22nd February 2013

Whiter Than The Snow

“’Come, now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’”
Isaiah 1:18 (NIV UK)
 

The Bible uses contrasts and comparisons to help us understand grace. 

Perhaps, like me, you like the pristine whiteness of fields covered with snow. “I love to walk on fresh fallen snow, the kind that whispers and speaks. It sings a song as I walk along, with crackles and scrunches and squeaks” (from Winter Morning Poem by Ogden Nash). 

Imagine that you see a trail of bright red blood in front of you. It spoils the beauty. It alarms and disturbs you. You look at your own hands, and they are covered with blood. Your very clothes seem soaked with scarlet blood. It is like a horrible dream. This is similar to the contrast that Isaiah is portraying in the passage above. How will you wash away the redness of the blood and remove the stains from the clean snow? 

We can’t clean up the bloody mess of sins on our own. God says that with us he will settle the matter. How will he do this? It is through his grace and forgiveness. David prays in Psalm 51:7 that God would “cleanse” him “with hyssop” so that he would be “whiter than the snow”. This cleansing image is used in other scriptures. For example, “the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire”, wrote Malachi, will be like “a launderer’s soap” (3:1-2). 

How God settles the matter by cleansing us to make us whiter than snow with his launderer’s soap is addressed clearly in the New Testament. It is through the effectiveness of Christ’s blood that was shed for us on the cross. The writer of the book of Hebrews explained that the Old Testament animal sacrifices could never take away sin. One could say that they just left the blood soaking into the snow. Only the blood of Jesus is effective in removing the sin and its stains completely. It is only through Christ’s sinless perfection that we can be declared clean. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14) 

Our part in this is to accept the sacrifice of Christ. 

So, to quote an old spiritual song written by Elisha Hoffman, “Have you been to Jesus for his cleansing power?” “Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?” 

Have you accepted the grace?

Prayer
Eternal God, in your grace you have cleansed us from our sins through the glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Help us to accept your grace. In Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by James Henderson

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