Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Title: Our Rainbow Connection
James 1: 17
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)
A member of my Care Group recently posted a photo of a double rainbow, taken in her neighbourhood, in our chat. Soon after, photos of spectacular rainbows from Niagara Falls, Zion National Park (Utah) and other places were also shared. That piqued my interest to learn more about our “Rainbow Connection”. No, I am not referring to the popular Sesame Street song made famous by Kermit the Frog; but our connection to our Maker via this symbol.
Rainbows are mentioned in at least three books of the Bible. The first three times, in Genesis 9:12-16.
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.”
This is a familiar passage for many. Also known as the Noahic covenant, this promise from the Almighty, is made with all creation. It is an unconditional promise to never again destroy man from earth by way of a flood. To seal this covenant, like in all contracts, it has a sign, that of a rainbow. Our God is a God of second chances. At the beginning of this chapter, God gives Noah and his sons essentially the same commands and privileges as He has given to Adam. (See Gen 1:28-30). Mankind and all creatures are given the opportunity to start all over again – God is merciful!
The next time we encounter the word rainbow is in Ezekiel 1:28a.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
Ezekiel was in Babylon when the hand of the Lord came upon him and he saw the heavens open and had visions of God. So magnificent and wonderful was the vision that he could only describe what he saw as likeness and appearance of the glory of the Lord. The ambiance was of colourful, bright, iridescent and glorious radiance, like a rainbow in a cloud.
This ties in with John’s visions in Revelation 4:3 and 10:1 – where rainbows are mentioned again.
Rev 4:3 – “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”
Rev 10:1 – “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.”
The rainbow that encircled the throne signifies the covenant of grace, the Noahic covenant. With this symbol, God limits Himself by His own promise. As Charles Spurgeon explains – “Thy heavenly Father in his sovereignty, has a right to do with you, his child, as he pleases, but He will never let that sovereignty get out of the limit of the covenant.”
In the latter verse, John sees a rainbow above the head of this mighty angel who is robed in a cloud. Again the rainbow as a reminder of God’s promise to man, and also it may well be due to the sun shining through the angel’s robe of cloud.
In our physical world, rainbows are formed due to the intricacies of refraction, reflection and dispersion of white light into spectrums of colours. The presence of water and sunlight enable this phenomenon to occur in a variety of proportions. Not only a constant reminder of our Father’s love, grace and mercy, which are good gifts from above: but also His immutability (James 1:17). This is our rainbow connection – to be redeemed through Christ’s blood and to be loved by God, who limits Himself because of His own promise. Let us remember, “Grace is a gift we don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for Your loving-kindness and great mercy which is new every morning. Thank you for the token of the covenant which You instituted out of love for us. Help us to always stay connected to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
雅各书1:17 各样美善的恩赐，和各样全备的赏赐，都是从上头来的。从众光之父那里降下来的。在他并没有改变，也没有转动的影儿。 （和合本）
我的关爱小组的一名成员最近在我们的聊天中贴出了一张在她社区拍摄的双彩虹的照片。不久后，尼亚加拉瀑布、锡安国家公园(犹他州)等地壮观彩虹的照片也被分享了。这激发了我进一步了解我们的 “彩虹联系” 的兴趣。不，我指的不是因科米蛙（Kermit the Frog）而成名的芝麻街（Sesame Street）流行歌曲，而是我们通过这个记号与上帝的关系。
神说：“我与你们并你们这里的各样活物所立的永约，是有记号的。我把 虹 放在云彩中，这就可作我与地立约的记号了。我使云彩盖地的时候，必有 虹 现在云彩中，我便记念我与你们和各样有血肉的活物所立的约，水就再不泛滥，毁坏一切有血肉的物了。 虹 必现在云彩中，我看见，就要记念我与地上各样有血肉的活物所立的永约。”
这是许多人都耳熟能详的段落，也被称为诺亚之约。这来自全能上帝的应许，是与所有受造之物立下的。这是一个无条件的应许，祂永远不会再以洪水将人类从地上除灭。如所有的契约一样，封印这个约有一个记号，那就是虹。我们的上帝是给我们第二次机会的上帝。在这一章的开头，上帝给挪亚和他的儿子们的命令和特权基本上与祂给亚当的是一样的。(见创世记1:28-30)。人类和所有生物都有机会重新开始 – 上帝是仁慈的！
下雨的日子、云中 虹 的形状怎样、周围光辉的形状也是怎样，这就是耶和华荣耀的形像。我一看见就俯伏在地、又听见一位说话的声音。
以西结在巴比伦的时候，耶和华的手临到他身上，他看见天开了，并看见上帝的异象。这异象是如此的壮观和奇妙，以至于他只能用 “形状” 和 “形象” 来描述他所看到的上帝的荣耀；色彩缤纷的氛围，光辉辉煌，宛如云中的虹。
这与约翰在启示录4:3和10:1中的异象相一致 – 虹再次被提及。
启示录4:3 – “看那坐着的，好像碧玉和红宝石，又有 虹 围着宝座，好像绿宝石。”
启示录10:1 – “我又看见另有一位大力的天使从天降下，披着云彩，头上有 虹，脸面像日头，两脚像火柱。”
环绕宝座的虹象征着恩典之约，即诺亚之约。有了这个记号，上帝就以祂自己的应许来限制自己。正如查尔斯·司布真（Charles Spurgeon）所解释的 – “你的天父在祂的主权下，有权依据祂的意愿对待你，祂的孩子，但祂永远不会让这主权超出约的界限。”
在我们的物质世界中，彩虹是由于白光的折射、反射和色散的复杂作用而形成各种颜色的光谱。水和阳光使这种现象以不同的比例出现。彩虹不仅不断提醒我们天父的爱、恩典和怜悯，这些都是从上头而来美好的恩赐，而且也提醒我们天父的永恒不变(雅各书1:17)。这就是我们的彩虹联系 – 藉着基督的血被救赎，被因自己的应许而限制自己的上帝所爱。让我们记住，“恩典是得到我们不配得到的恩赐，怜悯是没有受到我们应受的惩罚。”