There are many beautiful and awesome things that we see in the sky: clouds, lightning, the blue color of the clear sky, the panorama at sunset, the silver lining around dark clouds, the sun’s rays penetrating the morning mist. But there is one particular phenomenon that is glorious and colorful, majestic and beautiful, that bridges the earth with the heavens and runs from one end of the sky to the other. It is the rainbow.
The Bible has numerous passages, particularly in the Psalms, in which natural phenomena like clouds, rain, hail, snow, dew, frost, lightning, thunder or earthquakes are regarded as being symbolic of God’s majesty, power and splendor. But God has chosen to associate Himself specifically with the rainbow and it is His sign of peace with mankind and all living beings. Whenever we see a rainbow in the sky, it should be our time to remember God’s tender mercies, love and salvation.
The first rainbow appeared in the aftermath of the great flood, the story of which is narrated in detail in the Bible (Genesis, Chapters 6-9).
Gen 6:1 When people had spread all over the world, and daughters were being born,
Gen 6:2 some of the heavenly beings saw that these young women were beautiful, so they took the ones they liked.
Gen 6:3 Then the LORD said, "I will not allow people to live forever; they are mortal. From now on they will live no longer than 120 years."
Gen 6:4 In those days, and even later, there were giants on the earth who were descendants of human women and the heavenly beings. They were the great heroes and famous men of long ago.
Gen 6:5 When the LORD saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time,
Gen 6:6 he was sorry that he had ever made them and put them on the earth. He was so filled with regret
Gen 6:7 that he said, "I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them."
Gen 6:8 But the LORD was pleased with Noah.
Gen 6:9 This is the story of Noah. He had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah had no faults and was the only good man of his time. He lived in fellowship with God,
Gen 6:10 (SEE 6:9)
Gen 6:11 but everyone else was evil in God's sight, and violence had spread everywhere.
Gen 6:12 God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives.
Gen 6:13 God said to Noah, "I have decided to put an end to all people. I will destroy them completely, because the world is full of their violent deeds.
Gen 6:14 Build a boat for yourself out of good timber; make rooms in it and cover it with tar inside and out.
Gen 6:15 Make it 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.
Gen 6:16 Make a roof for the boat and leave a space of 18 inches between the roof and the sides. Build it with three decks and put a door in the side.
Gen 6:17 I am going to send a flood on the earth to destroy every living being. Everything on the earth will die,
Gen 6:18 but I will make a covenant with you. Go into the boat with your wife, your sons, and their wives.
Gen 6:19 Take into the boat with you a male and a female of every kind of animal and of every kind of bird, in order to keep them alive.
Gen 6:20 (SEE 6:19)
Gen 6:21 Take along all kinds of food for you and for them."
Gen 6:22 Noah did everything that God commanded.
Gen 7:1 The LORD said to Noah, "Go into the boat with your whole family; I have found that you are the only one in all the world who does what is right.
Gen 7:2 Take with you seven pairs of each kind of ritually clean animal, but only one pair of each kind of unclean animal.
Gen 7:3 Take also seven pairs of each kind of bird. Do this so that every kind of animal and bird will be kept alive to reproduce again on the earth.
Gen 7:4 Seven days from now I am going to send rain that will fall for forty days and nights, in order to destroy all the living beings that I have made."
Gen 7:5 And Noah did everything that the LORD commanded.
Gen 7:6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came on the earth.
Gen 7:7 He and his wife, and his sons and their wives, went into the boat to escape the flood.
Gen 7:8 A male and a female of every kind of animal and bird, whether ritually clean or unclean,
Gen 7:9 went into the boat with Noah, as God had commanded.
Gen 7:10 Seven days later the flood came.
Gen 7:11 When Noah was six hundred years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month all the outlets of the vast body of water beneath the earth burst open, all the floodgates of the sky were opened,
Gen 7:12 and rain fell on the earth for forty days and nights.
Gen 7:13 On that same day Noah and his wife went into the boat with their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives.
Gen 7:14 With them went every kind of animal, domestic and wild, large and small, and every kind of bird.
Gen 7:15 A male and a female of each kind of living being went into the boat with Noah,
Gen 7:16 as God had commanded. Then the LORD shut the door behind Noah.
Gen 7:17 The flood continued for forty days, and the water became deep enough for the boat to float.
Gen 7:18 The water became deeper, and the boat drifted on the surface.
Gen 7:19 It became so deep that it covered the highest mountains;
Gen 7:20 it went on rising until it was about twenty-five feet above the tops of the mountains.
Gen 7:21 Every living being on the earth died---every bird, every animal, and every person.
Gen 7:22 Everything on earth that breathed died.
Gen 7:23 The LORD destroyed all living beings on the earth---human beings, animals, and birds. The only ones left were Noah and those who were with him in the boat.
Gen 7:24 The water did not start going down for a hundred and fifty days.
Gen 8:1 God had not forgotten Noah and all the animals with him in the boat; he caused a wind to blow, and the water started going down.
Gen 8:2 The outlets of the water beneath the earth and the floodgates of the sky were closed. The rain stopped,
Gen 8:3 and the water gradually went down for 150 days.
Gen 8:4 On the seventeenth day of the seventh month the boat came to rest on a mountain in the Ararat range.
Gen 8:5 The water kept going down, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared.
Gen 8:6 After forty days Noah opened a window
Gen 8:7 and sent out a raven. It did not come back, but kept flying around until the water was completely gone.
Gen 8:8 Meanwhile, Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had gone down,
Gen 8:9 but since the water still covered all the land, the dove did not find a place to light. It flew back to the boat, and Noah reached out and took it in.
Gen 8:10 He waited another seven days and sent out the dove again.
Gen 8:11 It returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water had gone down.
Gen 8:12 Then he waited another seven days and sent out the dove once more; this time it did not come back.
Gen 8:13 When Noah was 601 years old, on the first day of the first month, the water was gone. Noah removed the covering of the boat, looked around, and saw that the ground was getting dry.
Gen 8:14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
Gen 8:15 God said to Noah,
Gen 8:16 "Go out of the boat with your wife, your sons, and their wives.
Gen 8:17 Take all the birds and animals out with you, so that they may reproduce and spread over all the earth."
Gen 8:18 So Noah went out of the boat with his wife, his sons, and their wives.
Gen 8:19 All the animals and birds went out of the boat in groups of their own kind.
Gen 8:20 Noah built an altar to the LORD; he took one of each kind of ritually clean animal and bird, and burned them whole as a sacrifice on the altar.
Gen 8:21 The odor of the sacrifice pleased the LORD, and he said to himself, "Never again will I put the earth under a curse because of what people do; I know that from the time they are young their thoughts are evil. Never again will I destroy all living beings, as I have done this time.
Gen 8:22 As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest. There will always be cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night."
Gen 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said, "Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth.
Gen 9:2 All the animals, birds, and fish will live in fear of you. They are all placed under your power.
Gen 9:3 Now you can eat them, as well as green plants; I give them all to you for food.
Gen 9:4 The one thing you must not eat is meat with blood still in it; I forbid this because the life is in the blood.
Gen 9:5 If anyone takes human life, he will be punished. I will punish with death any animal that takes a human life.
Gen 9:6 Human beings were made like God, so whoever murders one of them will be killed by someone else.
Gen 9:7 "You must have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth."
Gen 9:8 God said to Noah and his sons,
Gen 9:9 "I am now making my covenant with you and with your descendants,
Gen 9:10 and with all living beings---all birds and all animals---everything that came out of the boat with you.
Gen 9:11 With these words I make my covenant with you: I promise that never again will all living beings be destroyed by a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.
Gen 9:12 As a sign of this everlasting covenant which I am making with you and with all living beings,
Gen 9:13 I am putting my bow in the clouds. It will be the sign of my covenant with the world.
Gen 9:14 Whenever I cover the sky with clouds and the rainbow appears,
Gen 9:15 I will remember my promise to you and to all the animals that a flood will never again destroy all living beings.
Gen 9:16 When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living beings on earth.
Gen 9:17 That is the sign of the promise which I am making to all living beings."
Gen 9:18 The sons of Noah who went out of the boat were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)
Gen 9:19 These three sons of Noah were the ancestors of all the people on earth.
Gen 9:20 Noah, who was a farmer, was the first man to plant a vineyard.
Gen 9:21 After he drank some of the wine, he became drunk, took off his clothes, and lay naked in his tent.
Gen 9:22 When Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked, he went out and told his two brothers.
Gen 9:23 Then Shem and Japheth took a robe and held it behind them on their shoulders. They walked backward into the tent and covered their father, keeping their faces turned away so as not to see him naked.
Gen 9:24 When Noah sobered up and learned what his youngest son had done to him,
Gen 9:25 he said, "A curse on Canaan! He will be a slave to his brothers.
Gen 9:26 Give praise to the LORD, the God of Shem! Canaan will be the slave of Shem.
Gen 9:27 May God cause Japheth to increase! May his descendants live with the people of Shem! Canaan will be the slave of Japheth."
Gen 9:28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years
Gen 9:29 and died at the age of 950.
Here, the Bible tells how God was grieved due to man’s wickedness and the evil inclination of man’s thoughts and decided to wipe out His own creation. But there was one man, Noah, who had found favor with Him and God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; and you will enter the ark, you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
And then, as the Bible says, all the springs of the great deep burst forth, the floodgates of the heavens were opened and rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished, but Noah and those who were in the ark were saved.
When the flood waters had receded, and God’s purpose had been accomplished, He said: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, and never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease….Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”
God has certainly kept His promise and from the Bible we can see that He intends to keep it to the end. The Bible itself has not reported any other instance of widespread flooding. When the Israelites were on their journey to the Promised Land, as many as ten different plagues of increasing severity were inflicted upon the Pharaoh and the Egyptian people (Exodus, Chapters 7-11). They included pollution of river waters, attacks by frogs and locusts, and death of the first-borns, but not floods.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the signs of His second coming, He said that among other things, famines and earthquakes will occur in various places, but He did not speak about floods (Matthew 24:7). Even the Book of Revelation that very vividly describes the horrible tribulations which the earth will have to face at the end of this age does not make any mention whatever of floods on earth.
However, while there is no further record of global floods in the Bible, it recognizes the reality that river floods have occurred and continue to occur on earth. Jesus Himself talked about floods in two different contexts. Jesus said that a person who hears His words and acts upon them is like a wise man who built his house on a firm foundation, so that when the river burst against it and the flood rose, it could withstand it (Luke 6:46-49). In another discussion, He told His disciples that just like the people on this earth were living life as usual, unaware of the impending flood, until Noah entered the ark, no one would know about His second coming except the Father (Matthew 24:36-39, Luke 17:27-33).
Mat 24:36 "No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come---neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows.
Mat 24:37 The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah.
Mat 24:38 In the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat;
Mat 24:39 yet they did not realize what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes.
Luk 17:26 As it was in the time of Noah so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man.
Luk 17:27 Everybody kept on eating and drinking, and men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat and the flood came and killed them all.
Luk 17:28 It will be as it was in the time of Lot. Everybody kept on eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
Luk 17:29 On the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and killed them all.
Luk 17:30 That is how it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Luk 17:31 "On that day someone who is on the roof of a house must not go down into the house to get any belongings; in the same way anyone who is out in the field must not go back to the house.
Luk 17:32 Remember Lot's wife!
Luk 17:33 Those who try to save their own life will lose it; those who lose their life will save it.
The Bible also acknowledges that floods are a part of the earth’s natural processes. In the account of the Israelites camping on the banks of the river Jordan and waiting to cross it, we are told that the river was in flood, as it always is during harvest (Joshua 3:15). However, water from upstream stopped flowing and piled up in a heap a great distance away and the entire nation of Israel was able to cross over on dry ground (Joshua 3:16-17).
Jos 3:16 the water stopped flowing and piled up, far upstream at Adam, the city beside Zarethan. The flow downstream to the Dead Sea was completely cut off, and the people were able to cross over near Jericho.
Jos 3:17 While the people walked across on dry ground, the priests carrying the LORD's Covenant Box stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan until all the people had crossed over.
If this were a unique geohydrological phenomenon, no explanation is forthcoming in the Bible, and if it were a miracle, God has not taken credit for it.
However, David summarizes the situation beautifully in Psalm 124:
Psa 124:1 What if the LORD had not been on our side? Answer, O Israel!
Psa 124:2 "If the LORD had not been on our side when our enemies attacked us,
Psa 124:3 then they would have swallowed us alive in their furious anger against us;
Psa 124:4 then the flood would have carried us away, the water would have covered us,
Psa 124:5 the raging torrent would have drowned us."
Psa 124:6 Let us thank the LORD, who has not let our enemies destroy us.
Psa 124:7 We have escaped like a bird from a hunter's trap; the trap is broken, and we are free!
Psa 124:8 Our help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
“If the Lord had not been on our side….the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, and the raging waters would have swept us away….Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
In today’s times, floods do occur for various reasons. Rivers get flooded when there is a prolonged spell of heavy rainfall in their catchment areas and upstream regions. Rivers change course and take people by surprise. Cities get flooded because of inadequate drainage systems. Vast croplands get deluged when reservoir floodgates are opened to release water. So, floods are going to be there around us. But there is one difference: God is now on our side. And if God is for us, then who can be against us?