21/7/02 Family Service : Genesis 9:8-17
Always A Rainbow
When all the sunlight disappears and there is only rain.
I may be somewhat lonely but the time is not in vain.
Because my thoughts are with me and I contemplate the past.
And I remember that no rain was ever known to last.
And I remember that no wound has ever failed to heal,
However deep the agony that I have had to feel.
There is no storm or hurricane that does not spend its force.
There are no tears of bitterness that do not run its course.
And always somewhere in the midst of moments passing by,
The lamp of faith is lighted by a rainbow in the sky.
James J. Metcalfe
Some information about rainbows :
- The lower the Sun is behind you, the greater the rainbow will be in front of you.
- When viewed from above, rainbows are ring shaped.
- A rainbow is merely a large band of parallel stripes, blended at the rims, which displays the full spectrum of colours that make up the sun's white light. This brilliant display appears to the naked eye when the sun's light breaks up as it passes through the prism-like raindrops during a rain-shower.
As the sunlight enters the falling raindrops, it breaks up into its true colours of red, orange, yellow, blue, and violet. These colours are always arranged according to their wavelengths, with red being at one end of the spectrum, and violet at the other. Once inside the droplet, the particles of coloured light bounce from side to side, reflect off of the far side of the droplet, exit the droplet, and reassemble, according to their wavelengths, to form a rainbow.
For the human eye to see these multi-coloured bands, ranging from red to violet, the body must be strategically positioned, facing the rain with the back to the sun. -A rainbow can be seen only in the morning or late afternoon. It is a phenomenon that can occur only when the Sun is 40º or less above the horizon.
When I was on my sabbatical I spent some time studying at the Church Army Evangelism College in Sheffield. I took one morning off and went to the Crucible Theatre to watch the World Championship Snooker. I paid £4.50 for a three hour morning ticket. OHP The ticket had on it the date, price, time that the ticket was valid from, the venue, my seat number and with lots of terms and conditions OHP in small print on the back.
I didn't stay for all of the three hours as the seats were too uncomfortable!
A few weeks ago, Joe Yates-Round conducted some wedding services here. I have here a Register that proves this. The couples made an exclusive commitment to unconditionally love and accept one another until death separates them.
In each case there was a promise together with evidence of that agreement.
In today's Bible reading we have a promise made by God, and a sign to remind him, and us, of this covenant, as it is called.
What was the promise?
15 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. 16 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."
Noah had obeyed God and this heralded a new chapter in God's relationship with humankind and animals.
A covenant sign is a visible seal and reminder of covenant commitments. Circumcision would become the sign of the covenant with Abraham (see 17:11), and the Sabbath would be the sign of the covenant with Israel at Sinai (see Ex 31:16-17).
The new covenant brought about through Jesus' death and resurrection has a sign: Luke 22: 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
At the end of Genesis Chapter 8 God said, 22 "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
This is a wonderful promise that God will continue to provide for humankind. But it also looks to the day when the earthly harvest will cease and a heavenly harvest will take place. We don't know when that will be, but the earth will be destroyed and Jesus will return and judge people. Those who have rejected God's ways will be banished from his presence for ever. Those who have humbly accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour can look forward to spending eternity with him.
We have been thinking about water and rainbows, but I would also like us to think about fire.
The year 1666 was much feared throughout Western Europe because of its triple sixes, "666," which represent the "Number of the Beast." While the world did not end, London was nearly destroyed by the Great Fire. It began at a bakery in Pudding Lane and spread out before burning itself out by the time it reached Pie Corner.
More than 5 percent of the land on Earth is burned by fire every year. We can understand this when we think of the fires there have recently been in Australia and the United States.
The lyricist of the song "Keep the Home Fires Burning," Lena Gilbert Ford, burned to death in her home.
Peter refers to water and fire when he writes about the end of the world.
2 Peter 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The story of Noah, that we have been looking at these last three weeks, reminds us of the holiness of God who will punish sin, and the mercy of God in Jesus. Those who respond to that mercy in penitence and faith can enjoy a right relationship with God in this life, and into eternity.