"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 NRSV
Rainbows are beautiful spectacles. In the right conditions a rainbow can stretch across the entire sky. The colorful arches display all the colors of the spectrum. Today’s culture associates multiple concepts, sometimes including agendas, with the rainbow. What should one think when these artistic bows appear? According to God the rainbow has a specific meaning and is a powerful reminder of a glorious promise. Christians should live with the biblical perspective of the rainbow and proudly proclaim the gospel message it represents.
In America most children love rainbows. The brilliant blend of pastels seems to gently bring a smile to the viewer, as if smiling is an involuntary reflex to the sight. Children have feelings of joy, happiness, and creativity when they see the rainbow. However, certain adults use the rainbow to promote their social cause, ideals, or lifestyle. Some seemingly good ideas associated with the rainbow are unity, diversity, and creativity. The Rainbow Coalition, for example, advocates racial, ethnic, and social equality and success. Conversely, the homosexual agenda uses the rainbow as a symbol to promote the gay pride, a lifestyle the Bible defines as sinful. What does God say about the rainbow?
In scripture it is clear. The first rainbow appeared after God’s destruction of almost the entire world, saving only Noah and his family along with a small collection of animals. God used an epic flood in this case as his manifestation of spiritual punishment for wickedness. One also should consider the same God gave people decades to turn from wickedness and come to Him for repentance and forgiveness. After the period of mercy providing people opportunity to repent, God had Noah fill the ark shutting the door to the outside world. Then came the first rain ever, gushing water from the sky along with water bursting from the ground beneath.
With the entire globe under water, things looked bleak. After months the water finally subsided. Dry ground was found. God directed Noah to have everyone exit the ark. Then God makes a covenant with Noah promising to bless Noah and his family. God also promises to never again curse the ground nor destroy all living things in the world. At this time God specifies the purpose of the rainbow by saying the following:
“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 clouds, 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. 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 9:12-16)
God's purpose for the rainbow has not changed and never will. Even in today's turbulent times, the true believer can draw hope and peace from remembering God's covenant to Noah and all living creatures. God from His throne is forever watching over the earth and actively protecting all life from total destruction. (Revelation 4:3) The symbol of the rainbow also points to the greatest source of hope, the truth that God can save from the flood of destructive sin by providing the promised Messiah to shine forgiveness and divine life to all the colors of the earth.