Although the rainbow has been hijacked by a community within our culture, its majestic appearance will always be defined by the God who created it with respect to His meaning for its existence. “And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life'” (Genesis 9:12-15). Fittingly, the two other books in the Bible that bring back mention of the rainbow are in reference to the prophecies of the end times: once in Ezekiel and twice in Revelation.
The entire first chapter of Ezekiel describes, in great detail, the four living creatures, who are mentioned again, repeatedly, in Revelation. “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28). Here, Ezekiel’s vision of these four living creatures had culminated to this description of what appeared to be a figure like that of a man high above the throne that looked like sapphire, which was above the expanse over their heads (1:26). It could be assumed that he is using the vision, only able to be described as a rainbow, as a way to illuminate how our Lord can appear in His glory. Make no mistake, the chosen word to describe this “radiance” is not happenstance.
We’re reintroduced to this vision into this same throne in heaven, but this time by John, in the Spirit, revealing all that he sees in Revelation. This time, John uses jasper and carnelian to describe the one seated on this throne, but includes that a rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne (Revelation 4:2-3). Once more, he writes that a mighty angel coming down from heaven, robed in a cloud, had a rainbow above his head (Revelation 10:1).
The rainbow being used in prophetic eschatological imagery makes sense in that it reappears when we get limited insight into the coming closing of the covenant “established between me and all life on the earth” (Genesis 9:17). Ezekiel and John were given visions of grandeur, explaining what they saw in words understandable to man. Three times, the rainbow is used to describe the indescribable. However, even now we have the blessings associated with the rainbow that God bestowed back in Genesis and, if angels and heavenly thrones are surrounded by these colorful bows, personally, I can’t wait to see them for eternity. God is reminded, as are we, that when the rainbow appears in the sky, that He will not again destroy all life by flooding waters over the earth (Genesis 9:15).
To expound on this idea, “long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:5-7). When the ordained time of fruition comes, “the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10). “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Leading straight into Revelation 21, where the new heaven and new earth are described for us, His chosen ones, to read about and yearn for.
Scripture is laden with symbolism and imagery for readers to assist us in a deeper understanding of His workings and majesty, where He desires our enlightenment. Without question, the rainbow, and all that its meant to be, is but one of those visual signs that offer believers a glimpse into God’s promises and His glory. With respect to rainbows, they and their accompaniments are not only gleaming with beauty, but are put in their place for perpetual reminders that we can join those enigmatic four living creatures in “saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come'”(Revelation 4:8).
Originally, this post was driven by frustration towards the abuse that the sign of the rainbow has taken by the “other than ideal” sexual culture boiling up around us, but bringing the focus in to God’s use for the rainbow seemed to be a worthier way. God’s use for anything always was, is, and will be.