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Lenten Devotional – Day 2 – The Bow

Lent 3Genesis 9:8-17 New International Version (NIV):

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

The Lenten season has historically been a time of solemn reflection on the human condition. Ash Wednesday reminded us that human life is fragile — for dust we are, and to dust we shall return. But we learn quickly that the human condition is marked not merely by fragility, but by depravity. In fact, by the time of Noah, human corruption and violence had become so pervasive that God was said to be grieved to his heart and filled with regret. That the all-powerful God could be portrayed as regretting the creation of man powerfully conveys the sinfulness of sin.

Yet what pierces is that the Bible is not speaking about the human heart abstractly. No, it is speaking specifically about my heart, the sinfulness of my sin and, indeed, the divine regret as to how I have lived.

Yet, in the midst of the gloom and in the aftermath of the storm of God’s judgment, we see hope shine through. Noah looks up and sees against the gray clouds the dazzling glory of the rainbow emerging where sun and storm meet. And there in the clouds he sees the bow of God’s wrath laid aside in the promise of peace.

And that great promise is that no matter how dark our sin might grow, God will not turn his face against us again. Instead, God would sooner point the bow of his wrath upward, towards heaven, at his own Son, than unleash his wrath upon us again. And on the cross, where the sun of God’s love and the storm of God’s wrath would meet again, Jesus would die in darkness so that the brilliance of the glory of God’s saving plan would shine forth into our hearts. All this without a hint of divine regret.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to share your sorrow and grief at our sin. During this season, grant us the courage to look honestly into the gloom of our sin so that we might see anew the brilliance of your glorious promise and grace to us in Christ. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

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