One of the interesting things that has come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is the recovery of the rainbow. Until very recently, the rainbow was always understood as a reminder of the Noahic covenant and that promise from God that he would never again destroy all life on the earth as he did in the Great Flood. Obviously, rainbows existed before the flood – it’s not as if God invented the refraction of light through water droplets at that very moment – but they were imbued with a special significance from that time forward.
But in more recent years, the rainbow has become (somewhat ironically) a symbol of something else altogether. No longer was it an upturned bow aiming in judgement away from his creation and directed at the heart of Heaven. Instead, it became a symbol of licentiousness and shorthand for particular manifestations of rebellion against our creator. It no longer spoke to the way the Lord would have mercy on his people and, instead, became a mark of high-handed sin in the absence of the kind of universal judgement the Lord meted out on creation in the time of Noah.
But more recently still, the rainbow has been recovered. In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, whilst we are confined to our homes for 23 hours a day, children have started placing rainbows in their windows. We are permitted to take one piece of exercise per day and the rainbows have been placed in windows to give children something to look out for as they walk around their neighbourhoods.
The rainbow has come full circle. In the midst of a pandemic – one in which even many Christians struggle to avoid engaging in unrestrained catastrophism – we are reminded that the Lord has promised never to destroy all humankind again. The closest we will ever come to such disaster is when the Lord himself returns to judge the living and the dead. But even then, those who belong to Christ will be kept safe in him (and there are a few more of us knocking around worldwide than there were in Noah’s day!).
It is hard in these days not to get caught up in the anxiety and the fatalistic catastrophism. But next time you are out on your prison regulation, one-hour’s exercise a day, look out for the rainbows. Remember the Lord’s promise. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take appropriate precautions and there is no danger here at all (let’s not be blasé) but it should help us keep our catastrophism in check.
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.” – Genesis 8:21b-22