The Rainbow Covenant

We have been hearing and reading in the news about global warming, the threat of more violent storms, and rising seas that could flood the earth to the point of destroying it. God, however, in the Scriptures made a covenant that “neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen. 9:11) The seal of this covenant of nature was the rainbow, which Noah had never seen in the clouds before. Regarding this seal of the covenant made by a divine institution, we observe several important things.

This seal is affixed with repeated assurances of the promise it was designed to ratify. “I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (vs. 13) “The bow shall be seen in the cloud and I will remember my covenant … the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (vss. 14,15) The bow was given so that its sight might strengthen man’s heart and confirm faith in God’s promise. “I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature.”—vs.16

A rainbow appears in the clouds when the clouds are most likely to deliver rain. It often returns after the rain; when we have most reason to fear the rain continuing. Then, God shows this seal of the promise that it will not continue. In this way God calms our fears with such encouragements that are both suitable and reasonable. The thicker the cloud the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations abound much more.—2 Cor. 1:5,4

The rainbow appears when one part of the sky is clear, which implies mercy remembered amid wrath, and the clouds may appear to be hemmed in by the rainbow. The rainbow is caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere. This illustrates that all of the glory and significance of the seal of the covenant are derived from Christ, the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), who is also described with a “rainbow about his throne,” and a “rainbow upon his head.” (Rev. 4:3,10:1) This intimates, not only his majesty, but his mediatorship.

The colors of the rainbow signify God’s faithfulness (blue), Jesus’ sacrifice (red), Jesus exalted to be the “Sun of righteousness” (yellow), and the promise of life to man (green). It is a bow directed upwards toward heaven and not downwards, towards the earth. The seal of the covenant was intended to comfort man, not to terrify him. Marvelously adapted, it serves as a type of mercy following judgment—as a sign of the connection between man’s sin and God’s free and unmerited grace. As God looks upon the bow that he may remember the covenant, we, too, should also be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness, for God hath truly promised, “The earth abideth forever.”­—­Eccles. 1:4

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Elijah

Elijah was a prophet from Tishbe in Gilead—a historical region located east of the Jordan River in present day Jordan. His name means “Yahweh is my God.” He was considered as one of the greatest prophets of Israel. He walked and talked with God and encouraged others to believe the Lord is God, just as his name purported.

He heard the word of the Lord and followed God’s direction. Often, the message was difficult and was met with opposition. Still, Elijah did not falter. He confronted face-to-face those who spent their life in the worship of Baal. In 1 Kings 18:21, New International Version, Elijah went before the Israelites and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God then follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

Elijah following the Lord’s instruction, approached King Ahab and said, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1 Kings 17:1, New Living Translation) Elijah then hid from King Ahab by the brook Cherith where the Lord directed ravens to bring food to Elijah and where he drank from the water from the brook. As Elijah warned, the rain stopped, and the brook and all the land dried up.

The Lord then directed Elijah to the village of Zarephath where he met a widow who would feed him. When they met, she was gathering sticks to cook her last meal. Elijah asks her to bring him some water and some bread. (vss. 10-12) She responds that she has very little flour and oil. Still, Elijah directs her to make a small loaf of bread and use the remainder of her supplies for her and her son. He assures her the Lord would provide food for them and it was so. There was always enough flour and oil left in her containers until the day the Lord sent rain to water the land again.

While in the house, the woman’s son fell gravely ill, and stopped breathing. Elijah prayed to God, and the Lord brought the boy back to life.—vss. 17-23

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The Prodigal Son—Luke 15:11-32

As we walk in Jesus’ footsteps, we may stray from the path he set. These failures can lead us to feel unworthy of our calling. Nevertheless, we must remember that without Christ’s sacrifice and covering, we could never be worthy. We must not allow these thoughts of discouragement to linger. They are a tool of the Adversary.

There is security in our relationship with God. He looks at us as sons and daughters. He has begotten us by his holy spirit and has provided for our justification in his sight and the Lord as our advocate.—Rom 8:31-34; 1 John 2:1,2

This reminds us of the story of the prodigal son. The prodigal son disregarded his father’s counsel, squandered his inheritance and ignored his opportunity to stay with his father. This is similar to when we sin after having embarked on walking in the narrow way. (Matt. 7:13) The prodigal son degraded himself in every way possible and ends up mucking out a pig sty and craving what the pigs eat. He and the pigs were in a similar state, but there was a big difference between the son and the pigs. The pigs could not say to themselves, “I will arise and go to my father.” (Luke 15:18) When the prodigal son came home, his father welcomed him, cleaned him up and then, celebrated his return because, despite all of his mistakes, he was still his father’s son.—vss. 20-32

The son knew that he was unworthy of this treatment. (vs. 19) Still, it did not stop him from returning to his father with repentance in his heart. The son knew he had failed, but he humbly desired to rejoin his father’s household, regardless of the position.

Paul reminds us that he, too, had failings, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7:24, New International Version) Paul assures us that God is just as anxious to welcome us back if we would return to him. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”—Rom. 8:1 NIV

Therefore, let us always remember that if we are willing to correct our path and return to God through the merit of Jesus’ sacrifice, he will be just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.—1 John 1:9

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Restitution

The word restitution in Acts 3:19-21, means “to restore” back to its original condition. What is to be restored? What did mankind lose from the fall of Adam? LIFE and HEALTH. Ezekiel 18:20 reads, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” Additionally, man lost his RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, and DOMINION OVER THE ANIMALS AND THE EARTH.—Gen. 3:8-11,17-19,23

Nevertheless, we learn that, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Divine justice required a perfect human life, the man Christ Jesus, to sacrifice that life, to ransom mankind from what they inherited—sin and death from the disobedience of Adam. John 3:17 tells us, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Our Lord was raised from the dead by the Heavenly Father that he might apply the merit of his sacrifice on man’s behalf. Additionally, he was seated on God’s throne and became the head of his body, the church, for the purpose of restoring the human family back to what was lost in his coming earthly kingdom.—Rom. 4:25; Eph. 1:20-23; Rev. 20:6; Rev. 14:1; Col. 1:18

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Cor. 15:22,23) In Jesus’ kingdom, “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28) At that time mankind will be restored to health and dwell in a perfect environment because Satan will be bound for a thousand years. (Isa. 35:5-10; Rev. 20:1-3) Then, mankind will learn righteousness and obedience, and have an opportunity to rebuild that relationship with God because God will have all men to “come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) “All will know the Lord from the least to the greatest.” (Heb. 8:11) Then, it will be up to each individual to learn obedience and regain the perfection that was lost. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev 21:4

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Reeling To and Fro Like a Drunkard

The Prophet Isaiah described our current day with these words: “The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.”—Isa. 24:20 New American Standard Bible

The world bounces back and forth between competing political, economic, social and religious philosophies, looking for and never finding one that meets its needs or solves its problems. Instead, mankind becomes more and more divided into competing groups with a growing anger for, and intolerance of, those who do not share their values and philosophies.

Because of this dilemma, Jesus prophesied regarding our day, “On the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25,26 NASB) Men’s hearts are failing them for fear of the coming political, religious, economic and social strife. To man there appears no way out of their current trouble. Man has neither the wisdom, the resources, nor the proper spirit to resolve all of the ills afflicting this planet and its many human and animal inhabitants.

Still, Jesus prophesied that these signs would herald the approach of his earthly kingdom. “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”—Luke 21:28 NASB

This trouble signals the imminent implementation of Christ’s earthly kingdom which will bless all the families of the earth. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19 NASB) The heavenly deliverance of the completed church, Jesus’ faithful followers or “the sons of God,” will then bring an end to this present evil world. (Gal. 1:4) They will replace it with a “new heavens” (religious government) and “new earth” (civil government) based on righteousness that will bring peace and life to all mankind.—2 Peter 3:13

This new heavens and earth pictures Christ’s kingdom, which will resurrect every man, woman and child from the grave, wipe away tears from off all faces and eliminate death, mourning, crying and pain from man’s experience. (Rev. 21:4) In this kingdom, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest.—Isa. 35:5,6; Jer. 31:34

The competing philosophies of man will be replaced by the law of God—the law of righteousness and love for their fellow men. A highway of holiness will be cast up for all mankind to walk upon to perfection, harmony with God, and everlasting life. (Isa. 35:8; 62:10) Man will no longer fear the future but rejoice in the love of God and his deliverance.—Isa. 25:9

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Entering the Promised Land

Delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham that he would make his descendants into a great nation and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. God was also delivering them from the bondage of slavery.—Exod. 3:8

When they came to enter the promised land, Moses sent spies from the 12 tribes. All the spies reported that it truly was a wonderful land. However, the majority frightened the people with an evil report.—Num. 13:33,34

When two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, tried to encourage the people to put their trust in God, the people sought to stone them. The Lord became angry and determined that the people were not worthy to enter the land. Instead, they would remain in the wilderness for forty years until that generation, who lacked faith and obedience in God, died off. It would be their children who inherited the promised blessings of the land.—Num. 14:1-35

Forty years later, when the people were gathered near Shittim, God allowed Moses a glimpse of the promised land. Moses would not be permitted to enter because of his personal disobedience. Instead, authority over the nation was turned over to Joshua. Joshua gathered the people to the Jordan River and commanded the priests carrying the ark to cross the raging river. (Josh. 3:1-4) It was harvest time and the river overflowed the banks. Miraculously, the waters were dammed up twenty miles north in the city of Adam. When the priests’ feet touched the waters, the waters dried up and the people crossed on dry land.—Josh. 3:15-17

With this crossing of the Jordan, the Lord pictured mankind crossing into the righteous kingdom ruled by Christ Jesus. Jordan means “judged down” and the overflowing water illustrated the condemnation of death now resting on mankind. The damming of the waters at Adam shows how the curse of death, put upon mankind due to Father Adam’s disobedience, will be stopped by the ransom provided through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. (1 Cor. 15:22) The people crossing on dry ground shows us the favorable conditions the Lord will provide for men to enter into his Kingdom and gain everlasting life.

Manna and Quail

ilderness of Sin. They soon grumbled against the Lord as they remembered the bread and meat they ate in Egypt. God responded to their request with manna from heaven and quail in great numbers.

The manna was found on the ground after the nighttime dew evaporated, leaving behind a fine, flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. The cakes made from it tasted like cakes baked with oil. The manna itself was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.—Exod. 16:1-36, Num. 11:4-35, English Standard Version

The manna had to be gathered daily before melting in the heat of the sun. It also had to be consumed that same day. None would last until the next morning, except on the day before the Sabbath, when a double portion of manna could be gathered. Then, the manna would keep to the seventh day, the Sabbath. This provision was made because there would be no manna on the ground on the Sabbath, to preserve it as a day of rest for Israel.

The miracle of the manna continued until Israel entered the promised land of Canaan forty years later. Thus, the people were fed throughout their wilderness journey. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life, which came down from heaven, thus identifying himself with the manna. In order to live we have to eat of Jesus’ flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) This pictures appropriating his atoning merit by faith.

Besides the manna, Israel also clamored for meat. Every evening for a whole month, God used a strong wind from the sea to blow quail to the camp of Israel. The people didn’t appreciate God’s care and blessings and overindulged in eating the quail to God’s displeasure. We, too, can take for granted God’s provision for our feeding during this Gospel Age and grumble for more and different food. Another lesson is not to look back longingly to what we left in Egypt. Instead, we are to rejoice in and appreciate the prospect of entering the heavenly Canaan at the end of our wilderness journey.

Deborah

The account of Deborah is found in Judges, chapters 4 and 5. Once again, the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord. In response, God chastened them by permitting Jabin, king of Canaan, to oppress them. Jabin’s general, Sisera, with an army of 900 iron chariots oppressed Israel severely for 20 years. In response, the Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance.

The Lord hearkened to their cries and chose Deborah to deliver them. She was a prophetess. The Hebrew word means prophetess or inspired woman. She discharged all the special duties of a judge and was held in high regard by the people. She was a willing and devoted servant of his people and the Lord used her to rescue Israel. What a lesson here for all of God’s people. To be used in the Lord’s service and to accomplish things for him, full devotion of heart is essential!

By God’s direction, Deborah asked Barak to raise an army of 10,000 men and engage Jabin’s forces under Sisera’s. God assured Barak “I will give him into your hand” and save Israel. (Judges 4:7) Barak asked Deborah to go with him into the battle. She agreed to go with him but told Barak that because of this, the honor of victory would not be his, for the Lord would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. (verse 9) With that assurance by Deborah of the Lord’s blessing and victory, Barak and his men found courage.

The Lord was faithful. He sent a storm, rendering Sisera’s chariots useless. Then, he threw Sisera’s army into confusion. Broken and routed, the Canaanites fled. Barak and the Israelites pursued them and victory was secured. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword. Not even one was left.—verse 16

Sisera fled away on foot and took refuge in the tent of Jael. After he laid down to rest, Jael took a tent peg and drove the peg into Sisera’s temple, killing him. Jael then showed Barak the man he was pursuing. That day, God subdued Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the sons of Israel and the land was undisturbed for forty years. Just as the Lord delivered Israel from their enemies, we can trust him to ultimately deliver us as well.

Peace Be Still

Today, we find ourselves living in a world of uncertainty. All around us we see the evidence of crime, violence, and social unrest. Our president recently returned from meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss denuclearization. While all the details
of the meeting have not been made known, it apparently includes the freezing of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities and the
shutting down of known nuclear facilities. Skeptics cite that it all depends on whether North Korea is serious about following through
with the agreement, and compliance may be difficult to substantiate. Meanwhile, we have the continued debate over gun violence and
gun control, the worldwide immigration crisis, and the tragedy surrounding the illicit use of drugs which has reached epidemic proportions.

As we view the events taking place in the world, they are anything but peaceful. Jeremiah wrote, “saying, Peace, peace, when there is
no peace.” (Jer. 6:14) This saying of “Peace! Peace!” has been going on for many years as world leaders have met numerous times to
sign peace treaties and yet, we continue to live in a world without lasting peace. This unrest is confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s words, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.”—1 Thess. 5:3

There can be no true peace if there is sin. Sin is the great difficulty the world wrestles with through the work of Satan. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”—Rom. 5:12

The relief from present conditions will come only with the birth of a new order of things. John 1:29, speaks of Jesus as “the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jesus died on the cross completing his sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. Jesus’ faithful sacrifice earned him the right to establish this new order of things and take control of man’s affairs. (Isa. 9:6,7) This takes place when the Kingdom of Christ is set up, and then, Christ will bring all trouble to a sudden end. According to the Heavenly Father’s plan, Jesus as the “Prince of peace” will bring in the lasting peace that is so desired by mankind.—Isa. 11:9

This was shown when our Lord Jesus calmed the sea saying “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39) The raging sea represents the restless, turbulent, dissatisfied masses of the world. (Isa. 57:20,21) Jesus will bring an end to the sin, violence, and death plaguing mankind through the fulfillment of the promise, “‘I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners … Peace, peace to him who is far [Gentiles] and to him who is near [Jews],’ says the Lord, ‘and I will heal him.’”—Isa. 57:18,19 (New American Standard Bible)

Christ’s kingdom will teach mankind righteousness and “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”—Isa. 32:17

To learn more, see our offer for the booklet Hope for a Fear-Filled World on the back page of this newsletter.

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For more information, please see the following:

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Ruth, an Example of Faith

A severe famine fell upon Israel, so Elimelech and his wife Naomi moved from Bethlehem to Moab. Then, Elimelech died and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, married Moabite women—Orpah and Ruth. After ten more years, both Mahlon and Chilion died.—Ruth 1:1-5

When Naomi heard that the famine in Israel had ended, she decided to return to her homeland.Her daughters-in-law desired to go with her. However, Naomi advised them to return totheir mother’s homes. While Orpah agreed and stayed in Moab, Ruth decided to go with Naomi. She made the statement, “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) This statement showed
Ruth’s trust in Naomi and her God.

When Ruth arrived in Judah, it was the time of the barley harvest. Ruth went to the edge of a field to collect grain. This was allowed under the Jewish law. Boaz, the owner of the field noticed Ruth and inquired who she was. When he discovered that they were related through Naomi, he instructed his workers to treat her kindly.—Ruth 1:22; 2:1-9,14-17

Ruth continued collecting grain and Boaz watched over her. Naomi instructed Ruth to make herself attractive and to sleep at Boaz’s feet after a long day on the threshing floor. Boaz awoke about midnight and realized that someone was sleeping at his feet. When he asked her who she was, she informed him that he was her family’s redeemer. Under Jewish law, the immediate kin of a family member were to take on their brother’s family in the event of their death. Since Ruth was a widow, there was no one to carry on the family name. Boaz pointed out, that there was a closer family member who had the first rights to Ruth.

Boaz approached this family member who desired to purchase Naomi’s land. However, he did not want to jeopardize his own inheritance by marrying Ruth and so, Boaz agreed to assume his responsibility as the kinsman redeemer. (Ruth 4:1-9) Boaz married Ruth and their child (Obed the father of Jesse) was born. Thus, Naomi had a grandson and her family line endured. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is related to David through Ruth.—Ruth 4:17-22

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