It’s true. The Lord did not have lightning strikes for the Supreme Court or any other proponents of same-sex marriage. And it’s also true that God only has rainbows in stock today for all of them. In fact, that’s true for all people who celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision or mourn over it. That’s why I appreciate this picture, except, tragically, I’m not sure that the illustrator understands the breadth of its full meaning, nor the 80,000+ people who shared it.
So, here’s the thing: Do you know what the rainbow is all about which every human being has been handed today and every day since the worldwide Flood some 5,000+ years ago? Do you know why the Lord posted that first rainbow sign up in the cloud for every social network to see till the end of time?
In case it’s been a while since the original and lasting message of the rainbow has been attached to it, we would do well to recall the original intent of the first Illustrator and what his rainbow means.
After the world’s first judgment was fulfilled against sin, which you could say came like a lightning bolt, God promised his patience of grace in the face of sin for the rest of time:
God said to Noah, “13 I have set my BOW in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the BOW is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the BOW is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:13-16, ESV; Emphasis Mine).
Did you catch the word for rainbow there? The word is the Hebrew word for a war bow which the ESV clearly translates. In other words, God said to Noah and all humanity through Noah, “Because I’m a gracious God – slow to anger and abounding in love – I’m going to suspend my righteous war against a wayward humanity till the end of time.”
Do we recognize that the rainbow is like an arsenal of nuclear weapons hanging over humanity with a clock that’s winding down? The time for sin and open rebellion of any kind will not last (2 Peter 2-3). The rainbow is one of the most intense pictures of both God’s time of grace and impending judgment. It’s not just grace, but both.
Friends – whatever side of the issue you are on concerning same sex attraction – the rainbow is God’s divine war bow of judgment against all humanity over sin suspended. Thankfully, because God is an all merciful God, that war bow continues to hang suspended between heaven and earth. I fear that this message of the rainbow, the true message, is almost entirely forgotten today.
So, why is the war bow of God suspended? Why did God give humanity a time of grace by hanging up his rainbow? The answer is nothing short of amazing: God would choose not to treat us as our sins deserve, but he would find a way to rescue us before doing away with sin once and for all, and all who embrace it.
God’s solution: God would send his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to take our place to face the wrath of God on a cross for sin, all on his own. This is why Jesus was called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” when he was first revealed to be the Christ (John 1:29). (Christ means: The Anointed One sent to carry out the plan of God’s salvation for the world before the end.) This is also why, after Jesus Christ fulfilled the plan of our salvation, he ascended to take his seat at the throne of God which is – get this – encircled by the rainbow (Revelation 4:3, 7:17). In short, Jesus Christ is the reason why the rainbow hangs suspended between heaven and earth. He’s the only reason why there’s a rainbow at all. He is the reason there is a time God holds off the last judgment. He is the last ark for humanity to enter into before the Last and Dreadful Day when all the world comes crashing down. Jesus has become both the arrow of God’s salvation and judgment for the divine rain-bow.
I get the sense that this meaning of the rainbow is not the meaning being heralded today. Did the illustrator of the picture we opened with mean that when writing that people today only receive rainbows – God’s divine weapon against all sin suspended? I don’t get the sense that was the illustrator’s intent. Whatever the case, I pray that the true message of the rainbow becomes the message of this picture and every rainbow out there.
Friends, the rainbow is the worldwide call from God for all to repent. It’s God’s call for all people, whether gay or straight, to repent of all sin. It’s a call for all to do away with their pride and humble themselves before the Lord, finding salvation in Christ Jesus who paid the price for all sin. To encourage the embracing of that message, I’ll be the first to swallow my pride: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Would you join with me in restoring the rainbow’s original meaning? Would you be so bold to repent with me over all our sin and find the joy of your salvation in Christ Jesus alone? Might we all return to the source of the rainbow’s meaning too and seek out all that God has to say in his holy innerrant Word, the Bible, a book relevant for every age in every part, written not to condemn anyone but to save us?
In the end, rainbow means repent. May the Lord lead us all to repent over everything he’ll condemn the world for on the Last Day. May the certain hope of forgiveness in Christ, which alone will cause us to stand Judgment, embolden us to be so humble, crucify all that’s wrong, and to rise to live a new and holy life!
Thank you, Lord, for suspending your war bow for a time. Thank you for giving us all a rainbow for one more day.
Pastor Bill Monday