While walking on a Florida beach earlier this month, I was privileged to catch a glimpse of a rainbow spreading out over the ocean horizon. There is something awe-inspiring in the appearance of a rainbow after a storm and it is arguably one of the most photographed and well-known meteorological phenomena on the planet. It is not an actual physical object and has no physical location. It is simply sunlight refracted and reflected off the back of a water droplet which disperses the white sunlight and breaks it up into colors. Beautiful. (Photo cred: Me)
But beyond its natural beauty, there are spiritual aspects of the rainbow that have major significance.
In the Days of Noah
“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. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 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.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6: 5-8
Very early in the story of God’s relationship with mankind, the intimate one-on-one walks with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden progressed to a wickedness so deep that God chose to destroy everything. Except one family. Heartbreaking. God’s mercy allowed Noah and his family to survive the destruction, but they witnessed first-hand His judgement of wickedness. So He made a covenant with them, and all future generations, to never cover the earth with a flood again.
“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. “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.” Genesis 9:12-15
This miracle in the sky is our constant reminder of God’s promise that water would never again destroy the earth due to the wickedness of man.
John’s Rainbow Revelation
The Apostle John, who followed Jesus Christ and witnessed His crucifixion, authored the book of Revelation while a prisoner on the Island of Patmos. The book was written to give encouragement and hope for all Christians to continue watching for the return of Jesus, and also to warn of the Final Judgement that nonbelievers will endure on the Last Day. I had never noticed heavenly references to rainbows in John’s writings until recently.
“And He who sat there (on the throne) had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Revelation 4: 3
“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.” Revelation 10:1
Ezekiel’s Vision of Heaven
“Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 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. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of One speaking.” Ezekiel 1:26-28
God’s Rainbow is Highest
Anyone who believes that God tolerates sin presumes upon His mercy and grace and ignores His holiness and righteousness. The rainbow is a beautiful, yet powerful, reminder that God is BOTH merciful and holy. He keeps His promises. And every rainbow that appears in the sky should be our constant reminder.