The Battle Bow

I have set my bow in the clouds… (Gen. 9:13)

Since the days of Sir Isaac Newton science has concluded that there are basically seven colors in a rainbow. There is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and indigo. Rainbows are a common occurrence today that many simply overlook. But what is the purpose of a rainbow?

God created the rainbow and set it in the clouds thousands of years ago as a sign of the covenant He was making between Himself and the earth and all that it contained. This covenant was a promise to sustain the Earth until the Promised One (Gen. 3:15) would come. This covenant was on the heels of His outrage against and the destruction of the Earth’s inhabitants. God saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). From Gen. 1 to Gen. 9 there is this motif of creation, fall, and redemption that is repeated throughout the rest of the scriptures. In fact Gen. 1:1 to Gen. 3:15 is a microcosm of the grand story of creation, fall, and redemption ending with the great covenant promise in Gen. 3:15 that God would one day send a Redeemer to crush the head of the serpent, who is Satan. And what God promises, God delivers.

In the rainbow we see a picture of hope and redemption. We can hear echoes of the cross of Christ in it. One might even argue poetically that the various colors of the rainbow communicate something of the story of redemption and the heart of God. As one artist said, “Colors are meant to bring glory to the Light.” But many miss the real significance of the rainbow due to the modern association of it with things like girls lunchboxes, Care Bears, and homosexuality. Mankind has done with the rainbow what they do with everything else that God creates – they twist it, pervert it, hollow it out, and suck it dry of any of its God intended meaning. You can hear the reverberations of “Has God really said?” (Gen.3:1) in all of mankind’s actions toward the things of God, even in a rainbow.

So how can we hear an echo of the cross in the rainbow? It all stems from the Hebrew word in Gen. 9:13 for “bow.” The word is qesheth (keh’-sheth) and its significance has nothing to do with girls lunchboxes, Care Bears or homosexuality. The word is used in association with archery. It denotes an archer’s bending of a bow for shooting an arrow. This bow is a battle bow. This is very significant because of the aim of the bow. You see, the bow is cocked and aimed. God is its master archer and He never misses. When He fires the arrow it never misses its intended target. But the significance of the aim of this bow is that it is cocked and aimed, not at Earth…but at Heaven. The bend of the bow is pointed upward from the Earth. God is painting a picture for us. His battle bow is set in the clouds to show where man’s ultimate redemption will come from one day. It will come from God Himself. The Judge steps off the bench and steps into the criminals place. He fires the bow at Himself.

It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10).

the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

But mankind has twisted the meaning of the rainbow. And when mankind twists, perverts, hollows out and sucks dry the meaning of the rainbow, they are aiming ultimately at the cross of Christ. If they aim to distort the shadow, they aim to distort the substance. And the cross is the substance of the shadowy rainbow. It is at the very heart of God. Aim at it, and you aim to murder the One who made you. But given the chance, this is the ultimate aim of every sin, isn’t it? We dethrone God to enthrone ourselves. There are no vassals or vice-regents in the kingdom of your heart. Only one can reign.

Homosexuals, when they fly the rainbow flag in proud opposition against what God has clearly revealed (Mk. 10:6-9; Gen. 1:27, 5:2), aim at the cross. Why? Because the cross puts their sin on public display – not in proud acceptance, but it open shame (Col. 2:15). It is the height of wickedness to take what God has placed in the clouds as a sign to point to His own death for sinners and wave it as a banner of pride. It’s akin to a cross being worn around the neck of a prostitute, or to use a biblical example, it is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout (Prov. 11:22). This is the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of evil (2 Thess. 2:4). This is mockery.

Thanks be to God, however, that what sinful man tries to redefine on Earth, God has fixed in the heavens, unreachable by stained hands. And never forget the rainbow. It is God’s. It is His to define, just like marriage. And never forget that the bow has already let loose its arrow, found its target, drank to the dregs its blood, and laid it low.  Hope in this One who was slain is the only true freedom mankind has – even for His enemies who wave His banner of love in taunting opposition.

μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται…καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε

(1 Cor. 6:9,11)