What Does the Bible Say About Rainbows?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 12, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Rainbows: one of my favorite things to draw as a kid, and I’ve always loved all the colors (as long as the colors are in the right order, of course). When I was growing up, rainbows were always considered a beautiful thing and a reminder of God’s promises, but that has changed some today with the LGBTQ movement adopting the rainbow as their symbol. (Side note: is homosexuality a sin? Find out here.)

As a follower of Jesus Christ, it is important to base our beliefs on what the Bible says rather than what culture says. So, what does the Bible say about rainbows?

By far the most prominent rainbow reference in the Bible is right after the story of Noah’s ark and the big flood found in Genesis 6-9. Specifically, Genesis 9:12-16 says, “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 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. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Scientifically, today we know that rainbows appear in the sky because of reflection and refraction of sunlight when it hits water droplets, such as when the sun first comes out and there’s still a bit of rain coming down. But we can also look at that rainbow as a remembrance of the promise that God made to Noah many generations ago, that He will never again destroy all life on earth with a flood. We know that God is faithful to His Word, and while there have been localized floods that do much damage (including in Findlay, OH, where I live), there has never again been a flood that destroyed nearly the whole planet like the one recorded in Genesis.

The next mention of a rainbow in the Bible is in the prophet Ezekiel’s first vision. Ezekiel 1:25-28 says, “Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.” Here, the rainbow is a descriptive term to show the brilliance and radiance that surrounds this figure in his vision.

The final mentions of a rainbow in the Bible are in the book of Revelation. Revelation 4:3, referring to the scene John saw in the throne room of heaven, says, “And the one who sat there [on the throne] had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Later, Revelation 10:1 tells us, “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.” In these instances, the rainbow is seen again as a symbol of hope and of God’s love, glory, and majesty.

What does the rainbow mean in your life? Does your interpretation of that refer to God’s faithfulness and His glory and majesty, or something else? I encourage you to take a look deeper at what the Bible says, even when it may be counter-cultural.

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