The Rainbow – Mercy and Hope

Genesis 6:5-8

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them. ” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Genesis 8:20-22

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Genesis 9:12-15

12 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: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 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.16 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.”

Mercy – God’s forgiveness and removal of sin consequences that we can’t earn.  Every inclination of the human heart is evil.  We chase after so many things but fail to seek our creator.  The rainbow reminds us that God can but won’t destroy the entire earth by flood.  It’s a picture of hope provided by a God of second chances to allow us another opportunity to find Him.

Noah stood in a destroyed world with much of what he had known stripped away from him.  The aftermath of a flood is anything but beautiful.  The ground must have been barren with reminders of the devastation.  Noah and his family stood alone in a very grey, muky world.  So many reminders of the world and friends that were no more surrounded them.  How easy it would have been to have felt defeated in this new, colorless world.  Then, a glimmer of hope arose.  From the clouds, he could see evidence of God’s mercy in saving him and a reminder of the hope through God that lay ahead.  The rainbow with all of its color and beauty brought hope anew with a promise from a Holy God that even if we deserved it that he would not destroy us by flood again.  The seasons would continue; the cycles would continue.  Life would resume, and the emblem of the rainbow would remind us of a God that does not give us what we deserve and offers hope when we stand alone in desolation.

We lost a friend this weekend who left us before anyone thought that he would.  He was running, and he died suddenly.  It’s my understanding that those in the group unexpectedly saw a rainbow – a reminder of God’s mercy and a picture of hope for the future of his friends and family who are left behind.  The group runs in honor of another young man who passed away seven years ago almost to the day, and the rainbow was prominently seen on the day of his funeral.  God sightings to remind us that while we may be standing in a destroyed world with so much that we loved washed away (like Noah) that there is grace for our past and hope for our future through God.

Genesis 9:28-30 tells the rest of the story.

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Dear God, may the rainbow remind us of your infinite mercy towards us and the hope that lies ahead even among devastation.

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