One of the most magnificent sites to see is a rainbow after a storm. The first mention of rainbow is in Genesis 9:13-15 “ I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
The significance is two-fold, any time there is a first mention of something in scripture it begs us to pay attention. There is a reason that rainbows were not mentioned before this time, and there is an even greater significance for later.
Before the flood, there was no need for God to make a promise never to flood and destroy all life. Prior to this time, God had dealt with wickedness and hardening of hearts with other consequences. However, the wickedness and sinfulness which pervaded the earth, at the time, left Him with no choice but to destroy all life. As harsh as it sounds, let me remind you, God gave the people time to change their ways and their hearts. During the time of construction, up until God closed the door, there was time for people to change their hearts and minds, which is further evidence of the wickedness of man’s heart. They were unwilling to break or bend. They were enjoying the pleasure of their sin and they didn’t believe the flood was coming, even though they were warned.
For forty days and forty nights the rains came, wiping out all forms of life, with the exception, all life in the boat. “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.” (Gen 8:1) After 150 days the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat and then approximately another 220 days past before God opened the doors of the Ark.
After everyone was safely on dry ground, Noah built an altar and worshipped the Lord. God, being pleased with the “aroma of the sacrifice” made this promise to Noah, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things.” (Gen 8:21)
There it is. The promise. God made the promise to Noah in Chapter 8 but then in Chapter 9, He goes one step further. The rainbow. This is where the premise of the promise becomes a reality. Here is where the rubber meets the road. The moment when God says, I not only give you my promise but I’m giving you this rainbow to show that I remember my promise and so that you will have it as a reminder of my promise.
Life throws so many curve balls and sometimes we don’t even see them coming. We have our plans mapped out so perfectly and then, bam, the unexpected happens. Sometimes we do a forewarning, just like the flood and have time to prepare and sometimes we don’t. However, when life happens we often forget God’s promises to us. We get so overwhelmed in the despair of the situation, it’s hard to see the light at the end of tunnel. This is the other significance, personally for me, of the rainbow. When I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God’s promises. I am reminded that He also remembers and keeps his promises, even if my life seems to be out of control. I can rest comfortably knowing that God has my back. I can find freedom from worry, fret, despair and grief because I know that He is a promise maker. He is a promise keeper.
Am I saying I don’t feel angst, worry, fear, dread, unworthiness, etc? No, absolutely not. I am just saying the sight of the rainbow or the thought of the rainbow brings my wandering heart back to rest solidly on His promise. This is why he not only made a promise but gave a premise for the promise to remind us that He will never forget his promise.