Hope, Rainbows, and God’s Covenant of Peace

You don't often see rainbows in Israel, mostly because there isn't so much rain. But social media was awash with them recently. Like a ribbon wrapped around Tel Aviv, Kfar Aza, and many other places, God's bow of hope took people's breath away.

Ramin Parsa captured this great shot of the rainbow over Kfar Aza, and wrote these words:

“I think I only have seen eight rainbows in my life, four of them have been in Israel in the past three months. Here is another rainbow that showed up in the sky in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz that was attacked on October 7th.

God is speaking, just as I have kept my covenant with Noah, I will keep my covenant with Abraham, Issac and Israel.”

It's been quite amazing how many rainbows have been seen in relation to this war, given their scarcity here in the Middle East. But rainbows hold biblical and spiritual significance, acting like a sign that points to heavenly things. I saw one the very day after the massacre when traveling back from Jerusalem. It was a hot day with blue sky… yet a tiny sundog appeared and I felt sure it was an encouragement of hope. A sundog is a small chunk of rainbow with all seven colors rather than the full bow, but there it was, miraculously, reminding me of God's continued presence with us, and His promises. It was a strong sign of hope in an apparently hopeless situation.

Rainbows appearing while prayers are said for Israel

Similarly when friends overseas were praying for me, two people saw the most beautiful rainbows right as they were praying, and sent me the pictures. One was from a little island off the coast of the UK and the other on the other side of the world in Australia.

And I also saw another rainbow while praying for a friend serving in the army. A building had a sign with his family name on it so I had got in the habit of praying for him as I passed it twice a day. Then one day, bang, there it was: a full rainbow emblazoned over the building. I sent it to him to encourage him, and it wasn't long before the prayers I was praying for his swift return were answered.

But even when answers to prayer are not immediate, the sense of encouragement and hope is profound. It really feels like God has been deliberately sending us these reminders of His faithfulness. The arc in the sky declares God's sovereignty over creation. Rainbows remind us of the biblical descriptions of His throne room in Ezekiel and Revelation, where God sits in glory with a sea of glass under His feet and a rainbow resplendent overhead.

Rainbows as a reminder

A friend in the north of Israel heard all these stories of rainbows and felt disappointed that she hadn't seen any, but before she'd even had a chance to put her thoughts into prayer, she arrived home to find a rainbow encircling her apartment block!

More than that, her husband had attended the funeral of a friend, another believer, and guess what appeared over the cemetery? Hope and promise strikes again. We will see our friend again in glory. God promised.

With so much death and destruction around us, it's been hard not to fall into despair. The spirit of the people is strong, but Israelis have had to handle so much horror all around that the temptation to buckle has been severe. The trauma of October 7 along with the constant list of deaths we hear coming out of Gaza is unbearable. Now we are told that the war is likely to continue throughout the whole year of 2024… We need all the strength and encouragement we can get.

Hamas and the flood

It has been noted before that the first time the word “Hamas” appears in the Bible is in the story of Noah. The earth was filled with “Hamas” (violence) and God decides to wipe it out with a flood and start over. What is interesting today is that not only is the terror group using an Arabic word that sounds exactly the same as the Hebrew for violence, but the October 7th attack was given the codename “Al Aqsa Flood”. Their plan was to liberate Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They would flood into Israel. And now here we are. But God has not forgotten us.

And there is hope for Gaza too. The Middle East will not be the same after this war, that's for sure. The reality on the ground here will be significantly different in many ways, and time will reveal what that will look like. We are hoping and praying that those who have come to faith in Gaza through our outreach will be free to worship Jesus without fear once the war is over. A Palestinian man named Taysir (Tass) Abu Saada came to faith many years ago after having been a PLO sniper for Yasser Arafat. He was a terrorist raised in Gaza, but encountered Jesus and has been living in America for most of his life. His youth is behind him but now he's making new plans.

Tass is a veteran in the faith and has spent decades preaching the gospel but says he is planning to move back to Gaza. Why you might ask? He is hearing many reports that a huge harvest is coming there, as many have grown embittered by the cruelty of Hamas and their disdain for their own people. They too need hope. The rainbow is for the people of Gaza too.

Our covenant keeping God

God broadcast His beautiful rainbow across the sky for Noah and his family, and for all generations, promising never to wipe out the earth again with a flood again. God's promises are sure. Watertight, if you will. He has made a covenant of peace with Israel, and we can be confident that He will never leave us or forsake us. Hear these wonderful words from God that the prophet Isaiah spoke over the house of Israel:

“This is like the days of Noah to me:
    as I swore that the waters of Noah
    should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
    and will not rebuke you.

For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:9-10)


Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

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