Hair bows and war bows
'I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth' Genesis 9:13(ESV).
So were God's words to Noah after the flood waters receded and he and his family were delivered to dry land.
What lead to this global flood that we read of in Genesis 9? We are told in Genesis 6:5 that the Lord looked and saw the wickedness of people that was on the earth. And so the flood was God judging evil in the way that he will do again when Christ returns. It was a picture of the final terrible judgement for all who do not come to Christ.
The wonderful thing about God's sign in the sky, is that this is God promising that he will never again flood the earth and teaching us something about the gospel. Because the word for bow that is recorded for us (when God says he will place his bow in the sky) is the word for battle bow rather than a bow that might be placed in hair or as a decoration! It is used for example in Genesis 27:3 when Isaac spoke to Esau: 'Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.' A bow in the sky is significant. Instead of God losing his judgement upon us, the battle bow is cocked and aimed at himself; for the bow points upwards to heaven. This is truly the wonder of God's promise. That although our transgressions merit us being punished, God has directed the punishment at himself and it was taken by his Son, for all who will have him as Lord and Saviour. So we could say the NIV translation of the Bible is weak in translating the Hebrew as 'rainbow', using a common English word, as opposed to what God was getting at.
Heaven truly has won the day and shown us great grace and love! Next time you see God's bow in the sky, take the sign as an amazing gospel promise. With George Matheson we can sing: 'I trace the rainbow through the rain and know the promise is not vain.'