The rainbow has a special place in the Bible. In Genesis, we learn that God put a rainbow in the sky after he destroyed the world with a flood. God told Noah’s family that he would never destroy the earth again with water. God said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21).
God made a promise to Noah and all people that he would not destroy the earth again by flood. But he did say that there would be other disasters on earth. The rainbow is a reminder to us that God is always watching us and cares about us. The Bible says: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and protecting those who do what is right.” (Proverbs 15:3). In this article we’ll see what does a rainbow symbolize in the bible.
Most of my days are filled with mundane events and scenarios. Sometimes something noteworthy takes place, but normally I am seeing and doing what I have seen and done hundreds, if not thousands of times. However, every now and then something extraordinary takes place, prompting me to stand still and be in awe.
One example of this kind of remarkable event would be the appearance of a rainbow in the sky. I do not think I have ever witnessed the appearance of a rainbow where someone did not point up to the sky and say, “Look, a rainbow!” And typically, the brighter and more colorful the rainbow is, the louder people, including myself, cheer over it. We’ll also understands what does the rainbow mean from god in this exposition.
The World’s View of the Rainbow
As beautiful and unique as a rainbow is, there is a simple, non-miraculous explanation for this phenomenon. Scientists have known for a long time that rainbows appear when raindrops act as “tiny prisms.”
White light from the sun shines on one side of a water droplet, gets reflected off the other side of the droplet, and then exits out to the other side of the sky as a circular bow or arc of color that is refracted or broken up into the color spectrum.
Rainbows contain a continuum of around 1 million colors that are indistinguishable with the human eye. Instead, we can only really see seven color hues: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
In fact, a rainbow is not much more than an “optical illusion” that only appears when a viewer is looking from just the right angle relative to the light source.
Nevertheless, the beauty and mystical appearance of the rainbow has caused it to be part of different myths among many cultures around the world. For example, the Norse saw it as a Bifrost “bridge” for gods to cross from earth to their home called Asgard.
Similarly, ancient Japanese believed that rainbows allowed their deceased ancestors to come back to earth, and the Navajo believed that it was the path for holy spirits. Even today, there is an old Irish legend commonly told (often jokingly) that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow guarded by a tricky leprechaun.
Because the devil is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), all of the myths about rainbows are mistruths that distract us from discovering the true symbolic meaning behind it.
As a matter of fact, one of the farthest-reaching (yet subtle) distractions in our contemporary culture happened in 1978 when an artist hijacked the rainbow to design a flag to represent the LGBT community and celebrate a lifestyle that is sinful, unnatural, and even destructive. For more on that topic, see this article.
Rainbow Meaning In The Bible
So, what is the true meaning of the rainbow? To answer that question, we must look beyond the children’s coloring books and really weird movies to the Bible — the only truly infallible, inspired, and authoritative source of truth that we have.
The rainbow first appears in Scripture toward the end of the story of the worldwide flood in Genesis 6-9. Because of the continual evil and wickedness of mankind (Genesis 6:5-12), God decided to cause rain to fall for 40 days and nights and flood the entire earth — killing everyone and everything except for a man named Noah and his family and a bunch of animals that were kept safe inside of a wooden ark.
Where Does the Bible First Mention Rainbows?
The first reference to a rainbow in the Bible is when Noah and his brood spotted a rainbow in the sky after the great flood had ended, and they left the ark to enter dry land. The rainbow God displayed in the sky represented the promise, or covenant, that God would never again destroy the earth by a flood:
Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark . . . that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-11)
What Was the Covenant That God Made with Noah?
God made this covenant with Noah (who represented all future people) regarding His creation. The events of the book of Genesis “introduce us to how God initiates and makes covenants with His chosen people, pledging His love and faithfulness to them and calling them to promise theirs to Him.”
God makes seven or eight covenants with His children in the Bible, from the time of the Garden of Eden to Christ’s resurrection, the “new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). A covenant is more than a promise. It is usually a formal agreement between two or more persons to do or not do something. It is the name of a statement with such a specific agreement in legal terms.
In the church, a covenant means members agree to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel. A covenant establishes a relationship between two parties, similar to a government document.
The Old Testament events leading up to the covenant with Noah are as follows:
- God explained how Noah’s righteousness spared him from the flood (Genesis 6:9-13, 7:1).
- God gave specific instructions for the ark project, which Noah followed (Genesis 6:14-21).
- God returned Noah and his crew to dry land on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:1-5).
What Does A Rainbow Symbolize In The Bible
Like all of God’s creation, the rainbow reflects God’s splendor and grandeur. A rainbow’s dazzling hues and spectacular display in the sky are signs of God’s existence and a reflection of his majesty. Think of how much more glorious and beautiful God is whenever you see a rainbow, because one day the whole world will be able to see his glory shining in an unveiled manner.
What Does The Rainbow Mean From God
According to the Bible, God promised never again to flood the entire planet, and the rainbow is a symbol of that promise. If it rains, there will be a rainbow.
After the flood subsided and Noah and his family emerged from the ark, God made this covenant, using the rainbow as a sign. God made a promise to humanity, saying, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. For all future generations, this rainbow will always appear in the clouds as a reminder of the promise God made to humanity and all living things. I will remember my promise to you and all other forms of life on Earth every time I bring clouds over the planet and a rainbow appears in them. No more will the seas rise to drown all life. Each time I see a rainbow in the sky, I will think of the eternal covenant that God made with all of earth’s creatures great and small (Genesis 9:11–15).
To “every living creature… the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark,… every living creature on earth,” God made this promise, which the rainbow represents (Genesis 9:9–10). The agreement will stand the test of time and be passed down through the ages. An event on this scale will never happen again.
When referring to the “gay pride” community, the rainbow’s hues are often employed. As far back as 1978, when an artist named Gilbert Baker created a flag for the city of San Francisco’s gay community, this movement was born. Baker’s original layout featured eight colors, each of which had a special significance in his mind: flamingo pink (sexuality), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (the sun), green (nature), turquoise (art), indigo (harmony), and violet (spirit). Color palettes were reduced from seven to six in subsequent iterations. The LGBTQ+ community’s rainbow flags and banners stand for inclusion, optimism, and social change.
Banners and flags featuring rainbows are not limited to the gay community. The nine different stripes of color on the Hawaii Ko Aloha Flag, for instance, stand in for the nine different islands that were inhabited long before Western civilization arrived. The seven colors on the flag of the Masonic organization International Order of the Rainbow for Girls are symbolic of the organization’s ten tenets.
God made the rainbow. It’s a source of inborn joy for us. When a rainbow appears after a storm, it’s hard not to feel awed. Rejoicing in the rainbow as a sign of God’s steadfast love and mercy is good and proper. The fact that some people have tried to appropriate the hues for their own ends doesn’t take away from the glory and splendor of God’s creation.