Nature Sermons

Compiled from Nature Sermons by Charles E. Jefferson, D.D.
Genesis 9 gives an idea of the reason for the creation of the rainbow.
The message: It was intended to say something. It was to communicate a word from God to man. What was its message? The hebrew mind said its message must be a sweet one; it must be from the tender side of God. The rainbow is so soft and so beautiful, it must speak of God's friendliness.

And because the rainbow always appears after a storm the Hebrew mind came to the conclusion that this was God's way of saying to men: "Do not be frightened by storms, they are transitory and harmless, you will never be submerged by them. Just to remind you of My goodness and My interest in you, I am going to put My bow in the cloud."

Thus the Rainbow, to the Hebrew mind, became a promise, a token, a sing, a pledge of God's goodness, an emblem of His love.

And there was need of just such an emblem, for there are many things in nature which are dark. There are phenomena which seem like threats. If taken alone, they would be conclusive evidence that the Deity is angry, that at the heart of the world there is a wild indignation. When one thinks of the roar of the sea, and how it often bellows and leaps upon the rocks, showing its white teeth as if eager to devour the homes of men; when one thinks of the storms that rage furiously across the land and sea; when one thinks of volcanoes and eclipses and earthquakes and pestilences, eh cannot wonder that so many races of men came to the conclusion that God is a vengeful Deity and must be placated and appeased.

Now learn a lesson from the storm in the sea that night when Jesus challenges his disciples with the question: where is your faith? Whey are these doubts coming upon you? Why are you crying and shouting when Jesus is resting in the boat. let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Jesus. Let nature teach you a lesson: the rainbow.

When Ezekiel paints a picture of heaven, he wraps a rainbow round the throne of God; and when the Seer on Patmos looks into heaven he also sees a rainbow round God's throne; and when the Angel who is none other than the Son of God, comes down out of the clouds He comes with a rainbow on His head. this, then, is what the rainbow means in the Scriptures-it is an emblem of God's mercy.

What does it mean to you?
Lessons: The rainbow is a familiar sight. Every body has seen it. There are some things in America that are to be found nowhere else. There are great sights in Euroupe which one cannot see in Africa or Australia. asia has its wonders that are nowhere else reproduced. But there is no land over which God has not bent His rainbow. Every one of the continents has been made beautiful by it, and there is not an island of the sea, inhabited by a wretched tribe savages, over which God has not bent the seven colors of the rainbow. If it be a world of mercy, it is His determination that every human being on the earth shall read it.

Size: The very size of the rainbow is uplifting. you cannot get it into a house. you cannot bring it inside the city gates. It is too vast for any enclosure made by man. It spans the world. It belongs to everybody. It unites commonwealths far removed. It gives a hint of the great thoghts and wide plans of God.

it is old. The antiquity of it awes the heart. We talk about the Bible being an old book; the fact is, it is a very recent book compared with the rainbow. The bible was only published late yesterday afternoon, as it were, but the rainbow was publisehd at a date which no man records. One might say that it is a toy God gave to man to play with in his infancy-something to appease his terror and to make him stop his crying. You might consider it a picture-book, printed in a bring colours. Children always like picture-books, and this is the earliest that God published for mankind. it is a sor tof catechism in which the human mind is trained to think of Deity; it is a book of scriputre- one of the oldest extant.

It is a blessing which God does not allow us to have all the time. Some good things we have incessantly. Other things are granted us periodically. They are given to us, and then taken away, and then given to us again. Parents sometimes give their children pretty things to play with, and then, after a little while, take them and put them away promising the children that, by and by, if certain conditions are fulfilled, they shall have the priviledge of playing with them again. so it is with God's rainbows. They are such delicate, lovely things we cannot have them all the time, but, now and then, after a stomr he lets us have one jsut to remind us that the stomr is over, and that the order of Nature still abides.

The rainbow speaks audibly of God. There is no doubt that God made the rainbow. man has high pretensions and makes great claims, but no man ever yet claimed to have made the rainbow. This is one of the declarations which cannot be disputed. it is increaseingly difficult to make any assertion which some one is not determined to contradict, but here for once the minister can forma sentence to whic no one can bring exception: "God makes the rainbow."

Theatrical managers are adroit and skillful men; it is wonderful the things they make. they can reproduce houses to perfection, they can make a cellar or a garret, a parlour or a kitchen, a ovel or a palace- and make it so true to fact that you cannot believe you are looking upon a fictious scene, manufactured for the hour. They can reporduce old palaces and mansions of Euroupe so faithfully that when, later on, you see those buildings in the Old World you say to yourself: "how familiar all this looks! i must have been here before." Theatrical managers can reprouce the landscape, they can create hills and mountains fileds of grain, lovely alleys, and they can place a lake in the midst with pleasure boats upon it. They can reproduce many of the phonemena of nature-lightning, rain, snow, sandtomrms- and they can make them so real that you find it difficult to believe they are sham. But no theatrical manager can succesfully reproduced the rainbow. I have read of a man who invented a rainbow for theatrical uses, but it has not had a great success. It is a poor, tawdry, cheap affair. Only God makes rainbows. The scientist cannot make one-that is, he cannot make a big one; he can only make a little one. His rainbow may be genuine as far as it goes, but it does not go far. Only God can make a rainbow that spans the world!

The rainbow is a sign for us. We are living in a uilitarian age. We need the rainbow to remind us that a thing is useful if it is beautiful, and that all beauty if a joy for ever. Beauty is a form of food. Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God- and one of the loveliest of His word is the rainbow. how useless a raible is to a utilitarian standards! No kind of fruit will ripen there. You cannot raise anything in it. No kind of garin will grow there. you cannot build anything upon it, it can bear no weight whatever. you cannot cut it into pieces and built it into houses. It is absolutely unusable. You cannot make any mercantile use whatsoever of it. You can use amost everything in Nature, the wind the lightning, the tides, the waterfalls, the lakes-but you cannot use the rainbow. There it stands, just beautiful, saying to us all the time: "beauty is its own excuse for being."

Here then, are a few of the lessons which we may carry with us from our study of the rainbow. God undoubtedly likes beauty. He is exceedingly fond of color. If He is not, why should He paint the sky blue and the fields green? And why, every autumn, should He kindle a great conflagration of golden and purple fire in the berkshire hills in order to give men something to remember when the bleak days of winter come? I do not wonder that Ruskin always claimed, that of all the gifts that God gave to the Human eye, nothing is so Holy and saced as color.

We ourselves are something like rainbows. Coleridge wa one of the first to point this out. "we are like rainbows," he said, "made up a series of alternative storms and calms. We are up today and down to-morrow. To-day, the sky is blue, to-morrow, it is overcast. The mind itself is a world, and stomrs are driven acrsoss its sky. Sometimes it is the storm of sorrow, sometimes the stomr of douct, sometimes the storm dissappointment, sometimes the storm of despondency and despair. but it not this true in all our experience-that after the storm comes the rainbow? Our life is not uniterruptedly dark. The storm does not last for ever. After the tempest comes God's smile.

The Bible makes use of the rainbow. It says that when you pass through the waters you will not be overwhelmed, when you pass through the fire you will not be burned. What is that but putting the bow in the cloud in the day of rain? "now no chastisement for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, but afterward"-there, aain, you have the bow in the cloud. "Your sorrow shall be turned into joy." What I do, you know not now, but you shall know hereafter." Teh Gospel is the light from heaven which, falling on our tears, creates a rainbow which spans the heavens. We are saved by hope. What is Christ Himself but God's rainbow, the emblem of God's grace, God's sign, God's promise of mercy? When we look upon Him we cannot be afraid. After the storm has passed, we see again His shining face.

I was moved

One blogger sent the news on Dr. Matandiko's death. It moved me. Any one with a video or audio of Dr. Matandiko, please post it here for all of us to be edified.