What’s a rainbow?


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “A rainbow is caused by sunlight and atmospheric conditions. Light enters a water droplet, slowing down and bending as it goes from air to denser water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its component wavelengths — or colors. When light exits the droplet, it makes a rainbow.”

That’s the scientific definition, but for our purpose, as we continue our survey of Jesus’ Bible, a rainbow is a promise. As it says in Genesis 9:8-17, the rainbow that you see in the sky is a promise by God to all the children of Noah (that is, everyone) that he would never again destroy all living things on the earth with a flood. With this in mind, a rainbow in the sky shouldn’t take our thoughts to pots of gold and leprechauns, but to a God who has kept his promise.

Since the day of this promise to Noah, God has made and kept many promises. The greatest promise of all was the promise to send a savior into the world in order to redeem humanity. This promise is first alluded to in Genesis 3:15 where Eve is told that one of her descendants would remove the influence of the tempter from the world. Isaiah the prophet described this promised redeemer. Isaiah 11:1-3 tells us from which family he comes and the fact that God will be with him. Isaiah 53:1-5 tells us about what this redeemer’s life will be like and what his purpose will be. On the very eve of Jesus’ birth, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, saw this coming birth as a fulfillment of the promise made to his ancestors in Luke 1:72.

God keeping this greatest of promises brought redemption to all humanity. However, we aren’t done yet. Jesus himself made a few promises too. Some of them are completed and there is one big one yet to come.

In Luke 24:49, Jesus’ promise to send a comforter, that being the Holy Spirit, upon his disciples is a promise kept. Since that day of Pentecost described in Acts 3, the Holy Spirit has been increasing and advancing throughout the world. This is the promise and assurance that we can have all the help we need to fulfill our God assigned mission in this life. God is with us through the Holy Spirit.

The big promise yet to come is Jesus’ promise to return. In the Gospel of John 14:1-3, Jesus tells his disciples that he will come back again. God has a perfect track record so far with keeping his promises, so I think we can depend on this one too.

A rainbow can be seen as a trick of rain drops and sunlight. It can even be explained scientifically. But, the next time you see a rainbow, remember that we have a God who always keeps his promises. The rainbow isn’t just the bending of sunlight; it is a sign for all of us that God is with us, looking out for us, and he will continue to do everything he has promised.

May I suggest, at the sight of a rainbow, make the declaration: “Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe, who keeps his covenants and remembers his promises.”


Frank Fenton is a lifelong student of the Word of God. He attends the Church of the Messiah in Xenia where he shares teaching duties for the weekly Bible study class, as well as contributing to the congregational teaching.

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