Friday, May 5, 2017

everywhere a sign: from the rainbow to the wine (part 1)

The Word for today:
Luke 22:14-30
mark this: Luke 22:7-8
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."
and this: Luke 22:19-20
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
(Over the next three days, Stand in the Rain will explore the biblical basis of our communion ritual. Our study will take us from one end of scripture to the other--from the rainbow all the way to the cup of the New Covenant. Today we look at the rainbow and circumcision--two covenant reminders from the Bible's opening pages.)
The rainbow.
Way, way back in Genesis there was a judgment, a flood from which only Noah and his family emerged. And then the most marvelous spectacle appeared in the sky.
The rainbow was a sign of the covenant in which God would not again destroy creation with a flood:
"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; I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.
It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.
When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between Me and all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:12-16)
The rainbow is a reminder to God of the covenant He has made with us. Its first purpose isn’t so much to remind us, but to remind God of His promise. God does not need reminding of His promise since He is omniscient, knowing and remembering the end from the beginning. But it is written as an assurance and comfort to us that God remembers his covenant with us and will keep His word. Interestingly the Hebrew word for rainbow is the same word they used for a bow of war. God took a weapon which deals death to men and hung it in the sky, promising that he would never again flood the world to destroy all life.
Thus an implement of death becomes, instead, a symbol of God's mercy toward us. The cross, and the Light of the World in full spectrum, are before us when we view the rainbow. It is a complete metaphor--not only of the cross, but of the one who hung upon it. No symbol in all of literature is so perfect, so powerful, so poetic, so prophetic, so profound.
The sign itself does not bring about salvation. The sign only confirms the covenant promises. How are those covenant promises received? By faith. Romans chapter 4 tells us about Abram’s being reckoned as righteous by God:
For we have quoted the scripture, "Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous." When did this take place? Was it before or after Abraham was circumcised? It was before, not after. He was circumcised later, and his circumcision was a sign to show that because of his faith God had accepted him as righteous before he had been circumcised. (Romans 4:9-11)
Genesis 15:6 happened before Genesis 17. Abram was declared righteous in Genesis 15:6 by the Lord before circumcision was ever instituted. His circumcision was a sign confirming the promises which had been conveyed to Abraham and received by what means? By faith.
Nowhere in the Bible will you find a covenant sign which effects a relationship. A covenant sign always reflects a relationship.
("Everywhere a Sign" will continue tomorrow, when we look closely at the Sabbath and Passover.)

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