The Rainbow! (Pentecost 9B)
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
29 July 2012 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
What an odd preacher! But there the preacher is! Do you see the preacher? Where?
In the sky! A red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet preacher. The rainbow!
The rainbow preaches! It proclaims God’s Word to all who have ears to hear. Whenever you see a rainbow in the sky a very loud sermon is going on! To the world, Noah, his family and to you! The sermon is twofold! On the one hand it proclaims the enormity of God’s wrath against sin and sinners! On the other hand it promises and declares comfort.
Seriously! You have only learned the scientific reason for the rainbow. So every time you see one you declare: “Oh look! A rainbow! Isn’t it beautiful!”
True. However, we have become deaf and dull to what the rainbow preaches! We have!
What Noah and his family experienced as they were tucked away safely on the ark dwarfed all the cataclysmic end of the world movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, I Am Legend starring Will Smith, Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes (1968), or Peter Sellers in, Dr. Strangelove (1964). The flood that God unleashed on the earth in Noah’s day makes all those movies look like picnics in the park!
Noah preached the promise of the Savior – the descendant of Eve who would crush Satan’s head! He proclaimed the forgiveness of sins for all sinners because of God’s promise to send the Savior! For 120 years Noah preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Can you imagine that! For 120 years! Wouldn’t you grow weary of such a preacher like Noah!
The world did! No one listened. No one cared. They blew off the divine service where Noah preached God’s the promise of the coming Savior! Too many other things to do! “Quality family time” was the religious trump card! Go to church to hear God’s Word preached by Noah? No way! In Matthew 24 Jesus says that these folks were: “eating and drinking … marrying and giving in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark.” Don’t misunderstand! Eating, drinking, and getting married are not wrong. However, when eating, drinking, and family life become idols that won’t let you have a Sabbath Day’s rest to hear and to trust God’s Word of forgiveness for Christ’s sake, you’re in trouble! Hellaciously deep trouble!
The world in Noah’s completely blew off God and His Word of promise. The idols they worshiped would not let them hear and trust! Therefore: “Preacher Noah is crazy!” they said. “He insists on building a huge boat on dry land! What does he think is going to happen? A flood or something? What an idiot! We all know that can’t happen! We’ll just keep on living the way we want! Ignoring God! As if His promise of the Savior is a nothing! We’re essentially good people! So shut up Noah! And if you don’t stop preaching, well, we’ll …”
Unbelief – the refusal to be given God’s gifts, especially the promise of the Savior, does not end well! Unbelief preaches lies to itself! Preacher Unbelief proclaims: “Did God really say? God is a liar! God is not for me! He is against me!” And so God unleashed His wrath on the unbelieving world! He gave the world that would not trust His Word what it wanted as its punishment.
So one day, all of a sudden, the springs of the great deep burst forth! The floodgates of the heavens broke wide open! Forty days and forty nights of non-stop water! Increasing higher and higher! Nowhere to escape! The floodwaters covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet! They obliterated everything! Everything perished! For 150 days the floodwaters brutally ravaged the earth! Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out! In Matthew 24 Jesus comments: “They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”
So first, as often as rainbow appears in the sky, it preaches loudly and clearly to the world about the wrath that once moved God to destroy the entire world with a flood!
Noah and his family, however, believed in God and His promise to send the Savior! They escaped the punishment of the flood in the ark. But they witnessed God’s wrath against sin as they floated in the ark. Can you imagine how afraid they were? And so the rainbow also preaches something else. Comfort! To dry up their tears and soften their grief!
Yes, the rainbow also preaches God’s promise. Listen. God wants you to hear His promise. To trust it. “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you … every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’”
The rainbow is hooked with God’s Word of promise never to destroy all life like that again. But the Lord is not done preaching. When He preaches comfort He goes on and on! There’s always more! “‘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: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’”
The Lord still isn’t done. He repeats the promise again to show and prove His extraordinary affection for His creation and for sinners who believe in Him. Listen: “‘Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant … Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant.’”
Brothers and sisters, every time you see the rainbow in the sky may it lead you to repentance. It is time for you and me to fear, love, and trust in God above all things! Why?
So that we may be rescued from the wrath and punishment of God on the Last Day in which the world and all unbelievers will be destroyed. Not by water! But by fire! We are tempted to believe that the Last Day will never come! That Jesus will not return to judge the living and the dead! 2 Peter 3:10-11 declares: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare … That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire and the elements will melt in the heat.”
Peter then asks you and me the big pastoral question: “What kind of people ought you to be?” Well? Like the people in Noah’s day? Who said such destruction could never happen? That the world will never come to an end? Not hardly!
Peter’s answer is: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
Holy and godly lives! How do you spell “holy and godly lives”?
R-E-P-E-N-T-A-N-C-E! Repent! That is the life of Holy Baptism! Dying daily to your sin by confessing it! And then most importantly: faith in Jesus! Trusting that He alone is the Savior! Who took all your sin in His Body on the cross as the one and only atoning sacrifice for your salvation! Who promises: “I died for you! All your sin is mine! All my righteousness is yours! I endured all of God’s wrath against all sin and every sinner in my dying! God doesn’t hate you! He loves you! I’m God’s categorical proof of that as I died on the cross for you!”
There is more! To comfort you and to prove His love for you even more Jesus takes water, yes, that’s right, water and He hooks it with the most holy Name of God – holy baptism – a flood –if you will – by which God saves you!
Yes, that’s right, baptism “saves you!” Jesus saves you! And Baptism saves you! Baptism saves you because as Paul says in Romans 6 that, “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” That’s His Good Friday death! Paul also proclaims in Titus 3 that “God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Then there is 1 Peter 3:21-22! Listen to this promise: “In it [the ark] only a few people, eight in all [Noah, his wife, sons and daughters-in-law] were saved THROUGH WATER, and this water [the Flood] corresponds to baptism that NOW SAVES YOU also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It SAVES YOU by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”
Did you catch that? Baptism is not a bath to get dirt off your body. Instead, it is a flood that gives you a “good conscience” before God. A good conscience is the conscience where Jesus and all His forgiveness reigns against sin, death and the devil. Such powers are submissive to Him – the Lamb who has been slain – but who now rules at the Father’s right hand!
And then there is the promise from Jesus’ own mouth: Listen. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).
Saved you are! From God’s wrath! From the damnation of your sin! From eternal death and hell!
Rainbow! Jesus graveyard dead on the Cross! Jesus risen from the dead! And the water of Holy Baptism! All for you! The Lord’s promise that you are saved!
In the Name of Jesus.