It is common knowledge that a rainbow is made of 7 colors (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). However, the rainbow is made of many more colors but the human eye can only perceive the 7. Rainbows have a continuum of around a million colors which the human eye cannot distinguish. This incredible feature that appears occasionally in the sky also has some important spiritual significance.
God caused the rainbow to appear after the flood of Noah as a sign of his covenant with mankind. This was after God swore not to wipe away mankind again with floods. However, the rainbow can also symbolize God’s presence or God’s throne of judgment.
A sign of God’s covenant
The first time the rainbow is mentioned in the Bible is after the famous flood, also known as Noah’s flood. God was tired of the sins of mankind and decided to remove sinful man from the earth by the flood. As the Scripture records in Genesis 9, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, resulting in a flood that killed every living thing not in the ark. After the flood, the first rainbow appeared.
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature with you, for everlasting generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth… and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:12, 15).
As the scripture records, the rainbow was given as a sign of a covenant between God and Man. This happened after God saw the destruction of the flood and had pity on mankind. So he decided to establish a covenant to the fact that he would never destroy mankind with floods again. Every time a rainbow appears in the sky, it should be a reminder of the covenant that God cut with humanity.
A look through the history of man confirms that indeed, God has not wiped out mankind through floods again. Granted, there are some instances of flooding that claim lives in different parts of the world but there has never been a flood of the magnitude of Noah’s flood. God has indeed kept his covenant. In the words of scripture, God does not break his covenant or alter what he has said (Psalms 89:34).
A sign of God’s presence
When God sent the rainbow after the flood, it was not only a symbol of God’s covenant but also a sign of God’s presence. In Genesis 9, God said that he set “the rainbow in the cloud” The cloud was a sign of God’s presence when Israel was in the wilderness. In Exodus 13:21, the Bible says that God went with the Children of Israel in a pillar of cloud to lead the way. The cloud provided Israel with a cool climate thereby shielding them from the extreme heat of the desert. It was a way of God demonstrating that he was with them through the thick and the thin.
Prophet Ezekiel also helps us to see how the rainbow symbolizes God’s presence. After seeing a vision of the wheel within the wheel, he explains God’s presence by comparing it to the rainbow.
As the rainbow appears that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of His brightness all around (Ezekiel 1:28).
The rainbow is a reminder that The God who created the universe is present. When God created man and put him in Eden, his original idea was that man would continue to dwell in his presence. However, after the fall, Adam and Eve lost their privileged spot in Eden. But even though they were no longer in a garden that was saturated with God’s presence, God would still visit mankind. We see a good illustration of this in Genesis 18 when God visited Abraham in the form of three men.
A sign of Judgement
As we have already established, the rainbow appeared immediately after the flood of Noah. Even though it was a sign of God’s covenant, we can also look at it as a stark reminder of the consequences of sin. God is a loving God but he is also a righteous judge who can punish sin. A clearer picture of a rainbow as a sign of judgment can be seen in the Book of Revelation.
And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Revelation 4:3.
From the above scripture, we see the throne encircled by a rainbow that shines like an emerald. This rainbow can be seen as a sign of judgment because the context was that of the end times. After John saw the rainbow on the throne, the seal on the scroll was broken and the horsemen were released. These horsemen represent the end-times that John proceeds to explain in the subsequent chapters.
When the Pharisees inquired about the signs of the end times from Jesus, He started by rebuking them on how they were professionals at reading the weather signs but were oblivious to the signs of the end times.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. Mathew 16:2-3
The rainbow is one of those signs that not only reveals something about the weather but also a symbol of the coming judgment.
To sum it up, the rainbow may have different connotations in modern society but it is a deeper meaning in the scriptures. For instance, while modern society may think of the rainbow as a symbol of tolerance, it’s a biblical symbol of judgment. It also represents God’s covenant and god’s presence.