A Rainbow in the Clouds
by Colly Caldwell
“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.” 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: I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:11-13).
Do you remember this old song we used to sing: “As I journey here ‘mid the toil and tears, there’s a rainbow in the cloud; He will safely lead, I must have no fear, there’s a rainbow in the clouds.”
“Noah and the Ark” is one of the first Bible stories we all remember from our cradle classes in the church. God told Noah to build a huge boat and take into it every kind of animal. By doing so, Noah and his family would be saved from perishing in a flood that would take all other living beings on the earth. It was amazing!
But perhaps the most amazing part of the story is when the water recedes and God makes a covenant with man and every living creature on earth that He will never again destroy the earth by a flood like that. To confirm that promise, God established a sign, the rainbow, as a reminder.
I want to encourage you to think about God’s promise every time you see a rainbow. It is not just a pretty vision of blue, red, violet, green, and golden arches. You can see pretty rounded designs in front of McDonald’s, near the riverbank at St. Louis, or even on billboards advocating homosexuality. But you can see this vision of God’s great promise to man in multiple colors anywhere on earth when the storm clouds ease and the rain is passed, telling us that He will never destroy us all by flood again.
I want to encourage you to think about something else which should be a great blessing to you. Notice in the wonderful paragraph from which we are reading in Genesis, chapter nine, that God says in verse 14, that He too will look at the rainbow and remember. “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you….” And again in verse 16, he says, “The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant….” This is saying that when we look at the rainbow and remember God’s promises, He is looking too!!!
Some of the oldest of Bible stories speak to our hearts today in ways that move us to want to be better people and to be more Godlike. They do so by reminding us not just of truths like the fact that God will not destroy us all in a flood. They do so by reminding us of the great character of God and of His love for us. Think about it:
Even when God sees the terrible sinfulness of man, He wants to save us. Even Noah was not a sinless man. Neither were his wife and sons and their wives. And yet, when the world hit bottom and God had to do something because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” He offered an escape for humanity through this one family.
You know, God made another covenant (with Abraham), that he would save the world through his seed, and that came when He sent His Son to die for us. That covenant had two signs, circumcision and the Sabbath, in Old Testament days. But ultimately, the universal symbol we recognize of that covenant and the New Covenant is the cross! That is beheld each Lord’s Day when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. The cross is not just a piece of wood to us, but a symbol of God’s love and His promise to save those who have faith in His Son.
It is sad that people often see in God’s symbols only the material, physical elements intended to remind us of greater things. Like the woman in Paris in 1993, who paid $18,000 for two slivers of wood supposedly from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. With them she received two certificates from the Vatican issued in 1855 saying they were authentic.
I believe that God sees the cross in His mind’s eye and remembers His spiritual covenant with man in Jesus; just as he looks on the rainbow and remembers His physical covenant with all the creatures on the earth. He does that because of His love for us and His desire to save us from the consequences of our sins.
Do you see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? God has secured rich rewards for those who believe in Him and follow His Son along the pathway that leads to the blessings secured by His promises. All God’s promises are true. There’s a rainbow in the clouds!
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