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The Bow in the Cloud: The Biblical Symbolism of the Rainbow

The meaning of “Bow in the Cloud” is a covenant between God and His creation, the appearance of the bow in the cloud represents God’s Glory, which is full of grace and truth.

Please join us for a snippet bible study from a series presentation “Messenger of the Covenant” by Brother, Andre C. Waller of The Faith Institute.

In Revelation 10:1, the Bible says,” and I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was upon his head and his face was, as it were, the sun and his feet were as pillars of fire.”

Genesis 9:13-16 reads,

“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

And it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth that the bow shall be seen where bow in the cloud, there it is again.

 

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh.

And the water shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud. And I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

What is the significance of a bow in a cloud?

Covenant! Isn't that beautiful?

According to the verses, the vision that was seen was an angel coming down from heaven, and a cloud and a rainbow are above his head.

This tells us that whoever this angel is, is a covenant-keeping angel.

Ezekiel 1:28 “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

This was the appearance of the likeness. Of what? The glory.

When he saw a bow and a cloud, it was a representation of God's glory.

Let’s take these two pictures and put one next to the other. A bow in the cloud represents a covenant.

Who is the covenant between in Genesis chapter nine?

God and all his creation. It's not simply relegated to man alone, but it's God and all of his creation.

The Glory and God's covenant are synonymous. But let's go a little further, we also see the angel comes down simply in a cloud.

Only divinity comes in the cloud!

Exodus 13:21

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:”

According to Exodus 13:21, who comes in the cloud?

The Lord

Exodus 16:10 “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.”

The Glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 19:9 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.”

So far in three verses, we've identified that only divinity comes in the cloud.

Leviticus 16:2 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.”

Leviticus 16: 13 “And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:”

Numbers 12:5 “And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.”

We have established that divinity comes in the cloud and there's a covenant-keeping God that is coming down in this cloud.

Let's look at the sun. The Bible says his face shown as it were, the sun.

Psalm 72:17 “His name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.”

What is the equation that is given to reflect the purpose of the Sun in this verse?

Forever. It's enduring. We see the characteristic of the Sun is that it's enduring.

Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

Notice what the Bible says for the Lord, God is a what?

Is a sun.

The Bible says that the Lord God is a sun and a shield. We now have, a little equation that has developed, that God has been equated to a sun, and we see the characteristics of a sun that the sun is enduring.

Psalm 89:36” His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.”

How long shall His seed endure?

Forever.

This is Hebrew parallelism. In one part of the verse, it says things one way. And in the second part of the verse, it says the same thought, but just in a different way.

it's like Hebrew poetry matching lines. Okay, you follow the idea. So if we were to make a fundamental equation for this talk, in regards to the sun, I would say the sun is enduring = God is enduring.

Exodus 34:27-29 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”

In translation, Moses’ face is on fire, his face is shining like the sun. What has he gone into the mountaintop to receive?

The Covenant.

Moses goes into the mountain to receive a covenant. When he comes out from the very presence of God, his face is shining like the sun.

Exodus 34: 30-35,

“30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.

32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai.

33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

34 But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.

35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

So here again, Moses’ face shines. What's the reaction of the people?

Fear

Does your mind go to any other story in the Bible when God's glory shows up and people run in another direction?

When the mountains and rocks fall on us at the end of time is what comes to mind, also the cleaning of the temple and​ Genesis chapter three. 

In Genesis 3, God comes down to spend time with his children, and his children run in a different direction.

 

Think about that!

God's wanting to come close to them, but there's something in the experience of the people that have changed.

Has God changed? No. God is still the same.

What did Moses have to do if he was going to interact with the people?

He has to put a veil on his face.

Hebrews 10:19, 20

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh”

Moses had to put a veil on his face in order to interact and be around his own people.

Hebrews 10:19 & 20 show us that Jesus had to veil himself in what?

His Flesh

John 1:1-4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

His life was the light. God could have easily come down without veiling himself in flesh and he could have just been walking around like a beam of light. But he veils himself in flesh so that humanity is not so afraid of him.

He veils his glory so that he can interact with the fallen creation.

John 1:14

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

His life was the word, and the word was made flesh. According to Hebrews 10:20, what is another word for flesh?

Veil.

The word veiled himself in flesh, and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory.

What's another word for glory?

Life.

The God of the universe veils himself in flesh. His life is the light that is really glory. There are two components that make up His glory.

What are the two components that makeup God’s glory?

Grace and Truth. Grace and truth must be presented together.

Why is it important for grace and truth to be presented together?

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”

In conclusion, this angel that came down from heaven can be none other than the divine one, Jesus Christ, the covenant-keeping God who is leading his people in the time of their darkness.

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