Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, March 26

This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
—Genesis 9:12–13

One day I was pushing my granddaughter Miriam’s stroller around our neighborhood. As we turned a corner, she pointed to the sky and said, “Wainbow!” I thought I had misheard her. Did she mean RAINBOW?  She was only two and a half; how did she know about rainbows? But as I followed the direction of her little hand, sure enough, there was the faintest trace of color in the sky and there was no doubt: it was a rainbow.
Barbara Brown Taylor writes in one of her sermons, “I do not know anyone whose spirits are not improved by a rainbow.” I don’t either. Think of the times when you have seen one, how surprised and delighted you are.  It is one of the few universal signs of hope, and, as we know from the above Genesis text, is an outward and visible sign of God’s covenant with God’s people.
As Taylor says,

A rainbow is God’s promise of peace—God’s everlasting covenant with all creation—and it is hard to see one without experiencing a measure of that peace.  The rainbow is God’s pure gift to us, a colorful corrective for anyone who believes that all the grace in the Bible is in the New Testament.  It is not.

The story of the rainbow is quite fascinating. To make a long story short, God created the world, pronounced it good, and then watched while it basically went to hell.  “I am sorry that I have made them,” God says in Genesis 6:8, deciding to blot out from the earth the people and animals God had made. 

Only Noah and his family and animals were to be saved in the ensuing flood.  But the flood’s destruction was so terrible that God promised never to do such a thing again, and the rainbow was a symbol of that covenant.  “I have set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the covenant.”
No wonder rainbows mean so much to us. The hope and peace they represent speak to us out of the blue, regardless of time, place, or space. And, come to think of it, no wonder young children learn about them at a very early age.

Thank you, gracious God, for your promise of peace and hope in the midst of our stormy lives. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.