I read the reading from Genesis three times before I picked up on the rainbow. “I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The bow I kept seeing was the kind one uses in conjunction with an arrow, not a rainbow of light. But once I did see it that way, the power of God’s repentance, revelation, and healing just blew me away.
Imagine it, God just annihilated almost all of his creation, the one made in his own image. Picture Noah, with family and animals, first coming out of the Ark when the seas had subsided and the land dry. I see Noah, tired, hungry, his jaw dropped open and a hand rubbing his head in shock at what he sees, or fails to see around him. His whole world has changed. Where is he? What is he going to do for food for his family? His animals? This is not cool.
Then I picture God surveying the scene, his jaw dropped open and a hand rubbing his head in shock at what he sees, or fails to see around him. His whole world has changed. As difficult and ungrateful as his creation turned out to be, this flood idea was really too much. I wonder if in some ways if the vengeance of the flood was God’s temptation? After all, at the time God was still new to this earth and humanity thing.
But look how God repented for it! Realizing the fullness of what he’d done he made peace and established a new covenant, a new promise with Noah “that never again all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood.” To be sure that promise is not forgotten through the ends of eternity, God sends this beautiful thing, the rainbow, to remind himself and us of that promise he made to Noah.
What of the sign itself? The rainbow? In it, God also reveals something of the divine—the light of God is not just one brightness but is composed of all the colors! Furthermore, from the sky a rainbow is seen as a full circle. Having no beginning and no end, or rather being ALL beginning and ALL end—a rainbow thus symbolizes the all-encompassing ever-presence of the divine Creator.
Rainbows arise when light shines through water droplets at a particular angle. Having used water as a destructive mechanism in the flood I’m struck by the healing that comes from mixing the water and the light of God into something beautiful and revelatory. That healing is the peacemaking in action.
Today what do we get from the rainbow? We get the memory that the olden times weren’t better than today. We get the hope of the covenant for a brighter future. We see a way to
make peace and turn our failures into blessings. And when we are lost in the desert of temptation, with our jaw dropped open and a hand rubbing our head in shock at what we see, or fail to see around us, the rainbow is visual proof of the everlasting Kingdom of God existing, oh so close, at hand.