Many years ago, recorded for us in Genesis chapter 6-9, God destroys the whole earth, save 8 people and 2 of each animal. It was the wickedness of man’s heart that led to this destruction.
“When the LORD saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth: man, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky – for I regret that I made them.” Gen 6:5-7
Because every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, God destroyed the world in a global flood. Utter devastation. We think the tidal wave in Indonesia was bad with 250,000 dead. We think Fukoshima was bad. We think the wars that leave so many stranded, sick and dying in refugee camps are bad… and they are. But this was worse.
Every single person – man, woman, child, every single animal, every bird… all destroyed by the God who himself says that he feeds and tends to the sparrows. Such was the evil in man, this utter destruction was the appropriate response.
And the question we should ask ourselves is: are we any better?
What are we like today? Are our thoughts pure? Are our intentions and our actions loving and kind?
And yet, after all of this destruction, we see amazing grace. We firstly see a God who choses a few to survive the flood. But then, more grace is poured out, in the form of a rainbow.
In Genesis 9:11-15 God says:
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth… This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all generations: I have set my bow in the cloud… When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 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.
Sometimes, we think of the rainbow as being there to remind us of God’s promise. What the bible actually says is that the rainbow is there to remind God of His promise. He put it there because He knew our sin would be so offensive that He should remind Himself not to destroy us all.
Now for some reason the homosexual lobby took up the rainbow as their symbol. Perhaps it was to goad God as if to say “Sucked in God, you promised you will never destroy us”! When we see the rainbow flag flying we can be tempted to think that the homosexual lobby is succeeding in ‘sticking it to God’.
But we should remember three things whenever we see the rainbow flag:
1. It was not homosexuality that caused the first flood. It was sin. And if our answer to the questions I asked before was that we are also sinful with impure thoughts, hateful actions and hurtful words,then we should remember that God put the rainbow in the sky to remind Himself not to destroy all of us – not just the homosexual lobby.
2. It was only a promise not to flood the world again. God certainly will not cause water to cover the earth. But that does not mean He will not come again in judgement. Peter says that next time God judges the whole earth it will be with fire! Throughout the New Testament we have promise after promise that there will come a great day when all are called to give an account of their life. Those who love and serve God will go to an eternity with God in the new heavens and new earth. Those who love their sin and hate God will go to an eternity filled with God’s wrath in hell.
3. The rainbow points to a greater promise. God loves to turn away His wrath in mercy. But a just God must also punish sin.
We wouldn’t think much of a judge who kept letting murderers walk free because he wanted to show mercy. Just like a good judge, God will punish evil doers.
But the rainbow tells us that God plans ways to turn away His wrath. And the greater promise that the rainbow points to is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
By living a sinless human life of perfect obedience and yet dying the death of a criminal under the judgement of Rome and the Jews and, most importantly, also under the judgement of God, Jesus took the punishment His people deserve. God proved that the penalty for sin was paid by raising Jesus from the dead. And now, there is a greater rainbow that will protect against water, fire and hell.
When someone trusts that Jesus paid for their sins then God will look at Jesus instead of looking at them. When a Christian sins and God is righteously angry, Jesus reminds the Father of the cross. On that great day, when God floods the world with His judgement, He will look at Christ and remember not to destroy His people.
So next time you see a rainbow flag, don’t be dismayed. If you trust in Jesus you can remember that He is the greater, most beautiful rainbow to which all rainbows point.
Tom is a Christian, husband and father of 3 children. He works at Reformers Bookshop where he loves to help people find great Christian books to read so that they can know God more and serve Him better. Tom lives in the South West of Sydney in Smithfield and attends Smithfield Baptist Church.