Torah reading: Genesis 6:9 – 11:32
Haftorah reading: Isaiah 66:1-24
It took only nine generations from Creation for mankind to descend into a moral decay of such magnitude that God announced to one man His intent to destroy the world with a flood. Noah, the Bible says, was ‘righteous in his generation.’ A great grandson of Enoch, Noah had a powerful spiritual heritage. In the book of Enoch we read that Enoch entrusted the revelations God gave him to his son, Methuselah, who subsequently passed them on to his son, Lamech, who then taught them to his son, Noah.
Remember that Noah’s grandfather was still alive as Noah grew up, married and had children. In fact, Methuselah died seven days before the rains began, on the very day that Noah and his family entered the Ark.
After the flood, when the waters receded, God spoke to Noah again:
And God said to Noah and his sons: I will keep My covenant with you and your descendants…and never again will a flood destroy all of life, and there will not be another flood destroying the earth….This is the sign I am making, testifying to the covenant between Me and you and all living souls, forever: I have put My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Myself and the world. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in the clouds, and I will remember the covenant between Myself and yourselves and all living souls, and there will never again be a flood to destroy all life. The rainbow will be in the clouds and I will see it and remember the eternal covenant between G‑d and all the living souls on earth. Genesis 9: 11-17
After the Flood, the LORD God promised that—in spite of how man might sin—He would never again cause a flood that would destroy the whole world. As a sign of that covenant, He created the rainbow.
In Jewish thought, the rainbow has two very significant meanings.
First, the appearance of a rainbow is a sign that sin is proliferating in a nation or region. As such, it is seen as an appeal for repentance. There are accounts in Jewish history of generations that never saw a rainbow which the Sages understood to mean that within the population there was a remnant of righteous and holy people whose godly living and sincere worship of Almighty God were preserving factors for the entire generation.
Hmm – think about that for a while…..
The second meaning attributed to a rainbow declares that though the Flood brought destruction to the world, there was also an aspect of it that was a blessing. The Flood waters purified the world and gave to mankind a second chance, the ability to recover the meaning of their existence. The clouds, which are formed from the mist that rises from the ground, represented this transformation of the natural to the supernatural.
I suggest that there is yet another sign inherent in the rainbow.
The prophet Ezekiel described a vision in which he had seen the divine presence “like a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, with a corona around it; this was how the glory of God appeared, and I saw it and fell on my face and heard a voice speaking….”
The rainbow, therefore, is also a sign of the presence of God and the glory of God.Therefore on those occasions when we do see a rainbow, it serves to remind us that we serve a God in the heavens who is true to His word, His faithfulness extends to all generations and His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations .3:22-23) Every sighting of a rainbow in the sky is an opportunity to give thanks and praise to an ever faithful and loving Heavenly Father.
Continuing with Jewish thought, in Zohar 13, it is written that just before the Messiah appears, mankind will see an especially bright and vividly colorful rainbow in the sky.
In Tune with Torah this week = throughout history the rainbow has been used as a symbol in a wide variety of ways. Our purpose here is to look at its origin and what God said about it. For the devoted Bible believer, the rainbow is a sign of His covenant, His faithfulness and His mercy, even in times of grievous sin in a nation or culture.
Let us be thankful that our God is merciful as well as just, faithful as well as loving. His heart has not changed since the days of Noah. He is the same today as He was then. It took 120 years for Noah to build the Ark. From ancient sources we know that during that entire time, his grandfather Methuselah, a righteous man, appealed to the people to turn from their wicked ways lest God’s judgment fall upon them.
If only they had listened…..