The covenant of the rainbow reminds us and God that his judgment was deferred, and it looks forward to a new covenant which Jesus brought. The rainbow looks forward to the cross, and at the foot of the cross, we escape God’s judgment in eternity…
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 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: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 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. 16 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.”
Genesis 8:20-21, 9:1, 11-16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
The rainbow looks forward. As God looked back upon the sin of the people and the destructive flood which had receded, God established a covenant with us in the future. Noah and his family received the covenant, yet we are also the recipients of the blessing of God’s covenant of the rainbow. What does the rainbow mean?
It means that God will not curse the ground again because of us, even though we are sinful. Every inclination of the heart goes away from God to our own ways (vs. 21, Isaiah 53:6). Never again, God says, will he bring destruction on the earth through a flood. It’s not that there won’t be accountability for our actions. We experience God’s discipline in our relationship with him like a parent disciplines a child (Hebrews 12:5-11).
The judgment of all humanity, however, will never again be executed by God on this earth in that way. That judgment will be deferred to the White Throne Judgment of heaven (Revelation 20:11-15). On earth, something different will happen.
The rainbow looks forward to a different way for God to relate to humankind. A gracious way.
God will not destroy all life through another flood. Rather, he sent Jesus to teach us about his abundant life. Jesus came into the world, not to judge us or condemn us, but rather to save us. Jesus was sent to save, not to judge… The covenant of the rainbow reminds us and God that his judgment was deferred, and it looks forward to a new covenant which Jesus brought.
Jesus’ covenant in his blood provided for our forgiveness before God so that we can escape God’s judgment, even the White Throne Judgment. You see, by trusting in Jesus, we put our faith in his death on the cross as the punishment for our sin. By doing so, our names are written in the book of life which lists all those who are covered by the judgment Jesus endured for us.
The rainbow looks forward to the cross. At the foot of the cross, we escape God’s judgment in eternity. Praise God for his rainbow and the covenant of his grace in Jesus…