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Does a Rainbow Mean God’s Promise? Is It God’s Covenant For The Future?

Six teenage boys carried the coffin of their childhood friend through the rain puddles on the sidewalk of the church to the awaiting hearse as hundreds of balloons were released into the sky.

As I watched the white floating circles ascending toward the clouds they were framed by a beautiful rainbow. Then I heard the boy’s mother exclaim through her tears, “Look, it’s a sign from God!” The experience encouraged this mother grieving the loss of her twelve-year-old son who had lost his battle with life.

The appearance of the arch-shaped prism in the sky lifted her spirit in the same way those balloons had risen to heaven.

Was this rainbow really a sign from God? Did God bless this grieving family by revealing His Presence through a colorful display of His majesty? Is Rainbow a god’s promise for the future? What is the tale behind the god’s covenant to never flood the earth again? Let us find out..

Rainbow and God’s Promise: What the Bible has to say?

Rainbow a sign of god's promise to prevent floods

Many people find comfort and hope in God’s blessings when they gaze upon the beautiful colors painted across the sky. They see it as a symbol of hope as the sun returns after the storm to dry up their tears.

There are other cultural and religious beliefs about the mystical symbolism of the rainbow with most pointing to it as a sign of good fortune, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or bridge to immortality. Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz dreamed of a place “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” where the world was a better place, and people often look to the appearance of the colorful ribbon in the sky as an encouraging message of a brighter tomorrow. Yet, the Bible seems to describe a different purpose for the rainbow.

In the entire Bible, there are only six verses that mention a rainbow with half of those occurring in the Flood story in Genesis 9. The other three in Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3, and Revelation 10:1 are used to describe visions of God’s divine Presence.

Ezekiel 1:28 says, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

Thus, the radiant glory of God’s Presence can only be described by the full spectrum of colors. Surprisingly, none of these passages equate the appearance of a rainbow as simply a sign of blessing. Instead, God says that the rainbow is a sign of His patient mercy and His overarching majesty as Creator and Sustainer of the world.

According to the Book of Genesis, the global flood destroyed all of mankind except for Noah and his family on the ark. The reason for this flood can be found in Genesis 6,

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time….So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5, 7).

So, for forty days and forty nights a torrential rain flooded the earth to cleanse the world of its corruption, only Noah and seven of his family members were spared. After the water receded, God made a promise to Noah and all of future humanity; He would never destroy the world again with a global flood.

God’s covenant with Noah: The Promise for the future

Rainbow god's promise
Kahunapule via Flickr cc2.0

As a symbol of His promise, God declared:

I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. 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.” (Genesis 9:11-16)

Rather than a symbol of blessing, the rainbow is an ominous reminder of God’s gracious goodness to not punish us as our sins deserve. It is a sign for all the world to see that our Creator is a patient God who does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). While God has promised to never send another global flood upon the earth, the Bible clearly warns us of an impending Day of Judgment.

2 Peter 3:5-7 says that people “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Whenever dark ominous clouds appear in the sky many people wonder if the torrential rains, hail, thunder, lightning, and winds are signs of God’s impending judgment upon mankind. The appearance of a rainbow after the storm is God’s signal that this day is not Judgment Day. It is a reminder of God’s grace, a display of His patience with humanity.

Therefore, the next time you see a majestic rainbow on the horizon, do not assume it is an omen of good fortune or just a sign of God’s blessing. It is so much more than that! The rainbow in the sky is a banner of God’s love and mercy over your life. As a covenant sign, it is is a continual promise of God to extend His mercy upon our sinful planet. The rainbow is a reminder of God’s grace and a call for you to humbly confess your repentance and faith in Him as the Creator and Sustainer of this world.

Does a Rainbow Mean God's Promise? Is It God's Covenant For The Future?

Dr. Richard Sams is a top Biblical and Religious educator, who holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (Evangelism and Church Growth emphasis) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He has two masters’ degrees (Master of Divinity and Master of the Arts of Religion) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg and also serves on the Pastoral Leadership Advisory Board of Liberty University. Moreover, Richard Sams has been serving as a pastor (Pastoral Ministry) at Calhoun Baptist Church in Calhoun, KY, from the past Nineteen years. He loves practically imparting biblical truths to the next generation, while occasionally conduct spiritual challenges on his facebook page

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