We are all familiar with the rainbow. If you live in the countryside, you can see this divine natural phenomenon in all its splendor and glory. Once, I was traveling with a young sister who lived in a city, when a black cloud appeared in front of us. Then I said to her, “Now the beautiful rainbow is still missing!” She replied, “I have rarely seen a rainbow.” However, shortly after, the sun broke through, and in the sky in front of us was the rainbow in glorious splendor. The sister was deeply moved: “This is an unforgettable experience for me: the rainbow of God in the clouds!” And this thought then occupied me more and more: the rainbow of God!
Can we imagine how Noah and his family, after stepping out of the ark, suddenly looked with great concern at the black clouds approaching? After all, they had witnessed how in the clouds the judgment of God had fallen upon the corrupt earth and all sinners, and they were all lost.
However, now the clouds were supposed to be bearers of blessings upon sowing and harvesting, bringing growth and prosperity. Now God showed His grace and mercy. He made a covenant, a divine promise, and set His rainbow in the clouds.
Clouds are often used as a symbol of something we are afraid of. Sometimes you hear people say, “Oh, there’s a dark cloud coming!” Something we are afraid of is approaching like a dark cloud. Many times, we have experienced dark clouds coming over our lives, and we were afraid.
In this sense, the world is full of clouds, and all people get to know them as well. We want to learn from our text that God put the rainbow, His rainbow of grace, in the clouds.
The cloud of sin and the promise of grace
Sin is probably the most terrible cloud. It is possible to find a remedy in many hardships that befall us, with the help of other people or from some other source. But when the cloud of sin falls upon us, there is no human help.
Someone once came to me crying. I thought an accident had happened. But he cried, “O, my sins!” What a terrible thing when the cloud of sin covers a person! But the Lord provided His promise: it is the grace that has come to us through Christ.
Let us consider the case of the first people on earth. How beautiful was their home and their fellowship with the Lord! I can imagine there was nothing more beautiful for them than the evening hours when the Lord came into the garden and had fellowship with them. But then, one day, disobedience came. The cloud of sin settled over them, and they were afraid. But the Lord wanted to point them to the promise of grace, to His mercy.
He came to them again. They had been hiding. But His mercy called out, “Adam, where are you?” Adam should have come and fallen before the Lord and said, “I have sinned; have mercy!” But Adam did not. He did not seek the promise of God’s mercy. He sought excuses and apologies, and that was his undoing. What a pity! We see how the cloud of sin came over man right at the beginning.
Another example is Cain. When the Lord met him after he had slain his brother, he said to him, “Where is your brother? What have you done?” Cain should have sought the promise of mercy. God, in His merciful love, wanted to show him, “The promise of mercy is there; you may find mercy!” But Cain rebelled, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
He did not seek the promise of mercy. How terribly was sin upon him now! When he was convicted of his sin, Cain said, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” He now felt his burden of sin, but instead of seeking God’s mercy, it says, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord” (Genesis 4:16).
In all this we see how foolish people were from the very beginning. God keeps offering His grace in full measure, but people despise it.
It was different with Peter. His heart burned for his Savior; he was even ready to die for Him. But when he was not watchful and perhaps lost sight of the Savior, fear came over him like a dark cloud, and he denied his Lord. But then the Savior’s gaze met him, and the promise of grace shone upon him. Then the tears of repentance flowed abundantly! And God’s promise of grace saved him.
In numerous cases, the rainbow of grace has been reflected in the lives of many people. People accepted this blessing, this grace, and were saved.
The clouds of chastisement and judgment
God placed His promise of grace in these clouds as well. The Lord destroyed the people, but Noah stood under the promise of grace and was saved.
Take the example of Nineveh, the sinful city that was threatened with the judgment of God. However, God wanted to show His promise of grace to these people once again. He sent them the prophet Jonah, who preached repentance to them. And the people bowed down and took this promise of grace and were saved. The judgment did not come!
Even if God has already imposed His judgment on people, they can still be saved if they seek God’s promise of grace. This is especially proven by the story of Nineveh. God was merciful. He made His covenant for as long as the earth stands, as long as people seek and accept this grace. The psalmist says: “Blessed is the man whom you instruct, O Lord, and teach out of your law” (Psalm 94:12). The chastening is exceptionally good for us, and yet the grace of God is in every chastening.
I was also given many blessings through my illness. When I was hospitalized the day after our beautiful church convention, some brothers and sisters said, “How are we to understand this now?” I replied, “I am not trying to understand; I am trying to be grateful to God.” The blessing of the intercession of God’s children became so meaningful to me that I had to keep saying, “I give You thanks, dear God, for the prayers of God’s children!” How one can be so secure! And the greatest happiness for me was, “Lord, You love me, and You want the best for me!”
The cloud of tribulation and the promise of grace
I once read about an old shepherd. He was an extremely poor man but a child of God, a fearless hero of faith. Suddenly, his dying hour was approaching, and everything was dark around him. A man of God visited him. “Well, hero of faith, you are going home!” – “Yes, but everything is so terribly dark.” The preacher said, “You know the 23rd Psalm. Were you afraid when a dark cloud came up?” – “Oh no, I wasn’t afraid of anything like that.” – “Yes, why not?” – “Well, the cloud goes away again, and then there is sunshine, and then the stars are in the sky again.”
Then the preacher said, “And where the shadows of death approach like a dark cloud, you are afraid?!” – Then the shepherd’s hands sank, and he said, “How foolish, how foolish!” and the shadows faded and he went home to eternity rejoicing. Look, the dark clouds bring us blessings!
What does this promise in the clouds tell us? The Lord is thinking of us; He will be gracious to us. May God help us to look for this promise of grace in our lives, whether in good times or bad. We cannot live without the grace of God.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). There is such divine power in this grace that we can soar even above the clouds like an eagle. Do not stay under the dark cloud! Seek the promise of grace, and you will be a joyful child of God!