God’s love shines with all the colours of the rainbow
Dazzling as the rainbow—such is the biblical depiction of the installation of this iridescent phenomenon as a sign in the heavens. And the ways in which this event can be illuminated are just as multifaceted. After all, God paints in vibrant colours.
“And indeed it was very good”? More like: “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt!” So it was that the Lord cleared the slate and started all over again—by way of the great flood.
And then a new beginning: “Be fruitful and multiply”—it is precisely the same words that God originally addressed to the first human beings that now also apply to the survivors from the ark. But this time under a different set of conditions: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”
And there is a concession to human nature, but also to the creation: “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake.” And this is the deal that God seals with the rainbow: “It shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”
Rainbow? What do you mean, rain-bow? Although God sets His bow in the cloud, just as He set the great lights in the firmament on the fourth day of creation, the Hebrew original speaks of a battle bow (keshet).
And this can certainly be understood to mean that the Lord has hung up His weapon of destruction for good. It is the first great step away from the wrathful and vengeful God—and in the direction of the loving and gracious Father we have come to know in Him today.
The rainbow means peace with God. So it is that the prophet Isaiah likewise attests to these words of the Lord: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth […] My covenant of peace [shall not] be removed.”
It is strange that God does not set this sign as a reminder to mankind, but rather as a reminder to Himself: “The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant…”
What? The Omniscient needs a reminder? Certainly not. After all, it isn’t as though married couples wear their wedding rings to keep them from forgetting their covenant. They wear them as a sign that they belong together, no matter what.
The rainbow also serves as a sign of God’s inviolable faithfulness to mankind. Isaiah likewise makes reference to this aspect: “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”
Full of promise
How interesting: the rainbow spans the distance from the start of the natural creation all the way to its end. So it is that the colourful display of lights not only appears in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, but also in Revelation, the Bible’s last book. There the rainbow represents the glory of God.
The rainbow also means hope beyond the end of time. And because the covenant is valid for the earth as a whole, it not only applies to human beings. This is why Apostle Paul writes as follows in his epistle to the Romans: “… because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Peace, faithfulness, hope—that is how colourfully the love of God paints. And the covenant is round: from the earth, we usually only see the rainbow as an arc, but seen from the sky it forms a complete circle—perfect and unending. Those who contemplate a rainbow may indeed have rain before their eyes, but they are strengthened by the power of the sun at their backs. And they know: the light and warmth of God are present—always.