26 Jul, 20 ·
5 min read

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

genesis 9:16

My wife and I enjoy to walk together in the morning. We live near a bay and are often reminded of the beauty of God’s magnificent creation all around.

On a recent cloudy day our experience was enhanced by the sight of a beautiful rainbow. This was no ordinary rainbow (if there is such a thing). It was a split rainbow. A section was falling out of a thick cloud bank to the East, another larger section to the West. It was stunning.

As we silently appreciated the beauty before us, it brought to mind the account of the first rainbow given to humanity as a personal sign from God.

It’s no wonder this most amazing and beautiful natural phenomena has captured the imagination of people throughout history. The rainbow has come to be associated with all sorts of beliefs and causes, most of which have nothing to do with its origin.

As we began to share our thoughts with each other, we felt compelled to go back to the source to be reminded of all that the original rainbow signified between its Author and His people.

Rebellion & Retribution

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:5-8)

We think we live in depraved times. As bad as things look to us in 2020, they were a lot worse in Noah’s day. Due to a full frontal attack by Satan (cf. Gen. 6:1-5; 1 Pet. 3:19-20), nearly every human on earth was engaged in the worst kind of immoral behaviour imaginable – all the time!

After 120 years of preaching by His servant Noah, God’s patience expired (cf. Gen. 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5). His decisive counter-strategy was to remove from the earth all those who were confirmed in their wilful rebellion. Only righteous Noah and his family were spared. God’s instrument of judgement was an unprecedented global flood.

Despite Satan’s futile efforts, God’s sovereignty was reaffirmed. He made a solemn promise to Noah and his descendants (that includes you and me!) to never again use a global flood as an instrument of divine judgement.

Redemption & Restoration

“And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Gen. 9:12-15)

To seal the deal, God added one more spectacular feature to His creation – the first rainbow. As such, the rainbow is an overt symbol and reminder of God’s saving grace, visible to all and available to all. The gracious salvation of Noah and his family served as a precursor of the eternal salvation He offers to everyone.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit...” (1 Pet. 3:18)
“For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” (Rom. 10:11-13; cf. Joel 2:32)

Reliance on God’s Promises

Rainbows have nothing to do with unicorns, or pots of gold, or wizards from a land called Oz or anything else, for that matter. The rainbow is God’s way of reminding us that He is in control and only He can and will set all things right in His time.

It’s no accident that the last recorded manifestation of a rainbow in the Bible is found in Revelation – Jesus’ final prophecy to us of what is yet to unfold in the course of human history.

“At once I (John) was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And He who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.” (Rev. 4:2-3)

At the culmination of all of God’s promises when He sets all things right, there around His throne will be a rainbow. No doubt it will be the most magnificent rainbow in history – there to remind everyone, both the saved and the lost, that God is our sovereign Creator and Lord. Only He gets to determine how and when one of his most beautiful promises and symbols is depicted.

Let’s redeem the rainbow. The next time you see a rainbow in the sky (or on a T-shirt, poster, or banner), thank God for His promises and let those around know what it’s really all about – a sign from a righteous God of His saving grace.