Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rainbows

We finally got a reprieve today after a week long, non-stop downpour. I've lived in southern CA my entire life and I don't remember anything like this. Oh sure, we get rain. But day after day after day? Not really.

Of course, once the rain stops and the sun starts emerging, that's when it's prime time to see a rainbow. Sure enough, this picture was in the local paper.
A quarter rainbow is seen in Ontario after the rain | December 22, 2010.
Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer/Inland Daily Bulletin
After Noah's flood, God took the rainbow, a pre-existing phenomenon, and made a promise. God attached new meaning to the rainbow, turning it into a symbol of His universal covenant with all humankind and with all the earth (Genesis 9:11-17). (This is consistent with the pattern of other covenants. For example, in the New Covenant, God took two common items - bread and wine - and infused in them new symbolic meaning. Short theological tangent there, sorry.)

Scientifically speaking, rainbows are the products of refracted light which emerge right after rain stops. They don't pop up when it has been bright and sunny for weeks or months. This got me to thinking. Would the rainbow Noah saw have been under similar conditions? Something like today, a world of emerging sun and shadows? That's certainly not the picture I've had in my mind until now.

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