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. IN A WORLD LIKE THIS IT IS TO BE EXPECTED, AS A THING OF COURSE, THAT CLOUDS SHOULD ARISE. It is a matter inseparable from the constitution of things here existing. And just so it is in the world of Providence, with those trims and afflictions of which we may consider the clouds of heaven as an illustration. We are here in a vale of tears, in which "it must needs be that afflictions will come." There are causes at work here which must as necessarily lead to this result, as in the world of nature the operation of the sun's heat on the water's surface must give rise to clouds.
II. WHENEVER THESE CLOUDS ARISE, AND WHATEVER COURSE THEY TAKE, THEY ARE ALWAYS UNDER DIVINE GUIDANCE. How much like a thing of chance it seems when the moisture arises, almost imperceptibly to human vision, and floats away into the air of heaven! But there is nothing casual or chanceful about it. God is as truly present in that silent operation as He was when the world was made. The language of the text is true of every cloud that forms in the air — "I do bring it." And as He brings it, so He guides it. "Doubtless the sailing of a cloud hath Providence for its pilot." The hand which forms them as they rise is never removed from them while they exist. They go where God directs: they do what God designs; and when God wills, they dissolve and disappear. And just so it is with the clouds of trial and affliction which rise and float in the Providential firmament. From whatever source they come; whatever character they assume; or whatever instrumentality is employed to produce them, still, we are to look beyond all these, and to consider that it is God alone who brings them.
III. THERE EXISTS AN INSEPARABLE COVENANT CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CLOUDS THAT RISE, EITHER IN THE NATURAL OR PROVIDENTIAL FIRMAMENT, AND THE BOW OF GOD'S PROMISE. In conclusion, several important practical questions are suggested by this subject: we may inquire —
1. What is needed in order that the bow should appear in the heavens? The cloud, the sun and the rain must exist, and that, too, in a certain relation with each other. The cloud is needed as the canvas on which the bow of beauty shall be painted. The sun is needed to give the light, the colours, of which the painting is composed; and the drops of falling rain are needed, as the pencil by which those colours are applied — the medium required to decompose the rays of light, and spread out their varying hues in blended loveliness. And in the spiritual world, to which we are applying the subject, there must be that which answers to these three requirements. There must be cloud, a ground work of human guilt and sorrow, on which the bow can be projected. There must be a Sun of Righteousness — a Divine Saviour causing the beams of His favour to shine forth; and there must be the descending showers of Divine grace to refract those glorious rays, and illumine with their brightness the dark horizon of man's prospects.
2. But what is necessary to the seeing of this bow when it does appear? A man must be led to see himself a ruined sinner; he must turn, under a sense of this ruin, in true penitence to Christ; he must submit himself, without reserve, to Him; he must seek pardon through His blood, and acceptance in His merits; he must be led to the exercise of heart-felt living faith in Him and His precious word; he must have a personal and saving interest in the blessings of His covenant, and then he will be occupying the proper point of view from which to see distinctly the bow of the covenant, and feel the covenant and delight which that view can give.
3. But what is implied in seeing this bow? It denotes a thorough, inwrought, abiding conviction, that God's hand is in every rising, threatening cloud, and that it is there for good. It denotes a lively, vigorous hope, entering within the vail, trod keeping the soul steady in her heavenward course, whatever storms may burst and beat around it.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
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: