot of time putting labels on things, studying and saying, “Ah, we got it. Now we know.” Unbelieving science does so in order to muffle the voice of God, if they can.

Creation, and all that happens in the creation, is the voice of God. It speaks of God’s matchless glory and His majesty. Psalm 19:1: “The heavens are telling the glory of God. Day unto day uttereth forth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” And faith hears in the treasures of the snow the message of God’s grace!

Science tells us that each snowflake is different. That may be hard to prove, because no one has ever seen every snowflake. But I was told that as a boy. And I believe it, for God is great in power and in wonder. Each icicle has its own design. The icebergs—National Geographic has filmed the inside of them. They are hollow, with tunnels and colors, marvels of crystal cathedrals. They are floating museums. Huge icebergs that God floats in the sea.

We are told that, like each drop of rain, so each snowflake is formed around a speck of dust. A snowflake, reflecting the sun and glistening, is God’s encasement of dust. God glorifies dust. The dust that we sweep up in the house, that we say clogs our nasal passages, and about which we say: “What good is it? It’s dirt. Throw it away!” God says, I will make snow out of dust so that praises may echo back to Myself.

Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? Snow is the picture of God’s grace. God takes a dust-sinner, a filthy sinner, and cleanses him from all of his sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us so. Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be read like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Scarlet, crimson red—bold, vivid colors identifying us. We stand out like a red flag in sin. It is very plain and vivid. It is undeniable. There is nothing uncertain about the fact that you are a sinner. You are a blood-guilty sinner! But we shall be made white, pure, holy, clean. The blood of Jesus Christ takes those who are plainly and undeniably sinners and cleanses them in God’s view from their sins.

Again, we read in Psalm 51:7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” There David is referring to the wonder of forgiveness. He speaks of the Passover, when Moses commanded the people of Israel to take hyssop (a dried herb) and dip it in blood and put the blood over their doorposts. So, says David, wash me in the blood of my Savior that I may be clean, as white as snow. God’s grace takes us who are sinners, stained in our conscience with sin that cannot be removed, and He washes us clean in the blood of His Son.

Have you entered the treasures of the snow? A snowflake is a sign of God’s grace in taking His children, dust-sinners, and making them clean in the blood of His Son. We, who are painted red in sin—He cleanses us. And yes, yes, He purifies us within, so that we become holy, Christ-loving people of God. This is what God does. Every snowflake tells you of God’s grace—to take you, lowly, dirty sinner, and make you clean in His sight through the death of His Son.

Are you in awe? If you are not in awe over the snow, you are worse than a beast. God’s question to Job, “Have you entered into the treasures of the snow,” is intended not only to humble the man, but to fill the man with awe—to see the majesty and the grace of God in His works! “Job, do you see what I do?” Are you filled with awe and overwhelming amazement at the love of God for you, to choose you and to cleanse you from all of your sins? Do you marvel over the hand of God picking up dust and encasing it in crystals of snow and spreading it as a blanket of white on the earth? Ah, that is nothing, nothing when you see the grace of God taking you, made of dust, filthy, red with guilt, and making you spotless before Him.

But, finally, God’s question of Job is intended not only to humble him, not only to have him stand in awe, but to urge him to be silent. “Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?” In fact, all of God’s questions in the thirty-eighth chapter were not intended for Job to answer. God asked all the questions in that chapter so that Job would be…silent! Some questions are not intended to be answered. They are intended to be answered with silence. Silence is the answer.

Job got the point. We read in chapter 40 of this book, verse 3: “Then Job answered the Lord, and said…I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” Sometimes God does not want us to speak back to Him. But, rather, we must say in our hearts: “My soul in silence waits for God; my Savior He has proved. He only is my rock and tower; I never shall be moved.” Sometimes God wants us to worship in silence because that is the very best cure for a heavy soul. The treasures of snow are intended for deep, silent reflection in our heart before God.

God sends a snow-day. It is sent for you to stop and look, to see that He is God. A snow-day is sent from God not so that you can watch more TV, get caught up on your bookwork, and write the Thank-you notes for the holiday gifts. But when God stops you with the snow and you cannot get out of the door in the morning; when you cannot get to the shop; when you cannot get to school; when you look at each other and say, “Now, what will we do?” God is saying, I want you to take time and sit down and be silent and worship.

We read in Job 37:6-8: “For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth;…He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work. Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places.” God says, “Job (and you may put your name here), you have had many questions of Me. You are filled with agitations. You are demanding a reason for My ways with you. You and your friends have been trying to figure Me out. You are very much troubled that you must bear hardships and problems and pain of the body. Have you considered Me, Job? Do you know who I am? Do you see what I do? Do you know Mypurposes for you? Do you understand what I am aiming at? Have you seen My Son dying on a cruel cross in your place, Job? Do you know the depth and the power and the riches of My love in Jesus Christ? Sit still. Enter into the treasures of the snow. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Then worship. Then you will have the answer to your question, ‘Why, Lord?’ And with your answer you will have peace.”

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy word. We ask for its blessing upon our hearts in this day. We pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.