REGARDING THE RAINBOW
Noah's Ark tapestry hanging in my living room.
Everyone regards rainbows as marvels of beauty, but do we regard them as phenomena that God Almighty creates, owns, and cherishes? As our culture seems hellbent on corrupting it, I think it’s important to recover some of what might be lost to us – things like reverence, awe, gratitude, and reassurance.
Most who are familiar with the Bible at all, know that near its beginning (in Genesis chapters 6-8), we find the story of Noah’s Ark. This describes God’s fierce response to a depraved and unrepentant world but also His mercy toward righteous Noah and his family. After He destroys all but Noah’s family in a cataclysmic flood, He enacts a covenant with Noah and all the earth. He promises never again to judge the earth in a flood. For a sign of His pledge, He gives the rainbow. Whenever we see a rainbow, we can remember His promise and know the storm is passing. He says,
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" (Gen. 9:14-16).
But can we find other rainbows in Scripture? Yes, three amazing ones. Far from being symbols of promise for human eyes to see, however, these came as awesome spiritual revelations of Heaven’s transcendent glory. In these cases, the eyewitnesses were so overwhelmed at what they saw that they fell on their faces in reverent fear.
In the Old Testament, the Prophet Ezekiel describes his vision, in part, this way:
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a RAINBOW in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezek. 1:26-28)
In the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, we find our two final rainbow accounts. Within its pages, the Apostle John details the unforgettable vision he received while imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos. He sets the stage with his heart-stopping experience of seeing the Risen Christ:
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. . .When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. (Rev. 1:12-17)
As John’s vision progresses, he is shown a staggering glimpse of Heaven’s throne room. Here, he sees a uniquely phenomenal rainbow:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A RAINBOW resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. (Rev. 4:1-5a).
Later in the vision, he describes seeing one final rainbow. This one accentuates the glory of an extraordinary angel:
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a RAINBOW above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. (Rev. 10:1-3).
In summary, the Bible describes four rainbows that fall into two categories:
Category #1 (one occurrence): This rainbow is God’s comforting sign following His catastrophic judgment. Because this type of rainbow is part of the physical Creation, and because God wants us all to see them, they appear throughout the world. These always assure us that God never again will judge humanity in a worldwide flood.
Category #2 (three occurrences): As supernatural manifestations from the unseen heavenly realm, these splendorous rainbows are only observed by spiritual revelation. They are quite real and far surpass anything imaginable here in the earthly realm. In the first two occurrences, the rainbows are seen decorating God’s throne in Heaven. In the third occurrence, a rainbow accentuates the greatness and glory of a mighty angel.
From these visions, one thing is clear: God owns the rainbow and attaches great significance to it. I can’t help but wonder, therefore, why our nation so foolishly profanes Him and His rainbow, using it brazenly as a prideful symbol of moral depravity. A short time ago, American culture would not have conceived of such a wicked thing.
God has His own reasons for letting sin run its course for a while. Yet, for both individuals and cultures, a day of reckoning comes -- when He is done with our disdain, when His mercy is spent, and when He judges sin. Looking backward to Noah’s story, we see it; looking forward through the Book of Revelation, we see it. Bottom line: It’s futile and ruinous for mere mortals to trifle with the Almighty God who made them. And concerning the tug-of-war over His rainbow, He will win.
As we look around, we see increasing distress and darkness around us, things that vex and drag our souls down. We wonder if there is a way back for this once-blessed land now so steeped in sin and degradation. If there is, we must act quickly. Here are a few things related to this article that I urge us to do immediately:
Let’s remember the true beauty and significance of rainbows and use them to point people to God.
Let’s pray earnestly for a Great Spiritual Awakening to break the evil spell over our land.
Let’s contradict “Pride” with the beauty of holy humility.
Let’s lovingly yet boldly tell others about Christ’s gracious offer of salvation from coming Judgment.
Let’s keep looking up, remembering the glories of our eternal Home!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, King of all Creation, thank you for Your rainbows –earthly and heavenly – that point to Your love, beauty, magnificence, and power. No matter what we go through here, let us remember that Your salvation is “to the uttermost” (complete and perfect).[i] Thank you for promising to prepare a place in Heaven for us and to come for us and take us there forever.[ii] As You prepare for us, help us to prepare for You, a bride who “has made herself ready.”[iii] Fill us with hope; fill us with childlike wonder. Let our hearts exult in the promise that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”[iv] Let us see iridescent rainbows in every trial and every blessing. Thank you, Jesus! AMEN!
Finally . . . thank you, dear friend, for reading this article. I pray you have found it enriching. I’d love to end this time with a great exclamation mark. Whether or not you’ve heard the Revelation Song in the past, please go to the link below, watch the video, and let it impact your heart in a fresh new way. It’s just a foretaste of what’s on the way. Soon, we will all be singing and shouting with all our hearts in Heaven! Soon, we will be utterly swallowed up in rapturous glory! Oh, the wonder of it all! Praise You, Jesus!
FROM REVELATION SONG:
Clothed in rainbows of living color Flashes of lighting, rolls of thunder Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be To You, the only wise King
Holy, holy, holy Is the Lord, God Almighty Who was and is and is to come . . .
PLEASE GO TO THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dZMBrGGmeE
Also, if you want some more inspiration related to Heaven, please go to my blog article, “RevELATION: Glimpses of Heaven’s Elation in the Book of Revelation.”
If this article encouraged you, and you feel it will encourage others, please forward it. Also, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Oh, and please don't forget to consider my books at the Books link. Thanks and God bless!