It’s hard to imagine that there was once a time in earth’s history when there were no rainbows. How could there not be? Did the sun not shine in the same way? Did water vapor not hang in the air after rain in the same way? Did God somehow alter the physical properties of light so that it would refract into its array of rainbow colors only after Noah’s time?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. If you really want to know, write them on your list for the day after judgment day. In the meantime, know this—the rainbow is not simply a meaningless phenomenon of nature. It is the miraculous design of God himself, and it appears in the sky just often enough to remind us of a promise he made, a promise that could be made only by the Maker and Preserver of heaven and earth.
God told Noah, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22). The seasonal, monthly, and daily rhythms of life on this earth will continue uninterrupted until he returns to remake all things. In the meantime, we have his promise that there will be no more planet-wide destructive judgments like the flood. But the rainbow also reminds us that God did indeed once destroy the face of the earth. We have important work to do before he returns to do it again.