by Pastor Bud Talbert
I am looking over the fourteen-day forecast. The evening lows are -25-30 degrees Celsius (which translates for our American friends to -13-22 degrees Fahrenheit)! Thankfully, the forecast for precipitation (i.e. only snow) hovers for the entire two weeks near zero. In this kind of cold a friend’s dental implants and my wife’s hip replacements feel strangely cold inside the body, sound waves travel much farther than normal – we hear the sounds of the city 7 km away, the forecast reminds us that occasionally Edmonton will be “the coldest place on earth”, even a light breeze can raise the wind-chill significantly, and our car will actually have better traction on the snow than it would if the temperature were higher.
The Bible refers to cold 19 times, often literally to describe the chill in the air. For instance …
- the very first reference to cold in Scripture is after the flood when Noah offered burnt offerings to the LORD. God promised that the cycles of “cold and heat” would not cease (Genesis 8:22).
- Jacob complained to Laban (31:40) that he had served Laban faithfully, even though he was being “consumed” by the cold at night.
- Job (24:7) wonders why God does not visibly punish those who leave the poor with “no covering in the cold.”
- The LORD through Jeremiah laments the unfaithfulness of Israel (Jeremiah 18:14). He contrasts the regularity with which the snow on Mt. Hermon melts into “cold flowing streams” with the people who are NOT regular, but who “forget” Him.
- Even a cup of cold water given to a thirsty disciple has its reward (Matthew 10:42).
- Peter warms himself at a fire in Caiaphas’s courtyard because “it was cold” as early Spring often can be in Jerusalem (John 18:18).
- Paul and his wet shipmates were welcomed to Malta and a blazing fire by the locals (Acts 28:2).
- In the service of Christ Paul said that he often suffered cold (2 Cor 111:27).
Cold is also used several times in a simile to describe some concept …
- In Proverbs 25:13 just as the cold of snow refreshes overheated harvest workers, so does a messenger who faithfully delivers his message refresh those who sent him.
- Just a few verses further (20) singing song to the heavy hearted is like taking the garment from someone on a cold day. The sorrowful spirit does not just want sympathy. He needs it.
- A few verses more (25) reminds us that good news from far away is like cold water to a thirsty soul.
- Nahum preached to an unrepentant Nineveh (Assyria’s capital) a century after Jonah’s remarkable ministry. Nahum’s ministry, then, was filled with statements of judgment and warning. In 3:17 he compares Assyria’s princes and scribes to locusts. Cold weather tends to subdue the ravaging locusts, but the return of sun and high temperatures makes them very active. “… Your scribes (are) like clouds of locusts settling on a fence in a day of cold ….” But then the day warms, and they are gone.
Perhaps the most interesting references to cold in Scripture are the two figurative ones …
- Love can become cold when lawlessness increases, as will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:12)
- In His letter to the church in Laodicea, Jesus three times refers to their being lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot (Revelation 3:15-16). Like the reference above, it refers to that loveless, commitment-less, half-hearted, on-again-off-again Christian who leaves observers wondering if the person is genuine at all.
One thing is certain. Just as God’s is in complete control of the cold weather (see Job 37:9 and Psalm 147:17), so His grace is completely necessary for Christians to be warm-hearted and utterly devoted to Jesus Christ. May that grace be abundant toward us as we seek God’s face in prayer and His word dwells richly in us!