I hate driving. I am more of a “pew-pew” guy than a “vroom-vroom” guy. I battle my own heart every day in Atlanta traffic. Everybody on the highway might as well be chasing down Ichabod Crane because they are driving like the Headless Horseman.
The only thing that soothes the savage beast inside me as I drive is a podcast or music from the 80s and 90s or “real” country music. While driving on the desert roads of Iraq we had to keep other vehicles 200 meters away from our truck, so that same distance from any vehicle is my happy place on the roads. And they are never nowhere near as empty as they are for Rick Grimes in the show The Walking Dead. Lucky!
Lucky Charms, They’re Magically Delicious!
Speaking of luck, that was me the other day. Happy when—for a split second—I escaped the Georgia blacktop congestion when I looked up and saw a rainbow in the sky. But then Old Adam the Pharisee got behind my wheel. He started to grumble and hem-haw about how some in our culture like to separate the rainbow from the original context it was given, and stitch it into flags.
Then my mind drifted off towards the Land of Oz, then into a bowl of frosted Lucky Charms, and along to lucky Leprechauns with their Pot-o-Gold at the end of the rainbow. All of this before I start to recall any promise from God. Sadly, not once when I was a kid did I ever think of God’s promise when watching the Care Bears slide down their cartoon rainbows. And I may love Skittles and have tasted their version of the rainbow, yet I contend that God’s covenantal promises taste more like bread and wine.
So if the meaning behind the rainbow is not all of these fantastical things in lore and pop culture, what is it? God gives us the answer in Genesis, and he attached it to a covenant promise.
Noah’s Flood & Our Baptism
What is the context of God’s covenant with Noah in Genesis 6-9? Mankind had become so corrupt and violent that God chose to end all flesh but save eight souls. The method and means he used was water; drowning and washing the earth clean. Rescued out of the water on an object made of wood, God’s children rise to new life.
Wicked people being buried under water, God’s children coming out of the water on a wooden [cross]—ahem, I mean—ark, to receive a promise from God. And this promise given to Noah and his family is for all people. When you see all the colors of the rainbow in the sky, let them remind you of what God is remembering.
“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease…When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 8:21-22; 9:14-16, ESV)
Let me connect the dots. The account of the Flood is all about Baptism—God’s guarantee of one-way rescue. A prefiguring of his promise to those who have been baptized into and buried with Christ is exactly what Peter is telling us.
“Christ also suffered once for sins in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in flesh but was made alive in spirit, in which he also went and made an announcement to the spirits in prison. These spirits disobeyed long ago, when God’s patience was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In this ark a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the body but the guarantee of a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:18-21, EHV)
You really have to fight to twist this passage and try to make it say something else. Just like the eight that were saved by water in the ark—“baptism now saves you.” What?! Do you need assurance of your salvation? Baptism is a “guarantee of a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
In a recent episode of Bible Study For Normies, my friend Daniel Emery Price shared, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus doesn’t lie!” Amen and Amen! If you have been baptized into Christ, you are promised resurrection. Believe it because Jesus Christ said so. Take him at his word. Literally.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5, EHV)
The Real Gold at the End of the Rainbow
So when you see a rainbow—remember your Baptism.
Water is a far greater gift than any amount of gold. Baptism is the Good News that Old Adam is dead and that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Knowing that our hope and identity are in Christ is a great comfort, especially during our daily struggles with sin and when we doubt our salvation.
Regardless of how I might feel as a child of God, my Baptism is a “guarantee of a good conscience before God.” Rainbows are Good News because of the Someone who is over the rainbow—Jesus Christ—for us.