The rainbow is an amazing phenomenon. Many stories and myths are associated with this colorful sensation. I read of one culture that believes that if you pass under a rainbow you will change genders. In other words, if you are a man, you will become a woman and if you are a woman, you will be come a man. This myth makes me glad that it is impossible to pass under a rainbow.
Of course, there is also the thinking that at the end of the rainbow there are tiny little leprechauns dressed in green and guarding a pot of gold. Dorothy sang to us in the Wizard of Oz that somewhere over the rainbow our dreams really do come true. But none of these examples even come close to the awe and wonder of the real meaning of the rainbow.
The first rainbow can be read about in Genesis 9:8-17, when God makes a covenant with Noah. There are several aspects of this covenant worth noting:
First, this covenant was unilateral, meaning that God initiated it without any negotiation.
Second, it was unconditional. Noah did not have to do anything to get the benefits of the covenant and there was nothing Noah could do to make God break the covenant.
Third, this covenant was universal. It wasn't just for Noah. It was also for his wife, his sons, their wives and all of creation.
Fourth, this covenant was perpetual. It was also for all of Noah's descendants and successive generations. Being that you and I are all descendants of Noah, that means this covenant is also an agreement with us.
Fifth, this covenant was a promise. The promise was that God would never again destroy the entire earth with a flood like he had done in Noah's day.
Sixth, there was a sign that accompanied this covenant. This sign was the rainbow. The rainbow would be a reminder that God had made this covenant and that He would keep it. Now for you and I, seeing a rainbow is cool, but I doubt it is anything close to what Noah felt every time he saw a rainbow in the 350 years that he lived after the flood. Here's why:
When you and I see it raining, how do we respond? Do we panic? Do we "freak out?" Of course not. Why? Because we are use to it raining. We have seen it rain hundreds, if not thousands of times. No big deal, right? But it was a big deal for Noah. Remember, before the flood it had never rained. The only experience Noah ever had with rain resulted in a universal flood, death, destruction and a year on a wooden box with a bunch of smelly animals.
If God had not made this promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood, how do you think Noah would have reacted the first time it rained after he got off the ark? He would most likely have panicked. He would have "freaked out!" He would have thought, "OH, NO! NOT AGAIN!" You see, the rainbow for Noah was a reminder that he served a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God which meant that Noah could be at peace, even when the storms came.
Keep that in mind the next time you see a rainbow. The next time that colorful arch spans the sky above your head, look at it from Noah's sandals. But be careful not to pass under it - Just in case the myth listed above may be true!