Genesis 9 Series, Part 7, Verses 12-17

  • | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 28:26
  • Passages covered: Genesis 9:12-17, Genesis 9:13, Ezekiel 1:26-28,
    Revelation 1:12-15, Revelation 10:1, Numbers 9:17-20, Matthew 24:30,
    Isaiah 54:7-8, Isaiah 54:9.

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Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #7 of Genesis, chapter 9 and we are going to read Genesis 9:12-17:

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

In these verses we see the token of the covenant and the Hebrew word for “token” is also translated as “miracle” or “sign.” The translation as “sign” would fit best. The sign of the covenant God is making with Noah, with mankind, with the animals and with the earth after the flood is a “rainbow.” That is what God says in Genesis 9:13:

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

The “sign” of the covenant with Abraham was “circumcision.” The “sign” that God is making in the year 4989BC after the flood is a “bow” that will be seen in the clouds. The Hebrew word translated as “bow” is Strong’s #7198 and it is the typical word used when we read about a “bow and arrow.” Often, we read of a man pulling back a bow to shoot an arrow and it is the same Hebrew word. It is used more often in that way than it is used with the idea of a rainbow.

Is there a mistake? Are we understanding it correctly when we think of a multi-colored image that appears in the clouds after a rain? Or, should we have the idea of a “bow and arrow”? No, we should not think of it that way, because whenever God uses the word “bow” in connection to clouds, it does point to the idea of the “rainbow.” We see that in Ezekiel, chapter 1 where Ezekiel is receiving divine revelation from God as God breaks the barrier of the supernatural and is showing Himself to Ezekiel. It is a fantastic image that God showed him of a complex image of “living creatures,” a representation of the glory of God. It pictures God Himself and God is a very complex Being. He is an eternal, Almighty and all-knowing Being. In the Bible God tells us about Himself through His many names and through telling us about His characteristics and attributes. We are not going to read everything it says about these “living creatures” in Ezekiel, chapter 1, but it demonstrates that we cannot really grasp His complexity because He is so great and so infinitely far above us. When we read the account in Ezekiel, chapter 1 we really come away without much more understanding than before we read it. It says in Ezekiel 1:26-28:

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of JEHOVAH. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

We can see from this description of this appearance of a “man” above upon it and then this “man” is said to have “the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.” The brightness came from the appearance of fire about Him and then it says in Ezekiel 1:27: “the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.” The “brightness” was related to the appearance of “fire” and fire identifies with judgment. The “man” that gives the appearance of fire and brightness and is as a “bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain” is the Lord Jesus Christ who had experienced the fire or wrath of God as He went through the punishment from God for the sins of His people. He came out the other side when He raised from the dead and came back to life. This is like what we read in Revelation, chapter 1 when the Apostle John heard a voice as the sound of a trumpet. It says in Revelation 1:12-15:

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Here, we see that Christ’s eyes are related to a flame of fire and His feet as if they were burned in a furnace. This is because Jesus went through the fires of the wrath of God or the fires of “hell” and hell is the grave or death. That is where the appearance of the bow is coming from because in Genesis, chapter 9 the bow is appearing after the judgment. I think that is the “link” with what we are reading about the glory of God in Ezekiel, chapter 1. The “brightness” comes from the man that is identified with fire and the rainbow is likened to the “brightness.”

As Christ stands in the aftermath of having gone through the judgment of God, He is like the rainbow that appears in the cloud in the day of rain, as it says in Ezekiel, chapter 1. The rain has fallen; the flood has destroyed the earth; the wicked of the world have been destroyed. Therefore, the judgment has taken place and then appears the “rainbow.” Likewise, the Lord Jesus Christ experienced judgment at the foundation of the world, so the rainbow identifies with Him. It identifies with the aftermath or with what takes places after the judgment has come.

We also see that it says in Revelation 10:1:

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

Once again, the mighty angel that comes down from heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that He is clothed with a “cloud.” Wherever we find a reference to rainbows, we will find them associated with clouds and one important spiritual identification with clouds is that it relates to the Word of God. It says in Numbers 9:17-20:

And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of JEHOVAH the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of JEHOVAH they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of JEHOVAH, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of JEHOVAH they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of JEHOVAH they journeyed.

Here, God links the movement of the cloud upon the tabernacle to His commandment. The Lord repeats this several times in the passage, in order that we not miss it. He refers to the cloud and then to the commandment of JEHOVAH. When the cloud moved, Israel moved. The cloud was akin to the commandments of JEHOVAH. Where do we find the commandments of JEHOVAH? We find them in the Word of God, the Bible. This identification between the clouds and the Word of God has great significance in many verses, as it does in Matthew, chapter 24. We can see how it gives us much understanding of what God is saying in a particular verse. The context of Matthew 24 is the time immediately after the Tribulation when the sun is darkened and then the sign of Christ appears, as it says in Matthew 24:30:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

The clouds identify with the commandments of God and the commandments of God are found in the Bible. The Bible has revealed that the coming of Christ in judgment was a spiritual event, just as He came in judgment against the churches and congregations. No one saw Christ come and remove their candlestick – it was done spiritually. Likewise, when He came to judge the world on May 21, 2011 He did not come visibly, but He came “in the clouds.” In other words, when God’s people read the Bible they learned that Christ would come in judgment on that date and, therefore, they see His coming “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” That is why the people of God continue to hold onto the idea that Judgment Day has come and it is currently under way and we are now well into it.

Again, in Revelation 10, verse 1, the mighty angel (Christ) is “clothed with a cloud.” Christ is clothed with the Word of God; He is the Word made flesh. Then it said, “a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.” There is Jesus, once again, with a rainbow upon His head and the understanding that we are developing is that the rainbow comes after the judgment and that is why it is on His head – it is a “sign” or a token of the covenant that God has made with His elect people. The “sign” points to the fact that Jesus has paid the penalty for sin; the works are finished and the atonement was accomplished from the foundation of the world. The Law demanded death and Christ made the payment to satisfy the Law’s demand, thereby setting free the people whose sins He had born. It is like the rainbow after the flood. There is no longer a demand for death after the judgment. The Law says, “The wages of sin is death,” but the Law no longer demands death for those whose sins are paid for, so the rainbow is a sign to the people of God just as it was to the people of the world after the flood that God would not bring judgment again by the waters of a flood.

That was a particular sign after a particular kind of judgment, but what it represents is that the Law of God is satisfied with the judgment poured out upon the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of His people. God will not require any additional judgment regarding payment for sin. However, Christ still had to come and demonstrate these things and the people of God must make their appearance (as we are presently doing) before the judgment seat of Christ. There are other factors involved in why Jesus had to go to the cross in 33AD and why the elect must appear before the judgment seat of Christ in our day, but insofar as payment for sin is concerned, there is the “rainbow” in the cloud. It is the testimony of the Word of God that declares that God’s people are safe and secure.

Remember what the Lord said in Isaiah, chapter 54 where God speaks of saving the entirety of His people, including the firstfruits of the church age and then the great multitude. Then He transitions into the Day of Judgment with the language of “a small moment,” as it says in Isaiah 54:7-8:

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith JEHOVAH thy Redeemer.

There is no question He is speaking to the elect because He intends to have everlasting kindness and mercy upon them. That “small moment” applies to Judgment Day and our being forsaken refers to when God is testing His people. He will never actually forsake us because He indwells us. Notice what it says next in Isaiah 54:9:

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Do you see how God relates this back to the everlasting kindness and mercy He will have upon His people into eternity? It is “as the waters of Noah.” The promise is that the “the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth,” and it is likened to His promise that says, “so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.” Again, He is speaking directly to each one who He has saved. It is like the waters of Noah that will never again come upon the earth – the wrath of God is “as the waters of Noah.” That is why the rainbow is such a wonderful thing. The rainbow does testify that God will not destroy the earth by the waters of the flood, but it is also a testimony that God will not destroy His people – He will not bring us into annihilation, where we are cut off and cease to exist for evermore. He will never destroy His people in judgment. The rainbow indicates that God will not again bring judgment upon His people.

We have seen in Genesis, chapter 9 that things are moving onward because history had to continue to unfold. In Genesis, chapter 8 we saw that when they came out of the ark and stepped onto dry ground, it was a glorious picture of the entry into new heaven and new earth. Likewise, the rainbow goes along with that idea, spiritually, regarding the end of time and the final judgment of mankind and destruction of the world. Then is when all that God has promised and His everlasting kindness takes effect, so the rainbow has much more significance than just testifying to the fact that a flood will no longer destroy the earth. It is a wonderful and beautiful sign God has given His people that signals His intent to give His people everlasting life.

There is an interesting thing regarding a rainbow in Revelation 10, verse 1 where the mighty angel came down from heaven clothed with a cloud and a rainbow upon His head. We know that the “angel” is Christ and there is the rainbow. What does the sign of the rainbow signify? God will not again bring judgment. He will no more bring the waters of a flood. And it so happens that God typifies the final Judgment Day by the flood, but more than that, when God made the statement, “And yet seven days,” prior to bringing the flood, He related it to seven thousand years. Then God made a further connection between the flood and the final judgment of the world by causing the day that was exactly seven thousand years from the beginning of the flood to be May 21, 2011 and “the seventeenth day of the second month” and the beginning of the final judgment of this earth. In other words, May 21, 2011 greatly identifies with the flood because it also identifies with worldwide judgment and in Revelation, chapter 9 we read of Judgment Day and it speaks of “five months,” just as in Noah’s day when there was five months or 150 days after “the seventeenth day of the second month.” It was a time when everything with the breath of life died outside the ark. Revelation, chapter 9 goes on to describe Judgment Day and the “five months” and it is very similar in character to the flood account of Genesis, chapter 7. Then what do we find after Revelation 9 in Revelation 10, verse 1? We find a rainbow. Now I know that Revelation 9 only covers “two woes” and the “third woe” appears in Revelation, chapter 11, but the way the chapter is written it is about Judgment Day. Everything in that chapter relates to Judgment Day and then comes the opening statement of Revelation 10, verse 1 where we see the Lord Jesus Christ and the rainbow, signifying that judgment is past. Judgment will no longer come upon His people.