Read Genesis 8:21-9:17
God makes a promise: never again. “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans.”
But he knows that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” Humans haven’t changed. The dragon survived the flood, humans still crave his fruit, and God knows it.
That’s what makes this promise so shocking. He is saying that he will no longer punish the earth and all living creatures because of the sin of humankind. Humans will follow the dragon, and God will tolerate it. Humans will dirty and damage his beautiful creation, and he will let them.
It’s not a careless promise. He makes a ‘covenant’ – a legal contract. God is binding himself to it. He says to us: despite all the evil you do, I will not curse the earth or destroy all life with a flood ever again.
That’s the contract.
It’s not two-sided because there is nothing creation can promise to God in return. It’s one-sided, pure grace, signed with a rainbow.
And all of this – the promise, the grace, the rainbow – come from God’s pleasure.
He smells the roasting meat and he likes it. I think he likes more than just the smell of the meat. He likes that Noah’s first act is to worship him. He likes Noah. He likes the world: the people, the animals, and the earth itself. I get the sense from verses 21-22 that he is deeply glad the whole story is not over and in his great pleasure he recommits himself to it. Then he makes a rainbow: how perfect.
The rainbow is a perfect reminder of this promise because of what it is. It’s light passing through water. The water, a reminder of sin and destruction, acts as a prism bending the light and untangling its colors so each one shows separately.
He says the rainbow is to remind him of his covenant but I ask you: would he forget? I think he made it for those anxious refugees from the ark and for everyone since – sick with sin and desperate for grace.
I think it’s for you and me, for all of us who know that God has every right to un-make us. We can look to the rainbow and remember his ancient covenant.
Light passes through rain, and his grace passes through our sin, and all the beautiful colors pour out.