Chapter 30 God's Bow In A Dark Day

I do set My bow in the cloud (Genesis 9:13).

This chapter begins a new era in human history. It was a new beginning. There was to be a new system of God’s dealing with men. It was to be the establishing of government, which does not appear beforehand, and a committing of that government to the responsibility of man. Animal food was also introduced for man’s sustenance instead of only herbs. This meant that man would now feed upon what was the result of death. Death was to yield food for man, which pointed to the death of Christ as the food of those delivered from judgment and who would live in Him.

The offering of sacrifice by Noah was the ground upon which God entered into a covenant with man. In this covenant, God committed Himself and made a pledge, so that it could never be annulled. God’s promise not again to drown the world was given in covenant.

The rainbow in the cloud was the sign of God’s covenant. It is the most lovely of wonders in the natural world. It is set in the sky on a dark and stormy day.

The Message to Noah

Noah had witnessed the judgment of God on an ungodly world. In that judgment a world had disappeared and was buried. The world that then was, perished. God’s long-suffering had given man ample time to repent, but time brought no change. The life of man became nothing more than a lengthened course of iniquity.

When that cup was full, God’s justice brought to an end all flesh, save those who were in the ark of refuge of God’s design. The ark was an emblem of Christ, in whom alone safety is found. He only can deliver sinners from the wrath of God against sin and provide an all-secure refuge.

When the waters subsided, Noah and his family went forth from the ark. His first act was to build an altar and worship. Worship took precedence. But fallen man is prone to fears. These often linger on in the minds of those saved by the Lord, though there is no ground for such, and “fear hath torment.”

What fears, then, might invade Noah’s mind and heart? Would he not fear in the dark and cloudy day? Might he not fear another deluge? The gathering of dark clouds in the sky or the fall of heavy rain would easily provoke such fears.

But God in grace not only provided salvation from judgment, but gave His promise that He would not again deluge the world in like catastrophe. To add to Noah’s peace of mind, God added this remarkable and beautiful wonder—a bow in the cloud. And what a cheering and comforting wonder it must have been! “I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth… The waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 9:13-17; Isaiah 54:9-10).

The Truth in Christ

The promise of God to Noah was simply a pledge concerning the earth only. But it was a figure, and was related to something much better in Christ. Our Lord is set in a higher Heaven, and appears to those souls who fear the wrath of God and enter into God’s revealed grace in His Son. When all is dark and foreboding, then, lo, Christ appears in all His beauty. The cheering sight of Him assures that God’s judgment is past.

The rainbow derives its being from light, and our Lord spoke of Himself as “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). Light is bright and so is our Lord as “the brightness of His [the Father’s] glory” (Hebrews 1:3). Light is lovely, and so is our Lord, being “fairer than the children of men” (Psalm 45:2). Light is all-revealing, and so is our Lord. His glorious presence unmasks every dark and unlovely thing.

What is light which shines in the many-splendored bow? It is broken light! The charm and comfort of the Lord Jesus to believing souls lies in the fact that He was broken for us on Calvary’s cross. From that cross our Lord has risen as a bow of covenant grace. He is our assurance that God’s wrath is past and will never sweep the redeemed to perdition.

Thus on the dark and cloudy day, when conscience would accuse and fearful specters start up, or when perplexities puzzle, temptations assault, ridicule and persecutions afflict, lo, Christ our Lord appears as the Bow in the cloud. He shines forth in the midst of burdens which oppress and amidst life’s trials and discouragements. How fair and beautiful He is! He is the wonder of God’s infinite grace!

Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst the Father’s throne!
Prepare new honors for His name,
And songs before unknown.

Ye elders, worship at His feet—
His saints adore around,
With vials full of odors sweet
And harps of sweetest sound.

To Thee, O Lamb, to Thee, once slain,
Be endless blessings paid!
Salvation, glory, joy, remain
Forever on Thy head.

Isaac Watts