Nowadays, rainbows have what I consider a very unfortunate association with a particular agenda and lifestyle choice (and dare I say, a misuse of the valuable concept of diversity). The rainbow - so colorful, beautiful and simplistic - is tainted by this stigma. I won't be direct in describing what usage I'm referring to, as most people in 2007 probably know what I'm talking about. Please don't get me wrong - I fully believe those who celebrate this cause and practice this lifestyle also have God's same and immeasurable love directed toward them. Nevertheless, today I declare the rainbow's real and original significance. If I could, I'd reclaim it's innocence and free it from unnecessary modern symbolic references. Some of you already know this from Sunday School or by other means, so bear with me. After safely bringing Noah and his family and all the animals on the Ark through the perilous worldwide flood, God said this:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you - the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you - every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 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."
So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth."
Genesis 9:8-16 (NIV)
Each time I see a rainbow (not all that often) I am reminded and humbled by God's promise. Sometimes I wonder if He needs a reminder not to wipe us off the face of the planet again... I know, it's a bit of a dark thought - and don't think I'm trying to speak for Him. I know He loves us, but His justice must also be satisfied. One day we will all be judged, and all things as we know them will come to an end. We should be thankful that one of the most repeated descriptions of God in the Bible is: "The LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:5,15; 103:8; 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3), and the sending of His Son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf, to save us from our retched sins, puts the beauty of the rainbow to shame.
Once again, after the recent downpour of rain, I am comforted by this wonderful promise. Surely God God does not forget His promises, and nor should we. Let's not forget that, no matter what we choose to make this beautiful sign represent or how corrupt we become in our thinking, God Himself says, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds".
P.S. Did you ever notice how repetitious this passage is in Genesis 9? It pretty much says the same thing in different words in excess of 5 times! You'd think He might be trying to tell us something :)
I often think about rainbows in this way, but what brought this on specifically was the aftermath of this week's flooding in Oregon. And today, appropriately, there was a very bright rainbow in the sky. I never have my camera around when I see bright rainbows, and they don't appear extremely often, so I ran outside at work to get a few shots. For some odd reason rainbows are difficult to capture in all their vivid display, but these are easily the best I've personally been able to achieve in my very few attempts. Today's was a very vibrant, full-arc, double rainbow, though my pictures don't do it justice.