When reading the Bible, we come across many objects, people and events that can have multiple meanings and hold great significance. We may notice them on the surface, but inadvertently dismiss their importance or gloss over their symbolism. Yet, these symbols can enrich our faith and deepen our relationship with God by providing a tangible understanding of the intangible.

While the Bible is filled with symbols, there are some that can powerfully demonstrate God’s love for humanity. Let’s take today the rainbow as our symbol.

Rainbows are such an awesome phenomenon to witness. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen them, each and every time they leave me in awe. I have to stop and praise God for His creative beauty and wondrous power. Rainbows contain a continuum of around 1 million colours that are indistinguishable with the human eye. Instead, we can only really see seven colour hues: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Of course, scientifically rainbows are “an arch of colours formed in the sky in certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.” Science aside, rainbows symbolize so much more to us and reveal a bit about God’s characteristics.

In Scripture the rainbow appears several times, most notably in the following:

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13

“Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel 1:28

“And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Revelation 4:3


The first instance of a rainbow that we find in the Bible is found in the story of Noah and the flood. God set a rainbow in the sky to serve as a sign of the covenant that he would never again destroy all life with flood waters. It serves as a reminder of God’s forgiveness, truthfulness, and that however great the trials are that we endure, God will remain faithful and good.

The rainbow is precious. It’s a symbol of what theologians call God’s common grace – the grace he shows to all people saved and unsaved alike. With the rainbow God promised to restrain his wrath. He promised never again to visit destruction on the earth in the same way. Judgement was delayed, for Noah, his descendants, and for the rest of creation. God would continue to provide rain and sun. He would provide seasons and harvest. Land could be worked and crops could be grown.

It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word for Rainbow is קֶשֶׁת — Qeshet. Keshet is also used to describe a war bow. When you think of a bow used in war, it needs, essentially two things:  the bow and an arrow. Without the arrow, it cannot serve as a weapon. The symbol of the rainbow, a bow without an arrow, is therefore a symbol of the mercy of God. A symbol that shows that while God can destroy the earth with a flood, He has promised not to do that ever again. So, the rainbow is a powerful symbol of God’s grace and mercy.

The rainbow is a symbol of God’s faithfulness and mercy. The “rainbow around the throne,” (Revelation 4:3) is seen as a symbol of hope and as a bright emblem of mercy and love.

The rainbow is also a picture of God’s beauty and holiness. Ezekiel was privileged to see a vision of God in heaven and the brightness of God was seen as a rainbow. Ezekiel 1:28: “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”


One of the following:

1.the beauty and holiness of God

Listen to the hymn

2. the faithfulness and mercy of God


3. the promises God gives us

What promise in Scripture means a lot to you and why?



Loving and merciful God, thank you for the vast array of promises we read in the Holy Scriptures. Thank you for the ways you care for us and the promises we can count on. Lord, remind us to stand on your promises today. Remind us to meditate on your promises, to pray your promises over our lives and our families and the circumstances we need your help through. Your promises are refreshing, and your faithfulness is great and unmatched. Whatever we are going through, help us to put our faith in you and in the promises, you have given us. Let us trust you each day as we cling to your promises for hope and guidance. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and your unfailing love. Amen


St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.


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The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.


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