Rainbows in the Bible hold such promise. Such hope, don’t they? In fact, we find several examples of rainbow symbolism in the Bible. Let’s take a look at Bible verses about rainbows and what they mean.
Rainbows are such a awesome phenomenon to witness. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen them, each and every time they leave me in awe. I have to stop and praise God for His creative beauty and wondrous power.
Of course scientifically rainbows are “an arch of colors formed in the sky in certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.”
Science aside, rainbows symbolize so much more to God’s children and reveal a bit about His characteristics.
In this post, we won’t cover the meaning behind colors in the Bible, but you can read more in this in-depth post.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary says that rainbows in the Bible are:
“the token of the covenant which God made with Noah when he came forth from the ark that the waters should no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. The right interpretation of (Genesis 9:13) seems to be that God took the rainbow, which had hitherto been but a beautiful object shining in the heavens when the suns rays fell on falling rain, and consecrated it as the sign of his love and the witness of his promise. Ecclus. 43:11.
The rainbow is a symbol of Gods faithfulness and mercy. In the “rainbow around the throne,” (Revelation 4:3 ) is seen the symbol of hope and the bright emblem of mercy and love, all the more true as a symbol because it is reflected from the storm itself.”
And, while many other instances of Bible symbolism occur more often in the Bible, rainbows are mentioned just seven times.
What Does the Bible Say About Rainbows: The Great Flood
The first mention of rainbows in the Bible occurs in Genesis:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. – Genesis 9:13
In this mention, we are in the midst of the story of the Great Flood. God sets a rainbow in the sky as a covenant to us. His promise to His children. A rainbow is designed to reassure us that when we see one, God has remembered His promise.
I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” – Genesis 9:15-17
God has promised to destroy the Earth again with a flood. A rainbow serves as a powerful reminder of God’s promise of this to us.
God sets a rainbow in the sky as a covenant to us. His promise to His children. A rainbow is designed to reassure us that when we see one, God has remembered His promise.
Rainbows in the Bible: The Second Mention: Ezekiel’s Vision
The second mention of rainbows in the Bible takes place in Ezekiel. In this chapter Ezekiel has a vision of heavenly and angelic beings, and cherubim, that were appointed as guardians of the holiness of God.
Like the appearance of a rainbow 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. – Ezekiel 1:28
Ezekiel was privileged to see a vision of God in heaven and the brightness of God was seen as a rainbow. The rainbow is seen as a part of the manifestation of God in Revelation 4:3 and Revelation 10:1. Enduring Word has a good short study on cherubim that you may wish to check out.
It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word for Rainbow is קֶשֶׁת — Qeshet. Keshet is also used to describe a war bow.
When you think of a bow used in war, it needs, essentially two things: the bow and an arrow. Without the arrow, it cannot serve as a weapon. (For sports imagery in the Bible, see this post.)
The symbol of the rainbow, a bow without an arrow, is therefore a symbol of the mercy of God. A symbol that shows that while God can destroy the earth with a flood, He has promised not to do that ever again.
You may enjoy this short video by a rabbi about the meaning of the word rainbow in the Bible and what it signifies.
Ezekiel 1:28 confirms Exodus 34:6-7 and shows us that God’s glory was not merely a brightness around Him but was His character. How fitting then that the rainbow should be an integral part in manifesting that character to all those who were blessed with a vision of God manifested in heaven.
“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:6-7
The Three Meaning of Rainbows in the Bible
There are three overaraching meaning of rainbows in God’s Word:
God’s Promises To Us
In Genesis, the rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to never destroy the earth again with a worldwide flood. When God makes a promise, He keeps it. A rainbow is a reminder of that.
Rainbows have been a symbol of creation since Genesis. The rainbow symbolizes God as the masterful Creator of earth and nature.
The rainbow also signifies a bridge. For example, a bridge from earth to heaven, a beautiful, happier place.
When You See A Rainbow
The next time you see a rainbow, appreciate its beauty then consider what the rainbow means.
We have been blessed to have revealed to us just a glimpse of God’s character. A reminder of His promises to us despite the hardship and difficulties that we face in life. Let it be a remembrance that while we deserve judgement and death, God is merciful and he has given us eternal life. He is faithful to keep His promises to us for eternity. Just as he made and kept His promises to the Israelites thousands of years’ ago.
Click the image below to downloand and print Bible verses about rainbows.
Remember and be awed by His breathtaking creation and that He is the Masterful Creator of heaven and earth.
If you see a rainbow, take a picture and share on social media with the hashtags: #Godspromises #rainbowsWONC and be sure to thank our Heavenly Father for His abundant blessings and kept promises.
Because of Him,