Tuesday 2 December, 2014
Genesis 9:8-17RAINBOWS PROMISE
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth ... Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.(vss 13, 15b)
The rainbow is the sign of a covenant between God and the whole of creation. That is to say, God enters into covenant here not with a chosen people but with everybody and everything! God’s covenant partners are variously designated as ‘Noah’, ‘Noah’s descendants’, ‘all the living creatures that came out of the ark’, ‘the earth’ itself, and ‘all life on earth’. This is about as comprehensive as it can get. What is more, this covenant is one-sided. Requirements for human beings are laid down in the first part of the chapter, but God’s promise never to destroy the earth again by flood does not depend on their fulfilment.
I was visiting a nature reserve recently. It was rainy day at the end of a wet summer. A few of us were in the hide both sheltering and watching birds. Suddenly the sun shone and a magnificent rainbow formed over the expanse of the nature reserve in front of us. Photographers began snapping away and all agreed that it was a beautiful sight. A dark and dismal day was suddenly brighter, illumined by the light and colour of the rainbow. I do not know whether anybody else there thought of Genesis 9, but I did. The rainbow reminded me of the God we may encounter even in darkness. It can remind us all that God’s mercy triumphs over judgement and that God is working for the good of the whole world.
‘O joy that seeks for me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.’
(‘O love that wilt not let me go’, George Matheson, 1842–1906)
Prayer † Lord Jesus, teach us to understand the word of God in today’s world. Lead us more deeply into it, and help us to find the guidance from this word in our daily life. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.