Sometimes it’s an innocent mistake, such as mistaking tears to always mean sorrow or despair when they can just as often represent thanksgiving, pride, the joy of loving and being loved.
Other times things are deliberately borrowed and used as symbols of things quite different to what was originally intended. I was thinking about this yesterday as stormy weather punctuated my journey with squally showers and vivid rainbows.
The rainbow was borrowed as a motif by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as an emblem of the hope that different races could be unified in a post-apartheid South Africa. More recently it has been widely used to promote Gay Pride’s particular interpretation of diversity and ‘tolerance’. In Ireland it has traditionally been a sign of good ‘luck’ with people dreaming of finding a fortune buried ‘at the end of the rainbow’. Trouble is, the ‘end’ keeps moving!
I was remembering that according to the Biblical book of Genesis the rainbow originated as neither an omen of good fortune nor a picture of difference however people may try to harmonise.
It was given as a promise of grace.
God judged human wickedness, but provided a place of refuge in the ark. Afterwards He promised Noah never to flood the entire earth like that again, instead making a covenant of undeserved love and mercy for those He had created, and now acted to save. (Genesis 9 v 1-17) Thus after centuries of further disobedience and depravity the New Testament recalls Noah’s day and concluded God is patient with us, ‘not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance’. (2 Peter 3 v 9)
The Bible is adamant there will one day be a Day of Judgement but meantime the rainbow acts as a reminder, of the possibility of forgiveness, a new start and never ending love through the Rescuer Jesus.
The promise of grace. Not something we should neglect or take for granted, but something to be embraced and cherished.