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Genesis 9:12-17 God’s rainbow covenant

God promised Noah that there would never again be a flood that would cover the earth. God’s promise took the form of a covenant with “all the living creatures on the earth” that he would remember, and that there would never again be a worldwide flood. As the seal and token of heaven’s pledge, Elohim put the rainbow in the rain clouds. What a beautiful symbol of God’s love and grace!

  • In verse 15 God said, “I will remember my covenant … floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures.” The flood destroyed life in this archetypal story, just as pain, suffering, and injustice destroy life today. Revelation 21:4 looked ahead to God’s eternal kingdom: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” How has God faithfully “remembered” his covenant of love and grace with you?
  • The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery said, “The Hebrew word for rainbow is the same word that is used to refer to the bow as a military weapon (qe?et). The idea … in the Genesis passage seems to be that God has taken the weapon that he has used to judge his creatures and hung it in the sky … the rainbow becomes an image of God’s mercy and peace after the storm of judgment.” Pastor Hamilton has noted that sometimes we just want to ignore the idea of judgment. What is the value of the rainbow image in reminding us of judgment, and yet showing that in the end mercy triumphs?

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