And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you…
I. Among the many deep truths which the early chapters of the Book of Genesis enforce, there is none which strikes the thoughtful inquirer more forcibly than does THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DISORDER OCCASIONED BY MAN'S SIN AND THE REMEDY ORDAINED BY THE WISDOM AND THE MERCY OF GOD. This connection may be traced in a very remarkable manner in the appointment of the rainbow as sign and pledge of the covenant. Rainbow equally dependent for its existence upon storm and upon sunshine. Marvellously adapted, therefore, to serve as type of mercy following upon judgment — as sign of connection between man's sin and God's free and unmerited grace. Connected gloomy recollections of past with bright expectations of future. Taught by anticipation the great lesson which it was reserved for Christ's Gospel fully to reveal, that as sin had abounded, so grace should "much more abound."
II. Further, not only is the rainbow, as offspring equally of storm and sunshine, a fitting emblem of covenant of grace, it is also type of that equally distinctive peculiarity of Christ's Gospel, THAT SORROW AND SUFFERING HAVE THEIR APPOINTED SPHERE OF EXERCISE BOTH GENERALLY IN THE PROVIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE WORLD, AND INDIVIDUALLY IN THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. Other religions have enforced lessons of patience and of submission beneath the pressure of irremediable ill. It is the Gospel of Christ Jesus alone which converts sorrow and suffering into instruments for the attainment of higher and more enduring blessings. In all God's dealings with His people, when He brings a cloud upon the earth, He sets His bow in that cloud, insomuch that they cease to fear when they enter into it by reason of the presence of Him whose glory inhabits it (Isaiah 54:9, 10).
III. For the full comprehension of the bow, given as a sign of the covenant to Noah and beheld in vision by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4, 28), we must turn to the New Testament. There we read of One in the midst of a throne, round about which "there was a rainbow, in sight like unto an emerald" (Revelation 4:3). And in close conjunction with this we must have regard to the "mighty angel" beheld by the same seer, "clothed with a cloud and a rainbow upon his head" (Revelation 10:1). Here we seem to find the explanation which is needed of the close and inseparable connection between the cloud and the rainbow — i.e., between judgment and mercy; between the darkness of the one and the brightness of the other. In the person and work of the atoning Mediator we find the only solution of that marvellous combination of judgment and of mercy which is the distinctive characteristic of the whole of the Divine economy. As the rainbow spans the vault of the sky and becomes a link between earth and heaven, so, in the person and work of Christ, is beheld the unchangeableness and perpetuity of that covenant of grace which, like Jacob's ladder, maintains the communication between earth and heaven, and thus, by bringing God very near to man, ushers man into the presence chamber of God.
IV. NECESSARY IMPERFECTION IN ALL EARTHLY TYPES OF HEAVENLY THINGS. In nature continued appearance of rainbow is dependent on continued existence of cloud. In heaven, the rainbow will ever continue to point backward to man's fall, and onward to the perpetuity of a covenant which is" ordered in all things and sure." But the work of judgment will then be accomplished, and therefore the cloud will have no more place in heaven.
(E. B. Elliot, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: