I see that word and think of these things, normally in this order:
And, occasionally, I’ll think of a pot of gold. If I’m really trying to be different, I might think of a unicorn. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea.
Rainbows make me smile. Always. It’s a given. Honestly, how can you look at a rainbow and not smile?
I know this may seem like a random topic, but I wanted to write about rainbows because I saw one Tuesday.
Mainly, though, I want to write about them because they have a new meaning for me now.
They used to be pretty and remind me of God’s promise. But now that promise has taken on a whole new light.
In case you don’t know what promise I’m talking about, here is the covenant God made in Genesis chapter 9:
“Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”
There are a few things I get from this text:
1. It’s a covenant, not a promise (though I almost never remember this)
2. No flood will ever destroy the earth again…though it may do a whole lot of damage
3. The rainbow is a reminder
4. It’s a repetitive text…it repeats the promise (covenant) many times
5. How it applies to me in a new way now
Let’s start with number one. The word promise, according to the wonderful, useful, and handy dictionary.com (Where I get pretty much every definition I ever use instead of just making up one off the top of my head. C’mon, you didn’t think I was that smart, did you?!) is defined as: A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow. Another definition says: a declaration or manifestation especially in a contract of an intention to act or refrain from acting in a specified way that gives the party to whom it is made a right to expect its fulfillment.
So basically a promise is a declaration that is made to assure someone that something will or will not be done. That person then expects the fulfillment of that promise.
Contrastingly (is that a word?), a covenant (also according to dictionary.com) is a binding agreement or a compact. People break promises all the time. I’ve broken some, I’ve had people promise me things and then not keep their word, and I’m sure you’ve been on both sides of the spectrum as well. The thing is, you can’t really break a covenant. Promises are words. Lies are also words. See where those can connect? On the other hand, a covenant is normally signed. You’re bound to what you’ve agreed to. That’s a covenant. So what God is promising in this text is actually a covenant that is with all humans.
Number two. God says that He won’t allow a flood to ever destroy the earth again. He doesn’t say, “Oh, I’m so sorry that I almost wiped out the human race. Man, I didn’t see that flood coming. I’ll have to be on the lookout for storms from now on. But don’t worry, I’ll be careful to not let any storm get by me again. You’ll never face a flood and I can guarantee that no flood will kill you or destroy your livelihood ever again. I’ll do better next time.”
Uhm, no. Actually, He just says, “Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life.” That’s a great promise -cough- covenant…But when you take time to think about it, it doesn’t sound so appealing anymore. I mean, c’mon, what if you’re one of the people who does die? He won’t destroy all life through a flood. Which leaves room to question, “Okay, so you won’t destroy all life…but what about my life? Will you let storms come my way? Because, God, what if I’m one of the people future floods will destroy? See, God, I’m reading between the lines here. You say You won’t destroy everyone from it…but that means You may let it destroy some lives. What about my life, God?”
Or maybe that’s just what I’ve questioned.
See, God will allow floods and storms to take lives. We’ve seen it happen many times in history. But never again has a flood almost killed every living thing. He has upheld His covenant. You can look at it from the woe is me side and become stuck in the I-might-be-one-who-loses-everything attitude…or you can realize that He keeps His promises and He does not break His covenants. And besides, He doesn’t have to promise us anything. He’s God after all.
Still, the text shows us that storms will still come.
Come back and see what else I get from the text (as well as the new way it applies to me) when I post part two tomorrow! For now, what do rainbows make you think of?