3) God Established a Covenant with Men with a Rainbow as Its Token
(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’s take a look at the verses concerning “God established a covenant with men with a rainbow as its Token.”
Most people know what a rainbow is and have heard something of the story about the rainbow. As to the story about the rainbow in the Bible, some believe it; others regard it as a legend; and still others simply do not believe it. No matter what, all the things related to the rainbow that happened throughout the story were the things God did and the things that happened in the course of God’s managing mankind. These things are recorded in the Bible exactly as they happened. Although how God’s heart felt at that time and what God’s intention was in speaking these words are not told in these records, much less can anyone realize how God felt when he spoke these words, yet the mind God had in the whole course of doing this thing is expressed among the words and between the lines, and it seems that God’s mind at that time is all revealed on paper vividly through each and every of these words of God.
God’s mind is what mankind should care about and know the most, because God’s mind has everything to do with man’s knowledge about God, and man’s knowledge about God is an indispensable link in his entering into life. Then what was God’s mind while these things happened?
The God-created mankind, a mankind who had originally been very good in God’s eyes and very close to God, was cut off by a flood after they disobeyed God. Such a mankind disappeared in a twinkling; was God grieved over that? Of course, he was grieved! What was the expression of his grief? What is the account of it in the Bible? It is as recorded in this verse: 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. In this simple word God’s mind was revealed: He was deeply grieved over this destruction of the world; in human terms, he was very sad. We may picture it: After the world was destroyed by the flood, what did the earth which had originally been full of life look like? What did the earth which had originally been full of human beings look like? It was desolate, no living things existed, and water was everywhere, on which things were floating about messily. Was such a scene God’s original intention in creating the world? Certainly not! God’s original intention was to see that the whole earth would be full of life and see that the mankind created by him would worship him, and at least it was not that only one man, Noah, would worship him, and only one man, Noah, could be called by him to accomplish his commission. At the moment when mankind disappeared, what God saw was not what he had originally intended to see but just the opposite. How could God’s heart not be grieved? So, when he was manifesting his disposition and expressing his feelings, he made a decision. What was the decision? He would establish a covenant with men with a bow in the cloud (Note: it was the rainbow we see), promising that he would not destroy mankind any more with a flood, and at the same time telling men that God had destroyed the world with a flood and letting men forever remember why God had done such a thing.
Was that destruction of the world what God desired? It was certainly not what God desired! As for the miserable condition on the earth after the destruction of the world, we can imagine a little about it, but how the scene God saw at that time was like is far beyond our imagination. It can be said that of the people today or the people then, none can imagine or understand how God felt in his heart when he saw that scene, when he saw the world after the destruction of it by the flood. Mankind’s disobedience had forced God to do so, but God’s heart was hurt because of that destruction of the world by a flood. This fact no one understood, and no one could feel it. So God established a covenant with men, that is, by an oath, he told men to remember that God had done such a thing and told men that God would never again destroy the world in such a way in the future. In this covenant, we see God’s heart and see that when God destroyed that mankind, God’s heart was in agony. To put it in human language, when God destroyed mankind and when God saw mankind disappear, God’s heart was weeping tears and dripping blood. Isn’t this all can be said? Although these words are words mankind uses to describe man’s feeling, yet because human language is too short, I think it is not wrong or exaggerated to describe God’s heart and God’s feeling with such words, and at least they can make you understand vividly and properly how God’s heart felt at that time. When you see a rainbow again, what will you think about? At least you will think that God once sorrowed over his destruction of the world with a flood, and think that although God hated that world and hated that mankind, yet when he destroyed the mankind he had made with his own hands, he felt pain in his heart, felt it hard to give them up, felt he had no other choice, and felt it hard to do that. The only comfort to him was the eight members of Noah’s family. It was because of Noah’s cooperation that the painstaking effort and price he had expended in creating all things had not been wasted after all. It was the only thing that could appease his wound while he was grieved. From then on, God placed his expectations for mankind all on the eight members of Noah’s family, and he hoped that they would live under his blessing rather than in his curse, hoped that they would never again see God’s destruction of the world with a flood, and hoped that they would not be destroyed.
What aspect of God’s disposition should we know about here? God hated mankind because mankind had been at enmity with God. But in God’s heart, his care, concern, and mercy for mankind had never changed, and even though he had destroyed mankind, such a heart of his remained unchanged. When mankind was full of corruption and disobeyed God to a degree, God had to destroy this mankind because of his disposition and his substance and according to his principle. However, because of his substance, God still had pity on mankind, and he even tried every way to redeem mankind so that mankind could continue to survive. Yet men stood in opposition to God, and they continued to disobey God and refused to accept God’s salvation, that is, they refused to accept God’s kindness. No matter how God called and warned them and no matter how God supplied and helped them and how God tolerated them, they did not understand, feel grateful to, or pay attention to God. When God was sorrowful, he still remembered to show men the utmost tolerance and wait for men to turn back. When the limit had been reached, he would do what he should do without any hesitation. That is to say, from the moment God planned to destroy mankind to the moment God’s work of destroying mankind formally began, there was a period of time, a course. This course was given for mankind to turn back, and it was the last opportunity God gave to men. So, what did God do in the period before the destruction of mankind? God did a great many works of warning and exhortation. No matter how grieved or sad God was in his heart, what he did on mankind was constantly showing concern for them, taking care of them, and showing abundant mercy to them. Then what have we seen here? No doubt, we have seen that God’s love for mankind is true, and it is not on the lips but is real and practical and can be touched and experienced, and in it there is no hypocrisy, no mixture, no deception, and no pretension. God has never used any deceptive means or created a false impression for mankind to see that he is lovely, and God has never given false testimony for man to see his loveliness or given it to advertise his loveliness and holiness. Then aren’t these aspects of God’s disposition worthy for man to love? Aren’t they worthy for man to worship? Aren’t they worthy for man to treasure? Speaking of which, I’d like to ask you now: After hearing these words, do you think that God’s greatness is an empty phrase on a sheet of paper? Do you think that God’s loveliness is an empty word? No, certainly not! God’s supremacy, God’s greatness, God’s holiness, God’s tolerance, God’s love, and so on, all these elements and components of God’s disposition and substance have been manifested in each work done by God and expressed in God’s will for mankind, and they have also been manifested to everyone and expressed on everyone. Whether you have felt it or not, God has been taking every care of everyone, and has been warming the heart of everyone and arousing the spirit of everyone in various ways and with his sincere heart and with his wisdom. Such a fact is beyond all doubt. No matter how many people are present, every one of you has different experiences of and feelings about God’s tolerance and patience and God’s loveliness. These experiences of God and these feelings or knowledge about God, all these positive things are received from God anyway. So, through everyone’s experiences and knowledge of God, plus our interpretation of these Bible passages today, do you have a more true and proper knowledge of God?
From A Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh—The Way to Know God I