Hang a Rainbow in the Sky

Hang a Rainbow in the Sky February 18, 2024

Photo cottonbro

When God hung the rainbow in the sky after the flood, humanity received the divine sign of hope and life. Genesis 9 offers us a bright and shining portrait of God. When reading the flood narrative, when I get to the rainbow, I feel a sense of relief. “Thank God that’s over!”

The mixture of rain and sunshine cooperates to make a rainbow. God – the rainbow-hanging God. Look, every time God brings a word of peace to the world, a rainbow is hung in the clouds. The prophets, even in the gloom of judgment, often hang rainbows of hope. Isaiah, especially Isaiah, is a rainbow-splashing artist. Like a street artist painting in bright colors in a blighted ghetto, Isaiah paints rainbows. “Unto us a child is born.” “Comfort, O comfort, my people.”

He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

The prophet Habakkuk, in the face of unrelenting violence, hangs a rainbow at the end of his writing:

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
 and makes me tread upon the heights.

St. Paul, who learned the art of hanging rainbows from the prophets, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

One thing reminds me of another and another and I follow the associations. Here’s how it works.

The Rainbow

The rainbow forms in my mind as a divine sign of hope. That caused me to think of the Rainbow flag of the Pride movement, the gay rights movement. When the rainbow flag became the emblem of the Gay Rights Movement, I compared it to the rainbow in the flood saga: A sign of hope for humanity. Raising the rainbow flag portends hope for a culture that has for too long oppressed gays, rejected diversity, and wallowed in a kind of sexual moralism that abuses those who don’t fit the heterosexual model.

God did not send a flood to cover the entire planet. God is not the author of the destruction of humanity. Scripture is full of horrible things we don’t wish to face or believe, and the story of the flood is one of the most horrific of all those biblical stories. No matter how sweetly my Sunday school teachers back in the 1950’s told me the story of Noah’s flood, I never liked it. I could not wrap my mind around God killing off humanity. The story became the first obstacle to faith for me.

But thank God for the rainbow. The rainbow neatly challenges the idea of an angry God, who is so angry, he decides to destroy the world, and I cling to the rainbow with all my heart.


Rainbow Flag
Photo Gotta Be Worth It

The rainbow in the sky. The rainbow flag. This caused me to think of the flags I saw on television when I watched the January 6, 2021, insurrection. On January 6, 2021, a number of flags were seen flapping in the breeze as thousands of Americans invaded our national capitol.

A man carried the Confederate Battle Flag in the U. S. Capitol – the most recognized symbol of white supremacy.

Confederate Flag

The yellow Gadsden Flag with its “Don’t Tread on Me” message was flying on January 6.

Gadsden Revolutionary War Flag

There was also the Three Percenters flag. Co-opting the original Betsy Ross design for the American flag, the 3 Percenters logo is emblazoned.

3 Percenters Flag

One Confederate battle flag variation included an image of assault rifle and the slogan “Come and take it” to convey an anti-gun control message.

For reasons that defy understanding, there was also a Jesus Flag at the insurrection.

All the flags flying at the Capitol on January 6 were symbols of rebellion, insurrection, white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy theories. Together the flags represented humanity’s inhumanity.

Hanging the War Bow in the Sky

Whatever we think of the flood narrative, there is a powerful symbol at the end. God hung the rainbow – many Old Testament scholars believe it was “God’s war bow” in the sky as a sign of peace and hope. Those of us who advocate and argue for gun control in our violent nation see the hanging of the war bow as a sign of encouragement. In a nation where people refuse to take any action because they like arguing about what will not reduce violence, I am in favor of enacting conservative legislation that increases mental health care, especially for young people. I am also in favor of liberal proposals to reduce access to guns, have more background checks, and make owning assault rifles illegal. Let’s try every possible solution and in four years, let’s evaluate and see the results. How many mass shootings have there been since January 1, 2023? Since Jan. 1, 2023: 450 mass shootings 276 people killed 792 suffering gun-related injuries. When one is too many, say 450 out loud. Let that sink in for a moment.

But there is hope from Scripture. God has given us the rainbow in the sky. There can be no higher calling for God’s people than hanging a rainbow in the dark and stormy clouds of our culture. Against the agents of hate, division, anger, revenge, and violence, do something this week that can only be seen as the hanging of a rainbow.












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