The BOW without RAIN

We had a beautiful rainbow here the other day, hopefully some of you chanced to see it. This photo was taken by Sister Margaret looking across the garden area. If your monitor is good you can probably see a trace of the second rainbow above it.

It was truly a beautiful sight. We had heavy rain, then sun, and a magnificent rainbow. Then more rain, then sun again, and another rainbow followed.

I looked up “rainbow” in Wikipedia and this is what it says about its meaning:

It “harks back to the rainbow as a symbol of biblical promise. According to the Bible, God first created the rainbow as a sign to Noah that there would never again be a worldwide flood, also known as the Rainbow covenant.”

Did you learn something you didn’t know before? No rainbow until after Noah? Does it leave you wondering what happened when sun happened to shine on rain before Noah’s time? There were a good many years in the record before then, more than 1600 from Adam to the Flood. And no rainbows?

I like to call it the “rainbow tale.” I’m sure most of us heard it when young. I can still visualize the picture in Hurlbut’s Bible Story book—though I was blessed to have already been told NOT to trust what they put in print—until I found out whether it was TRUE!

A great precaution!

Let’s get the story from Genesis. This is after the flood waters were gone.

Genesis 9:8–10  8Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9”And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.

We pick up immediately that this is serious text. God is making a “covenant” with His people. A covenant is a two-sided agreement.

Continuing with verse 11:

Genesis 9:11–13  11Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

A great promise. No flood would ever again destroy the earth. It is a covenant with God. What does it mean?

12And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13I set My rainbow [KJV, bow] in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

The detail usually overlooked is that the idea of “rainbow” is ASSUMED here but NOT STATED. The original text does not say anything about a pretty colorful rainbow being the guarantee of God’s promise. It is not about sun shining on raindrops.

But you will find it in just about every translation of the Bible you open. It has been ASSUMED so long that it is ALMOST a fact.

But it is NOT a fact. God doesn’t need to write a book to tell us what makes a rainbow or when the first pretty rainbow was seen in the sky. We can figure that out for ourselves!

What do people in general forget when reading Scripture? It is Paul’s rule of Bible study that relates to how we understand knowledge revealed by God. And these words in Genesis are God speaking.

1 Corinthians 2:13  13These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual when God’s “holy spirit” is teaching, when God is revealing His wisdom, His divine knowledge.

Where are we in understanding Genesis 9? Since this is God speaking, we must realize it is spiritual, not literal. Now let us read verse 13 again:

Genesis 9:13  13I set My rainbow [KJV, bow] in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

Several terms here we need to get the correct meaning for.
1- Bow
2- Cloud
3- Earth
4- Covenant
Let’s drop the “rain” and see about the possible meanings of “bow.” This is a “bow” without rain.

What are the definitions of “bow” in the original Hebrew?

Most of the definitions relate to defense. Here is Strong’s:

7198. קֶשֶׁת qesheth, keh’-sheth; from 7185 in the orig. sense (of 6983) of bending; a bow, for shooting (hence, fig. strength) …+ arrow, bow (SHG)

Other lexicons concur. Gesenius’ lexicon says:

“Bow is used metaph. for strength and power; hence to break any one’s bow, i.e. to break his strength, to overturn his power, Hos. 1:5; Jer. 49:35; Job 29:20, “my bow is strengthened in my hand,” i.e. my strength increases;

The BDB lexicon says it is used as

“a symbol of protection Is 4:5; as a barrier”

Another says it is used “to cover, cover over … always to protect men.”

Now let’s look at the next term: “I set my bow in the clouds.” What are possibilities for clouds along with strength and protection? Let’s hyperlink to the related terms in Psalms. We read:

Psalm 104:3  3He … makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind

His clouds are His chariots. And what are the chariots of God?

Psalm 68:17  17The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

Clouds are chariots, and chariots are thousands of angels.

Our hyperlink picks up many passages where clouds described clouds of angels.

Recall the Israelites in the wilderness. There was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. What were these?

Exodus 13:21 21And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.

Cloud by day leading in front, pillar of fire by night. What were these in real fact? It is explained when it changed. Said very specifically:

Exodus 14:19 19And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.

It was all about angels giving protection.

What did Jesus say about how he would come back?

Matthew 16:27  27For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

He will be coming back “with His angels.” What word is used to describe them?

What did Jesus say about it in the book of Revelation?

Revelation 1:7  7Behold, He is coming with clouds [clouds of angels!], and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

How was Jesus taken to heaven?

Acts 1:9  9Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

A literal cloud would not “receive Him.” But a cloud – a cloud of angels! What a great chariot to ride in! Angels took Him away, and angels will accompany His return. What did the angels say when they took Him away?

Acts 1:10–11  10And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Clouds of angels took him away, and clouds of angels will bring Him back.

So back to Genesis, when God “set” His bow in the clouds, what was He saying? Let us paraphrase with the meanings of the words as they are hyperlinked in Scripture:

I put my power in the angels to watch over and protect you.

God isn’t asking us to think that sunshine on raindrops only made a rainbow after the flood! The Bible literalists read it and quickly draw the conclusion that this was the beginning of rainbows.

But no, there is nothing here about a literal rainbow. That idea is just more of the error or fiction that results when people read the Bible at the surface level and don’t realize they are reading symbols which must be studied and compared to discover what the Bible is teaching at a deeper level.

There is another point that hinders those who would like to believe but cannot get beyond these obviously false statements.

One more point to understand. Let’s read the verse again:

Genesis 9:13  13I set My rainbow [KJV, bow] in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

Who is the covenant between? “Me and the earth.” Haven’t we seen many times where “earth” is not the ground we walk on? What hyperlink can help us understand that it is a term for people, those with whom God is working. In this case, covenant makers. Recall the words of God spoken through Moses:

Deuteronomy 32:1 1”Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Again through Isaiah:

Isaiah 1:2  2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;

Then a few verses later:

Isaiah 1:10  10Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah:

It is about the people addressed, people in covenant with God, here the people who should be serving God.

And what about a comforting promise?

Psalm 34:7 7The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Wonderful angels! Don’t you like that word “camp”? They could come and “camp” for a few earth-years, maybe a few hundred or a few thousand years, staying close to help while we are working. Only a “few nights” for them, a small part of their time, and they can go on to some other mission somewhere else in God’s mighty universe. Superintending the affairs of earth, camping near those who reverence God, who put God FIRST in their lives. He is there to help in every time of need. What does Hebrews say about them?

Hebrews 1:14  14Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

What a comforting promise when it all comes together. They are sent to be near every growing heir in the family, every “heir of salvation!

God has placed His POWER in the ANGELS. It is a covenant of solid PROMISE between GOD and the EARTH (His people), to protect and keep them safe and secure until they INHERIT their place in that NEW world to come! The glorious KINGDOM of GOD.

What a beautiful “BOW” of infinite power, right here with every heir-to-be.

No rain needed to make it!