Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why did God choose the rainbow as a token of His covenant with Noah?

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which I have made between me and you for every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:9-15, JST included)
Then verse 16 and 17 are expanded as JST Genesis 9:21-25:
21 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.
22 And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;
23 And the general assembly of the church of the first-born shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.
24 And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee, which I have made between me and thee, for every living creature of all flesh that shall be upon the earth.
25 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and thee; for all flesh that shall be upon the earth. (JST 9:21-25)
I was thinking about the rainbow as a token and I wondered why God chose the rainbow for this. After pondering a while, I realized that it has a number of characteristics that make it an ideal token of these promises the Lord makes.

First, rainbows appear during/after rain. This makes it perfect for a divine reminder to man that the rain isn’t going to be as bad as it was in Noah’s time.

Second, rainbows are lines and thus connect together whatever is at both ends. In this way, they serve as a great symbol of the covenants connecting God and man, especially when one end of the rainbow comes from the sky and the other end seems to connect with the earth. A connection of light—what more beautiful symbol of the everlasting covenant could you ask for? (Forget finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; finding God would be awesome!)

Third, the rainbows that arch from the earth to sky to earth are a great symbol for the trajectory of Enoch’s city of Zion, which was once on the earth, was taken to heaven, and is promised to return to earth in a day of righteousness. The glory of that rainbow certainly symbolizes the miracle of that ascent and promised descent, as well as the glory of holiness that the city attained. It gives us something to work for and look forward to.

Fourth, the rainbow reminds us to embrace the truth and “look upward” and reminds God and Enoch’s Zion to “look down.” The rainbow becomes an occasion of remembering the covenant, which will give us all great trembling joy. (Have you ever had joy so great that you trembled? I don’t know that I have yet.)

Fifth, each color in the rainbow can remind us of one of the covenants that we make with the Lord.

How can this help us today? Rainbows are beautiful, and they will give us even more joy if we know the gospel meaning behind it. If our covenants define our lives, then we have great reason to be happy when we see a rainbow because we can know that the Lord is also looking at it and is thinking of the covenants He made with us. Won't that be a great feeling to know that you and the Lord are both looking at the same thing and thinking of the same thing? What a great connection that can be!

Can you think of any other things that rainbows teach about the everlasting covenant?

Image of Noah and rainbow: “Notes to Poem: Michalangelo’s Bow,” http://www.wisdomportal.com/Poems2011/Notes-Michelangelo%27sBow.html, accessed 9/17/11.

Image of rainbow to cloud: “Finding the Li” blog, http://liology.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/re-weaving-the-rainbow/, accessed 9/17/11.

Image of rainbow arch: Rainbow gallery on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/16154905@N04/galleries/72157622809052156


Curls said...

Beautiful. I like the idea that Rainbows come AFTER rain. As long as we hold true through the tests of mortality we will get to dwell with God. Which is also AFTER the trials and struggles of mortality.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

I thought you were going to say that it is symbolic of the Lord making covenants that are honored among men and women of every color/nation of the earth.

Michaela Stephens said...

Nice point, Jocelyn.