It happens every year here in the northwest: the snow melts and we go through the “mud stage.” We didn’t receive a great amount of snow this winter, but one of the first major snowfalls stayed on the trees for several weeks and we had a long-lasting winter wonderland when everything was covered with a thick blanket of white. But, as always, the temperatures warm, rain comes, and the snow eventually melts, which happened a bit earlier than usual this year. When God created the earth, on day four “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years’” (Gen. 2:14 cf Psa. 104:19). By God’s design, we have seasons. (Around here many think they are hunting and fishing season!). The fact that, in spite of cycles of climate change, we still have seasons is evidence that God is in control, carrying out His promises, such as in Gen. 8:22: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,” and in Psa. 74:17: “Thou hast established all the boundaries of the earth; Thou has made summer and winter.” By the way God designed our solar system and the earth with its inclination, spin, and orbit, and the moon to orbit the earth. God created our seasons, of which we have quite distinct ones in our “neck of the woods.”
As the snow melts, it exposes all sorts of grime and garbage. As we walk each day we see piles of sand and gravel that were used on the roadways and then plowed off with the snow. We see all the trash which people had thrown out (very disgusting, by the way) but which was temporarily covered up by the beautiful snow. It is definitely not the most attractive time, but “it too shall pass” as the seasons continue to change. Soon the trees and plants will come alive from their time of dormancy, and it will be beautiful again.
As I think about the ugliness that is exposed as the snow melts, I can’t help but think about what God does regarding the ugliness of our sin. David’s prayer of confession included this plea: “Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:17). And the prophet Isaiah records God’s plea with the people of Judah: “Come now, and let us reason together…Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow…” (Isa. 1:18). But, what happens if the snow melts? Will our sins be exposed again in all their ugliness? Well, under the Old Covenant of Law, sacrifices had to be made by the priests and the blood applied to the altar to “cover” (atone for) sin. But the sins were merely covered and not removed, and there had to continually be sacrifices with a succession of priests. There work was never done. The author of Hebrews writes: “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices which can never take away sins” (Heb. 10:11). Symbolic of this was the conspicuous absence of a chair in the Tabernacle or Temple, for the work of the priest was never done for him to sit down.
In contrast, when Jesus, our “High Priest” came, “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:12,14). Jesus came not to “cover” sin, but to “put it away.” All the sins of those under the Old Covenant which had been covered through sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of innocent substitutes (animals) were finally removed by Jesus sacrifice. “And for this reason He is the mediator of a New Covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). My understanding of Scripture is that the believers under the Old Covenant went to the Paradise portion of Sheol (Abraham’s Bosom…Lk. 16:22 cf Lk. 23:43) waiting for Christ to come and put away their sin. In Heb. 12:22,:23 we have a description of creatures in heaven and listed are “myriads of angels,” “the general assembly of the church of the first-born” (that’s us—believers of the church age), and “the spirits of righteous men made perfect,” (which I believe refers to believers under the Old Covenant whose sins had been covered, waiting for Jesus to die to put away their sins, at which time they moved from Sheol to Heaven). Remember when John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the world, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). All the sacrifices under the Old Covenant of Law looked forward to the final putting away of sin by our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As God promised, He washes us “white as snow,” but He also promises not only to “cover our sins with snow until the snow melts,” but to remove them (looking to the final sacrifice for sin that God made when He offered His Son at Calvary). Here are some of the exciting things Scripture says about our sins:“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psa. 103:12); “…Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19); “…For Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back” (Isa. 38:17); “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25). God made all this possible because “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). Jesus paid the full penalty for all our sins (as well as for those of all believers who have ever lived) and we can never have them exposed and judged. “There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1). Praise the Lord that He was willing to be judged for sin on our behalf!!
So, as we see the beautiful snow melt and expose all sorts of crud and ugliness, we can rest assured that will never happen to us as believers. Amen!