God Uses the Rainbow as a Symbol of His Covenant With Man
Gen 9:11–13 And I will establish My covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
Next, let us take a look at this part of the scriptures about how God used the rainbow as a symbol of His covenant with man.
Most people know what a rainbow is and have heard of some stories related to rainbows. As for the story about the rainbow in the Bible, some people believe it and some treat it as legend, while others do not believe it at all. No matter what, all of the events that happened in relation to the rainbow were the work of God and took place in the process of God’s management of man. These events have been recorded exactly in the Bible. These records do not tell us what mood God was in at the time or the intentions behind these words God said. Moreover, no one can appreciate what God was feeling when He said them. However, God’s state of mind regarding this entire event is revealed between the lines of the text. It is as though His thoughts at the time leap off the page through each word and phrase of God’s word.
God’s thoughts are what people should be concerned about and what they should be trying to get to know the most. This is because God’s thoughts are inextricably related to man’s understanding of God, and man’s understanding of God is an indispensable link to man’s entry into life. So what was God thinking at the time when these events happened?
Originally, God created a humanity that in His eyes was very good and close to Him, but they were destroyed by flood after rebelling against Him. Did it hurt God that such a humanity just instantly vanished like that? Of course it hurt! So what was His expression of this pain? How was it recorded in the Bible? It was recorded in the Bible in these words: “And I will establish My covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” This simple sentence reveals God’s thoughts. This destruction of the world pained Him very much. In man’s words, He was very sad. We can imagine: How did the earth that was once full of life look like after being destroyed by the flood? What did the earth, that was once full of human beings, look like at that time? No human habitation, no living creatures, water everywhere and utter devastation on the surface of the water. Was such a scene God’s original intention when He created the world? Of course not! God’s original intention was to see life all across the land, to see the human beings He created worshiping Him, not just for Noah to be the only one worshiping Him or the only one who could answer His call to complete what was entrusted to him. When humanity disappeared, God saw not what He had originally intended but the complete opposite. How could His heart not be in pain? So when He was revealing His disposition and expressing His emotions, God made a decision. What kind of a decision did He make? To make a bow in the cloud (that is, the rainbows that we see) as a covenant with man, a promise that God would not destroy mankind with a flood again. At the same time, it was also to tell people that God had destroyed the world with a flood, so that mankind would forever remember why God would do such a thing.
Was the destruction of the world at that time something God wanted? It was definitely not what God wanted. We might be able to imagine a small part of the pitiful sight of the earth after the destruction of the world, but we cannot come close to imagining what the scene was like at the time in God’s eyes. We can say that, whether it is the people of now or then, nobody is able to imagine or appreciate what God was feeling when He saw that scene, that image of the world following its destruction by flood. God was forced to do this by man’s disobedience, but the pain suffered by God’s heart from this destruction of the world by flood is a reality no one can fathom or appreciate. That is why God made a covenant with mankind, through which He aimed to tell people to remember that God once did something like this, and to swear to them that God would never destroy the world in such a way again. In this covenant we see God’s heart—we see that God’s heart was in pain when He destroyed this humanity. In the language of man, when God destroyed mankind and saw mankind disappearing, His heart was weeping and bleeding. Is that not the best way to describe it? These words are used by humans to illustrate human emotions, but since man’s language is too lacking, using them to describe God’s feelings and emotions does not seem too bad to Me, and nor are they too excessive. At least it gives you a very vivid, very apt understanding of what God’s mood was like at the time. What will you think of now when you see a rainbow again? At least you will remember how God was once in sorrow over destroying the world by flood. You will remember how, even though God hated this world and despised this humanity, when He destroyed the human beings He created with His own hands, His heart was hurting, struggling to let go, feeling reluctant, and finding it hard to bear. His only comfort was in Noah’s family of eight. It was Noah’s cooperation that made His painstaking efforts of creating all things not be in vain. At a time when God was suffering, this was the only thing that could make up for His pain. From that point, God placed all of His expectations of humanity on Noah’s family, hoping they could live under His blessings and not His curse, hoping that they would never see God destroy the world with a flood again, and also hoping that they would not be destroyed.
What part of God’s disposition should we learn about from this? God had despised man because man was hostile to Him, but in His heart, His care, concern, and mercy for humanity remained unchanged. Even when He destroyed mankind, His heart remained unchanged. When humanity was full of corruption and disobedient toward God to a grievous extent, God had to destroy this humanity, because of His disposition and His essence, and in accordance with His principles. But because of God’s essence, He still pitied mankind, and even wanted to use various ways to redeem mankind so they could continue to live. Man, however, opposed God, continued to disobey God, and refused to accept God’s salvation; that is, refused to accept His good intentions. No matter how God called to them, reminded them, supplied them, helped them, or tolerated them, man did not understand or appreciate it, nor did they pay attention. In His pain, God still did not forget to grant man His maximum tolerance, waiting for man to reverse course. After He reached His limit, He did what He had to do without any hesitation. In other words, there was a specific time period and process from the moment God planned to destroy mankind to the start of His work in destroying mankind. This process existed for the purpose of enabling man to reverse course, and this was the last chance God gave to man. So what did God do in this period before destroying mankind? God did a significant amount of reminding and exhorting work. No matter how much pain and sorrow God’s heart was in, He continued to vest His care, concern, and abundant mercy in humanity. What do we see from this? Undoubtedly, we see that God’s love for mankind is real and not something He merely pays lip service to. It is actual, tangible and appreciable, not feigned, adulterated, deceitful or pretentious. God never uses any deception or creates false images to make people see that He is lovable. He never uses false testimony to let people see His loveliness, or to flaunt His loveliness and holiness. Are these aspects of God’s disposition not worthy of man’s love? Are they not worth worshiping? Are they not worth cherishing? At this point, I want to ask you: After hearing these words, do you think God’s greatness is merely empty words on a sheet of paper? Is God’s loveliness just empty words? No! Certainly not! God’s supremacy, greatness, holiness, tolerance, love, and so forth—every detail of every one of the various aspects of God’s disposition and essence find practical expression every time He does His work, are embodied in His will toward man, and are also fulfilled and reflected in every person. Regardless of whether you have felt it before, God is caring for every person in every possible way, using His sincere heart, wisdom, and various methods to warm each person’s heart, and awaken each person’s spirit. This is an indisputable fact. No matter how many people are sitting here, each person has had different experiences of and feelings toward God’s tolerance, patience, and loveliness. These experiences of God and these feelings or perception of Him—in short, all of these positive things are from God. So by integrating everyone’s experiences and knowledge of God and combining them with our readings of these Bible passages today, do you now have a more real and proper understanding of God?
Have you noticed something from all Bible verses, including all of the Bible stories we fellowshiped about today? Has God ever used His own language to express His own thoughts or explain His love and care for humanity? Is there a record of Him using plain language to state how much He is concerned for or loves mankind? No! Is that not right? There are so many among you who have read the Bible or books other than the Bible. Have any of you seen such words? The answer is definitely no! That is, in the records of the Bible, including God’s words or the documenting of His work, God has never in any era or any period used His own methods to describe His feelings or express His love and care for mankind, nor has God ever used speech or any actions to convey His feelings and emotions—is that not a fact? Why do I say that? Why do I have to mention this? It is because this also embodies God’s loveliness and His disposition.
God created mankind; regardless of whether they have been corrupted or whether they follow Him, God treats human beings as His most cherished loved ones—or as human beings would say, the people dearest to Him—and not as His playthings. Although God says He is the Creator and that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a slight difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly providing for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about or tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition. This is why, regardless of whether it is in the Bible or any other books, we never find God expressing His thoughts, and we never find God describing or declaring to humans, with the aim of making mankind be grateful toward Him or praise Him, why He does these things, or why He cares so much for mankind. Even when He is hurt, when His heart is in extreme pain, He never forgets His responsibility toward mankind or His concern for mankind; all while He bears this hurt and pain alone in silence. To the contrary, God continues to provide for mankind as He has always done. Even though mankind often praises God or bears witness to Him, none of this behavior is demanded by God. This is because God never intends for any of the good things He does for mankind to be exchanged for gratitude or to be paid back. On the other hand, those who can fear God and shun evil, those who can truly follow God, listen to Him and are loyal to Him, and those who can obey Him—these are the people who will often receive God’s blessings, and God will bestow such blessings without reservation. Moreover, the blessings people receive from God are often beyond their imagination, and also beyond anything human beings can justify through what they have done or what price they have paid. When mankind is enjoying God’s blessings, does anyone care about what God is doing? Does anyone show any concern for how God is feeling? Does anyone try to appreciate God’s pain? The answer is an emphatic no! Can any human being, including Noah, appreciate the pain God was feeling at that moment? Can anyone comprehend why God would establish such a covenant? They cannot! Mankind does not appreciate God’s pain not because they cannot understand God’s pain, and not because of the gap between God and man or the difference in their status; rather, it is because mankind does not care at all about any of God’s feelings. Mankind thinks God is independent—that God does not need people to care about Him, to understand Him or show Him consideration. God is God, so He has no pain, no emotions; He will not be sad, He does not feel sorrow, He does not even cry. God is God, so He does not need any emotional expressions and He does not need any emotional comfort. If, under certain circumstances, He does need these things, then He can cope alone and will not require any assistance from mankind. Conversely, it is the “weak, immature” humans who need God’s consolation, provision, encouragement, and even for Him to comfort their emotions at all times and all places. Such things lurk deep inside the hearts of mankind: Man is the weak one; they need God to look after them in every way, they deserve all the care they receive from God, and they should demand from God whatever they feel should be theirs. God is the strong one; He has everything, and He ought to be mankind’s guardian and bestower of blessings. Since He is already God, He is omnipotent and does not ever need anything from mankind.
As man does not pay attention to any of God’s revelations, he has never felt God’s sorrow, pain, or joy. But conversely, God knows all of man’s expressions like the palm of His hand. God supplies everyone’s needs at all times and in all places, observing each person’s changing thoughts and thus comforting and exhorting them, and guiding and illuminating them. In terms of all the things God has done on mankind and all of the prices He has paid because of them, can people find a passage in the Bible or from anything God has said until now that clearly states that God will demand something from man? No! To the contrary, no matter how people ignore God’s thinking, He still repeatedly leads mankind, repeatedly provides for mankind and helps them, to enable them to follow God’s way so they can attain the beautiful destination He has prepared for them. When it comes to God, what He has and is, His grace, His mercy, and all His rewards, will be bestowed without reservation upon those who love and follow Him. But He never reveals to any person the pain He has suffered or His state of mind, and He never complains about anyone not being considerate toward Him or not knowing His will. He simply bears all of this in silence, waiting for the day mankind will be able to understand.
Why do I say these things here? What do you see from the things I have said? There is something in God’s essence and disposition that is all too easy to overlook, something that is only possessed by God and not by any person, including those others think of as great people, good people, or the God of their imagination. What is this thing? It is God’s selflessness. When speaking of selflessness, you might think you are also very selfless, because when it comes to your children, you never bargain or haggle with them, or you think you are also very selfless when it comes to your parents. No matter what you think, at least you have a concept of the word “selfless” and think of it as a positive word, and that being a selfless person is very noble. When you are selfless, you esteem yourself highly. But there is no one who can see God’s selflessness in all things, among people, events, and objects, and in His work. Why is this the case? Because man is too selfish! Why do I say that? Mankind lives in a material world. You may follow God, but you never see or appreciate how God provides for you, loves you, and shows concern for you. So what do you see? You see your blood relatives who love you or dote on you. You see the things that are beneficial to your flesh, you care about the people and things you love. This is man’s so-called selflessness. Such “selfless” people, however, are never concerned about the God that gives life to them. In contrast to that of God, man’s selflessness becomes selfish and despicable. The selflessness man believes in is empty and unrealistic, adulterated, incompatible with God, and unrelated to God. Man’s selflessness is for himself, while God’s selflessness is a true revelation of His essence. It is precisely due to God’s selflessness that man is constantly provided for by Him. You might not be too deeply affected by this topic I am talking about today and are merely nodding in approval, but when you try to appreciate God’s heart in your heart, you will unwittingly discover this: Among all the people, matters, and things you can sense in this world, only God’s selflessness is real and concrete, because only God’s love for you is unconditional and unblemished. Apart from God, anyone else’s so-called unselfishness is feigned, superficial, inauthentic; it has a purpose, certain intentions, carries a tradeoff, and cannot stand to be tested. You could even say that it is filthy and contemptible. Are you in agreement with these words?
I know you are very unfamiliar with these topics and need a bit of time for them to sink in before you can truly understand. The more unfamiliar you are with these issues and topics, the more it proves that these topics are missing in your heart. If I were never to mention these topics, would any among you know anything about them? I believe you would never get to know them. That is for certain. No matter how much you can comprehend or understand, these topics I speak of are, in short, what people most lack and what they should know about the most. These topics are very important for everyone—they are precious and they are life, and they are things you must possess for the road ahead. Without these words as guidance, without your understanding of God’s disposition and essence, you will always carry a question mark when it comes to God. How can you believe in God properly if you do not even understand Him? You know nothing of God’s emotions, His will, His state of mind, what He is thinking, what makes Him sad, and what makes Him happy, so how can you be considerate toward God’s heart?
Whenever God is upset, He faces a mankind that does not pay any attention to Him at all, a mankind that follows Him and claims to love Him but completely neglects His feelings. How can His heart not hurt? In God’s management work, He sincerely carries out His work on and speaks to each person, and He faces them without reservation or concealment; but conversely, every person who follows Him is closed off toward Him, and no one is willing to actively get closer to Him, understand His heart, or pay attention to His feelings. Even those who want to become God’s intimates do not want to get close to Him, to be considerate toward His heart, or try to understand Him. When God is joyful and happy, there is no one to share His happiness. When God is misunderstood by people, there is no one to comfort His wounded heart. When His heart is hurting, there is not a single person willing to let Him confide in them. Over these thousands of years of God’s management work, there have been none who understand God’s emotions, none who comprehend or appreciate them, let alone any who could stand beside God to share in His joys and sorrows. God is lonely. He is lonely! God is lonely not just because corrupted mankind opposes Him, but more because those who seek to be spiritual, those who seek to know God and understand Him, and even those who are willing to expend their entire lives for Him, also do not know His thoughts or understand His disposition and His emotions.
At the end of Noah’s story, we see that God used an unusual method to express His feelings at the time. It was a very special method: to make a covenant with man which declared the end of God’s destruction of the world with the flood. On the surface, making a covenant may seem like a very ordinary thing. It is nothing more than using words to bind two parties and prevent them from violating their agreement, so as to protect both of their interests. In form, it is a very ordinary thing, but from the motivations behind and intent of God in doing this thing, it is a true revelation of God’s disposition and state of mind. If you just put these words aside and ignore them, if I never tell you the truth of things, then humanity will really never know God’s thinking. Perhaps in your imagination God was smiling when He made this covenant, or perhaps His expression was serious, but regardless of what most ordinary expression people imagine God to have had, no one would have been able to see God’s heart or His pain, let alone His loneliness. No one can make God trust them or be worthy of God’s trust, or be someone He can express His thoughts or confide His pain to. That is why God had no choice but to do such a thing. On the surface, God did an easy thing in bidding farewell to humanity as it was, settling the issue of the past and bringing to a perfect end His destruction of the world by flood. However, God buried the pain from this moment deep inside His heart. At a time when God did not have anyone to confide in, He made a covenant with mankind, telling them that He would not destroy the world with a flood again. When a rainbow appeared, it was to remind people that such a thing had happened and to warn them to refrain from evil. Even in such a painful state, God did not forget about mankind and still showed so much concern for them. Is this not God’s love and unselfishness? But what do people think of when they are suffering? Is this not the time they need God the most? At times like this, people always drag God over so He can comfort them. No matter when, God will never let people down, and He will always enable people to get out of their predicaments and live in the light. Although God so provides for mankind, in man’s heart God is nothing more than a soothing pill, a comfort tonic. When God is suffering, when His heart is wounded, having a created being or any person keep Him company or comfort Him would undoubtedly be just an extravagant wish for God. Man never pays attention to God’s feelings, so God never asks nor expects there to be someone who can comfort Him. He merely uses His own methods to express His mood. People do not think it is a great hardship for God to go through some suffering, but only when you truly try to understand God, when you can genuinely appreciate God’s earnest intentions in everything He does, can you feel God’s greatness and His selflessness. Even though God made a covenant with mankind using the rainbow, He never told anyone why He did this—why He established this covenant—meaning He never told anybody His real thoughts. This is because there is no one who can comprehend the depth of the love God has for the mankind He created with His own hands, and there is also no one who can appreciate just how much pain His heart suffered when He destroyed humanity. Therefore, even if He were to tell people how He felt, they would be unable to undertake this trust. Despite being in pain, He still continues with the next step of His work. God always gives His best side and the best things to mankind while quietly bearing all the suffering Himself. God never openly discloses these sufferings. Instead, He endures them and waits in silence. God’s endurance is not cold, numb, or helpless, nor is it a sign of weakness. Rather, God’s love and essence have always been selfless. This is a natural revelation of His essence and disposition, and a genuine embodiment of God’s identity as the true Creator.
Having said that, some might misinterpret what I mean. “Was describing God’s feelings in such detail, with so much sensationalism, intended to make people feel sorry for God?” Is that the intention here? (No!) The only purpose of Me saying these things is to make you know God better, to understand His myriad aspects, understand His emotions, to appreciate that God’s essence and disposition are, concretely and bit by bit, expressed through His work, as opposed to being depicted through man’s empty words, their letters and doctrines, or their imaginations. That is to say, God and God’s essence actually exist—they are not paintings, not imaginings, not constructed by man, and certainly not fabricated by man. Do you recognize this now? If you do recognize it, then My words today have achieved their goal.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh