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…
How many spiritual lessons concerning the covenant itself are shadowed forth in this beautiful emblem. I would we never looked on it without remembering them.
1. "The bow shall be seen in the cloud." We make too much of clouds: the prophet tells us "the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3); and the Psalmist tells us He maketh the clouds His chariot oftentimes, as He once came to His disciples walking upon the waters; the clouds are the way by which He comes down to people's hearts, or brings them up to Him. It may be a cloud in our families, a cloud impending over our circumstances, a cloud in our experience, some conflict, some temptation it may be; but if God has brought the cloud, do not fear; the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And we cannot have the bow if we have not the cloud. We make too much of clouds; welcome the cloud, if the bow of your God is seen there.
2. Again observe, the bow surrounds the cloud, encompasses it; it is crowned with the bow; the bow is coloured rain, the edge of the cloud gilded.
3. Again, it is not from earth that bow comes, but from the heavens. The clouds all arise from the earth, the sun made by God shines down upon them, and they reflect its beauty; and so it is the Sun of Righteousness that gilds the clouds arising from our own murky hearts; the promise of a time to come, when rain and clouds shall be over and gone.
4. We may learn another lesson from the bow. Some people are puzzled with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity; they wonder very much if so difficult and seemingly contradictory a doctrine can be true. Why, God has hung up in the heavens a natural trinity to remind us of the covenant of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the sinner's salvation. See how the three primal colours blend in that arch in all the varieties of beauty. There are three in one in that beautiful arch. Whenever you are puzzled as to the Trinity, look at the rainbow, God's natural emblem of the fulness of the Father, the fulness of the Son, and the fulness of the Holy Ghost, pledged for the salvation of poor sinners.
5. Yet again, look at the rainbow. It is a gateway without gates between heaven and earth. The beautiful arch lies open; no bolted gates hang there on golden hinges; it is a doorway without a door; for the rent veil has made a new and living way, and God has come down to us that He might have fellowship with us. "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."
6. And again, consider the rainbow. It is a bow not bent towards us, but bent from us heavenwards, a bow without an arrow, a window in heaven, that our prayers may go up and enter in, and be presented by Him who stands before the throne, that we and they may be accepted.
7. Once again, the earth hides half of that beauteous bow. If you were above the earth, away beyond its mists, beyond its clouds and darkness, and beyond its hills and vales, the bow would appear a circle to you; now earth hides half of it, but by-and-by, when we are in heaven, the rainbow will be seen all round the throne. Now we see in part, we understand in part, we know in part; the mists of earth, and the earthliness of earth, hide much of the splendour and of the glory that our God has pledged Himself to bestow, but we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known, where the rainbow is about the throne, and round about the head of Him who sits upon the throne.
8. Lastly, we read of another circle round about the throne, the company of the redeemed! There they are under the shadow of the rainbow, which was to them the pledge of the love and care of the God in whom they trusted.
(M. Rainsford, B. 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: