God Makes the Rainbow as a Symbol of His Covenant With Man
(Gen 9:11-13) And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 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: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
Most people know what a rainbow is and have heard of some stories related to rainbows. As for the story about the rainbow in the Bible, some people believe it, some treat it as legend, while others don’t believe it at all. No matter what, everything that happened in relation to the rainbow is all things God once did, and things that took place during the process of God’s management of man. These things have been recorded exactly in the Bible. These records do not tell us what mood God was in at the time or the intentions behind these words God said. Moreover, no one can appreciate what God was feeling when He said them. However, God’s state of mind regarding this entire thing is revealed between the lines of the text. It is as though His thoughts at the time leap off the page through each word and phrase of God’s word.
Originally, God created a humanity that in His eyes was very good and close to Him, but they were destroyed by flood after rebelling against Him. Did it hurt God that such a humanity just instantly vanished like that? Of course it hurt! So what was His expression of this pain? How was it recorded in the Bible? It was recorded in the Bible as: “And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” This simple sentence reveals God’s thoughts. This destruction of the world pained Him very much. In man’s words, He was very sad. We can imagine: How did the earth that was once full of life look like after being destroyed by the flood? How did the earth that was once full of human beings look like now? No human habitation, no living creatures, water everywhere and an absolute mess on the surface of the water. Was such a scene God’s original intention when He created the world? Of course not! God’s original intention was to see life all across the land, to see the human beings He created worshiping Him, not just for Noah to be the only one worshiping Him or the only one who could answer His call to complete what he was entrusted. When humanity disappeared, God saw not what He had originally intended but the complete opposite. How could His heart not be in pain? So when He was revealing His disposition and expressing His emotions, God made a decision. What kind of a decision did He make? To make a bow in the cloud (note: the rainbow that we see) as a covenant with man, a promise that God would not destroy mankind with a flood again. At the same time, it was also to tell people that God had once destroyed the world with a flood, to let mankind forever remember why God did such a thing.
Was the destruction of the world this time something God wanted? It was definitely not what God wanted. We might be able to imagine a small part of the pitiful sight of the earth after the destruction of the world, but we cannot come close to imagining what the scene was like at the time in God’s eyes. We can say that, whether it is the people of now or then, nobody is able to imagine or appreciate what God was feeling when He saw that scene, that image of the world following its destruction by flood. God was forced to do this due to man’s disobedience, but the pain suffered by God’s heart from this destruction of the world by flood is a reality no one can fathom or appreciate. That’s why God made a covenant with mankind, which was to tell people to remember that God once did something like this, and to swear to them that God would never destroy the world in such a way again. In this covenant we see God’s heart—we see that God’s heart was in pain when He destroyed this humanity. In the language of man, when God destroyed mankind and saw mankind disappearing, His heart was weeping and bleeding. Isn’t that as best as we can describe it? These words are used by humans to illustrate human emotions, but since man’s language is too lacking, using them to describe God’s feelings and emotions doesn’t seem too bad to Me, and nor are they too excessive. At least it gives you a very vivid, very apt understanding of what God’s mood was like at the time. What will you think of now when you see a rainbow again? At least you will remember how God was once in sorrow over destroying the world by flood. You will remember how, even though God hated this world and despised this humanity, when He destroyed the human beings He created with His own hands, His heart was hurting, struggling to let go, feeling reluctant, and finding it hard to bear. His only comfort was in Noah’s family of eight. It was Noah’s cooperation that made His painstaking efforts of creating all things worthwhile. At a time when God was suffering, this was the only thing that could make up for His pain. From that point, God placed all of His expectations of humanity on Noah’s family, hoping they could live under His blessings and not His curse, hoping that they would never see God destroy the world with a flood again, and also hoping that they would not be destroyed.
What part of God’s disposition should we understand from here? God had despised man because man was in enmity to Him, but in His heart, His care, concern, and mercy for humanity remained unchanged. Even when He destroyed mankind, His heart remained unchanged. When humanity was full of corruption and disobedient toward God to a certain extent, God had to, because of His disposition and His essence, and in accordance with His principles, destroy this humanity. But because of God’s essence, He still pitied mankind, and even wanted to use various ways to redeem mankind so they could continue to live. Instead, man opposed God, continued to disobey God, and refused to accept God’s salvation, that is, refused to accept His good intentions. No matter how God called to them, reminded them, supplied them, helped them, or tolerated them, man did not understand or appreciate it, nor did they pay attention. In His pain, God still did not forget to give man His maximum tolerance, waiting for man to turn around. After He reached His limit, He did what He had to do without any hesitation. In other words, there was a specific time period and process from the moment God planned to destroy mankind to the official start of His work in destroying mankind. This process existed for the purpose of enabling man to turn around, and was the last chance God gave to man. So what did God do in this period before destroying mankind? God did a significant amount of reminding and exhorting work. No matter how much pain and sorrow God’s heart was in, He continued to exercise His care, concern, and abundant mercy on humanity. What do we see from this? Undoubtedly, we see that God’s love for mankind is real and not just something He is paying lip service to. It is actual, tangible and appreciable, not fake, adulterated, deceitful or pretentious. God never uses any deception or creates fake images to make people see that He is lovable. He never uses false testimony to let people see His loveliness, or to flaunt His loveliness and holiness. Aren’t these aspects of God’s disposition worthy of man’s love? Aren’t they worth worshiping? Aren’t they worth cherishing? At this point, I want to ask you: After hearing these words, do you think God’s greatness is merely words on a sheet of paper? Is God’s loveliness just empty words? No! Certainly not! God’s supremacy, greatness, holiness, tolerance, love, and so forth—all of these various aspects of God’s disposition and essence are put into effect every time He does His work, embodied in His will toward man, and also fulfilled and reflected on every person. Regardless of whether you have felt it before, God is caring for every person in every possible way, using His sincere heart, wisdom, and various methods to warm each person’s heart, and awaken each person’s spirit. This is an indisputable fact. No matter how many people are sitting here, each person has had different experiences of and feelings toward God’s tolerance, patience, and loveliness. These experiences of God and these feelings or acknowledgments of Him—in short, all of these positive things are from God. So by integrating everyone’s experiences and knowledge of God and combining them with our readings of these Bible passages today, do you now have a more real and proper understanding of God?
God created mankind; regardless of whether they have been corrupted or whether they follow Him, God treats human beings as His loved ones—or as human beings would say, the people dearest to Him—and not His playthings. Although God says He is the Creator and that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a bit of a difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly provides for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about nor tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition. This is why, regardless of whether it is in the Bible or any other books, we never find God expressing His thoughts, and we never find God describing or declaring to humans why He does these things, or why He cares so much for mankind, in order to make mankind be grateful toward Him or praise Him. Even when He is hurt, when His heart is in extreme pain, He never forgets His responsibility toward mankind or His concern for mankind, all while He bears this hurt and pain alone in silence. To the contrary, God continues to provide for mankind as He always does. Even though mankind often praises God or bears witness to Him, none of this behavior is demanded by God. This is because God never intends for any of the good things He does for mankind to be exchanged for gratitude or for it to be paid back. On the other hand, those who fear God and shun evil, those who truly follow God, listen to Him and are loyal to Him, and those who obey Him—these are the people who will often receive God’s blessings, and God will bestow such blessings without reservation. Moreover, the blessings people receive from God are often beyond their imagination, and also beyond anything human beings can exchange for what they have done or the price they have paid. When mankind is enjoying God’s blessings, does anyone care about what God is doing? Does anyone show any concern for how God is feeling? Does anyone try to appreciate God’s pain? The precise answer to these questions is: No! Can any human being, including Noah, appreciate the pain God was feeling at that moment? Can anyone comprehend why God would set up such a covenant? They cannot! Mankind doesn’t appreciate God’s pain not because they cannot understand God’s pain, and not because of the gap between God and man or the difference in their status; rather, it is because mankind doesn’t even care about any of God’s feelings. Mankind thinks God is independent—God doesn’t need people to care about Him, to understand Him or show Him consideration. God is God, so He has no pain, no emotions; He won’t be sad, He doesn’t feel sorrow, He even doesn’t cry. God is God, so He doesn’t need any emotional expressions and He doesn’t need any emotional comfort. If He does need these under certain circumstances, then He will resolve it Himself and won’t require any assistance from mankind. Conversely, it is the weak, immature humans who need God’s consolation, provision, encouragement, and even for Him to comfort their emotions, anytime, anywhere. Such a thought hides deep inside the hearts of mankind: Man is the weak one; they need God to look after them in every way, they deserve all the care they receive from God, and they should demand from God whatever they feel should be theirs. God is the strong one; He has everything, and He ought to be mankind’s guardian and bestower of blessings. Since He already is God, He is omnipotent and doesn’t ever need anything from mankind.
As man doesn’t pay attention to any of God’s revelations, he has never felt God’s sorrow, pain, or joy. But conversely, God knows all of man’s expressions like the palm of His hand. God supplies everyone’s needs at all times and in all places, observing each person’s changing thoughts and thus comforting and exhorting them, and guiding and illuminating them. In terms of all the things God has done on mankind and all of the prices He has paid because of them, can people find a passage in the Bible or from anything God has said until now that clearly states that God will demand something from man? No! To the contrary, no matter how people ignore God’s thinking, He still repeatedly leads mankind, repeatedly supplies mankind and helps them, to let them follow God’s way so they can receive the beautiful destination He has prepared for them. When it comes to God, what He has and is, His grace, His mercy, and all His rewards, will be bestowed without reservation upon those who love and follow Him. But He never reveals to any person the pain He has suffered or His state of mind, and He never complains about anyone not being considerate toward Him or not knowing His will. He simply bears all of this in silence, waiting for the day mankind will be able to understand.
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh