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Genesis 9:13,15

Genesis 9:13,15
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Genesis 9:13,15, “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth…And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

The most memorable element of God’s covenant with and all creation after the flood is the visual sign of the rain bow…which I’ll return to in a minute. However, perhaps the most critical element of this covenant for christological implications is God’s rationale for making it. We find this in Genesis 8:21.

“And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”

The really interesting aspect of YHWH’s logic here is found in the word “for.” He will never again destroy the earth as He did with the flood, FOR, man’s heart is evil. How does the persistent evil of the human heart act as a logical ground for YHWH promising to never again pour out judgment on the earth as He did at the flood?

I think the reasoning goes something like this:

Since humanity is persistently wicked (i.e., “total depravity”), God will covenant with them never to pour out such a cataclysmic judgment for their sins, because if He did–if He gave them immediate justice as they deserved–He would be perpetually destroying all life on the earth. This promise protects the earth from un-making after un-making and it allows humanity (and especially the Messiah’s line) to grow and flourish behind a wrath-delaying dam of covenant grace.

This is where the rain bow comes in. We’ve come to think of “rainbow” as a word on its own, completely disassociated with its origin, but the word used in the Hebrew is the same for the “bow” of a warrior. The rainbow, then, is a God-given image of the divine weapon of wrath (the weapon with which He drowned the ancient world in judgment) being set aside in the clouds, never again to be taken up for the purposes of judging The earth. With the atmosphere as His parchment, YHWH uses water and light to paint His steadfast love over the heads of His people in the form of a warrior’s bow hanging in the sky.

But…..what about all of those floods of judgment that humanity would earn over the years? This covenant doesn’t make us holy, it just promises the withholding of wrath….so, we need to ask, where did all the floods go? Where did all those arrows of divine judgment, earned by millennia of human rebellion, where did they go?

And its here that we notice the direction toward which the bow is pointed….it is aimed–curved with readied tension–at heaven rather than earth*. God has so designed the universe that the laws of physics anticipate the message of the gospel by inscribing in the skies a bow that aims upward, toward heaven, toward Himself…

And why is this? It is because all of those arrows of stored judgment, all of those world-decimating cataclysms of holy wrath, would one day be fired into the flesh of God incarnate as He hung on a Roman cross. “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins” (Rom.3:25). One the cross the sovereign and steadfast love of YHWH blazes with unparalleled intensity as the Son receives flood after flood after world-obliterating flood of judgment into His own soul….every arrow that had been or would be spared was spent on that day.

For any who will trust in Christ, the “great and terrible day of the LORD” on which the arrows were loosed and our sins were judged and our world was destroyed happened 2,000 years ago on the Calvary’s tree.

* I got the insight of the bow’s direction from Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum in their book, “God’s Kingdom Through God’s Covenants,” pg.67