What do you think about when you see a rainbow? Do you admire it? Do you think about taking a picture? Do you think about God? There’s nothing wrong with admiring rainbows and taking pictures, but if you don’t think about God when you see a rainbow, you’re missing the point. A rainbow is a natural phenomena that has a very specific purpose, and that purpose is stated very clearly in Genesis.
Genesis 6 & 7 tell us that God destroyed the entire earth with a flood because of man’s wickedness. Genesis 8 tells us that Noah and his family left the ark at the end of the flood and resumed life on dry land. Then Genesis 9 tells us about rainbows. Let’s start at Genesis 9:8. Who was speaking to whom?
Gen. 9:8 ¶ Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,
God was speaking to Noah and his sons. Read the next two verses. Notice the word covenant. Who are the parties to the covenant?
Gen. 9:9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;
Gen. 9:10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
God was making a covenant, and He made it not only with Noah and his descendants, but also with all birds and land animals. Now read verse 11. What are the terms of the covenant?
Gen. 9:11 “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God promised that He would never again destroy all life with a flood. Now read verses 12-17. Notice the words covenant, sign, and bow. What is the purpose of a rainbow? How does God respond to a rainbow?
Gen. 9:12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; Gen. 9:13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. Gen. 9:14 “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, Gen. 9:15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. Gen. 9:16 “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Gen. 9:17 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.”
Look again at verse 16 and notice the word everlasting.
Gen. 9:16 “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
The rainbow reminds God of His covenant with men and animals to never again destroy the earth with a flood. It is an everlasting covenant which means that the covenant is still in place today and we are protected by the covenant.
What do you think about when you see a rainbow? Do you think about God? Does a rainbow remind you of God’s existence and His covenant with every living creature on earth? Does a rainbow remind you that God has promised to never again flood the entire earth? It is okay to admire a rainbow and try to capture an awesome picture, but a rainbow should also remind us of God, because the rainbow exists to be a reminder of God’s covenant with us. If a rainbow causes us to think about God, then we are responding properly to the rainbow. If we don’t think about God when we see a rainbow, then we are completely missing the point of the rainbow.
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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”