When I Behold A Rainbow In The Sky
It’s difficult not to prevent the heart from leaping when you consider the purpose of a rainbow:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
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 generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-16 ESV)
Every child knows that a rainbow is formed when light is refracted and reflected off water droplets in the sky directly opposite the sun. But science does not describe or contemplate the purpose of a rainbow.
The Noah narrative might sound like yet another myth about natural phenomena. But if there is a God who created the whole universe and has a purpose for each thing, then there is nothing far-fetched about this: the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5), so he exercised his prerogative as Creator to un-create them with a Flood, with the exception of Noah. The rainbow bit comes in after Noah has come out of the salvic ark onto dry ground and has made a (possibly atoning) sacrifice to God. God is quite clear that the new human race issuing from Noah will be no better than the one that just got wiped out, yet he promises never to destroy them in the same way again:
“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22 ESV)
But this does not mean there will never be a judgement; for how can a good and righteous God not punish evil? Later we find out that this means that he has now given us a way out through the substitutive death of Jesus on the cross for our sins:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
So seeing a rainbow is good luck: it means we are still alive and gives us an essential reminder to repent and trust in God’s Ark while we have the opportunity to do so. Because one day, it will be too late.