Rainbows are such a beautiful part of creation. After a rainstorm, it’s wonderful to see the big, colorful arc appear in the sky. It leaves people breathless and gives them relief after a period of rain. But, what is the meaning of a rainbow in the Bible? Is it even found within the pages of Scripture? The answer, amazingly, is yes! Something that we see today was also viewed back in Bible times. Despite that, though, there is a lot more significance to the rainbow. It’s so significant, matter of fact that God specifically told us what it means and why he created it. So, let’s take a closer look at the Bible to find out the answer to this question: What does a rainbow mean in the Bible?
Before we learn exactly what the rainbow means in the Bible, we need to learn a little context of what happened before it appeared. The rainbow first appears in Genesis 9, so the story leading up to that chapter is very important. Firstly, the book of Genesis states that God created everything (Genesis 1 and 2), but eventually mankind started to act corruptly. This started, of course, in Genesis 3 when Adam and Even ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which they were specifically forbidden from doing. From there, mankind continually got worse, such as Cain killing Abel, the Tower of Babel, and numerous crimes against God. Every thought seemed to be of evil within the minds of mankind, except for a select few.
Noah was one of those select few people. Genesis describes him as being upright, righteous, and blameless before God. This, fortunately for him, made him exempt from God’s punishment. Because of the evil within mankind, God decided to purge the land and start anew. He told Noah that he would be sending a flood to destroy every living thing. Noah was instructed to build a large Ark that could withstand the flood and fit two of every type of animal until the flood subsided. Oddly enough, rain had never happened before, yet Noah still obeyed God and trusted in what He said. And, this allowed Noah, his family, and two of every kind of living creature to survive this catastrophic flood.
Post-Flood and the Rainbow
At the end of many, many days within the Ark, Noah and his family were finally able to leave and start a new civilization. But, after the flood subsided, God made sure to make a promise—and he always keeps his promises. Genesis 9:13-16 says the following: “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 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. 16 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.’” The rainbow is a sign that God will never again flood the earth like he did back in Genesis.
So what does this all mean?
Yes, the rainbow is God’s sign to mankind, his promise that he will never again destroy the earth by a catastrophic flood. However, the implications of it reach further than just that. Ultimately, the rainbow reminds us of our sin. After all, the flood never would have happened had it not been for the overwhelming sin the world. But, it also reminds us of the redemption that God offers. He allowed the righteous Noah to be saved and placed him in an Ark to do so. For believers today, God saves any who come to Jesus and accepts the free gift of salvation that has been offered. In that way, Jesus is the modern day ark, saving us from utter destruction.
So, next time you see a rainbow in the sky, remember back to that Genesis story. It’s truly amazing to think that, to this day, God is still reminding us of what he did so long ago on this earth. It can provide us with comfort, knowing that even after a terrible storm, God can and will be with us.