Jul 14, 2015

Obergefell: The Real Rainbow Sign

Marc Chagall
The Real Rainbow Sign: Grateful Awe Before the Deferred Judgment of Man
Ge 9:13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. 14 "And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, 15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Eze 1:28 Like the appearance of a bow 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. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Promoters of sin, including those potentates who pervert marriage, have better cause than they realize to wave rainbows flags or paint public buildings in rainbow colors. Those destroyers who desire men in the name of dignity to degrade their own bodies do more than they know when they point to rainbows. It was God who designated the meaning of the rainbow after the Flood. God had destroyed by water all mankind except for the world's only righteous man (and, in a great figure of Christ and the Church, the family that followed Noah in faith, obeyed him and partook of the blessing of his righteousness). God had judged mankind then because: "God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways." Ge 6:12

After this judgment, God wanted to signify his merciful deferral of another such universal judgment of man until the end of history. As a sign of his covenant, God hung His bow in the sky (the word translated "rainbow" from the Hebrew is simply the word for a bow-and-arrow weapon). We might say that, in a rainbow amidst the clouds, we see a representation that God has hung up his implement of comprehensive punishment and pointed it away from man as a sign of mercy. It may be another part of the Christ typology that the bow aimed once at man is now directed to heaven. In any case, the rainbow is a sign of God's willingness to defer, not forego, comprehensive judgment until the final judgment. It is a sign of our chance to turn away from our corruption and toward God. For those who rebel against God, it also provides man with a chance to dance one more dance of sin before the end, to celebrate with impunity the immunity from immediate punishment that God's mercy gives.

The rainbow, therefore, is a complex sign related to our sin. First, it is a sign of God's mercy in His waiting to judge our sin. God symbolizes by it the undeserved time that we enjoy to repent and seek Him. But God's mercy and deferral is not a denial of our sin. To the contrary, we need a sign of mercy because we are aware to this day of what we deserve: judgment and judgment now. We all are aware that we deserve judgment and shelter today only under God's mercy.

For all mankind, the rainbow is, thus, a worthy sign of our shelter in God's mercy from the rightful consequences of our own sin. It is a sign that God's dignity is not diminished before the open rebellion of man because this rebellion is an abuse of God's mercy, not an encroachment on His power. Just as sinful Christians will stand forever under the blood of Christ, so sinful mankind shelters for a time under the covenant of mercy symbolized by the rainbow.

Those who wave the rainbow to celebrate their ability to sin under God's mercy do so consistently with their rights under God's covenant, but not with wisdom. Judgment is coming in God's time, and everyone, especially Christians who understand what that means, uses this time gratefully to turn to God and gratefully learn the real lessons of His mercy. This does not mean that God does not punish any longer in history:
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:7  
But the punishments in history are aimed not at a full response to man's injustice (another flood), but to remind man of the coming judgment.

Accordingly, Christians should be encouraged that, by God's providence, those who organize their identity around sexual sin have chosen the rainbow as their sign. Seen in its revealed significance, their rainbows are confessions of our human sin and blessing at God's sufferance. We may be thankful and not surprised that in these times where immorality is celebrated by men and decreed as normal by oligarchic courts the ancient symbol of God's mercy and power is being elevated by God's providence. 

1 comment:

  1. I learned something interesting about Enoch's son Methuselah. The name Methuselah comes from two roots: muth, meaning "death"; and shalach, which means "to bring," or "to send forth." Thus, the name Methuselah signifies, "his death shall bring." Sure enough, in the year of his death, the flood came in judgment to destroy mankind save for Noah and his family. It appears that in this way, Methuselah became a symbol of God's forthcoming judgment to the people subject to judgment at that time. A symbol similar to the Christian, as Paul describes Christians stating that "to some we are the fragrance of death", "death" perhaps referring to God's coming judgment. No wonder, then, that Christians are stigmatized and treated like "the refuse of the world" by those who continue in wickedness, such people knowing instinctively that judgment is coming soon.