The Rainbow – God’s Covenant
Perhaps one of the prettiest marvels of nature is the rainbow. God has designed his atmosphere in such a way that water droplets suspended in the air will reflect light just right so that the color spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet are displayed after it rains. We could go on and on about how rainbows are formed. But, there is a simple explanation – rainbows are caused by God as his promise or covenant to a man named Noah that He would never again cover the earth with water.
Noah was a man blessed by God, who upon getting direction from God, built a floating vessel as long as 1 ½ football fields! A vessel that was nowhere near a body of water…. A vessel designed not for travel, but for the safety of Noah and his family.
Then God destroyed the rest of mankind because of their sin. He did it with a lot of water.
The good news is that upon the mountain where that ark came to rest, God declared a covenant between He and Noah….a promise that we can claim every time we see a rainbow. Let’s pick up the story at the end of the flood, when Noah and his family are leaving the ark to a new world, one devoid of sin.
Genesis 9:1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
The faint rainbow that appears after a summer thunderstorm symbolizes God’s mercy, His compassion on all. Moreover, it is a sign of God’s covenant, His binding agreement with all humanity to never destroy the earth with a flood.
God initiated this covenant under the worst circumstances: “The earth was filled with violence” we read in Genesis 6. Even though humanity’s decline into evil greatly troubled God, He favored one man, Noah. He determined to save Noah and his family from His coming judgment and establish His covenant with them.
Although Noah was surrounded by violence and all kinds of evil, Noah walked with God by seeking to obey Him. Noah’s simple obedience is recorded five times in this story. God called this obedient man to build an ark. With this large boat, God saved Noah from the cleansing waters of the Flood. With the past evils and sins washed away from the earth, Noah and his family could start anew, much the same as when we’re baptized and cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We, too, get to start anew. God not only gave Noah’s family a fresh start; He also gave them an unconditional promise or covenant. He promised not to destroy the earth with a flood no matter how evil Noah’s descendants became. Indeed, He promised that until the end of the earth, there would be the seasons of planting and harvest and day and night. God unilaterally promised to uphold the rhythms of the earth in order to sustain human life—even though humans had rebelled against Him, their Creator.
Today all of us—Noah’s children—should remember God’s mercy to us when we see the beauty of the rainbow.
*devotional message compiled by Jim Huber with some commentary from the NKJV Study Bible.