Looking For God In The Rainbow
Genesis 9:8-17 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9:9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 9:10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 9:11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 9:12 God said, “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: 9:13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 9:15 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. 9:16 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.” 9:17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
- The familiar children’s song Jesus loves the little children (all the children of the world- red and yellow black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world) describes the children of the world like a rainbow. It is about as familiar as the story that is the focus for our time together today. Noah and the ark is a common decorating theme for children’s rooms—even in my home. We tell children this story so that they begin to realize early in life that even in the midst of trouble and chaos, God will remember them and be with them. God is always faithful to all the children of the world.
- This is a message for everyone, not just children.
- Noah and the ark is a story about a divine do-over, a reboot of creation. All creation has suffered the consequences of humanity overstepping its bounds—abusing each other and God’s good earth and all things in it. Literally, there was chaos—with sin rampant in the land. Then figuratively–reminiscent of Genesis 1 when there was chaos represented by the waters that existed before there was land and sky or night and day. Chaos is introduced again, when God allows the flood to overwhelm everything and everyone who was not on the ark.
- For anyone who thought this was an ancient problem buried in antiquity with little relevance to us today—we just need stop for a minute and think about the chaos that can exist in our lives. Some of it we bring on ourselves or impose on others; some of it is imposed upon us. All of it is because at some point, God’s will and ways have been rejected—terrorism, war, genocide, breach of trust that results in broken relationships, estrangement, divorce; chaos wreaked in lives and families because of addictions of various kinds or patterns of abuse. There’s the effects of climate change and natural disasters and gross injustice with regard to distribution of wealth and resources including access to health care. Chaos is still among us.
- Yet even when we go astray, God still remembers us with love and forgiveness.
- God’s sign is a bow in the sky and it is the first sign of the covenant, the promise, that God makes with humanity and all creation. In ancient Near East and Israel writings, the rainbow was a divine weapon with lightning bolts being arrows to bring judgement. So here, this symbol of war and retribution was being redefined as a sign of peace and protection. Instead of the bow with its arrows pointing towards the earth, the bow was pointing away from the earth.
- Some people may be thinking right about now, where was God offering peace and protection as people died of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning trying to stay warm in frigid temperatures in TX this week. There is no easy answer for the presence of suffering in light of our understanding of God as ever present and ever loving. While it may not always be satisfying to our limited understanding, we proclaim that God is with us even during the trials, and our experience here on this earth is not all there is.
- Where was God when Jesus hung on the cross? Right there, pained for what was happening, but there was a larger plan involved. Sometimes for there to be justice and for good to be victorious, injustice and what’s wrong with our systems, policies, what’s wrong with our hearts, has to be exposed.
- Jesus is the ultimate sign of peace and God’s enduring love for us. If we are the body of Christ in the world today, how are we doing as representatives of peace and God’s love for all creation? Are we allowing our hearts to be broken for what God’s heart breaks such that we would partner with God for the renewal of creation?
- God who has a right to judge and destroy doesn’t. God has promised not to ever destroy the earth again by water. God limits the exercising of divine power in the short term. Therefore, shouldn’t we, the beneficiaries of that great mercy, treat each other and creation with love and respect as those who God has deemed worthy of HIS mercy?
- We started out with one children’s song. Here’s another with a truth we want not just children but everyone to know. It might be referencing this passage in some way— “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. For the Bible tells me so.”
- We begin to walk with Jesus toward Jerusalem, understanding more fully why he was going there—because humanity would continue to be subject to sin; because there would continue to be chaos; and we also learn more about the God who sent him—the God who keeps promises and who has committed to be faithful even when we stray from God and get caught up in the chaos. Keep looking for God in the rainbow. Amen.