Whiter than snow: What do you mean?

This morning, I awoke and opened the blinds to see the residual effect of the first snow since we moved to Northern Virginia more than a year ago. A snowstorm swept through much of the area, depositing more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state. Even though it may accumulate in seeming excess, the silent splendor of falling snow is a glorious sight that reminds us that God has made everything beautiful in its time. As I looked upon the crystal beauty of the landscape, I thought of Isaiah 1:18, a verse that mentions a series of similes, or comparisons using “like” or “as” that describe contrasting views of sin and allude to the purifying process of repentance:

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

According to notes from Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,

The rabbis say that when the lot was taken to select a scapegoat as a sacrifice a scarlet thread was bound on the scapegoat’s head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people’s sins over it, the fillet [A narrow strip of ribbon or similar material] became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified. . . . Hebrew for “scarlet” radically means double-dyed. . . .

We recognize that without repentance there is no remission of sin. With repentance, however, sins can become “white as snow,” and “white as wool,” that is, restored to an original un-dyed state of whiteness.

There is a grand wonder in winter, as such scenes unfold in breath-taking splendor, to remind us of the soul-cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ which came to mind and inspired this poetic description:

Frosted Wood Scene

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18


The stark nakedness
of the dark bark
blooms with crystal leaves.
Where death once reigned,
blossoms now flourish,
even as grace
did much more abound
and flower as
graceful almond trees.

I stand enraptured,
surrounded by
the fragile beauty
of the landscape
etched in a fuller
white than any
angel’s bright raiment.

The frosted wood scene
shows God’s design
to cleanse and make whole
the soul of man
that he might surely
know the pure love
that cleanses, covers
whiter than snow,
Lord, whiter than snow.

We close with another contemporary song of praise: “Whiter than the Snow”

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