The rainbow is a beautiful natural phenomenon that has significance in the Bible. The rainbow first appears in the Bible in Genesis 9 after the flood. God says “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13). The rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood. Each color of the rainbow also has symbolic meaning relating to different spiritual attributes. In this article, we will explore the meaning of each color of the rainbow biblically.
Red is the first color of the rainbow and it symbolizes blood. In the Bible, blood represents life and sacrifice. When Jesus died on the cross, He shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. 1 John 1:7 states “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Red also represents fire which symbolizes the presence of God. Exodus 3:2 says “There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.”
Orange is the color of fire and flames. In the Bible, fire often represents the presence, power, and works of God. Hebrews 12:29 states that “Our God is a consuming fire.” Orange also symbolizes endurance and strength. James 1:2-4 encourages us to consider it “pure joy” when we face trials which test our faith because it develops perseverance and maturity in our walk with God.
Yellow is the color of sunshine and light. In the Bible, light represents truth, revelation, and God’s glory. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after speaking with God, his face was glowing because he had been in God’s presence (Exodus 34:29). Yellow also symbolizes joy and happiness. The joy of the Lord is described as being our strength in Nehemiah 8:10.
Green is the color of vegetation and plant life. In the Bible, plants and trees often represent spiritual life, growth, and fruitfulness. A “tree planted by streams of water” in Psalm 1:3 symbolizes a righteous person who delights in God’s word. Believers are encouraged to “be rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). Green can represent revival, renewal, and restored relationships with God.
Blue is the color of the sky and a reminder of the heavens. In the Bible, blue represents things related to heaven or the throne room of God. Sapphire stones were used in the Most Holy Place in the temple (Exodus 24:10). Blue also represents truth. Numbers 15:38 commanded Israel to wear tassels of blue thread as a reminder to “look upon it and remember all the commands of the LORD.”
Indigo is a deep blue color made from a plant dye. In the Bible, blue dyes were rare and valuable. Lydia was a seller of purple cloth in Acts 16:14. Indigo dye was often used when making the ephod worn by the High Priest and the tabernacle curtains. It represents the law, commandments, and covenant. The color points us to holiness and consecration to God.
Violet is the color of royalty, wealth, and extravagance. In the Bible, violet represents Christ’s kingship as the risen Lord. When Jesus was mocked by Roman soldiers, they placed a purple robe on him (John 19:2-3). Purple or scarlet cloth was also used in the tabernacle and temple (Exodus 26:1). The color reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made to establish the new covenant.
The Number of Colors
The rainbow has seven colors, and in the Bible the number seven often represents completion, fullness, and perfection. On the seventh day, God rested from creation as His work was entirely complete (Genesis 2:2). There were seven years of abundance and seven years of famine in Joseph’s dream in Genesis 41. Seeing seven colors in the rainbow can remind us of God’s flawless promises and His complete and perfect character.
The Rainbow Covenant
When God established his covenant with Noah after the flood, the rainbow became a sign of that everlasting covenant. Genesis 9:13 states “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The rainbow symbolizes that God will remember His promises and never again destroy the earth with a flood. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and the hope we have in His promises.
The Rainbow in Revelation
The book of Revelation contains a vision of the throne room of God, with a rainbow encircling the throne. Revelation 4:3 states, “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” The rainbow here represents God’s mercy, grace, and protection over His creation. Even though judgment was coming on the earth, the rainbow shows God’s redemptive purposes.
|Blood, sacrifice, life, fire, presence of God
|Fire, glory, strength, endurance
|Joy, sunshine, light, God’s glory
|Growth, life, renewal, restoration
|Heaven, throne of God, truth
|Holiness, consecration, covenant
|Royalty, kingship, sacrifice
In summary, the rainbow is rich in meaning in the Bible. Each color signifies spiritual blessings, attributes of God, or aspects of our walk with Christ. Red signifies blood sacrifice and the gift of life. Orange represents fire, glory, and strength. Yellow symbolizes light, joy and God’s radiant glory. Green signifies growth, renewal, and restoration. Blue points us to heaven and godly truth. Indigo indicates holiness, consecration, and covenant. Violet signifies Christ’s royalty, sacrifice, and kingship. The rainbow as a whole reminds us of God’s promises, His faithfulness, and His covenant mercy towards all the earth. When we see a rainbow, we can rejoice in God’s steadfast love for all creation.