Wednesday, February 17 Read Genesis 9:1-17
I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant … and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15
Signs of Hope
Four of my favorite words are “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” The opening of spring training is a day full of hope for all baseball fans. It’s when all teams – regardless of previous performance – unveil exciting new prospects, and all fans can feel that this could be the year their team wins the World Series. Ultimately the season plays out and the hope that one’s team will win the World Series comes true for only a small subset of baseball fans.
But every baseball fan receives the gift of days at the ballpark with family and friends, the joy of watching some spectacular plays and more. In short, all baseball fans receive the gift that baseball is to them. I find it far more fruitful to embrace this gift than to dwell on the disappointment of dashed pennant hopes.
The author(s) of Genesis drew upon literary and oral traditions to explain the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Among the traditional stories found in many Middle Eastern canons, including the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis, is that of a great flood. The version in Genesis introduces the first covenant that gives the Jewish people hope that God will protect his people and not destroy them. The author uses the rainbow as a sign of this covenant.
4 B.C. (more or less) was not a time when Jews living under the Roman Empire had much reason for hope. They had God’s promise that he would send a Messiah, and they saw the expression of God’s promises in signs such as rainbows, but that seemed like a remote prospect. When Jesus emerged and began his ministry, many hoped he would liberate them from the Roman Empire. Jesus did not fulfill this specific hope, and when he died upon the cross, it appeared to some that his mission had failed.
But, as Jesus himself said, his kingdom was not of the earth. His mission was not to deliver the Jews from Rome, but rather to give each of us the gift of salvation. And we celebrate and express this covenant using the cross as a symbol.
Just as baseball fans so often realize this is not their year, Christians must realize that Christ does not promise us earthly rewards – he promises us salvation.
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