Each one is unique and there is something very comforting about them. When I was a child, I was told the story of Noah and that after the flood, there was a rainbow, which represented God’s promise not to flood the Earth by water again. That story has always stuck with me, but the promise didn’t seem like it fit the glory and magnificence of rainbows. I’ve always thought there was more to that story.
So, I did a little research and the first thing I noticed about rainbows in the Bible is that they are only mentioned a few times. The second thing I noticed is that they are mostly mentioned as being in the clouds; and third is that in Genesis, the rainbow is referred to as an arc or a bow, but in Ezekiel 1:26-28 it is encircling or surrounding:
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.
I never knew this, but scientifically, rainbows are not actually arcs, they are circles, but you generally can’t see the circles standing on the ground. Sometimes you can see the circles from an airplane in the sky.
So when the Bible talks about the promise or covenant of God, the rainbow is an arc, but when we talk about Ezekiel’s visions of seeing the Glory of God himself, the rainbow is a full circle, which means completion in the Bible.
I don’t think that the rainbow is a promise not to flood the Earth again, but instead, Jesus is God’s promise represented by the rainbow.
Passages in the Bible support this: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Revelations 4:2-3. Also Ezekiel 1:26-28 says Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. Keeping the word radiance in mind, Hebrews 1:3 says that The Son is the radiance of God’s glory…
That being settled in my mind, I wondered why God made it a point to mention the “rainbow in the clouds” part? Honestly, I don’t remember seeing clouds in the sky with a rainbow. All I can see is the rainbow…I don’t remember any clouds. I wonder why I can’t always do that in my spiritual life? You know, only see the rainbow and not even notice the clouds.
Scientifically, a rainbow appears when you have water droplets in front of you and the sun behind you. The light from the sun shines through the water and bends, or refracts, and how it bends determines the color. So you’ve got this big continuum that looks like one big beautiful arc of color, but in reality it is made up of a lot of little droplets…or Jesus moments.
It dawned on me, that every moment should be a Jesus moment and if I lived my life that way, from Jesus moment to Jesus moment, I’d be able to look down at my life and see that it is full and rich and complete, just like that rainbow.
Michele Clark Jenkins, co-founder of Sisters in Faith, is the senior director of the consulting group for Griffin & Strong, PC., Attorneys & Public Policy Consultants. She was co-creator of Real: The Complete New Testament Biblezine, writer/editor of the Children of Color Storybook Bible, and contributed to the Women of Color Devotional Bible and Wisdom and Grace Devotional Bible. She is also the author of She Speaks: Wisdom from the Women of the Bible to the Modern Black Woman, in stores January 15, 2013 (Thomas Nelson).