By: B. A. Ramsbottom
When Noah came out of the ark after the flood, the first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice to God. One point which stands out with Noah is that the things of God came first and everything else had to come second. In this Noah is a most blessed example. When God spoke to him, he obeyed. The first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice and the Lord smelled a sweet savour. By faith Noah looked forward to the one sacrifice of Christ and, as the Father looked down from Heaven, it was not the sweet savour of the offering of the clean beast and the clean fowl, but it was the sweet savour which should arise from Calvary of the one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus that the Lord smelled and He made a promise that He would never drown the earth again. That promise has been fulfilled over the generations, despite man’s sins, despite man’s guilt, man’s rebellion. Then in such confirmation the Lord gave this token: the rainbow.
There is something especially beautiful about the rainbow. Have you ever looked at it, and remembered God is looking at it at the same time? “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it.” It is a token that God’s promise is still fulfilled, a token of the faithfulness of God. The faithfulness of God is a most precious thing, especially when we realise our own unfaithfulness. It is a token of His mercy. “I will not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.” It is a token of His eternal covenant. In its simplest sense, it is a covenant never to drown the earth again; in its fullest sense, the covenant of grace.
We do not hear much of the rainbow as the Word of God unfolds until John had a view of Heaven and he saw the throne of God was completely encircled by a rainbow, an emblem of God’s unchanging faithfulness, His precious mercy and His everlasting covenant.
This bow is set in the clouds and there is something deeper embraced in it than just that the Lord will never drown the earth again.
“Those lovely colours shine
To show that Heaven is surely mine.”
Isaiah 54 opens up the rainbow and the covenant with Noah in a gospel sense. The Lord speaks to a sinner under a sense of his guilt and unworthiness – and this is what the Lord says; this is the covenant, the rainbow in a gospel sense: “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.” That is the rainbow in a gospel sense. “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed.” That is the rainbow in a gospel sense.
And this bow is to be seen in the cloud. The Lord says, “I bring a cloud over the earth.” Some of you will have dark clouds within and without, all very threatening and they make you fear. “The bow shall be seen in the cloud.” No cloud – no rainbow. The darker the cloud, the clearer the precious colours of the rainbow shine. Unbelief looks at the cloud; faith looks at the bow in it.
Look at Jacob. He says, “All these things are against me.” That is the cloud, but when he saw the wagons, his spirit revived. That is the bow in the cloud. The Lord, speaking to His people, says, “When thou passest through the waters” – that is the cloud – “I will be with thee” – that is the bow in the cloud. Christ, speaking to His disciples, says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” – that is the cloud – “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” – that is the bow in the cloud. May the Lord grant precious faith to see the bow in the cloud, a token of God’s faithfulness, His mercy, His covenant.
And God says, “I will look upon it,” and, “I will remember My covenant.” There are times when a child of God looks on it and he remembers. But this is not where the safety of the people of God is. The Lord says, “I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant.” In the fullest sense, the rainbow sets forth the Lord Jesus in all His beauty and all His glory, and the Father’s eye is ever upon Him and He remembers His covenant. He remembers every sinner that has an interest in it.
May there be a little precious faith given to see the bow shining in the cloud.
From: Gospel Standard, April 2014
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
By: J. C. Philpot
We cannot take a walk by night or day without seeing the handiwork of God, and when we look at what we are in providence, we see that the same God has been our bountiful preserver in bestowing upon us innumerable favours; but we cannot know anything of the God of heaven and earth – the true God – except He is pleased to shine upon His holy Word, and God has provided that Word to give unto us some acquaintance with Himself.
We do not know God by any vision or ecstasy of enthusiastic rapture, but by what is revealed in the Scriptures. There He has made Himself known to the sons of men, but we need a divine light and faith in our soul to believe the Scriptures and we need that childlike temper and spirit given to us whereby we can receive the kingdom of God as a little child, so that though everything is opened up in the Scriptures, until the Holy Spirit, who wrote the Scriptures, is pleased to bring life and power into our soul, we may read them, but we read in vain.
But when the Holy Ghost is pleased to put life and power into the Scripture and to quicken our souls, thereby begetting us by the Word of truth, then we believe what God has said in the Scriptures and, thus we come to a right knowledge of the only true God. You will find, if you search and examine, that your knowledge of God and your feelings are in harmony with God’s Word, having been formed from the Scriptures being opened up with a divine power in your conscience.
You know from the Scriptures that there is a God – you could have known that from creation – but when He speaks in the Scriptures His voice is powerful and He gives you an ear to hear what He says in the Scriptures and then you come to know God as He has made Himself known – how just and holy He is. And you begin to know and see it in His banishing man from Paradise, in the flood, in the destruction of the cities of the plain and in the destruction of Pharaoh’s host in the Red Sea, and this justice is reflected in our heart, so that we find what a holy God He is. For we see holiness in every line in the Scriptures, and we feel that we have to deal with a holy God, which makes the soul tremble before Him; it sees how unholy it is before the omniscient God, who knows all hearts and says, “I search the heart and try the reins.”
Again and again are we made to feel that God knows everything before it comes to pass. He has predicted man’s thoughts again and again as the prophet predicted what lay so deep in the heart of Hazael (2 Kings 8:10-15). He reads our hearts. Everything is naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He is also omnipotent; His name is Almighty. All things are not only made and preserved by Him, but He worketh all things. And we are made to feel that He is able to kill and heal. We stand before Him as grasshoppers, as the dust in the balance, as a drop in a bucket. We feel that He is God Almighty.
But as the Lord is pleased to lead us more and more into His blessed truth we begin to see Him in another character – we begin to see that He is not only just, holy, omnipotent and omniscient, but we begin to see also that He is the God and Father of Jesus Christ, not merely the God of infinite justice and holiness, but of mercy, compassion, goodness and love. When He is pleased to drop a sense of His goodness and mercy into our heart and give us some intimation of His favour towards us, we view Him not merely as a God holy and just, but as a God gracious and merciful.
We see the scheme of salvation originating in His love, we see Him sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to die for us, and we begin to believe in Him, to hope in His mercy and love His name with a pure heart fervently; for we see that He can rescue us out of the lion’s mouth. We have been tried perhaps in providence and God has appeared for us, and thus we see that He is not only a God of grace but of providence. Or if He has restored us again and again, we see that He is a God that healeth backslidings, and that His love endureth for ever, and as the Spirit give us hope and love we see not only what God is in the Scriptures, but we come to a spiritual knowledge of the only true God.