Rainbows, Grace & Promises

What do you see when you see a rainbow?

When I see a rainbow, I’m amazed each time. How could something so beautiful come from reflecting light through rain drops? Basic science collides with breath-taking wonder. In recent years, the rainbow has been connected with the LGBTQ community. It is certainly the symbol of gay pride and celebration. The rainbow, however, has deep roots and we can’t forget where it all started.

Rainbows, Grace and Promises

The roots of a rainbow…

In the days between Adam and Noah, the world fell apart morally. Humanity was completely corrupt. Every thought and intention was evil. It was so bad, that God actually said He was sorry for creating humans (but that’s a topic for another day).

But then there was Noah…

You can read the biblical narrative in Genesis 6-9.

‘Noah found favour’ with God. He was ‘blameless in his generation’ and even ‘walked with God.’

So, God planned to destroy the earth (as they knew it) and start over with Noah and his family. You may already know the story, so I won’t belabour.

At the end of the day, Noah was instructed to build an ark and to bring his entire family and two of every living thing inside in order to survive the approaching massive flood.

That might sound like a sad narrative. And it would have, had it not been for the promise at the end. The rainbow, a promise of grace and truth, would change this sad narrative into one of hope.

Why a rainbow?

Jump back to the second day of creation. God created space between the waters of the earth and waters in the sky (1:6-7). There seems to have been a layer of water surrounding our earth. It would also explain why people lived longer prior to the flood — the water would have protected them from the sun.

Keeping that in mind, where did the floodwaters come from? Scripture says, ‘the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened’ (7:11). While we don’t know for sure, there’s a great chance that the ‘water in the sky,’ created on the second day, was the water coming out of the ‘window of the heavens.’

In fact, it was the perfect recipe for a rainbow.

When everything settled, the water receded, the sun broke through the clouds, and the sunlight hit the misty air; Noah and his family witnessed God’s promise — a rainbow.

The Promise…

God promised Noah that He would never flood the earth again. Humanity will continue to be corrupt, but God will never allow our corruption to decide whether or not to destroy the earth.

There will be pain, storms will pass by, and destruction will occur, but total destruction (based on our behavior) is no longer an option. God’s promises don’t hinge on us. We still have to respond to God, but His promise remains whether we do or not.

That promise was solidified with a ‘bow in the cloud.’ A beautiful picture of a peaceful promise.

And the promise followed with the call to reproduce — ‘be fruitful and multiply the earth’ (9:1). It was not only a promise of hope, but also one of renewal and restoration.

A Symbol of Grace…

I also can’t ignore God’s grace in this story. This is well before Jesus’ death and resurrection, but God clearly introduces the idea of grace in this narrative — giving us something we don’t deserve.

We are still corrupt and sinful in so many ways, but God hands us forgiveness and hope. No matter what we are going through, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 2:8).

Whether it’s a physical flood, a spiritual flood, an emotional flood, or a struggle that torments us every day — God’s grace is seen in the rainbow.

A Symbol of Truth…

We also can’t ignore God’s truth in this story. God continues to give us grace, but that grace is in response to our real sin.

The truth of the matter: we are broken and our brokenness drives a wedge between us and God.

The rainbow is a symbol of how God promises a new life in Him — a symbol of grace and truth in perfect love. It’s a reminder of God’s invitation to be His child.

When I see a Rainbow…

I may see a beautiful bow in the sky after a rainstorm, I may see one while watching a TV show with my kids, or I may be walking on a rainbow-coloured cross walk.

It doesn’t matter where I see a rainbow, or what form that rainbow might be in, when I do, a few things come to mind:

  1. God’s promise of love doesn’t hinge on my behavior.
  2. God’s grace is perfect and sufficient.
  3. No matter how broken I may be, when I accept Jesus, I am His child.

It doesn’t matter our struggle, our pain, our mistakes, or our orientation and desires, God’s promises are true and His grace and love can cover it all!

When we accept Him, we don’t stand broken, we stand renewed. We stand as children of God, who are growing to become more and more like the beautiful creation He created us to be.

No matter if you identify with pride flag, or simply see a rainbow in passing, let the rainbow remind you of God’s promise and grace — His perfect love that extends to everyone.

Your turn…

What do you see when you see a rainbow?


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Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.