Today is March 17th, better known as St. Patrick’s Day. In some parts of the world, it has become a really important date on the calendar. When I was young, one of my best friends always wore a fleur-de-lis, one of the symbols of France, on this day of celebration. He didn’t want to recognize Ireland and, at times, he could be quite adamant about his love of France. But I grew up wearing green and deciding that everyone could be Irish for a day! And that is in spite of the fact that Toussaint is of French ancestry!
There are many annual customs and traditions on St. Patrick’s Day. Chicago turns its River green and bars/pubs throughout the land serve green beer and Irish specialty foods. Interestingly, the shamrock, a sign of the day, has three leaves and it is believed that it originally symbolized the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of course, there is also still talk of leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But we never physically see the end of the rainbow – it seems to keep moving away from us. On rare occasion, I have seen double rainbows and have even been fortunate enough to photograph several in my day.
Every time I see a rainbow, I can’t help but think about the things that I learned in seminary. In the Bible, there are three different times that rainbows are mentioned. Once is before a storm, once during a storm and once after a storm. Isn’t it interesting that rainbows are always linked to storms in one way or the other? The most famous of these appearances is after the Flood when Noah’s ark comes to rest on the side of what we believe was Mount Ararat.
Noah and his family were spared during the Flood and when the ark finally landed, Noah and his family offered a sacrifice to God. It was during this time that God entered into a covenant with Noah and promised that He would never destroy the earth again with water.
After all, the world had become a place of sin and God finally decided that it was time to end things and re-populate the world after cleansing it of the problems that plagued it. Noah and his family were chosen to build an ark and save the animals. They had been faithful to God in the building of the ark, withstood criticism from others and finally gathered the animals to take the journey with them for whatever God had in mind. It rained 40 days and 40 nights so there was no question that God had the power to end all life on earth if He so desired.
The Noahic Covenant is an interesting one. God promises Noah that the earth will never again be completely destroyed by water. Furthermore, God tells Noah that the rainbow will be a sign of the covenant and then whenever God sees his rainbow, He will remember His promise to Noah.
Is Moses, the author of Genesis, trying to tell us that God could forget His promise to Noah – and to us? No way!!! But God is saying, I think, that every time we see a rainbow, God will be looking at it from heaven. In other words, it is a connection with the Father. Both heaven and earth experience the rainbow and we have the assurance that God is in heaven celebrating its beauty with us.
So it really doesn’t make any difference if we think a leprechaun may be sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Because the reality is that God is at the other end of the rainbow – and that’s worth everything. Far more than a pot of gold.
Our verse for tonight is from God’s promise to us as recorded in Genesis by Moses. Moses tells us, in Genesis 9:12-15, “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”
My encouragement this evening is that God has created beautiful things for us to enjoy and to be reminders of His presence and connection in our lives. The rainbow is one of those things. My prayer is that someday, we will be in the presence of God at the end of the rainbow and that we will dwell there for all eternity with Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…