25 AUGUST (PREACHED 20 JANUARY 1767 & 30 MAY 1779)
The brightest rainbow on the darkest cloud
‘And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud.’ Genesis 9:14
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Genesis 9:8–17
The rainbow is promised in the cloud and in due time it shall appear. This may signify:
(i) that their troubles shall be moderated. ‘I will correct thee in measure, but will not make a full end of thee.’ The degree and the duration of their trials are limited and have bounds beyond which they cannot pass. He remembers their frame and considers they are but dust.
(ii) they are supported. They wonder how it is possible, but they find they do hold out. Had they been told what they were to go through, they would have sunk at the thought, but they are brought through the storm, because, though his face may be hid, his arm is underneath them.
(iii) they are at last comforted. The rainbow does not usually appear in the cloud at first, but rather when the rain is going off. And as the brightest rainbow is painted upon the darkest cloud, so their greatest distresses are often accompanied or succeeded by their brightest and sweetest consolations.
Remember therefore when you see the rainbow, that it is a witness for the truth of God’s promise—that he will not contend for ever, that all shall work together for good, that though weeping may endure for a night, joy shall come in the morning. But to sinners, out of Christ, the rainbow gives you but small comfort as a pledge that you shall not be destroyed by a deluge. Yet the rainbow signifies to you that the day of God’s grace and patience is not yet ended; it encourages you to seek him for pardon and salvation.
When the sun, with cheerful beams,
Thus the Lord’s supporting power
Smiles upon a lowering sky;
Brightest to his saints appears,
Soon its aspect softened seems,
When affliction’s threatening hour
And a rainbow meets the eye:
Fills their sky with clouds and fears:
While the sky remains serene,
He can wonders then perform,
This bright arch is never seen.
Paint a rainbow on the storm.
SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 20 [1/1], GENESIS 9:14