Study 1 THE PROMISE OF GOD IN THE RAINBOW
GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Genesis 9:13)
One of the loveliest sights in God’s creation is that of the rainbow, as each of the seven colours composing the bow stands out in its individuality of colour, yet each merges with the colour next to it. The rainbow is a sermon in nature, telling us that God will never ever break His Word. But it tells us far more than that. What is the message of the rainbow?
1. The rainbow speaks to us of the power of God
We are living in a crazy world in which man is constantly boasting of his power, and it’s good for us to be reminded of the power and sovereignty of God. The rainbow reminds us of that, for who made it? God did. ‘But’, someone says, ‘a rainbow is a perfectly natural phenomenon which is produced by the refraction of the rays of light from the drops of water which fall in a shower. It is part of the process of nature.’ Yes, that’s true; but our God is the God of nature and He produces the bow in the cloud; when we see the bow it tells us what God is like – that He is great and powerful. Read Psalm 19:1! How great He is and how small man is in contrast! Then read Isaiah 40:22. The rainbow speaks of His greatness and His majesty, so “lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?” (Isaiah 40:26).
2. The rainbow speaks to us of the perfection of God
The perfection of God’s handiwork declares to us the perfection of His character. The rainbow is not only flawless but it is indescribably beautiful and majestic in its splendour; and if God’s handiwork is so perfect, what must God Himself be like? He is perfect in purity (Habakkuk 1:13); perfect in the symmetry of His character (Psalm 145:3-12); and perfect in beauty and loveliness (Psalm 27:4). Our God is not only powerful, He is perfect; He is not only unerring in His wisdom, He is loving; and He is not only just, holy and righteous, He is gracious and full of tender compassion for man. A powerful god who was not perfect in all his ways would be a menace and he might be a cruel and vindictive despot; but our God is powerful and perfect, and the perfection of His character controls and dictates the exercise and operation of His power.
3. The rainbow speaks to us of the promises of God
From Genesis chapter 9 we learn that the rainbow was the guarantee given by God Himself that He would never again deluge the whole earth with a flood of water. It was a visible token given by God that He would fulfil His promise; it was His signature upon the covenant made between Himself and the earth. How good it is to remind ourselves that God will never break His word! – look up Matthew 24:35. He will fulfil every promise that He has ever made. He will complete His Church and will rapture it into His presence; He will restore His ancient people Israel to their own land and will establish again the Throne of David; He will overthrow all His enemies and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and King; there will be a thousand years of peace upon the earth and then a final endless reign of everlasting bliss for all the redeemed of all the ages; He will judge the saved, and the lost, and the living nations, and He will do it by that Man whom He has appointed to be the Judge. Why? Because He has promised to do all these things. Yes, and He will save now (Romans 10:13)! The promises of God are certain and varied, and there is a promise for every need, every circumstance and every situation. Are you standing on the promises of God?
4. The rainbow speaks to us of the purpose of God
God’s purpose is two-fold: of judgment and of grace. The rainbow, which speaks to us of grace, is set in the cloud, which speaks to us of judgment. All the way through human history these two are placed side by side; the rainbow and the cloud, speaking of grace and judgment. Throughout the Bible we read of God’s condemnation of man’s sin (the cloud); but always, side by side with this, we read of His love for the sinner and His day of deliverance (the rainbow). God must punish sin for He is a holy God and He is altogether righteous, but He loves the sinner and longs for his salvation (Romans 3:26; 6:23). Have you seen the bow in the cloud at Calvary? The dreadful cloud of sin hung over that awful scene, when “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”; when He was “pierced”…”crushed”…”punished”…”stricken by God” (Isaiah 53:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). But in the dreadful cloud of God’s wrath against sin there hung the seven-hued bow of His love and mercy, which offers to all men redemption, forgiveness, justification, cleansing, adoption, life and heaven! We see the goodness and the severity of God, the rainbow in the cloud! – look up Romans 11:22. To the believer there is a rainbow in every cloud. For the sinner there is the cloud of God’s wrath resting upon him (John 3:36); but in the cloud there is the rainbow, the promise of a full and free salvation (1 John 1:7). For the saint (the believer) there is the cloud of God’s chastening, His strange work in the lives of His children (1 Peter 4:12); but in the cloud there is the rainbow-promise of the all-sufficiency of His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
What do you see as you look up – the blackness of the cloud of your sin and of God’s judgment upon it? Or can you see God’s rainbow of mercy and love and a full salvation shining against the dark background of the cloud, and can you hear Him say to you – Isaiah 55:6-7?