It’s been a week of thunderstorms, the short and fierce kind that make us worry it’s going to hail on our newly transplanted tomato plants out in the garden, followed by brilliant sunshine that turns the freshly soaked landscape into a saturated sparkling sweep of color. It’s been glorious to watch the great white-topped thunderheads float by, billowing and building miles high, and watch the rain sweep in, pounding the earth. But most splendid of all have been the rainbows.
Multiple rainbows. Double rainbows. Bright rainbows. Pale rainbows. Whole, unbroken rainbows. Barely-there-against-the-pink-of-sunset-cloud rainbows. Pieces of rainbow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one week!I find it ironic that physical rainbows have been so prevalent on a week when symbolic rainbows are creating such excitement and discussion in the news.
You know, the rainbow has been symbolic since long before any humans claimed it for their own personal causes. In fact, it was one of the very first symbols designated in history of the world, by God Himself. It starts out as a sad story—sin is rampant on the earth and God in His righteous anger sweeps it clean with a flood. But it has a happy ending. He preserves one godly family and two of every animal and brings them back to safety when the cleansing flood has receded. He leaves them with a promise never to destroy the earth again in this manner—and the gift of a stunning sign in the heavens.
“And God said,
“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:12-15)What I find particularly beautiful about this is that God didn’t just give this sign as a reminder to us of His promise. He also gave it as a sign to remind Himself of His promise. Every time He sees a rainbow, He remembers, too.
And so, in the midst of all this talk of rainbows, and in the wake of storms natural and spiritual, I find my mind turning not to modern connotations, but to the fact that God is faithful. Because this is what a rainbow really represents:
That He is in control.
That He made the earth and all that is in it.
That He can destroy it or He can preserve it—the choice and the power are His.
That He is righteous and just—and that He is also merciful.