The Bow in the Cloud.

H. C. Anstey.

Christian Friend vol. 17, 1890, p. 261.

"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud." Gen. 9:14, 16.

In this day of grace there is always a bow in the cloud. We may be, and sometimes are, so occupied with what is most manifest, the cloud, that we do not discern its heavenly accompaniment; but there it is. Bright and lovely, it stretches from heaven to earth. "All things work together for good to them that love God." Yes, all things. This is the bow in the cloud. What a wide expanse this "all things" opens up to us! Even pain is God's servant for good to a believer; and so is an earthquake in the world, or a moral convulsion or heresy in the Church. (1 Cor. 11:19.)

A great and strong wind may "rend the mountains," and "break in pieces the rocks before the Lord." This may be followed by an earthquake, and the earthquake by a fire; but though they are the visible cloud, we must not be wholly occupied with these. (1 Kings 19.) The question for us is, What has the Lord to say to us in them? The object to Him is His people, and we must listen for the "still small voice." This is the bow in the cloud. If God has swept away man once in the judgment of the flood, the cloud, whatever it be, is afresh declaring His estimate of the first man. If mercy has declared itself, and we are spared, still we must never forget that His estimate of what we are stands recorded, and that very cloud afresh witnesses to it. And the bow in the cloud declares His faithfulness to His promise; for "His mercy endureth for ever." We are on the ground of MERCY and if we forget it, He does not. "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of GOD THAT SHEWETH MERCY." Rom. 9:16.) We look at the cloud; God looks at the bow. What grace is here! He says, "And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it." The bow tells of God's unchangeable faithfulness and mercy when all is over with man. This is the ground we are upon with God.

"I bring a cloud … I do set My bow." We may not sever these two, nor look at one apart from the other. If it is good for us to be reminded that man (himself and his works) is only fit for judgment, it is good also to be reminded of what God is, or the soul must be overwhelmed with despair. Let us, then, "cease … from man, whose breath is in his nostrils" (Isa. 2:22), and look at what God is looking at. "I will look upon it."

This is the way to get God's thoughts. We see that in spite of the cloud God is "for us." Only we must be reminded of what we are, when we think high thoughts, not to drive us to despair, but to keep us low and to lean ever and only upon Him who has taken us up in grace, knowing all about us, and when there was not in us anything to attract Him.

My fellow-believer, in all the exercises of the way God would have us see the bow in the cloud. Think of this in your present trial (all permitted of Him), in that which distresses you most of all, and the existence of which no fellow-Christian perhaps knows of. These words are written for you. Is it trial in the Church, trial in the business, trial in the house, or individually in yourself? "And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud." Try to see it. It will put you right with God, and so cheer your pilgrim way. The cloud may be dark and gloomy, but there is a beauty in it painted by His own hand, and it tells you, spite of all, what He is to you. And, remember, whether you see it or not, IT IS THERE.

God sees a "needs be" (1 Peter 1:6) for the present trial in the Church. We must be with Him to learn it. The whole experience of the wilderness is for us to learn what we are and what God is. The inclination of the natural heart is always to grow proud and independent. God, who knows the heart, saw this. As to the heart of man, "who can know it? I the Lord search the heart." (Jer. 17.) He knows it, exposes us to ourselves, and corrects us, and all for good, "for our profit." May we each be so with Him at this moment, that we learn His mind in this trial; for good comes from God, even when it is in the shape of trial. If the heart departeth from the Lord - and it does when we trust in man - we shall be "like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh." (vv. 5, 6.) We shall look upon the present trial and speak of it as "only another cloud"; and because of it we shall not see the good in the hand which surely is working through it for us, nor that it is "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." The word to us is, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." All is from Him, "that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end." (Deut. 8:16.) Let us remember His word: "The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it." "We change; He changes not." H. C. A.