September 3, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

The Rainbow and “Never Again”
Genesis 8:20-22; 9:8-17

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The 24-hour news cycle has been filled with discouraging news in the past several months. Tragically, there has been a rise of sympathizers with Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich in the form of neo-Nazism in the United States. These groups represent the worst of racial bigotry and ungodly political violence. For Black American citizens, other people of color, our Muslim neighbors, immigrants, and our Jewish friends, the phenomena of white supremacist groups unhooding themselves and marching in the streets with veiled threats is a frightening reality. Racist groups behave as antichrists, proclaiming themselves as gods and rejecting their actual status of being included as part of “every living creature” (Genesis 9:10). In these hopeless times, the One who gives us hope is the author of Noah’s rainbow, the God of promise.

The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant with all of the creation to never again destroy the earth by flood (Genesis 9:15) and to never again punish all of the creation for humanity’s sinfulness (Genesis 8:21). We need to be reminded over and over of God’s covenantal love. The Bible itself is filled with such reminders. Why? Because like the ancient Hebrews, God’s followers today tend to forget the mighty works that God has accomplished. In Genesis 8 and 9, God informs Noah four times that “never again” would God unleash wrath upon the world as with the flood. It is important to note that God is the protagonist in this story and that only the Creator could initiate and maintain a covenant with God’s creation. As Christ followers, we are more like Noah and his sons—bystanders listening for and struggling to remember the promises of God (Genesis 9:8, 17).

Scripture reassures believers that we can trust God because God remembers God’s own promises (Genesis 9:15). We can have faith in this God who is trustworthy because God remembers. As Christ followers, participating in lives of holiness means to partake daily in the memory of God’s acts of redemption. Our faith declares that humanity is made in the image of God, and when God makes the promise of “never again,” God also has a requirement for those who love God to not shed human blood (Genesis 9:5-6). “For in the image of God has God made [hu]mankind” (v. 6). The rainbow—the sign for God’s “never again”—is a mandate for humanity’s “never again” among ourselves. We must never again give in to ideologies and idolatries that would cause us to murder one another. With Noah, his sons, and Jewish survivors of the Holocaust we Christians must say to hatemongers, “Never again.”

—Rod Thomas,

© 2017

Rod Thomas is a child-centered, fair-minded academic; a Christian who sometimes writes; and an aspiring preacher and layperson at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in his congregation’s homeless and children’s ministries and is a syndicated blogger for MennoNerds.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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