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The Humour Of It

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My off-the-wall observation about the miracle of Abraham coping with kids when he was 110 years old struck a chord in a friend who quipped: “Perhaps Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac wasn’t all obedience!”

Alfred Whitehead, 15th century philosopher, determined that there is no humour in the Bible. He claimed that “the total absence of humour from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all of literature”. Another theologian said: “I have heard people say that God has ‘a sense of humour’. I have checked and have not found Scripture to support this statement.”


Humour is a scary thing. Not everyone has the same sense toward it. Every culture has a different funny bone. Too many people express humour that goes straight over my head. I hear folks giggling about something and I have to ask them to please explain what is so funny. I don’t get it! Not everyone seems to get my perspective either!

Humour Definition: the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous

Psalms 2:4; 37:13; 59:8 indicate that God finds humour (funny / crazy / hilarious) in the incongruity and ludicrousness of those who resist Him. He directs laughter toward earthly hotshots who think their power or opinions exceed His. “The One who sits on His throne in heaven laughs. The Lord makes fun of those rulers and their plans.” (NIrV) The unnerving part of the context is the aspect that it is not just ‘governmental’ rulers included here. How many theological opinions, sermons preached, devotionals circulated, are there to which He gets a good belly laugh at our absurd stance?

Scripture contains much humour, albeit mainly subtle, and much of it requiring a knowledge of the original language / culture.

II Chronicles 21:20 reads, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried” (italics added). Jehoram was not well liked. I smiled at this scribe who was relieved at his monarch’s death. The editorial statement provides a light touch, or comic relief, to the Chronicler’s usual routine.

It is interesting that Elijah suddenly appears in the history of mankind, (I Kings 17) standing in the presence of the monarch. We have no record of how he got there! But there he was, face-to-face, boldly reprimanding the king and queen. I wonder if that was one of those occasions when God was laughing at a ruler? He then told Elijah to escape eastward to hide in the rugged Cherith ravine beyond the Jordan River. While there some ravens brought him bread and meat. Ravens are scavengers. Where did they get that food? Did it look loathsome? Was it roadkill? Why didn’t God choose a ‘clean’ bird to bring him something that was kosher? Was God chuckling at Elijah’s wrinkled brow? While the brook dried up, did it leave behind little pools of putrid, impure water? Was there a lesson in that experience similar to Peter’s vision and admonition to kill and eat unclean animals? (Acts 10:13)

Then Elijah was told to go westward to Zaraphath, in Sidon. That was a 100 mile walk through the enemy territory of Israel and Samaria. Did he scuttle from rock to bush in his flight? Or walk boldly along the main road wearing his priestly robe? How long did that stressful trudge take? Did he find it repulsive to live and mingle in a Gentile destination? He knew that Jezebel was hunting for him and now he was living in her hometown. Did he fear being betrayed? All Jezebel and Ahab had to do was visit her relatives and catch the juicy gossip that a Jewish migrant was living with a Gentile widow. What were his thoughts about his reputation as he lived with a single lady? What were his thoughts about living amongst a bunch of Baal worshiping gentiles?

All the way through this story I can see the glint of humour in Gods eyes as He directed each individual, every crow, multitudes of bystanders, and the weather. The record, to me, is not just a simple, face-value, surface level, Sunday school story. There is a lot going on in the interwoven divine handling of nuances in the event. I’m tantalized with the feathers I ruffle! I’ll paraphrase a quote from Oswald Chambers: How much of our opinionated security and peace is the outcome of our upbringing, our doctrinal stance, or the civilized life we live, versus how much of it is built up in going around to see it from God’s perspective and intent?

May you be blessed through embracing the Spirit of Truth who doesn’t occupy your mind with chatter but only relays what your Father intends for you. … john (John 16:13)


(original post Sept 20 2015)


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