The other day I needed to leave the office and run a quick errand. The weather has been unpredictable but when I looked outside the sun was shining. Shortly after I started
my walk black clouds rolled in and it started to rain. A couple minutes later the sun was out and it was shining again. Then for a brief moment I saw a rainbow. In Canada I hardly even used an umbrella but my lifestyle here in Basel is such that I walk or take the tram and I really must remember to carry an umbrella more often.
Most of us are familiar with the story of the rainbow in Genesis 9 that appeared after the flood. It was a sign to Noah and the rest of us that God would never again flood the earth. He made a promise, a covenant that still stands.
But there are two other Bible passages that mention rainbows. One is found in Ezekiel chapter one. In his vision and encounter with God Ezekiel tries to describe what he was seeing, something “like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.” It’s a description of the presence of God. Ezekiel was writing during the time of the exile. A time of hopelessness and despair and yet he has a vision of God and his presence with his people in the midst of difficultly. While the book of Ezekiel is hard to understand it starts with a clear message that God has not forgotten his people.
The last mention of a rainbow in found in John’s vision in the book of Revelation, he sees Jesus seated on a throne in heaven and writes, “He who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.” Around the throne were the four living creatures saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” John’s vision was about things that were yet to come, the persecution of the church and the end of this world. All that was about to, and will yet, take place is under the control of Jesus.
Problems, difficulties and the storms of life are going to come to all of us. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we will have everything easy. But God has promised to be with us in the midst of whatever we face. Sometimes we see the rainbow after the storm has passed, as Noah did. Other times we are reminded that God is with us in the midst of the battle that is raging, as Ezekiel did. And John’s vision lets us know that Christ is with us even before things start getting rough; it’s all in his hands. Past, present and future – Jesus is with us whatever we face.