The Rainbow and the Cross
For me, seeing a real rainbow never gets old. When a rainbow is present I want to look and gaze upon its vivid and contrasting design. The rainbow is a stunning work of art and its appearance also reminds me of God’s promise to mankind that He will never again destroy all living flesh by flood (Genesis 9:11-15). The rainbow is beautiful and attractive in both appearance and meaning.
As we look back and take comfort from the biblical meaning of the rainbow, we must not forget that the promise was made because judgment came. If we forget the judgment, then we will also fail to see the beauty of the rainbow for all it is worth. When we sing our children’s songs about Noah, the flood and the mud, it often escapes us that the ark was necessary and the rainbow created because God is perfectly holy and the world was and is wicked, and the thing about wickedness is this: it is all-the-way-wicked (Romans 3:10-20) before an all-the-way-Holy God. Let’s be honest, we don’t want to sing about the righteous judgment that wickedness has earned, because to imagine and believe it offends our modern sensibilities and therapeutic constructs. Not to mention, we would no longer want to sing it to our children. Many would rather just make the rainbow mean what they want it to mean, despite the fact that it means promise was given on the other side of judgment, and we simply cannot see the beauty of the promise and fully appreciate it unless we are honest about the just judgment.
The cross is like the rainbow. I love the cross and I exult in it’s promise and meaning. I, just like every single person on the face of God’s blue, green and brown earth, have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and worshiped the creation instead of the creator. I have repeatedly tried to live by my own design and way instead of by God’s perfect design and ways. I have been wicked and rebellious toward a holy God who has revealed Himself and His way through nature, innate morality and through His saving and written revelation. For this reason, I deserve the suffering, shame and judgment of the cross. I have earned the overwhelming flood of God’s wrath and righteous judgment, but Jesus took my place and absorbed the wrath that I deserved, and promised that if I would give up my rebellion and believe in His sacrifice and resurrection, the cross would be to me like a rainbow and a promise. But again, the true beauty of the cross can’t be seen until we acknowledge the wrath of God poured out on sin. The wrath of God poured out on Jesus is the backdrop for the mercy of God through faith in Christ that makes the cross so vividly beautiful – as is true of the rainbow because of the judgment that preceded it.
Today, as is true of many things, the rainbow and the cross have been made to mean something other than what was originally intended. As we see both the rainbow and the cross draped, paraded, worn and flashed everywhere, I pray God will remind us that both are warnings of judgment, but they also proclaim there is mercy for sin. For those who suppress the truth and reject Jesus and His ways, its not a pretty picture. For those who trust in Christ and obey His ways, the rainbow and cross are vividly beautiful.