This morning, I read Genesis 9 and the account of God’s covenant with Noah after the flood. God made a promise to Noah never again to flood the earth and destroy everything on it. God said, “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring the clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (9:13-15).
As I meditated on those verses, I couldn’t help but notice that I have never that when I see a rainbow. I’ve read this passage before; I know God makes rainbows. But, this morning, for the first time, I praised God for making a promise and giving us a sign that he still remembers it — thousands of years later.
Not only are rainbows signs of God’s covenant to never again destroy the earth by a flood, but they show God’s glorious mercy. Do you remember why God flooded the earth? Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Again in 8:27, God says, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” God destroyed the earth because, honestly, it was too terrible to stomach.
But there is beautiful redemption. God put a rainbow in the sky to remind us that he has the power to destroy the earth — but he doesn’t. There will be a day when the heavens and earth are destroyed, but not by water. They “will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Pt. 3:10b). Now, God is patient. Very patient, in fact. He wants his people to come to repentance (2 Pt. 3:9), and repentance comes through his son, Jesus, “who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5).
This has huge implications for us. So instead of asking, “Why did God allow a hurricane in the Gulf Coast (again)? or “Why was there flooding in the Midwest?” we should ask, “Why didn’t God send a huge storm on the whole earth and flood it?” Our answer is found in Genesis 9. It is because God made a promise. It is because the Lord “is a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ps. 86:15). It is because he wants to save his people and forgive the evil that we have in our thoughts, words, intentions, and actions. We are evil, even from our youth. God knows that. That’s why he’s patient. That’s why he sent Jesus.