My days are always full of mundane routines and events. However, once in a while, something worth noting and extraordinary happens that makes me pose a bit and be in awe. One of the extraordinary things I love witnessing to date is the appearance of the rainbow in the sky. I love seeing rainbows! Remembering how it was used in the Bible and actually seeing it blows my mind away. However, I have never really internalized the meaning and symbolism of rainbows. So, what does a rainbow symbolize in the Bible?
The rainbow holds a lot of symbolism in the Bible. First, the rainbow is associated with a covenant. In the Old Testament, when God destroyed the world with floods, He promised humanity never to destroy the world with floods again and sealed the covenant with the appearance of the rainbow in the sky. The rainbow is also biblically associated with the faithfulness and commitment of God to keep his promises to us (Genesis 9:13).
Join me in this post as I discuss intensively the meaning and symbolism of the rainbow in the Bible. I will also cover what a rainbow means spiritually and the messages of a rainbow in the Bible. Keep reading to learn more.
Where does the Bible first mention a rainbow?
The first mention of a rainbow in the Bible can be found in the book of Genesis, specifically in Genesis 9:13. To give the context of this verse, in Genesis 9:12-16, the Bible recounts the story of Noah and the Great Flood that wiped away the Earth. After the floodwaters receded and Noah and his family came out of the ark, God made a covenant with Noah and all living creatures. As a symbol of this covenant, God set a rainbow in the clouds.
The rainbow served as a reminder to God of His promise never again to destroy the Earth with a flood. Whenever clouds appeared in the sky, and a rainbow was visible, it would serve as a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures on Earth. This passage highlights the significance of the rainbow as a symbol of God’s faithfulness and His commitment to His creation.
What is the true meaning of a rainbow in the Bible?
The true meaning of the rainbow is associated with the covenant God sealed with humanity to never destroy the Earth through floods again. To understand the true meaning of the rainbow in the Bible even more, we have to acknowledge that there is a way the world views rainbows, and there is a way the Bible has portrayed rainbows. In the book of Genesis 9:13, where the first rainbow appeared after God decided to end the floods that swept away humanity except Noah, animals, and his loved ones, he depicts the true meaning of the rainbow as a covenant between Him and the people.
God attached a special symbolism to rainbows so that whenever we see one, we may be reminded of his love and covenant that he made to never destroy humanity with floods again. A rainbow should remind us of Jesus Christ, the unending love of God for us that he sent us his only son to die for us and reunite us with him.
What is the symbolism of a rainbow in the Bible?
As mentioned above, the main symbolism of the rainbow in the Bible is the covenant God made between Him and humanity to never destroy the Earth with floods again. This is found in the book of Genesis 9:13. Therefore, whenever we see a rainbow appearing in the sky, may we be reminded of God’s mercy and grace toward us. May we remember his commitment and faithfulness to his promises.
Iniquity and sinfulness
Another symbolism that the rainbow can be associated with in the Bible is sinfulness and iniquity. The rainbow contains the color purple, which is simply a mixture of blue and red, and scarlet, which is a bright red. Scarlet and purple are often associated with sin (Revelation 18:16). In the book of Isaiah 1:18, God invites us to reason together; he notes that though our sins are as red as scarlet, he will make them as white as snow.
Additionally, some bible readers link the rainbow to iniquity because it appeared just after God had destroyed the Earth due to the sinful nature of humanity. Though it is a reminder of God’s mercy, it should also remind us to shun away from sin and be soaked in God’s presence.
Rainbow is also often associated with hope in the Bible. After the great storm that swept away the whole of humanity, the covenant that was sealed with a rainbow keeps us hopeful of forging forward and of relying on God’s promises and mercy. The rainbow’s appearance after the flood also symbolizes God’s forgiveness and redemption. It signifies the opportunity for a new beginning and a fresh start for humanity.
The rainbow is also associated with God’s presence. In Ezekiel’s vision, as recorded in the book of Ezekiel 1:28, he compares the holy presence of God to a bow in the sky. Additionally, the rainbow is not only associated with God’s presence but also his faithfulness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:3-4, God reminds us that he is faithful and will guide and protect us against the evil one. Therefore, whenever we see the rainbow appearing in the sky, may we feel the divine protection and presence of God in our lives. Let us be reminded that He will never forsake nor abandon us.
Three messages of the rainbow in the Bible
The Great flood
The first message of rainbows in the Bible is associated with the great flood. This is accounted for in the Old Testament, the book of Genesis. After the destruction of the Earth with floods, God made a covenant with the Earth to never again destroy the Earth with floods. To seal this covenant, he sets a rainbow in the sky. The rainbow serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and His commitment to His promises. In Genesis 9:13, God refers to the rainbow as his bow and notes that it will be a symbol of a covenant between him and Earth.
Grace and mercy
Furthermore, still in association with the great flood, the rainbow holds the message of the covenant between God and humanity, emphasizing His grace and mercy. It represents hope and restoration after a time of trial or judgment. God notes in the book of Genesis 9:16 that whenever we see the rainbow appearing in the clouds, we should remember the everlasting covenant he made with all living creatures and Earth, to never destroy the Earth. The rainbow gives us a message of grace and mercy, that even though we are sinners, God will not wipe us ways with floods.
God’s Presence (The Vision of Ezekiel)
Another message of the rainbow that we get from the Bible is it signifies the presence of God, assuring His guidance and protection. Ezekiel notes in the book of Ezekiel 1:28 that the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds is like the likeness of God’s glory.
Ezekiel was privileged to encounter God in a vision he had, and he compared his glory to a rainbow (how unique is a rainbow?). Revelations 4:3 also portrays a rainbow as God’s manifestation. We can all agree that the rainbow is such a unique symbol that reflects God’s creativity and majesty. In its uniqueness, it can be compared to not only a sign of a covenant between God and humanity but also God’s glory.
What Other Bible Passages Talk about Rainbows?
Revelation 4:3, this verse describes a scene in which the apostle John sees a vision of God’s throne in heaven. In this verse, the description focuses on the appearance of the one who is seated on the throne, as well as the rainbow surrounding the throne. The use of precious gemstones in this verse, such as jasper and carnelian, suggests a radiance and splendor beyond human comprehension. The rainbow that resembles an emerald signifies the covenant God made with Earth and His faithfulness to keep His promises.
Revelation 10:1, in this verse, the apostle John describes a vision of a powerful angel descending from heaven. He describes the angel as being enveloped in a cloud, which signifies the divine presence and glory. The rainbow over his head is associated with the covenant God made with humanity, hence signifying the faithfulness of God to his people. The vivid imagery continues with the angel’s face shining like the sun, symbolizing radiance, divine authority, and heavenly glory. His legs resembling pillars of fire evoke strength, stability, and the purifying nature of God’s presence. This verse generally presents a majestic and awe-inspiring depiction of a heavenly messenger. The symbolism used emphasizes the angel’s connection to God and the divine attributes he represents.
What Happened Before the Rainbow Appeared?
Before the rainbow appeared, God had wiped away the Earth with floods, except for Noah’s family and the birds and animals that entered the ark with them. According to the book of Genesis 9, God had brought about a catastrophic flood to cleanse the Earth due to the widespread wickedness and corruption of humanity. God was grieved by the actions of people and wanted to start afresh. Noah, a righteous man who found favor with God, was given specific instructions to build an ark to save himself, his family, and a representative selection of animals. He diligently followed God’s guidance and completed the construction of the ark.
Once the preparations were complete, Noah, his family, and the animals entered the ark, and God caused the heavens to open, bringing forth forty days and forty nights of relentless rain. The floodwaters surged and covered the entire Earth, wiping out all living creatures not safely inside the ark. During this period, the Earth was submerged, and the floodwaters prevailed for many months. The rain poured ceaselessly, and the Earth was submerged under vast depths of water. It was such a frightening event that brought destruction and reshaped the landscape.
After the long period of flooding, the rain finally ceased, and the floodwaters began to recede. As the waters subsided, the ark eventually came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah then sent out a series of birds—a raven and three doves—to find dry land. Finally, the dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak, indicating that the waters had receded enough for vegetation to emerge. It was after these events that Noah and his family disembarked from the ark. God then made a covenant with Noah and displayed the rainbow as a sign of that covenant. The appearance of the rainbow marked the end of the flood and the beginning of a new era for humanity.
Why Did God Send a Rainbow to Noah and His Family?
According to the biblical account in the book of Genesis, God sent a rainbow to Noah and his family as a sign of His covenant with humanity after the Great Flood that wiped away the Earth. The story of Noah is accounted for in the book of Genesis. Mankind had become wicked and corrupt, prompting God to decide to destroy all living creatures on Earth. God only found one man righteous before his eyes, Noah. He is the only man together with his family who was saved from the massive floods that ate everyone up.
However, after the floods were done, God saw it best to never destroy the Earth with floods again. He made a covenant with humanity, and to mark the covenant, he sent a rainbow. The rainbow served as a visible sign of this covenant. As God said to Noah in Genesis 9:13, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The rainbow symbolizes God’s promise never to flood the entire Earth again.
The significance of the rainbow goes beyond its colorful appearance. It represents God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love for humanity. It serves as a reminder that despite human sinfulness, God remains committed to His creation and extends His grace and protection. It also carries a message of hope and renewal. This is because, after the devastation of the flood, God still offered humanity a fresh start and a new beginning. This gives us an assurance that God will always provide for His people and uphold His promises.
What does a rainbow mean spiritually?
The spiritual meaning of a rainbow varies across different cultures and religious beliefs. Below are a few spiritual meanings of a rainbow:
- Divine Promise and Covenant: In many religious traditions, a rainbow is seen as a symbol of a divine promise or covenant. It represents the connection between the divine realm and humanity, signifying the faithfulness, mercy, and love of God.
- Transformation and Renewal: The vibrant colors of a rainbow are often associated with spiritual transformation and renewal. It serves as a powerful symbol of the growth and evolution of consciousness. It is spiritually associated with the expansion of awareness, the integration of diverse aspects of self, and the unfolding of one’s true potential. The appearance of a rainbow can remind us of our ability to transcend limitations, embrace change, and embark on a path of inner transformation and renewal. Some cultures also associate the rainbow with the journey of the soul, moving through challenges and reaching a state of higher consciousness or enlightenment.
- Unity and Harmony: Rainbows are composed of different colors merging together in perfect harmony. This unity of colors can represent the interconnectedness and unity of all beings. It serves as a reminder that diversity and cooperation are essential for a balanced and harmonious existence. This calls us to forgive and live in peace with one another.
- A bridge between Earth and Heaven: A rainbow is often considered a bridge connecting the earthly realm with the spiritual or divine realm. It represents a pathway for communication, guidance, and blessings from higher realms.
- Hope and Joy: Rainbows are often associated with hope and joy, particularly after a period of darkness or challenges. The rainbow’s vibrant and diverse colors are often seen as a representation of the richness and beauty of life itself. It is the combination of these colors coming together that creates the awe-inspiring phenomenon, reflecting harmony, joy, and the fulfillment of spiritual aspirations. They can also symbolize the emergence of light, positivity, and a brighter future.
- Protection and Blessings: Some believe that rainbows have a protective and auspicious quality. They are seen as a sign of blessings and divine intervention, providing comfort and reassurance during difficult times.
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.