The rainbow flag is everywhere. In shops, businesses, streets and other public areas, it flies over a conquered people. It is the world’s most recognizable symbol of sexual deviancy.
But just like the ideals regarding sex, pride, kindness and right and wrong that it stands for, the actual rainbow flag design is a bold perversion of something pure, wholesome and beautiful.
The origin of this flag is well documented. Deep into a deviant way of life, Gilbert Baker wanted to create a symbol for the homosexual movement. “We rode the mirrored ball on glittering lsd and love power,” he wrote of a drug-fueled party that he says spawned his idea. “Dance fused us, magical and cleansing. We were all in a swirl of color and light. It was like a rainbow. A rainbow. That’s the moment when I knew exactly what kind of flag I would make. A rainbow flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope. In the book of Genesis, it appeared as proof of a covenant between God and all living creatures.”
The origin of the actual rainbow is also well documented. It reveals how rebellious and how dangerous this deviant movement is. It also reveals hope far beyond what anyone has imagined.
Mercy Amid Destruction
Genesis documents the history of the first humans rejecting obedience to God and deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. Their firstborn son became a murderer, and things went downhill from there.
Genesis 6 reveals that generations later, mankind had become so evil “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Worldwide rebellion and selfishness were leading to worldwide destruction.
It grieved God to see man suffering and inflicting suffering. He determined to end it. Though sparing righteous Noah, as well as his wife, sons and their wives, God caused a worldwide flood to wipe out mankind. This cataclysm dramatically demonstrated God’s anger over sin, His determination to purge it, and His terrible power to punish.
It also showed His compassion on the righteous and His ability to protect. And underscoring His mercy, after the Flood, God made a promise: He would never again wipe out humanity in a flood. As a symbol of this promise, He established the rainbow (Genesis 9:8-17).
When you see a rainbow, you are seeing a beautiful symbol of a merciful promise: God will not give up on mankind. He is working out an incredible plan through man, to reproduce Himself and create more God beings in the God Family (article, page 1). He is totally committed to that plan. Even with human beings embracing monstrous evil, God still will not give up.
But God still hates sin and is still resolved to purge it from the Earth. The most powerful demonstration of this was sending His Son to Earth and sacrificing Him as an atonement for our sins. That enables man to be cleansed of past sins and reconciled to God (Romans 5:7-10).
Yet a great many people propagate an enticing but terrible lie about this wonderful gift: Christ died for your sins; therefore, you no longer have to keep God’s law. It is done away. Live however you like. Decide what is good and evil for yourself. As Jude 4 explains, this is “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” or lawlessness.
Co-opting the rainbow is the same ungodly strategy. It equates to lying about the nature of God’s mercy and twisting it to justify lawlessness: Do what you want, live how you want—God doesn’t care, He’s promised mercy for all. It is the same lie.
A Rainbow Prophecy
This rainbow promise isn’t simply ancient history. Jesus Christ personally prophesied that in this end time mankind would reach the same depths of evil and depravity as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39). And He described the result: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (verses 21-22; New International Version).
Once again, mankind is defining good and evil as he chooses. Unparalleled sin is producing incomparable suffering, and man is driving himself into depravity and almost extinction.
But even as mankind faces another extinction event, perishing in the ashes of nuclear war, God reiterates His promise made to Noah: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee” (Isaiah 54:7-9).
When you see how rebellious and perverted human beings have become, you know that God will punish in His wrath. The history of the Flood teaches us that. But He will not completely abandon us to global sin and global suicide. The rainbow teaches us that.
Yet there is an even more specific promise in this passage. Verses 4-6 show this is addressed to His Church, the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:32). Many prophecies describe a widespread rebellion in God’s end-time Church (request our free book Malachi’s Message). This apostasy is worse than what happened in the days of Noah. Then, people were ignorant of God’s truth and cut off from His Holy Spirit. Members of His Church, by contrast, have everything they need to succeed. In rebelling they have failed both God and the world they were supposed to warn. But God says that just as He did not give up on a sinning mankind, so will He not give up on His sinning Church. If the members repent, He will still welcome them into His Family.
Revelation 10 describes a message to this rebelling Church contained in a “little book.” The angel that delivers it is “clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.”
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes this: “The little book helps reveal God’s mercy in these disastrous events, just as God did with the rainbow in Noah’s time. The little book reveals the whole picture—bad news and incredibly good news” (emphasis added).
A Rainbow Throne
The Bible reveals that God surrounds Himself with a rainbow. Revelation 4:3 describes God’s throne room: “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” That throne room is full of light, beauty and color.
God created light and the laws of optics. He could have designed man to sense the world some other way, or to see it in black and white—instead we see color.
“Do you fully realize it?” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong in a 1964 co-worker letter. “God is not the author of ugliness, but of beauty! Not of unsightliness, or drab, colorless, depressing surroundings, but of magnificence, inspiration, culture! Not the source or giver of cheapness, inferiority, but of quality and character! Not of darkness, but of light and brilliance! … God Himself dwells in brilliant splendor! From His throne in Heaven brilliant lightning flashes forth! It is resplendent in beauty brilliance and glory beyond description!”
God is accompanied by brilliance and splendor wherever He goes. Ezekiel 1 details the fiery brilliance surrounding God when He traverses the universe. It concludes: “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (verse 28; New King James Version).
Revelation 21 describes God bringing that same brilliance and glory down to Earth in the form of new Jerusalem. It is full of gold, crystal and light—and its foundations are described as 12 gemstones characterized by dazzling hues across the spectrum.
In Isaiah 54, right after He reiterates His promise to Noah, God promises His Church, “[B]ehold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours.” He also compares the glory of His Church with the appearance of spectacular gems.
God wants to take the same glory and colorful brilliance out into the universe. His goal is to reproduce Himself—to create more beings capable of creating such glory and brilliance. God “needed millions or billions of perfect and righteous beings, governed by His government, to complete in beauty, majesty and glory not only the other planets of our solar system, but of our Milky Way, and the countless other galaxies of the limitless, vast universe,” wrote Mr. Armstrong. “So now comes the next phase of God’s overwhelmingly grand purpose: to reproduce Himself into billions of God-beings.”
This is the transcendent vision bound up in God’s rainbow promise. He is working out a glorious purpose through mankind. He has given everything, made the greatest sacrifice He could possibly make, for this project. He is not going to back out or give up.
Even those who died in the Flood will have their chance! They will be resurrected in the future and given an opportunity to learn God’s truth. Jesus Christ Himself describes previous generations of unconverted people being resurrected and corrected (Luke 11:29-32; Matthew 11:23-24). They will have an opportunity to repent and become part of this awesome plan.
The rainbow is a sign of God’s mercy. But that mercy does not mean God tolerates sin—it means He works to free man from sin. He corrects in His mercy, helping men see the damage they are doing to themselves and others. Someone may have embraced all kinds of perversion, but God wants that person to turn things around, to change his life and repent, rather than to suffer punishment.
God’s mercy means that He is inviting flawed, sinful mankind into His Family. He is working according to a plan, with a time order. He will help us clean up our lives if we let Him. He wants as many as possible to be born into His Family and help bring His brilliant, colorful beauty to the whole universe!
See your transcendent future! Request Herbert W. Armstrong’s The Incredible Human Potential.