Genesis 9:13. I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Martin Luther had an interesting way of understanding the power of God. He described the exercise of God’s power as the two “hands” of God – God has “right handed power” and God has “left handed power.”
God’s right handed power is direct, forceful, straight line power. Right handed power is what you use with small children who try to run into the street and with mass shooters. When they won’t stop you make them stop. Right handed power can get you what you want effectively and efficiently, but often at the expense of the relationship. It is the power of being AGAINST someone.
God’s left handed power is much more paradoxical. It is power through weakness. It is subtle and vulnerable. It is indirect. It’s what you use when you care more about the relationship than about getting what you want. In a nutshell it is the power of unconditional love and grace rather than force and law. It is the power of being WITH someone.
The greatest example of God’s right handed power in the Bible is probably the flood. God is sorry he created humanity so he decides to destroy us all with a display of great force. Erase the board. Reboot creation. End the relationship.
But God’s grace shines through Noah so that after the flood God chooses to change his approach to mankind. He moves from right handed power to left handed power.
When Noah and his family came off the ark God didn’t say, “Now don’t mess up again or I’ll have to send an even bigger and nastier flood next time.” No. God made a covenant with mankind and all of creation. A promise to never flood the earth again. A promise to preserve us and the earth forever (see Genesis 9:8-11).
And then God did something amazing. He set his bow in the clouds. His bow is his weapon (like a bow and arrow). But who is the bow aimed at? Where will the arrows of God’s holy wrath fly? Look at a rainbow. The bow is aimed at God himself, not us.
You see the flood punished sin, but it did not destroy sin. Noah walked off the ark just as much a sinner as he was before (just keep reading). His descendants will reject God and destroy each other just as well as his forefathers. The flood demonstrated God’s righteous judgment of sin, but God’s judgments alone do not solve humanity’s problem.
And so the rest of the Bible after Genesis 9 answers this question, “How can God destroy evil without destroying the ones he loves?” Not by a flood, but by a cross. Not by judgment, but by grace. Not by right handed power, but by left handed power.
Let’s be clear, God is not setting his holiness aside. Sin must be dealt with and destroyed. God in his holiness did not put away his bow. But God in his great love for us has aimed his bow at heaven. God will fire upon himself. The rainbow is a sign of God’s great love for us. A love that would take our place in the flood. And on the cross.
God’s unconditional grace has proven to be the most powerful force in the world. Now, “to live is Christ” means we are dealt with each day by the paradoxical left handed power of that grace. The power of sacrificial love and kindness. The power of forgiveness. The power of knowing that God is WITH us not AGAINST us. The power that changes our hearts’ desires as we behold the glory of the Lord. Not just in the rainbow, but in the cross.
Do you imagine that God is with you and for you, or against you?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ allow you to always trust that God is for you?
Christ in you
God is transforming you, not by force, but as you receive his grace. How can you spend some time today receiving the grace of God in Christ?
Playlist: God Is For Us
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