I woke up this morning with great anticipation as I hurried over to look out my window. It was predicted that we would be getting a lot of snowfall through the night, but the weatherman’s predictions are not necessarily something I like to rely on. To my surprise, not only had it snowed, but it had snowed a lot and it was still coming down in flakes the size of quarters. Many of the distinguishing features of my yard had already disappeared under the blanket of white frozen wafers.

Later in the dark I navigated through the drifts to retrieve the morning paper. Something that I should know by now is that it is never delivered when the snow impedes the carrier. As I returned to the house I reflected on the deep quiet that always accompanies the snow. In the solitude of the dawn I thought, “There must be a lesson I can learn from the snow.” Then, as usual, the thought quickly vaporized as my mind raced ahead to the details of morning, the many tasks that lay ahead of me in the day, and the need to feed the bouncing dog that paced between my feet like a yo-yo gone astray (so much for trying to be spiritual).

A few hours later I settled in behind my desk at work, moving from task to task, answering emails and handling various ministry matters. As I paused between the busyness of the day, I looked out my office window and was stunned once again by the blanket of white outside that covered everything as far as I could see. That’s when I remembered the prophet Daniel and the vision he had of God with His clothing white as snow.

Daniel 7:9
“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

If I ever had a vision like the one Daniel describes my hair would probably turn white (or at least whiter than it already is). God has always used white to convey the idea of purity and holiness, and there is nothing holier than God Himself. In the Old Testament, God’s people looked forward to a day when He would wash away their sins, making them holy and whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:6 and 7
(6) Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
(7) Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Today, we have the joy of knowing that when we are “saved” [1] we have the assurance of our sins being forgiven because of the sacrifice of Christ. In addition to the spiritual reality of us being made holy because of the gift of holy spirit, God also desires that we live in accordance with this new nature.

Ephesians 4:22-24
(22) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
(23) to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
(24) and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

God desires that the innermost part of my being, my heart, be filled with truth. When I humble myself to learn and follow God’s ways, He can wash me, making me cleaner and whiter than snow. Is there anything you can think of that is whiter than snow? How about rice, or sugar? Well, although they may be as white as snow for us today, it is only through our modern technology and bleaching processes that they are that white. Even cotton in its natural state, although it is as white as snow, still has bunches of black seeds spread throughout it. Nowadays we can take the color white for granted because we are surrounded with so many materials and products that are pure white. Besides the secretary’s bottle of “whiteout,” my short-list includes white copy paper, tee shirts, and plastic milk jugs. But in biblical times, other than hair and snow, there were not many things that were pure white. God uses the vivid imagery of the whiteness of snow to convey some very powerful spiritual realities.

Isaiah 1:18b
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

A blood stain is one of the most difficult stains to remove, and yet in the above verse God tells us that although our sins are as scarlet, red, and crimson (like blood), He will remove them so completely that they shall be as white as snow. This means they will be absolutely, completely, totally removed without any trace or stain left behind. In order for God to thoroughly cleanse us we must humble ourselves to do things His way. The immediate context of us becoming as white as snow is for us to “stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isa.1:16b-7).

God tells us that there are two paths we can choose, the path of humility or the path of pride, and both can lead to us becoming white like snow. In the Old Testament there are two people that God turned “white like snow,” and in both cases pride was a dominating presence in the person’s heart. The first was Moses’ sister Miriam. She challenged Moses and his position, stirred up Aaron and gave place to envy. They asked, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses… Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Num. 12:2). Miriam’s and Aaron’s slander against Moses was fueled by their pride, which is always the source of slander.

Psalm 56:2
My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride.

God confronts the two of them and the result was that Miriam was turned white like snow, but not because she was holy. She was white like snow because she was covered in leprosy, [2] a condition of defilement.

Numbers 12:10
When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam–leprous, like snow.

A person covered with leprosy would have been a dreadful image to see. Moses and Aaron must have been horrified at the sight of their sister covered with so much leprosy that it looked like snow. She was covered with skin lesions, blisters, and sores. When pride takes root it always putrefies the soil of the heart, resulting only in rancid fruit like slander, envy, and malice. Miriam’s leprosy was an outside reflection of the internal uncleanness of her prideful heart. Just like Miriam, pride transforms us into a ghastly image. Fortunately, Miriam’s healing came when Aaron repented and humbled himself before Moses, calling him “my Lord” and confessed his sin.

Numbers 12:11b and 12
(11) “Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.
(12) Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

The representation that Miriam was like “a stillborn infant” with her flesh “half eaten away” is ghastly. And, like Miriam, the prophet Elisha’s servant Gehazi also experienced a similar lesson about pride and selfishness. In the book of 2 Kings there is the record of Naaman, a commander of the army of Aram [3] coming to Elisha seeking healing of leprosy. After he was healed, he returned to the prophet offering gifts of gratitude for the miracle of healing he experienced. He presented Elisha a large amount of silver, gold, and other material possessions, which the prophet rejected. However, without Elisha’s knowledge, his servant Gehazi ran after Naaman and deceitfully obtained some of these items. Later when Elisha confronted Gehazi he lied about what he had done. The end result was that he was cursed by Elisha and Naaman’s leprosy “clung” to him, making him white as snow.

2 Kings 5:26 and 27
(26) But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants?
(27) Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.

In his pride, Gehazi acted directly against the prophet’s refusal of Naaman’s gifts. Absorbed with his own envy and greed, He pursued his own lusts, blinded by the pride in his heart. Pride is at the fountainhead of evil and from it flows deceit, envy, slander, malice, and murder. It is a malignancy of the heart leading to disgrace. Elisha’s heart must have broken as he grieved for his friend and trusted servant as he watched him wander off to a life of pain and suffering, forever rejected by society and left in a state of defilement.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

The Old Testament was in many ways a training manual for Jesus. There must have been times when Jesus would have read these records and pondered the dreadful consequences of pride. Unlike Miriam and Gehazi who became white like snow as a result of their pride, Jesus was resurrected with clothing “white as snow” because of his holiness.

Matthew 28:3
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Jesus humbled himself to God’s plan and was raised in righteousness and holiness. He has blazed a trail for all to follow; doing so requires humility. Like Christ, we too need to humble ourselves and be obedient to God in all that we do, knowing that some day we will be clothed in robes whiter than snow.

Endnotes

[1] According to Romans 10:9 and 10, to be “saved” today requires that a person confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God has raised him from the dead.
[2] The term “leprosy” in the Bible is now thought not to be, or not exclusively to be, the result of Hansen’s Disease but most likely includes a number of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, etc. Nowadays, the term “leprosy” actually refers to Hansen’s Disease (HD), named after Norwegian physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen. It is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. (source: Wikipedia).
[3] Aram is the country immediately to the north of Israel in the location of modern day Syria.

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