When you see a Rainbow, what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you live in the West, it's difficult to imagine anything other than the LGBTQ marketing campaign for acceptance, approval, allyship, and affirmation. But it didn't begin that way.
You may walk into a Target store and see "Pride displays" of rainbow-colored clothing for kids and adults. You may flip on Hulu and be inundated by commercials celebrating the colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) alongside people of various 'identities' and orientations. Somehow, co-opting the spectrum of colors disguises the moral corruption being advanced. Afterall, what could be more innocuous than a rainbow?
But do you know the origin of the Rainbow? It's in the Bible -- Genesis 9 -- when God makes a promise to Noah after the floodwaters receded. God calls that promise a "Covenant" that He's making with Noah and his offspring. A Covenant is a Promise, an Agreement, a Contract. In this case, God is making a unilateral contract with mankind. But I'm getting ahead of myself – let's look first at the data points.
When you see a rainbow you may think, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" Or perhaps you muse, "Isn't it cool how water particles in the air refract light into full prismatic effect, so that we see a spectrum displayed according to the angstrom wavelengths of light!" Um, ok Mr. Scientist, that's correct. But if you live in the USA, you cannot not think about LGBTQ matters. The rainbow colors are ubiquitous in June throughout our modern-day Sodom, er, America.
But as Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, "I do not think that word means what you think it means." Correct. The word, Rainbow, doesn't mean what you think it means. It's been co-opted and redefined, but I'm taking it back. Let me explain.
First, let's separate the word into its constituent parts.
Rainbow = Rain + Bow
That is significant. It's a Bow that magically appears in the sky after it rains. Which begs the question: "What is a Bow?" Is it a ribbon we tie atop a wrapped birthday gift? Is it a deep bending at the waist to honor royalty? Is it the front portion of a ship? In Genesis 9, it is neither ... it is a weapon!
The Bow as Weapon
When we think "rainbow," we need to imagine an "enormous bow and arrow that appears in the sky after it rains." It is a weapon of God's creation, but here's the surprising part: God aims it at Himself. In light of the judgment of the Flood, we might expect God to aim His Bow and Arrow down at us from heaven. If He did, the curved semi-circular weapon would be inverted, like the letter U or like a big bowl.
But God isn't aiming His arrows at us, to ensure compliance to His Covenant. He's aiming the arrow at Himself! Effectively, God is fulfilling the formula for Biblical Covenants: "If I don't keep my end of the deal, may this happen to me." In other words, "If I go back on my promise to never flood the whole earth again, then may this mammoth Bow and Arrow be triggered upward at Me. May I be pierced through."
I think I'll stop calling that "ROYGBIV Arc in the sky" following a storm "the rainbow." Nope, that doesn't extract its accurate meaning in today's culture. Instead I'll call it, "A Weapon in the sky aimed upward at a loving God."
Has an Arrow Been Shot?
God has trained the Bow and Arrow upon Himself, ready to "die" if He ever breaks His promise. But God never breaks His promises, and so no arrow has ever shot upward to deal a lethal blow to God. Well ... except once, and that wasn't because God broke His promise, but because He made an extra one...
God went one step further, didn't He? Throughout the Bible (Isaiah 53, Genesis 3:15, Zechariah 12:10), God made a promise to send One to pay the death penalty for sinners who will "bow" to Him alone. God allowed mankind to "shoot His arrow" once, and it found its target -- in the side of the One and Only, the innocent Son of God, who took our place of guilt and shame.
"They will look on Me, the one they have pierced ..." Zechariah 12:10b
The Rainbow reminds us, not only that God won't flood the whole earth again, but that He was willing to pay the ultimate price of His Son's piercing death to rescue us. The rainbow's colors, while spectacular, are a mere hint of the unthinkably generous, kind, and loving Grace of God to completely undeserving sinners like you and me.
Now ... the multi-colored thing up in the sky after it rains ... what will we call it? I'm going with: "It's a Weapon, aimed at a loving God."