What's the Point of Rainbows?

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This morning I started reading my favourite devotional ["For the love of God" by D.A.Carson] again and was instantly reminded why I fell in love with it as a student and how it always brings me closer to God. Today's devotional focus was on Genesis 9 - God’s Covenant with Noah.

As I read through the passage one of the things I highlighted was v14 and 15 “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” [ESV]. What struck me most? “I will remember my covenant…GOD will remember His covenant! I found this interesting, as generally throughout the Bible it seems more like we humans need reminding of God’s good promises to us. I never imagined God forgetting! [Although I have always loved the verses that say “God remembered…” such as Gen 30:22 “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.”]

The thing that I took out of D.A.Carson’s reflection was what the rainbow meant. The reminder was for God, because God knew that humanity would need this covenant.

“The promises God makes, sealed by the rainbow, not to destroy the race in this fashion again (9:12-17), is relevant not because the race has somehow been shocked into compliance, but precisely because God recognizes that the same degradation will occur again and again.”*

God knew that the flood would not change the deep rooted human nature of sin and it was inevitable that we would fall into sin again. Noah himself, considered “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” [Gen 6:9] before the flood, falls short soon after the flood – with drunkenness and dysfunctional family relationships. But despite knowing this, God promises to never again flood the Earth and destroy all life. More than that, despite knowing the cycle of sin would continue, God continues on with His plan to send his Son. His plan to send Jesus to die, once for all, knowing our sinful nature would repeat again and again. Jesus still chose to die in my place, knowing I would fall short [Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”].

This fact still floors me. Next month I am officially in my mid thirties and I’m blessed to say I grew up in a Christian home, knowing God loves for me as far back as I can remember. Yet, after all these years, this concept still gets me. I still cannot fathom why! I cannot comprehend why or how God could love me so much that He would give up His son in my place, when He knew before hand how much I would mess up. How many times I would fall short, fail Him. I cannot grasp why Jesus, knowing all this too, would willingly give himself in my place to suffer as He did.

Once again I am thrown into wordless wonder and awe for the love of God. Followed by overwhelming thanks and praise for His love and His son.


As it's the 9th of January so I think it's fairly safe to say many people following a plan to read the Bible in a year are probably reading Genesis 9 today, maybe you are? If you are, I’d love to hear what you thought as you read it this morning and what you took away from your own devotional time.


[*Quote taken from “For the Love of God, Volumes one and two combined edition” reading for January 9th - Published by IVP, 2010 – my emphasis in bold.]



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