22 May 2017 Year A
When we think about a rainbow, one usually thinks of the multi-colored stripe that comes across the sky after a shower. Maybe one is reminded of the Lucky Charms cereal box with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Maybe one is reminded of the flag that is used to represent the idea of sexual diversity. Perhaps one thinks of the promise that God made to Noah after flooding the Earth. But when you look at the text, it seems that the covenant is a reminder for God, not us. It seems to be an ancient warrior picture.
God sets a bow in the sky after the Great Flood. He sets a weapon (His bow) in the sky like a modern hunter would set his bow back on the rack after the hunt. The idea here is for God to remind Himself that He will never use rain as a weapon against the Earth and against those who live on it again.
There are two other covenants that have signs that are meant for humanity: the Sabbath and circumcision. Both of these are signs that remind humanity of their commitment to God. The Sabbath is a sign for rest and the circumcision is for obedience. Here, the bow is a sign is for God. God makes an agreement with Noah that He will always keep his bow set aside in storage.
God creates the clouds that can form rain. When He does, His bow will appear (Genesis 9:14).
“Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds,” (Genesis 9:14, HCSB)
Seeing His bow will remind God that He promised to never flood the Earth to destroy every creature (Genesis 9:15).
“I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature.” (Genesis 9:15, HCSB)
God will remind Himself to never pull out His weapon (bow) of destruction. He will see that bow after each rainfall and remind Himself of His promise to Noah, humanity, and creation (Genesis 9:16).
“The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.”” (Genesis 9:16, HCSB)
The setting of the bow is at the end of the flood, which was a judgment for sin. In this sense, the rain-bow is a picture of salvation. God sets aside his weapon of judgment (the bow) every time in it rains.
“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations:” (Genesis 9:12, HCSB)
God is reminding Himself and us that saved Noah and his family as a picture of saving humanity.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Anton Koch [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons