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by Ron Rose
Starting Over with Promise
    After the flood, God put limits on himself and issued his first postcreation promise to earth’s population. He vowed never again to destroy all life on earth with water, and the rainbow is a reminder of that promise. Without it, the descendants of Noah might have panicked at every afternoon thunderstorm. A relationship with God might have been based on dread and fear. The rainbow—seen as a full circle from the heavens and as a half-circle on earth—reminded God’s new population that he is still in charge and that life is based on faith, not fear.

When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and I will remember the agreement that continues forever between me and every living thing on the earth.
    The reborn earth was fresh and clean, but it wasn’t the Garden of Eden. Noah and his family still lived in a world shadowed by disobedience, loneliness, injustice, selfishness, and sin. As Noah’s family reestablished humankind on earth, God blessed them and encouraged them to have lots of children, which they did. It was his plan to lead his people—his struggling, frightened, and forgetful people—from the ark to heaven, from the rainbow on earth to the rainbow surrounding his throne. In between God’s rainbows of promise are the storms of life, and in the storms God’s people find themselves standing on the promises.

Reflection: To build a lasting relationship with his creation, God is confronted with a strategic dilemma -- his people must know enough about him to fear his awesome power, but fear of his power will suffocate their relationship with him.

    God’s response is perfect. He counters our human fearfulness with a public promise in the sky. The rainbow gently reminds him, and us, of his promise never to destroy the earth with water. He voluntarily places the sign of his promise where everyone can see it and remember the God behind it. Regardless of the clouds, we can look forward to our future with God with confidence.

    Our journey to the heart of God must start with an awareness of his unmatched, awesome power and his unbending demands of virtue and holiness. Any other basis is dishonest and destructive. But our journey takes us beyond his power toward dependence on his promises. His promises open the door to relationship with him, and while defusing our fears, they nurture our hope.

    What a mighty God we serve. He, the ultimate promise keeper, values his creation as if we were worthy of his promises.


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