© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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The rainbow is a symbol of God's faithfulness and of His pardon and reconciliation to the faithful. The symbol is taken from the story of Noah and the Great Flood, where God placed His rainbow in the sky as a seal of His promise never to destroy the earth again with a flood. The rainbow is sometimes used in art as Christ's throne, where it is symbolic of glory and final judgment.

Gen. 9:12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (NIV)

The ram is a symbol for Christ taken from the Old Testament. The ram represents Christ because it is the leader of the herd and also because the ram is a sacrificial animal, reminding us of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for our sins. This act was foreshadowed in the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22:

Gen. 22:13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram(n) caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (NIV)

Rivers, and especially the River Jordan, figure prominently in the stories of the Bible, where they often represent deliverance and salvation, freedom, or cleansing. Jacob crossed the Jordan to meet his brother Esau after many years of exile. The Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter into their Promised Land. John the Baptist baptized the repentant in the Jordan.

The phrase "crossing the Jordan" is often used euphemistically of death. However, in the Bible, the typology of crossing a river (or passing through water) almost always means a transition from death to life, from slavery to freedom, or from sin to righteouness.

A rock is often used as a symbol for Christ. In the wilderness, Moses struck a rock and it poured forth water to refresh the people. A rock can also symbolize obedience to Christ. St. Peter, whose name means "rock," is sometimes thus represented.

Num. 20:9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD's presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. (NIV)

Matt. 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (NIV)

Matt. 16:17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, (n) and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades(n) will not overcome it. (n) (NIV)

A crowing rooster is most often used as a symbol of St. Peter's denial of Jesus. By extension, it is symbolic of infidelity in the face of danger or persecution. Because of their crowing early in the morning, the rooster has also been used as a symbol of watchfulness and vigilance.

Matt. 26:33 Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." 34 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." (NIV)

The rose, usually shown in stylized form, has been a common Christian symbol since the 1200s. It may be used to represent the Messianic promise, the nativity of Christ, the virgin Mary (her rose is white for purity), or martyrdom (a red rose). It is used often in Gothic architecture.

Song of Solomon 2:1 I am a rose(n) of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. (NIV)

Season: Advent