“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and to all the earth. . . . Yes, this is the sign of my covenant with all the creatures of the earth.” - Genesis 9:13, 17
William Wordsworth, the poet, lived in the English Lake District. There, because of a damp climate and steady rainfall, rainbows regularly appear in the dark skies. He wrote,
“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky,
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die.”17
Wordsworth did not identify the reasons for his heart-leap. Given his love of nature and his poetic vision, he no doubt rejoiced in the rainbow’s beauty and drew profound lessons from the sight.
The scientist, looking at the same rainbow, recognizes that light refracted through moisture produces a colored ray. In a shower of rain, many rays refracted at slightly different angles through many raindrops produce all the colors of the spectrum, which then form concentric arcs around the common center, the sun. And that’s all that a rainbow is!
Two totally different viewpoints—one poetic, the other scientific. But there is another way of looking at the rainbow. God told Noah, “I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and to all the earth. . . . Yes, this is the sign of my covenant with all the creatures of the earth” (Gen. 9:13, 17).
Scientific observation has enabled man to explore the world, to probe its mysteries, to mine its treasures, and to harness its power, more often than not to man’s greater good. And poetic imagination has done much to enrich our souls. But only divine revelation can introduce man to the deepest, richest dimensions of life and the knowledge of eternity. Without God telling us, we would never have guessed that the rainbow is a message from the Creator of the universe, proclaiming his loving faithfulness and unending commitment to the covenant he freely made with man.
Some men who engage in scientific observation of the world fail to see evidence of the Creator in that which he created. And others whose poetic imaginations take them into flights of fancy frequently land in regions far from the Lord. But the scientist who knows and understands the things of God worships as he observes creation’s wonders, and the believing poet’s imagination soars to unimagined heights as he recognizes evidences of God on every hand.
For Further Study: Genesis 9:8-17
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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