Q: #109. What do rainbows symbolize in the Bible?
A: In (Gen 7-8) God destroyed the world and all living creatures except for Noah, his family, and all the animals aboard the ark (He killed all creatures who breathed through nostrils: Gen 7:22). After the flood, God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and every living creature for all generations that he would never again destroy the world by a flood. The symbol that God gave to remind us of His promise was a rainbow in the sky (Gen 9:12-16). Since it apparently had not rained before the flood (See: Q: #44.), this likely would have been something they had not seen before.
Rainbows (also bows: KJV) are mentioned in the Bible six times. Three of these are in (Gen 9:13,14,16). The remaining three are (Ezek 1:18)(Rev 4:2)(Rev 10:1), and when we see the rainbows they are directly connected with appearances of the Lord. These rainbows are quite likely reminders of God’s covenant promise He made, and also a picture of His grace in the midst of judgment.
We should also keep in mind that although the world will not ever again be destroyed by a flood, in the end it will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet 3:10-12).
For answers related to this topic, see:
Did man eat meat before the flood?
Were there insects on Noah’s Ark?
Could Noah’s Ark really hold all of those animals?
How many children did Noah have?