Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #8 of Genesis, chapter 9 and we are going to read Genesis 9:13-17:
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.
I will stop reading there. We have been discussing the rainbow, the bow that God has set in the cloud as a token of the covenant. We saw that the word “token” is also a word that can be translated as “sign.” Later in Genesis, chapter 17 God will make a covenant with Abraham and the sign of the covenant will be “circumcision.” It says in Genesis 17:10-11:
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
The sign of circumcision was given to the Jewish people and all male Hebrew children were to be circumcised on the eighth day and receive the “sign” of the covenant. The error that the people of Israel made was to trust in the “sign” and to think that because they had received the sign of circumcision they were safe and secure. However, a “sign” is a sign. It points to something else and a “sign” is not the substance or reality of a thing. That is also how it is with the rainbow. God physically set a bow in the cloud and throughout the last seven thousand years many people have seen this sign after the rain and, yet, the rainbow is just a token or sign of the covenant. Of itself it is nothing, but it points to a spiritual reality.
On one hand, the rainbow is a sign of the earthly, physical covenant that God made with all flesh, with all animals and with the earth itself that He would not (again) destroy the earth with a flood. But as we looked at it more in depth in our last study, we saw that the rainbow is a “sign” of God’s covenant with His people who have had their sins paid for in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ; since Christ has paid for our sins and received the judgment of God, the rainbow is the assurance or guarantee to His people that God will not demand or exact a second payment. He will not require any of the elect individuals whose sins had been cast upon the Lord Jesus to make any additional payment; they will not have to pay double for their sins because their sins have been paid for in the Law’s demand for the penalty of death. The Law has no further demand against the people of God. The rainbow typifies this reality.
We saw that this was the case when we went to Isaiah, chapter 54 where God speaks of Judgment Day and He likens this period of time to a “small moment,” as He 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.
The language is only applicable to God’s people. It applies only to those that were chosen and had their sins cast upon Christ before the foundation of the world. They are the ones upon whom God has everlasting kindness and mercy. He also refers to Himself as “JEHOVAH thy redeemer.” He has purchased them with His own blood. Then He goes on to say in Isaiah 54:9-10:
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. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith JEHOVAH that hath mercy on thee.
Here, God is saying that despite this “small moment” of experiencing His wrath, it will only be for a relatively short time because His plan is to show us everlasting kindness and mercy. For the people of God, we are receiving only momentary trouble as we experience this grievous forsaking for “a small moment,” but we must be patient and wait upon the Lord because God will shortly shower His people with everlasting kindness. He will show us that promise of mercy and we will experience eternal life and all the wonderful promises in His Word. God has made His covenant with us and His promises declare these things. God likens these Gospel promises to the “waters of Noah,” as it says, “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.” Therefore, the rainbow is the token or sign of God’s sworn testimony and it represents the declaration of God. God uses the same kind of language in Genesis 9:11-12:
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant…
We see the same type of language in Isaiah 54. Therefore, this rainbow that is in the cloud has a deeper spiritual meaning that is addressed directly to every child of God. When we see a downpour of rain and it may last for a time, but then the rain ends and a “bow” appears in the cloud above. We can remember that earthly, physical covenant and how God was faithful to it when He promised that He would no more destroy the earth with a flood. But beyond that, we can think of the fact that God has sworn to each child of God that we will no longer experience the judgment of having to pay for our sins. The matter of God’s elect appearing before the judgment seat of Christ to make a demonstration is a different matter; there is no payment for sin taking place as God’s people are making manifest what took place at the foundation of the world. God is faithful to His promise and He will not require His elect to pay for their sins. That would be “double jeopardy,” because all our sins have already been paid for by Christ.
So, the rainbow is really a glorious and amazing thing. It is something we see outside the Bible as we look up into the clouds, but in order to understand the bow as a “sign,” we have to read the Bible and that agrees with what Jesus said in the Gospels: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign…” The Israelites demanded an outward sign, something they could see in the world, but Jesus responded, “and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” To understand the sign of the prophet Jonah, you must read the Book of Jonah, which is part of the Scriptures. To understand the rainbow, spiritually, you must read Genesis and other places in the Bible. It is like when we read in the Bible that the church age is over and all churches are now apostate. Satan ruled them for a 23-year period and that is why the churches were given over to “lies.” We can see that, in part, out in the world because we have been in churches in the past and we saw the lies in action as the pastors would teach. We saw the erroneous doctrines and the faulty altar calls to come down the aisle and accept Christ. We can see what the Bible is talking about as we look at the local congregations on every street corner, but we must learn about it in the Bible itself. That is the difference.
It is like when the Bible tells us that the fig tree is in leaf and it is an indicator of the end stage of the world’s history. The fig tree is a picture of national Israel, as well as being a picture of the New Testament churches and congregations. When Israel became a nation in 1948 (after about 1,900 years of being scattered among the nations of the world), it was sudden and under very dramatic circumstances, and we could see that. But where do we read about it? We read about it in the Bible as God told us these things and then we might see some physical manifestation of it in the world, whether it be the apostate churches or Israel becoming a nation again or the rainbow in the sky above.
So, God has set His bow in the cloud, as it says in Genesis 9, verse 13 and He said, “And it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” In our last study, we also went to Revelation, chapter 10 and we saw how the rainbow identified with the mighty angel (Christ) and there was a rainbow upon His head, but there is another reference to a rainbow in the Book of Revelation. It says in Revelation 4:1-4:
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Here, we again see the rainbow mentioned and it is spoken of in relationship to the one that sat upon the throne. The one on the throne can only be the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, on Judgment Day we all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It says, “there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Then the next verse tells us what else was round about the throne, in addition to the rainbow. Again, it says in Revelation 4:4:
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
The “four and twenty elders” represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles or all the Old Testament saints and all the New Testament saints. They are a figure of all God’s elect throughout history. Notice that they are “clothed in white raiment,” which is the righteousness of Christ. On their heads are crowns of gold, which is a picture of salvation. The twenty-four elders represent everyone whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and they are found “round about the throne.” And where is the rainbow? It, too, is round about the throne. The rainbow was the token of the promise in Genesis, chapter 9 that God would no longer bring flood waters to destroy the earth. It is related to what God told us in Isaiah, chapter 54, when He said He would not destroy certain ones that were predestinated to eternal life, but, instead, He would show them everlasting kindness and mercy. Therefore, the rainbow is that token of the covenant, the central aspect of the Gospel program between God and those He obligated Himself to save from the point of the foundation of the world.
It is no wonder that the rainbow is “round about the throne” and the elect are “round about the throne” and they have that rainbow as a wonderful assurance and they can know for certain that they will dwell with God in His presence for evermore. The rainbow is right there round about the throne as a testimony of His promise and God is always faithful to His promises. He always speaks the truth. He never lies. He never deceives. He never misspeaks. He never makes a covenant and not uphold it. He is the Faithful and True One. These twenty-four elders are evidence of that fact and it is the only reason that they are in heaven “round about the throne.” It is because of the “rainbow” or because of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We also find something else that is interesting in Revelation, chapter 4 concerning the rainbow. The Bible tells us what it looked like. It said in Revelation 4:3:
… and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
An emerald is a gem stone and as far as emeralds today, they are a shiny green and a rainbow in the clouds is multi-colored. I am not sure if the stone we call an “emerald” today is the same stone the Bible calls an “emerald.” It could be. However, the point of the emerald is not really to tell us what a rainbow looks like, but it is to direct us to the use of the word “emerald” in the Bible. It is meant to help define the rainbow. So, let us see where else God speaks of an emerald. We read in Exodus 28:15-21:
And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.
Here, we are reading of the breastplate of judgment worn by Aaron, the high priest of Israel. Aaron is a figure of Christ, the great High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. Aaron would wear the breastplate of judgment and it would include these settings of stone and then he would enter in to the temple to go about his priestly duties, which was to offer sacrifice and, especially, to offer the sacrifice inside the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. He would enter in and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat which was on top of the ark of the covenant that contained the Ten Commandments, representing the Law of God. He went in wearing the breastplate of judgment and each of the stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. We read of another part of his high priestly attire in Exodus 28:8-12:
And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before JEHOVAH upon his two shoulders for a memorial.
It is a different part of his priestly attire, but it is the same idea. Aaron is bearing the names of the children of Israel in his clothing as part of the priestly garments because when the Lord Jesus Christ performed the duties of His priesthood “after the order of Melchisedec,” it was accomplished at the foundation of the world when God slew God. Christ died as the sacrifice for sin at the foundation of the world, which means that Eternal God slew the Lamb. It was the function of the High Priest to slay the sacrifice, so Christ as “Melchisedec” slew the Lamb. As we see demonstrated at the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And, yet, who is Jesus? He is Eternal God that is crying out that God has forsaken Him – God has smitten Him and slain Him. So, God smote God and it teaches us that God slew God at the foundation of the world and when the Lamb was slain He was bearing the “breastplate of judgment” as He was bearing the names of His people and our sins were upon Him. He was bearing the names of all the fullness of God’s elect during that mysterious and wonderful act of atonement.