Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Start the Year with a Rainbow

On the first day of the new year, a pack of Asahi in one hand, a few more cans of Kirin in the other, rushing for a dinner, there was the setting sun and a short shower, and our hearts leapt when we beheld a rainbow in the sky; that sign of God's judgement and God's grace and faithfulness.
The rainbow story is this: some time after the Fall, the world grew incredibly wicked and every intention of the thoughts of the hearts of humans were evil all the time. God was grieved by this resolved to destroy his creation by flood: all land, man, animals, birds and sea creatures would be blotted out from existence. In his grace, however, he considered one man, Noah, as righteous and saved him (and his family and some representative creatures) through the judgement of the wicked by providing them a way out, the safety of an ark, when the flood came (Genesis 6-8).

When everything else had been destroyed, God caused the waters subside and allowed Noah and company to set foot on dry:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "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; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, 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." And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:8-17)
So the rainbow was a reminder of the reality of punishment for sinful rebellion against God and also a sign of God's grace (that he will, in the future, withhold punishment (by drowning anyway) from the wicked that deserve such punishment) and God's faithfulness (that he will keep, and not deviate from, his promise).

Does this mean that God is no longer a God of judgement and wrath? Does this mean that we no longer need to worry about God's punishment?

God is perfect; he is a God of justice and holiness. He cannot ignore sin and in his righteousness, he must punish sin. So while the waters will never destroy the earth by flood, there will come a day when God will judge and punish the wicked by other means.

But God is also patient and kind, delaying his day of wrath. So for now, it doesn't seem as if God treats the saved and not-saved differently: God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

Yet, the day of judgement will come suddenly upon the world, like how, in the days of Noah, people were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:27)

Our ark is the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We too, like Noah, will be saved if, when warned by God about things not yet seen, we in holy fear trust in what he tells us will save us: the death of his Son for us on the cross (Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20-22).

The rainbow, then, is not a symbol that God will turn a blind eye to everything that we do and how we thumb our noses at him and accept us without changing us. Rather, it is a symbol of his undeserved kindness, his forbearance and his patience. It is not a licence to continue to do as we please; it is an urgent reminder to turn from idols to serve the living God.

Do not presume on the riches of God's kindness and forbearance and patience. It is meant to lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4). Continue to ignore God, then because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed (Romans 2:5).


At January 05, 2007 12:19 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How in God's name did rainbows become a symbol of gays?!!!


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