Covenant with Creation

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Genesis 9:8-17

I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (v. 13)

When did you last see a rainbow? When did you last catch sight of those shimmering colors arching along the clouds on high? Were you reminded by that rainbow of God’s covenant love?

The bow in the clouds, this text says, is a sign of the covenant between God and the earth. Yes, that’s right, God and the earth. Like a steady drumbeat, eight times in ten verses, Scripture tells us that God’s covenant is with more than humans; indeed, it is with the earth itself. We tend to think that God is interested only in us humans. But the Bible tells us otherwise.

And while we take comfort in seeing the rainbow, the passage (vv. 14-15) tells us that it serves as a reminder primarily to God. As Frederick Buechner puts it, the rainbow is like a string tied around God’s pinky, lest God forget his everlasting covenant. When we humans mess up and violence results and God feels sorry for ever making us (Gen. 6:6-7), God sees the rainbow and remembers his covenant. The original promise-keeper will not go back on his promise. Alleluia!


O living God, the one who covenants with all creation, grant us eyes wide open to sense your faithfulness to all your creatures.