Irish rainbows

But God offers a new covenant

Genesis 8:21-22, 9:16 The Lord said to himself, “I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. …When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between myself and every living creature on earth.”

Matthew 26:27-28 Jesus took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”

2 Timothy 4:6-7 As for me, my life has already been poured out as a drink offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

It rained all or part of every day we were in Ireland. We saw more rainbows in a week than we usually see in a year. And yes, there was treasure at the end of the rainbows. Our “pot of gold” was the wonderful people we met, who shared part of their lives with us. We learned some of their hopes and aspirations—what rainbows symbolize in the Emerald Isle.

As we sat high on Bray Head, County Wicklow, beneath a cross overlooking Dublin Bay, we saw a rainbow begin to form and arc, its colors gradually strengthening. Can you see the developing rainbow in this far-away photo?

But seeing this rainbow on our last day in Ireland, sitting at the foot of a cross, reminded me not only of God’s covenant with Noah, but of the covenant Jesus inaugurated with his disciples the night he was arrested, sharing with them wine which represented the pouring out of his blood for sanctification—remission—forgiveness—cleansing—of their sin, and ours.

In Old Testament worship, two types of liquid offering used in Old Testament worship, familiar to Jesus’s disciples and Paul and Timothy. A blood offering had the power to sanctify (Leviticus 8:15). Paul compared his life to a drink offering, an “extra”—a personal expression of devotion and gratitude (Numbers 28:7).

Jesus’s blood sacrifice carried the weight of covenant. The drink offering Paul invoked communicated how precious that covenant was to him, compelling him to give up everything he had once valued and pursued, his old “pot of gold”: I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. … I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death (Philippians 3:7-8, 10).

So, what do I hope for and aspire to? What’s my pot of gold? At the end of my life, what will I think mattered?

Ever since that beautiful morning on Bray Head, the questions have lingered.

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