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The Doctrine of Winter

Where I live, we just had several inches of snow. Not only does the Bible say a few things about snow itself, but it also uses several wintry analogies to teach us truths and lessons to live by today.

Winter’s Origin, Purpose, and Duration

God created winter (Gen 8:22; Ps 74:17) so that we would marvel at His infinite power and might (Job 37:5–6; 38:22–23; cf. 40:1–6) and give Him praise (Ps 148:7–8). Winter will continue at least until the end of the earthly reign of Christ (Zech 14:8–9).

Bible Events That Took Place During Winter

Events both good and bad mention and/or take place during the Bible’s many winters. In the Old Testament, during winter, snow was used for washing (Job 9:30), Benaiah killed a lion all by himself (2 Sam 23:20; 1 Chr 11:22), the evil king Jehoiakim burned Jeremiah’s scroll (Jer 36:20–26), and Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (John 10:23, 31–39).

In the New Testament, during one of his travels, Paul experienced Euraquilo, a violent north-eastern winter wind that became so dangerous that he and his shipmates abandoned their ship (Acts 27:13–14, 42–44) and safely swam to the shore of an island named Malta (Acts 28:1) where they had to wait three wintry months before they could travel again (Acts 28:11). Knowing the dangers of these winter winds, Paul made his travel plans accordingly (1 Cor 16:6; Titus 3:12) and urged others to do the same (2 Tim 4:21).

In the future, God will punish Israel by destroying her winter (and summer) houses in the great day of His wrath (Amos 3:15)—a time during which Jesus tells believers to pray to not have to flee persecution during winter (Matt 24:20; Mark 13:18).

Winter Helps Us Understand

Pristine whiteness and unforgettable coldness are two aspects of winter that the Bible uses as analogies to describe something or teach a lesson.

As to descriptions, Moses’ hand (Exod 4:6), Miriam’s whole person (Num 12:9), and Elisha’s wayward servant Gehazi (2 Kgs 5:27) were leprous and looked white like snow.

The Bible also gives snowy language to teach the lessons we see below. 

Be faithful. Dependable people and cold air from snow on a hot day have something in common—they are welcome blessings to those who receive them. As dependable people bless their superiors by faithfully completing their assigned tasks, so also does a wintry wind refresh a tired worker (Prov 25:13). Snow is mentioned by Jeremiah along these lines as well but in a negative context. Quoting the Lord, he points out that Israel was more sure to abandon her God than snow was to abandon the mountains of Lebanon (Jer 18:13–14).

Give honor to whom it is due. Honoring fools and experiencing snow in the summer have something in common—they are both activities that should not happen. In other words, just as we would not expect snow in the summer, so also should honor not be given to the fool who has done nothing to deserve as such (Prov 26:1).

Encourage believers who suffer for reasons other than sin. Unlike the friends of Job, we should be careful not to give cold and icy criticism to friends in their time of need, especially when they have done no wrong. Rather, we should give them words of warmth and kindness (Job 6:14–16).

The fire of Hades will indeed be felt by those who go there. As easily as heat consumes the snow, so also does Hades consume unbelievers (Job 24:19).

God’s abundant words give us joy and peace. God’s words to His people are plenteous as the snow, frost, and ice—like Israel in this Psalm, so also we will never exhaust what He has to say to us (Ps 147:16–19). Furthermore, just as God intended rain and snow fall from heaven for the purpose of causing vegetation to grow, so also does God give His word to believers intending for us to have joy and peace (Isa 55:10–12). 

As God is pure, so also are believers. Daniel had a vision of God the Father, “the Ancient of Days,” as pictured with snow-white clothing, likely referring to God’s absolute moral purity and wisdom (Dan 7:9). The apostle John likewise saw Jesus Christ with snow-white head of hair, perhaps figurative of His moral purity and wisdom as well (Rev 1:14). The angel who rolled away the stone in from of our Lord’s tomb also had clothing that was white like snow (Matt 28:3). Just as elect angels, God the Father, and Jesus Christ are sinless, so also does God see believers as sinless and morally pure, that is, white like snow (Ps 51:7; Isa 1:18; Lam 4:7).

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.