Rainbows are quite a marvel of nature, but they’re far more than a scientific phenomenon or inspiring Judy Garland song. The rainbow is a beautiful reminder that God keeps His promises to us. He promised not to destroy the Earth again, and He won’t. He promised a savior, and Jesus came…and will come again! Use this lesson to discuss special reminders that we have in our lives, and how the rainbow is a reminder of God’s love and covenant.
The Rainbow of Promise – Sunday School Lesson: Noah’s Rescue from the Flood
Sometimes it seems like the story of the flood is one of God’s wrath and judgment. While it can be hard to explain so much destruction, it’s important to emphasize that the account of Noah speaks to God’s great mercy. He allowed life to continue and appointed Noah to facilitate that. When we discuss this passage about the rainbow, we have a visual reminder of God’s promise to never flood the earth again. This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Just as He kept the covenant with Noah, He kept His promise to send a savior. Noah and his family were saved by the ark. We are saved by the cross, and know that Jesus is the greatest promise fulfilled!
Passage: Genesis 9:8-17
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Objects that serve as reminders or memories; cotton balls; construction paper or cardstock; markers or crayons; decorative supplies; paper plates; pom-poms or stickers; Skittles (optional); Bibles.
Lesson Opening: This passage reminds children of what a rainbow means and why it’s important. Rainbows involve fun colors and water science, but more importantly they are a reminder of God’s promises. Start with an activity that uses these themes and gets kids thinking:
- Taste the rainbow! Use Skittles candies for some fun snack activities. For younger students, discuss colors and sample the different Skittle flavors. With older kids, predict how many Skittles of each color will be in the bag, and find out how accurate guesses were.
- Colors tag: Have one student stand as a “color caller” at one end of a playing area, with the others waiting on the other end. Waiting students should each secretly have a color in mind, or be given a color ahead of time. The color caller will call off colors one at a time. When the students hear their color named, they should try to quietly sneak across the playing field to the other side, while the color caller tries to tag them. With large enough groups, students tagged should join the color caller as taggers on the next round.
- Animal noises: have a blindfolded student walk around the room and tap on other children, one at a time. Students will then make an animal noise. The tapper must guess the student making the noise as well as the animal being imitated.
- God’s promises paint: Mix different colors of paint to make new colors (for example, yellow and blue to make green). Discuss how God has made everything on Earth beautiful and colorful, and recount things He made in various colors. Use the paint to create a picture.
Explain that today’s lesson involves something colorful as well as God’s promises!
Don’t miss our related Youth Group Lesson on Noah’s Rainbow.
Bible Lesson: Genesis 9:8-17
This is a relatively short passage, and can be added onto a longer lesson including information about the flood and ark-building, if desired. To make it interactive, have students decorate rainbows or draw with bright colors as you read. Older students can read out loud, and teachers can read and discuss with younger ones.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” -Genesis 9:8-11
If this lesson is not already being added onto another lesson about Noah’s Ark, provide students with some background reminders about that account. God had grown frustrated with all of the evil on Earth, and decided to wipe out everything with a flood. He started over again with Noah and his family, who built a boat to rescue the few people who were to remain, along with the animals. After 40 days and nights of rain, and more time waiting for the water to dry up, the ark finally hit dry ground, and God gave instructions to Noah and his family. He also gave them a covenant, a special promise. Here God promised to never flood the Earth again. He made that promise to Noah, his sons, and every living creature there.
Ask: What kinds of promises have you made? Who makes promises or commitments to you?
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. -Genesis 9:12-15
God promised not to flood the Earth again, and He gave a sign of this covenant. He said that He was laying aside His weapon, setting His “bow” in the cloud. Point out how the arc of the rainbow looks a bit like a bow, with the horizon of the Earth flat like the string. Sometimes the flood story is hard to teach. Why would a good God send so much devastation? God is good, but He is also just. People had sinned and done evil in His eyes, and needed punishment. But God had mercy to save Noah and his family. He rescued them through the ark, just as He rescues us through His Son Jesus!
Ask: When do you see rainbows? What is your favorite color that appears in the sky?
When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” -Genesis 9:16-17
God said this would remind Him of the promise never again to destroy flesh with a flood. Of course, God doesn’t forget things. He didn’t need any sort of visual reminder, but we might! The rainbow can keep us mindful of His presence and promises. When we see one, we can rejoice that God is always faithful to His promises. We know that He will do what He says He will do. The greatest covenant God has made is the promise to send a savior. Jesus is a beautiful promise kept, and we can be thankful for that each and every day. God is always with us and loves us. He kept His promise given with the rainbow and is faithful to us now and always!
Ask: How has God been faithful to you? How can you remember His promises?
The rainbow is a beautiful visual that we can use to remind children of God’s faithfulness. This covenant with Noah is one of several we have in Scripture that prove God cares for us and keeps His promises to us. He will never leave or forsake us. When there are scary things in the world or rumors of disaster, we can assure them that God is with us. The rainbow will follow the storm, just as sunrise follows the night. We have hope for this life and the next, knowing that His presence is with us wherever we go!
Close with prayer, thanking God for His promises and His everlasting love to us.