Everyone knows it, the rainbow: When it rains and the sun shines, it appears in the sky as if out of nowhere, fragile, unreachable and fleeting. Whether children or adults – most of us find it fascinating. One or the other reduces it to the physical principle behind it:
A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured circular arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the Sun. Rainbows can be full circles. However, the observer normally sees only an arc formed by illuminated droplets above the ground, and centered on a line from the sun to the observer’s eye…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow
Today, people associate different things with it:
There is the Rainbow Warrior or the superstition that there is a pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. There is Regina Rainbow or the Care Bears.
But there is THE meaning from the Bible:
The early history of mankind is very turbulent. The expulsion from paradise is followed by the first murder. And it does not become better. First humans spread over the earth, then they get involved with the „sons of God“ (Genesis 6). Evil and godless it goes on the world.
The LORD is deeply saddened by this and wishes He had never created mankind.
„I will destroy again the people I have made!“ he said. „Yes, not only people – also the animals on earth, from the biggest to the smallest, and likewise the birds in the sky. It would have been better if I had not created them in the first place.“Genesis 6:6+7
Only Noah and his family do what pleases God. The further story, we all know: Noah builds the ark, the flood breaks over the whole world and destroys all land creatures. Forty days and nights it rains, another 150 days the water stands up to 7 m above the highest peak, until it slowly recedes and Noah can leave the ark. In total, the event lasts 371 days.
First, Noah thanks God and builds an altar. God gives Noah some orders and commandments and He makes an almost unbelievable promise:
„And this is my promise: Never again will I send such a great flood to destroy the earth and everything that lives on it.“ He went on to say, „This covenant I make with you and all the inhabitants of the earth, always and forever I will stand by it. Let the rainbow be a sign of this promise. When I let clouds rise in the sky and the rainbow appears in it, then I will think of my covenant, which I have made with man and animal: Never again such a great flood! Never again shall all life be destroyed in this way! Yes“, God said, „this promise is for all times, the rainbow is the reminder. When it is seen, I will remember it.“Genesis 9:12-17
„Fair enough,“ you may be thinking now, „what does this have to do with me?“
- God is in control of EVERYTHING. It is His earth. He does with it what He wants!
- God does miracles – and He can do them in your life!
- God keeps His promises!
- We may be sure that God will keep the earth habitable until the final end (Genesis 8 says: „As long as the earth endures, there shall always be sowing and reaping, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.“
- God dares to make a new beginning, no matter how bad the fault or the prospect that things may not get better after all. There is always a chance for us humans to repent.
- God makes a covenant with Abraham. Through Jesus, he makes a new covenant that is for all people!
- As through the flood the evil was washed away, through Jesus‘ blood on the cross your and my personal guilt was washed away.
The most fascinating thought about this is that God sets the rainbow not for us as a sign, but for Himself as a memorial sign (see the Bible passage above).
So these are all meanings given to the rainbow by the Bible. This is what we should think of when we see a rainbow next time…Daran sollten wir denken, wenn wir das nächste Mal einen Regenbogen sehen…