A RAINBOW IN THE SKY.
I do set My bow in the cloud."—Gen. ix. 13.
Does my heart leap up when I behold a rainbow in the sky ? It ought to do so.
The rainbow preaches the friendliness of God's thoughts. It is itself a heavenly thing; I know nothing that is heavenlier. But it is eager to come down and touch and kiss the earth. It does not dwell high in the blue vault, remote, unapproachable. It is a bridge whose two piers descend to plant themselves on the ground, although its keystone is far away. That is like God. The Old Testament shows Him merciful and gracious, anxious that He and men should be separated by no estranging gulf. But Christ dispels every doubt. In Him the sky bends to the earth, embraces the earth, dignifies and redeems my poor and sinful and self-destroyed earth.
The rainbow preaches the wideness of God's mercy. When I see it in its entireness, its span travels across the breadth of my horizon. The fields nestle under it, and the streams, and the strip of dark-green wood, and the village with its homesteads and little gardens. It sheds its benison impartially on them all. That, too, is like God. His love is catholic and vast, though the Jews were slow to believe in its largeness. Jesus places it beyond dispute. To His cradle came Magi from the East as well as shepherds from the Bethlehem pastures. On His Cross the title was written in the Greek and Latin of the West no less than in the sacred Hebrew. Even me He will in no wise cast out.
And the rainbow preaches the completeness of God's perfection. Its seven colours make up the radiant and unsullied white. My God is as manifold and as pure. On the outside, there is the violet of His power; nearer the centre, the blue of His holiness; farthest in, the red of His grace. Again Christ teaches me best. Violet of power, blue of holiness, red of grace: if I would study them to most profit, I must go out to the place where the Cross of my Saviour stands. In the dark cloud over Calvary the bow shines.
And the rainbow preaches the timeliness of God's comforts. Noah saw it after the terror of the pitiless waters and the imprisonment of the ark. It banished fear. It soothed sorrow. It came in a seasonable hour. Ah! my Father often whispers His best tenderness when pain and loss are brooding near. I should have no doubt of it since Jesus went through a desolation and a heart-break compared with which those of Old Testament saints were slight. Moses tells his children a story, and it ends in flocks and herds and milk and honey; Christ tells His little ones a story, and it ends in a shameful and accursed Tree. But He changes the sackcloth into the garment of praise.
So I pray that I may always "trace the rainbow through the rain" [George Matheson, "O Love that Wilt not Let me go"].
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Alexander Smellie, In the Secret Place: A Book of Daily Devotional Meditations, p. 272 (September 4):