Act!

A Sign in the Clouds
Just after one of our Florida afternoon rains, a vivid rainbow followed me home from a trip to the store. It was complete from end to end. A second rainbow, fainter than the first and much shorter and thinner, timidly smiled just to the south of the larger one. What a sight!–all the colors of creation spread like a painter’s palette resting in the clouds.

These heavenly signs were worth looking at. I kept turning to see the rainbow as I made the rights and lefts required by the small town streets of Bartow on my way home. The unusually bright rainbows stayed with me until I parked the car to stand, staring at the sky for as long as I dared.

A neighbor lady, out for her daily walk, was concentrating on something private and paying no attention to the artwork over her head. I thought she might be discomfited by my standing in the yard, so I waved to her and pointed to the sky. “Don’t miss the rainbows!” I said. She hurried on without looking.

A Sign of the Covenant
The rainbow is the sign of a covenant God made with man, never again to destroy the earth by floods. Of course the rainbow is only an optical illusion, a clever trick done with water drops and sunlight. I tried to imagine the first rainbow after the great flood. If it had never rained before the flood, there could not have been a rainbow before. Only Noah and his family saw the first one. The same voice that instructed Noah to that point of the adventure,  told him of the meaning of the sign.

The sign of the covenant was a symbol, a presentation of light and color bearing a message.  The rainbow is an illusion but the covenant and promises are real. God has been faithful to His promise even as the “days of Noah” have returned.

Two Parties in Agreement
An explanation of the ancient customs of the covenant is far beyond these paragraphs. Two parties, one greater than the other, agree to perform acts for their mutual benefit. The rainbow is the perfect representation of such an amazing thing as a covenant between God and man—beautiful, ethereal, real but untouchable.

The Poet acts in an appropriate way when He demands action from God.

“It is time for you to act, O Lord…”

We are offended by the poet’s presumption. How can we demand anything of God? He is the greater partner in the Calvary Covenant. What right do we have to question Him?

These are modern concerns. The Poet, is exercising the ancient right of a covenant partner to call the other party to action according to the covenant. This is not pride or presumption—it is an ancient form of faith, a proper petition based on love and the expectation of God’s actions. The God-Who-Keeps-Covenant will act in our behalf.

Yelling at God
As we read deeply into the psalms we find many complaints from the poets. They don’t just complain about things; they complain to God. It is almost as if sometimes, they are yelling at God. Can this be right and proper?

The Lord “remembers our frame,” that we are only human beings. Sometimes we need to complain and the only One we can complain to is God. We can even yell at Him if we chose the time and place and do so in a very painful expression of faith. This not a public event—it is not for the worship service—it is private, intensely so.

How can this be? Won’t we offend God?

He does not turn away from us in our pain and He can handle anything we have to say to Him. He knows what is in us before we speak. When the air is clear of our complaint we will hear His gentle words of promise again— all the colors of grace in the bright rainbow after the storm–He will act!

Scriptures:
Psalm 119
I have done what is just and right; do not deliver me to my oppressors. Be surety for your servant’s good; let not the proud oppress me. My eyes have failed from watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your loving-kindness and teach me your statutes. I am your servant; grant me understanding, that I may know your decrees. It is time for you to act, O Lord, for they have broken your law. Truly, I love your commandments more than gold and precious stones. I hold all your commandments to be right for me; all paths of falsehood I abhor.
Genesis 9:8-16 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 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. 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.” 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: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 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. 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.”
Psalm 142:1-4 NIV
I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your promises are sure, irrevocable, unchanging. Down here on earth it seems everything is subject to change. For all we can discern with our human intelligence, there seems to be a random element to creation. I cannot reconcile Your sovereignty with this randomness. When it comes my way, I will pour out my complaint to You in prayer and You will hear me. I know that nothing lies outside of Your sovereignty. You will act in my behalf! No matter how violent the storm, I know the beauty of Your Loving-kindness, like a full, double rainbow, will guide me safely home. Amen.

Song:
Hear My Cry, Oh Lord
Words and Music: Marvia Lee Providence and G.E. Peters

Hear my cry, Oh Lord, Attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth, Will I cry out to Thee.
When my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the Rock,
That is higher than I… That is higher than I…

For Thou hast been, A shelter for me.
And a strong tower, From the enemy.
When my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the Rock,
That is higher than I… That is higher than I…

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

4 thoughts on “August 10, 2017 “Act!”

  1. Awesome post! it’s sad but I bet a majority of people don’t look at rainbows and see Gods covenant. Just a pretty light in the sky. The true meaning behind this symbol makes it TEN TIMES more beautiful to me. What an amazing thing to know that god will NEVER break this promise with us. Praise God! and God bless you my friend.

    Like

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