Who has not stood in awe at the sight of the arch of glorious colors that appears in the sky when the sun shines after a rain shower? It forms in that part of the sky opposite the sun. If the rain has been heavy, the bow may spread all the way across the sky, and its two ends seem to rest on the earth.
As sometimes happens, a heavy shower may be followed by a “double” rainbow arching across the sky. That always provokes a sense of awe, knowing the Biblical beginnings of the “bow in the cloud.”
Science tells us that the raindrops act as tiny prisms and mirrors to break up sunlight into colors of the spectrum and send colored light back to our eyes. The reflection, refraction, and diffraction of the sun’s rays as they fall on drops of rain cause this interesting phenomenon. These processes produce all the colors of the color spectrum – violet, indigo blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. However, the colors of a rainbow blend into each other so that an observer rarely sees more than four or five clearly. Each drop forms many colors. But the color that reaches our eyes from a particular drop depends on the angle between it and the line formed by the sun’s rays. Many raindrops, each sending colored light at certain angles, form the rainbow.
Sunlight is a combination of all colors. Different wave-lengths of light exhibit different colors. You see the rainbow when the sun is behind you and the rain is in front of you. As a ray passes into a drop of rain, the water acts like a prism.
We know from Scripture that the first rainbow was seen immediately after the great flood of Noah’s day. It was the sign that God gave Noah of the covenant which He had made with mankind that never again would the earth be destroyed by the waters of a flood. (Gen. 9:13-15)
We have experienced “cloud-bursts” of rain when the water has run off the roof like a waterfall, and flowed down the driveway like a river, leaving bumpy channels in the gravel. But no matter how heavy a rainfall, or spectacular a cloudburst; or no matter how devastating the floods from torrential rains as other parts of the country have recently experienced, we can be very confident that the earth will never again be subjected to a catastrophic flood like the one which destroyed the earth in Noah’s day.
I find it interesting that the rainbow is mentioned only in the first and the last books of the Bible:- the passage in Genesis, and in Revelation 4:3 where John tried to describe his vision of the “throne” and “a rainbow round about the throne.” It is all something which we have yet to understand.
Unusual rainbows have been part of our own experience of blessing. Twenty-five years ago, our precious 25-year old daughter died very suddenly. On our way home from the examiner’s office on a crisp February day, we looked up to see a glorious rainbow arched across the sky, and it spoke to us of God’s faithfulness. Rainbows do not normally appear in our part of Canada in February!! Then just nine years ago, again in February, we noticed another beautiful rainbow, and wondered about it. That night, the Lord called Home our lovely and talented 21-year old grand-daughter. The rainbow again reminded us of God’s great faithfulness in the midst of sorrow and pain.
An unknown poet has written about the rainbow, and the meaning of its colors, reminding us that God’s Love “weaves the perfect light” through all the experiences of life. Like the Master Weaver, He sees the need for ALL the colors in His infinite design. And would we remove a single one? No, we would wait to see the finished Divine Work of Art.
Meditate on these words:
A raveled rainbow overhead
Lets down to earth its varying thread:
Love’s blue, joy’s gold; and fair between
Hope’s shifting light of emerald green.
On either side in deep relief
A crimson pain, a violet grief.
Would you amid their gleaming hues
Snatch after those, and these refuse?
Believe, could your anointed eyes
Follow their lines, and sound the skies,
There where the fadeless glories shine
Your unseen Saviour twists the twine!
And you be sure what tint soe’er
The broken ray beneath may wear,
IT NEEDS THEM ALL that, fair and white,
HIS LOVE may weave the PERFECT LIGHT.
From Poems of Dawn © 1912
In Agape, Eulene