Treasury of Snow
I remember the first time I read the Book of Job. It was an eye-opener for me…the distinct moment when God enters the scene and questions Job:
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
“Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
-Job 38:1-7 NKJV
Job realizes how mighty God truly is and answers The Lord by saying:
“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
-Job 42:1-6 NKJV
There’s one verse I want to draw your attention to:
As God is questioning Job, He asks:
“Have you entered the treasury of snow?
-Job 38:22 NKJV
It’s curious to me that the word “treasury” or “storehouses” in other translations. In Hebrew, the word is “owstar” and its translation is treasure, storehouse treasure (gold, silver, etc) store, supplies of food or drink treasure-house, treasury treasure-house storehouse, magazine treasury magazine of weapons (fig. of God’s armory) storehouses (of God for rain, snow, hail, wind, sea).
So, the translation speaks to a place where something is abundant. Just like treasury holds vast quantities of money, so God’s snowflake treasury holds countless snowflakes. But I don’t think God was referring to the quantity of snowflakes alone. I think He’s also referring to their unique design. Each snowflake is unique.
Maybe that statement is not mind-blowing to you but it will become clear in a moment why it is. I’m not as good a teacher as I am a student so with the aid of a few websites, I can explain the properties of water without getting too technical. I am a good student but a poor teacher!
Water molecules have unusual chemical and physical properties. It appears to be custom-made for life on earth and every type of living cell needs water to survive. All life forms thrive on water.
Water can exist in all three states of matter at the same time: liquid, gas, and solid.
Imagine that you’re sitting in your hot tub (filled with liquid water) watching the steam (gas) rise from the surface as you enjoy a cold drink from a glass filled with ice (solid) cubes. Very few other chemical substances can exist in all these physical states in this close of a temperature range.
In the solid state, the particles of matter are usually aligned much closer together than they are in the liquid state. So if you put a solid compound into its corresponding liquid, it sinks. But this is not true about water! Its solid state is less dense than its liquid state (because of the arrangement of the water molecules, there is much more space making it less dense) so it floats. That’s how icebergs float!
Water’s boiling point is unusually high. Other compounds similar in weight to water have a much lower boiling point. Another unique property of water is its ability to dissolve a large variety of chemical substances so it’s an excellent solvent. It dissolves salts and other ionic compounds, as well as polar covalent compounds such as alcohols and organic acids.
Water can also absorb a large amount of heat, which allows large bodies of water to help moderate the temperature on earth as well as transport the heat in the waters through currents.
Insert technical details so you can expand your understanding. When a hydrogen atom is bonded to one of three extremely electronegative elements — O, N, or F, we have a strong dipole-dipole interaction. These three elements have a very strong attraction for the bonding pair of electrons, so the atoms involved in the bond take on a large amount of partial charge.
This bond turns out to be highly polar — and the higher the polarity, the more effective the bond. When the O, N, or F on one molecule attracts the hydrogen of another molecule, the dipole-dipole interaction is very strong and is called a hydrogen bond. Water molecules are stabilized by these hydrogen bonds, so breaking up (separating) the molecules is very hard. The hydrogen bonds account for water’s high boiling point and ability to absorb heat. When water freezes, the hydrogen bonds lock water into an open framework that includes a lot of empty space. In liquid water, the molecules can get a little closer to each other, but when the solid forms, the hydrogen bonds result in a structure that contains large holes. The holes increase the volume and decrease the density. This process explains why the density of ice is less than that of liquid water (the reason ice floats).
So snowflakes are really ice crystals; water frozen. These ice crystals that make up snowflakes are symmetrical because they reflect the internal order of the crystal’s water molecules as they arrange themselves in predetermined spaces (known as “crystallization”) to form a six-sided snowflake.
Ultimately, it is the temperature at which a crystal forms — and to a lesser extent the humidity of the air — that determines the basic shape of the ice crystal. Thus, we see long needle-like crystals at 23 degrees F and very flat plate-like crystals at 5 degrees F.
The intricate shape of a single arm of the snowflake is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by entire ice crystal as it falls. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one manner, and then minutes or even seconds later, slight changes in the surrounding temperature or humidity causes the crystal to grow in another way. Although the six-sided shape is always maintained, the ice crystal (and its six arms) may branch off in new directions. Because each arm experiences the same atmospheric conditions, the arms look identical. But the reality is no two snowflakes are alike. Each individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground —and thus encounter slightly different atmospheric conditions along the way. Therefore, they all tend to look unique, resembling everything from prisms and needles to the familiar lacy pattern.
By the way, manmade snowflakes lack the delicate and symmetrical hallmark…our Creator’s signature. See the picture below!
Now isn’t that really interesting? Man can recreate the snow but it does not have its natural and beautiful patterns.
I marvel at His creation. Truly, the more you study science, the more you can appreciate God in His complexity. God is truly a God of wonders.
Truly, God has a treasury of snowflakes.