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THE RAINBOW AND THE WITNESS

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE
HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 FEBRUARY 1991

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 7:13-24
            9:8-17
Romans 1:18-20
1 Peter 3:8-22

As we gather together in church each Sunday morning, we expect to see and hear something about God.

But if the only time we expect to see or hear something from God is on Sunday morning, then we are receiving only about 1% of His witness to us, for we have blinded ourselves to the other 99%.

Our Sunday morning service is a time to come together in worship, recalling all of the attributes of God, so that we will be strengthened for the rest of the week and not fall into the traps of the ungodly ways around us.

But the most important part of this strengthening is our reminder that we must seek God and His word continually throughout the week, so that our strength will not wane.

Do you remember what we are told in Romans 1:18-20? Let's take another look at these verses.

18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19. because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

This is just as true for us today as it was during the time of Jesus' incarnation, and as it was before and after the Flood.

Not only does all of creation speak of the glories of God, as a reminder so that we would seek Him, but God also uses people to be His witnesses.

Such a witness was Noah, who spent 120 years building an ark as a witness against all the ungodly people of his day.

Let's pick up this story at the end of the 120 year period, as the rains begin to fall (Genesis 7:13 and following):

13. On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark,

14. they and every beast [animal] after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds.

15. So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.

16. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.

God and His witnesses tried for hundreds of years to bring the people to repentance and back to a personal relationship with Him, but the people would not have it.

They continued to rebel against their Creator.

There are several things to remember as a witness of the power of God:

There was no great body of water, yet Noah was building an ark to save them from a flood that was to come.

There had never been a flood before, nor had there ever been any rain; only a mist that would rise and water the ground, and a series of rivers that used to flow out of Eden, and that were fed by the Lord Himself.

Now there is rain falling, just as was forecast.

The animals are coming to Noah in the ark. He did not have to go out after them.

And it was the Lord Himself who closed the door to the ark, ending any further chances of the ungodly being saved.

Let's continue with our reading at verse 17.

17. Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.

18. And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water.

19. And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.

20. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.

21. And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind;

22. of all that was on dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.

23. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animal to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.

24. And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

Not only had the humans been corrupted themselves, but they had corrupted every other creature that was upon the face of the earth, except for a few.

Only the sea creatures, who could not be corrupted by humans, were spared, for they were out of their reach. People could not live in their environment in order to corrupt them.

The witness of the horrors of the Flood was to be imprinted upon the hearts and minds of the survivors, so that they and their descendants would not do the same as their ancestors.

Do you see a similarity between this and the wars that God allows?

Yet at the same time, God wanted to show the beautiful side of the situation that there is everlasting life with Him; thus, He set for them, and for us, a continuing sign of our covenant with Him, and of His with us.

Let's turn to Genesis 9:8 and following:

8. Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,

9. "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;

10. and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.

11. "And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth."

We humans like to think that we are so intelligent and that there is no comparison between us and the animals, yet here God dispels that notion.

God is saying in this covenant that not only will He never again resort to destroying the inhabitants of the earth with water, but He is also giving us a reminder a reminder that is so simple to understand that even every animal upon the face of the earth is capable of understanding it.

This reminder is to help us humans to remember that it was our own turning from God that brought upon us this destruction, so that we would repent of our evil ways.

This covenant is not saying that we can sin as before because God will never again flood the earth.

This covenant is saying that He will let us live in our evil ways, destroying ourselves, until the final judgment, or until He returns.

But for those who heed the covenant, there will be eternal life.

And what was the sign of this covenant that was so simple that even all the animals could understand it?

Let's see, as we continue our reading.

12. And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;

13. I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.

14. "And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud,

15. and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature [living soul] of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16. "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature [living soul] of all flesh that is on the earth."

17. And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."

Not only is God making a covenant with us, He is also very specifically reminding us that He created us and all the other animals as living souls who all have a very real and cherished value: animals are not things; they have souls and spirits just as we do.

Not only is the rainbow the sign of this covenant to remind us that God is capable of destroying us because of our sins, so that we would not sin, but it is a sign to God Himself, to remind Him not to destroy the unrepentant until the final judgment.

So, if you ever wonder why God allows the horrors and the killing and every evil thing to exist upon this earth, look at the next rainbow you see, and remember God's covenant.

And also remember that human beings are the ones who are bringing this evil upon ourselves, and unfortunately, the innocent animals

Now if we are truly repentant, and truly desire to live for God and better understand what God is trying to tell us, let's listen to the words of 1 Peter 3:8 and following:

8. To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

9. not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

10. For,
"Let him who means to love life and see good days
Refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.

11. "And let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.

12. "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

What the Holy Spirit is saying through Peter is that we are not to have the same outlook or attitude as the rest of the world that is evil.

We can see the rainbow, and understand, and remember.

No matter how the world acts, no matter what they do, we, who know the truth, are to continue to hang in there and do what the Lord desires us to do.

And don't fear!

Why?

Listen to what we are told next:

13. And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

14. But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,

15. but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

16. and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

17. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

These are the questions we all must ask ourselves: "Is this my attitude? Is this the way I'm living? Is this the way I'm presenting myself before others?"

And then we must truly analyze this "Christian" nation of ours, and ask: "Do we respond to evil as Christ would respond? Or do we contribute to the evil in the world?"

And as we ponder over these questions in our hearts and minds, listen to God's word as we continue with our reading, and consider both our present time and as it was before the flood.

18. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

19. in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

20. who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

21. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

22. who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

We, as Christians, so often fail to realize that our deliverance from evil can even be through our death.

Isn't it better to die for what is right, than to live unlike Christ and end up in hell and there, at the judgment, be witnessed to by our Lord, as were those from before the Flood?

The time of the end is near!

It's time to wake up!

It's time to wake others up!

It's time to live for Christ!

So that when we die, we will die in Him.

Amen.

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