The Sign of the Promise

Genesis 9:13 “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”

The rainbow is a phenomena that seems to always draw much interest. If a rain cloud appears in the distance and the sun breaks through, the refraction of light through the watery haze causes a stir among those who witness it.

A few years ago a guy posted a double rainbow on the internet and was so overwhelmed by the site that he started weeping.

What is it that conjures up such excitement? The array of colors, the high arching span that can be seen for miles, or is it the reminder that beauty exists in the midst of the storm?

Why do you think God used a rainbow as a reminder to Noah after the flood?

Genesis 9:14-17 “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 every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 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.”

The covenant was an agreement between God and the people. The rainbow was a sign of the covenant promise never to destroy the world by a flood again.

I’d imagine Noah and his family would have been a little anxious whenever a heavy rainstorm caused flooding. Having experienced such an epic flood would have left an indelible mark on the memories of people for generations. The rainbow would have served to calm the fears of the people.

But why a multicolored arc that refracts light through raindrops?

The Science

A rainbow is an optical illusion—it does not actually exist in a specific spot in the sky. The appearance of a rainbow depends on where you’re standing and where the sun (or other source of light) is shining.

The sun or other source of light is usually behind the person seeing the rainbow. In fact, the center of a primary rainbow is the antisolar point, the imaginary point exactly opposite the sun.

Rainbows are the result of the refraction and reflection of light. Both refraction and reflection are phenomena that involve a change in a wave’s direction. A refracted wave may appear “bent”, while a reflected wave might seem to “bounce back” from a surface or other wavefront.

What many people don’t realize is that rainbows are actually full circles. The antisolar point is the center of the circle. Viewers in aircraft can sometimes see these circular rainbows.

Viewers on the ground can only see the light reflected by raindrops above the horizon. Because each person’s horizon is a little different, no one actually sees a full rainbow from the ground. In fact, no one sees the same rainbow—each person has a different antisolar point, each person has a different horizon. Someone who appears below or near the “end” of a rainbow to one viewer will see another rainbow, extending from his or her own horizon.

A rainbow shows up as a spectrum of light: a band of familiar colors that include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The name “Roy G. Biv” is an easy way to remember the colors of the rainbow, and the order in which they appear: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. (Many scientists, however, think “indigo” is too close to blue to be truly distinguishable.) White light is how our eyes perceive all the colors of the rainbow mixed together. Sunlight appears white.

Since light has many different wavelengths, and red has the longest wavelength of visible light, about 650 nanometers, It usually appears on the outer part of a rainbow’s arch. Violet has the shortest wavelength (about 400 nanometers) and it usually appears on the inner arch of the rainbow.

Modern Symbol

Today, the light of Christ shines among His people. The church not only reflects the light of Christ by taking His Word and living it before the world, the church refracts the light of Christ as He shines through the various cultures and unique aspects of His people. It is this refracting and reflecting of Christ’s light helps others see a greater spectrum of Christ that one cannot understand from a singular point of view.

When the world tries to mimic the light, it becomes an abomination before the Lord.

How did the rainbow come to be the symbol for the LGBT community?

It goes back to 1978, when the artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay man and a drag queen, designed the first rainbow flag. Baker later revealed that he was urged by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S., to create a symbol of pride for the gay community. Baker decided to make that symbol a flag because he saw flags as the most powerful symbol of pride.

Today, the rainbow represents something else within the Christian community.

A Spiritual Symbol

In God’s Word, the rainbow is not only found in Genesis after the flood, John witnessed it over God’s throne when He was shown a vision…

Revelation 4:2-3 “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”

When Ezekiel was given a vision of God, he witnessed a similar vision as John…

Ezekiel 1:26-28 “And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”

The rainbow is more than just a promise…it is representative of the glory of God.

Listen to anyone who has died and went to Heaven and then returned to the living, it was the colors of Heaven that made a lasting impression. The vibrancy of the rainbow reminds us that what we see now is monochromal in nature, what we will see then will be seen in full. The spectrum of understanding will be manifest in full when we see the Lord in His glory and splendor.

Do you think the colors have any significance?

Everything the Lord does, He does with purpose, and so each aspect of God’s brilliance is reflective of His character. We see the colors in the future New Jerusalem, in the priestly breastplate worn in the ancient Temple, the spectrum of light exemplifies far more than I can comment on now.

Worldly Defiance

It seems ironic how the judgement upon the world in Noah’s day was upon a people who rejected God’s divine plan and chose their own way in rebellion. Today, those who have chosen the rainbow to represent their movement stand also in defiance to God’s holy standard. In like manner, the world and all of their ways will brought under judgement, yet this time the cleansing will be with fire.

Isaiah 30:27 “Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, Burning with His anger, And His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, And His tongue like a devouring fire.”

Just like a rainbow is actually a full circle, so the culmination of God’s purposes will be completed in the last days. There are many parallels in Noah’s day to what is happening now. Jesus reminded His disciples that people will go on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. These practices went on until judgement came upon the world. (Matt. 24:36-44)

Today, people still forget the promise is a reminder of God’s holiness and His judgement against evil; the promise is as relevant today as it was in the time of Noah. The Lord will purify this earth, He will take His people out of the judgement to come and all that will remain will be His bride.

Will you listen to the call?

Remember when you see the rainbow that God is always faithful to what He has proclaimed. He will carry out His plan at the right time and in the order that He promised.

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