The Rainbow “Like an Emerald”

By Jon W. Quinn

It is easy in Illinois in the summertime to look around and tell immediately if it has been wet or dry. When in late July the corn is only waist high and straw colored you know it hasn't rained much. After a long period of no precipitation, folks begin to look at the sky for some hint of rain. And when the drought finally breaks and it rains, everything revitalizes and the air smells fresh and clean. If the circumstances are right, you'll see a rainbow… or two. Once we saw a triple rainbow from our yard. That rainbow means that there is moisture in the air. It also means something else as well.

From the early days of the earth, God wanted us to remember His promise made to Noah following the great flood. Its lessons are many, but we will focus on just one today: the sign of a covenant between man and his God.

God's Regret
God created the earth and all that it contains in six days, finally making man to tend it all and to be blessed by it. Of the plants and animals, the sun and stars, man and woman, he proclaimed that "... it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). It had been a job well done, and God was pleased with it, much like a workman or an artist is pleased with good results of his efforts as he stands back and takes it in.

However Satan, taking the form of a serpent, turned to wickedness and sought in his persuasion to turn the pinnacle of God's physical creation toward death. He enticed Adam and Eve to sin against God and condemn themselves to death, both spiritual and physical. Later, one horrible ramification of this was their son Cain murdering his brother Abel. The soil of the earth knew human bloodshed for the first time. The Bible metaphorically speaks of the ground itself crying out to God for justice.

We learn that God knew of this potential of man to sin and fall because the New Testament speaks of His plan to redeem man as predating creation (Ephesians 3:11). Humankind continued to degenerate into iniquity over the generations that followed (Genesis 6:5-7). Humanity became more and more depraved by the choices each generation made. They became totally depraved by Noah's day, not by birth or design, but by free choice. The same creation that had pleased God now made him sorrowful. It was time to cleanse the earth with a judgment like unto that never seen before or since. The only thing coming close, and even exceeding it will be the future ultimate destruction of the earth by fire previous to the final judgment (2 Peter 3:3-14).

Finding Favor in God's Eyes is Good
A man called Noah, "... found favor in the eyes of the Lord." (Genesis 6:8). He was a righteous and blameless man who simply walked with God (6:9). This was the basis of God extending his grace to Noah. Noah found grace, not by his own sinlessness, but because by faith he sought God's favor in his words and deeds. God accounts such active and obedient faith as righteousness.

God spoke to Noah and instructed him to build an ark of gopher wood, 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high and to gather his family and at least a pair of all the animal species on earth into this protective container. The word “ark” means just that-a protective container. Of course, righteous Noah obeyed God (Genesis 6:22).

The flood came. Noah and his passengers remained in their vessel until the waters ceased and the ground was dry (Genesis 8:20-22) God promised mankind that despite his sin, He will never flood the whole earth with water again. However, remember that the earth will be destroyed by fire at the end of time (re: 2 Peter 3:9-13).

Lessons From the Rainbow
God used, and uses, the rainbow to be an enduring sign of this promise. Thousands of years have passed and floods have indeed still come, but none to cause planet-wide devastation. Rainbows are hard to ignore, aren't they? There's a lot more to a rainbow than just a pretty face Genesis 9:8-17)!

In the rainbow, we remember God's warning and Noah's heeding. Noah would have never lived to see that rainbow if he hadn't heeded the warning from God. He and his family would have perished with the rest of humanity and there would have been no future generations to look upon the rainbow, and marvel, and remember. The rainbow would have then stood for nothing and no human being would be alive to witness it.

Noah was told that God was preparing to destroy the earth by flood and his only hope of salvation was construction of the ark. He was given explicit instructions on design and contents; and "Thus Noah did, according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” (Genesis 6:22). Noah's “early warning system” worked because he paid attention to it. God has likewise warned us that the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23) and that the Lord will return to take us to judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our “early warning system” is working just as well as Noah's did. Are we listening and acting upon it?
When we look at the text in the Hebrews (chapter 11) we find an honor role of the faithful of history. We know that we are saved by God's grace through the faith that is a trust in Jesus and resulting discipleship. This kind of response to God parallels with how these faithful had responded to the Lord in times past. We learn here that it was by faith that Noah saved his family in the ark. Noah's faith led him to understand that surely the creator and possessor of the world had both the authority and ability to destroy it. Fear of the Lord causes man to depart from evil and instead seek life in righteousness (Proverbs 8:13, 13:13, 19:23).

A man or woman of faith prepares himself or herself for salvation. This is done because of "the fear of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11). The Lord, through the Bible, pleads with men to receive His grace through His Son today with purpose and preparation. “Today” is the proper time to respond to God (2 Corinthians 6:1,2).
Without preparation, godly fear and attention to warning, we will never see the most beautiful rainbow of all… the one encircling the throne of God:

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.” (Revelation 4:2,3).

Oh yes, I have seen some pretty amazing rainbows in my life. You probably have as well. But put them all together, and still, considering the rainbow “like an emerald” around the throne of God, we have not yet seen anything to compare with it in glory. That's the one I want to see! By grace, I will.
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
From The Bradley Banner 2/13/2005
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway

Bradley, IL 60915


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