It drizzled a couple of times earlier this month, and both times were a vivid reminder to me of how much it rained in June a year ago—something odd for our desert region known as the Sun City. My family and I were not complaining though. With highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout most of the summer months, the rain provided moments of refreshing to our parched land and weary souls.
I have always enjoyed the rain, so I felt especially encouraged by it, and even more so on the few occasions that a rainbow appeared in the sky afterwards. It was a good reminder of God’s mercy expressed through His covenant to Noah after the flood, which is as follows:
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.Genesis 9:8-13 ESV
The rainbows from last summer reassured me of God’s tender mercy toward humanity, which I was very grateful for after the hardship we had already faced worldwide at that point. He is merciful and gracious toward mankind and consistently reminds us of that in different ways.
This June, I have seen quite a few rainbows as well, but not the ones that appear in the sky. They have been manmade symbols that are especially prominent in ads, clothing, and commercials this time of year, and although the intended meaning of this politicized symbol is far from the purpose for which God created it, I’m beginning to see God’s mercy even through this manmade form. I see God’s mercy because I see how He allows humanity to live and move and breathe even when we distort His creation for sinful purposes. And I see it, because He sustains the lives of those who actively reject Him and seek to live in wickedness. And I see it more personally because He gave His Son to spare me of my deserved punishment, and He has forgiven me of all my sins.
God shows mercy so that individuals may have the opportunity to place their faith in Him, because He desires that no one should perish and forever be separated from Him.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. “2 Peter 3:9 ESV
But let’s not confuse His mercy for leniency, my friends. He may not destroy the whole earth by water again, but make no mistake—He will execute His judgment on this world. By His Word, He will execute judgment and destruction on the ungodly.
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”2 Peter 3:7 ESV
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”2 Peter 3:10 ESV
For those who have placed their faith in Jesus, their sin has already been paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But for those who reject Jesus and continue to live their lives on their own path, whether in their own self-righteousness, wickedness, or somewhere in between, they will pay for their sin through an eternity in hell.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 6:23 ESV
God is merciful, but He is also just, and we will see His justice completely executed on this earth someday, so let us not take His mercy for granted. Let us not presume that we can live apart from Him and face no consequences for that decision, regardless of how good we think our lives might be. And for those of us who have confidence in our salvation through Christ Jesus, let’s remember to pray for the lost often—that they would understand just how merciful God is and that His mercy would draw them to Him. Let’s allow all rainbows, furthermore, to remind us to do just that.