By Trevor Trokey
I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.
From traffic signals, to sports teams, to popular holiday icons, we live in a world of symbols. Symbols are basically images that convey a widely agreed upon meaning. Their use is far from pure or new; rather the ability to recognize symbols is first utilized by God, whose first “sign” for his people is the rainbow whenever there is a cloud. The rainbow is a sign between God and the earth that he will never again destroy the world by flood. Whenever we see a rainbow we do right to be put in remembrance of this great promise.
God was a prolific user of signs, as it happens. In Genesis 15:9ff he and Abraham pass through the offerings in the blood as a symbol of their covenant. In Exodus 4 God gives signs to Moses to convince people that the Lord spoke to him and was speaking through him. He had his people erect pillars, place stones, and build altars so that future generations would know them as symbols and remember their God who brought them out of Egypt.
Moving to more modern things, the symbol of the cross is nearly universal in recognition, reminding us all that Jesus died for our sins. Quite often we may see a simple fish drawing on the back of a car or somewhere similar, representing Jesus and him miraculous provision for those who listen to him.
Satan uses symbols too. Perhaps most significantly, to many, we see the recent perversion of the Rainbow to now be the rallying flag and banner for the homosexual movement. This ought to be repulsive, offensive, and disgusting to Christians as a total perversion of the symbol intended for good and hope, is now been applied to the very wickedness that was to be destroyed in the flood to begin with.
What can we do? Let’s take every opportunity to reinforce what these symbols mean to us and our relationship with God and share those meanings with others. Let’s win them back with love. But finally, a challenge: in your bible studies this week, keep your eye out for signs and symbols in the Bible. Locate the story of Ebenezer and read its context; recall the New Testament word on “signs” in passages like John 20:30-31 and elsewhere. What is your favorite symbol in the bible?