The Humor of God

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

As Christians I think we stumble around when it comes to God’s sense of humor. Moreover, we usually stumble in one of two directions.

  1. The first approach is that we do not think God has a sense of humor at all and therefore take a rather fundamentalist approach to the topic and frown upon any laughter at all, especially when it comes from kids.
  2. The second approach errs in the other direction, the direction of flippancy. We think God has a sense of humor like Ashton Kuchar when he was best known for the classic MTV series “Punk’d”.

In actuality the Bible presents the topic of God’s humor in a way that makes both the dour fundamentalist and the pop evangelical uncomfortable. The humor of God in the Bible is much more satirical. I believe that modern evangelicalism is in desperate need to regain this view of God and adopt it too.

There are a couple places in the Bible that highlight this satirical approach to God’s humor and I would like to point them out to you and then tell you why its important for us today.

The Tower of Babel

The Biblical account of the Tower of Babel is a fascinating story that is loaded with imagery & typology. The setting of the story is after Adam & Eve have been banished from the Garden of Eden, Cain has murdered Abel and wickedness is spreading in the world. What is the result of this wickedness? A man-centered civilization named “Babel”. Man, instead of “filling the earth”, like God told Adam to do, is rallying to one place where they are trying to “make a name for themselves”. Furthermore, they are trying to build a tower that will “have its top in the heavens”.

The men building the Tower of Babel are trying to recreate another Garden, they are trying to make a meeting place with God. However, they are not doing it according to God’s command (that comes later with the antitype of Babel, the Tabernacle) and therefore God essentially laughs at them. The entire text of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) is centered around the one phrase, “God came down” (v. 5). The four verses before it show how much Man is trying to make a name for Himself without God & the four verses after highlight God’s coming down to show the foolishness of Man’s rebellion.

God’s entire attitude towards man’s rebellion here is one of satirical humor. God is in heaven and he laughingly comes down to see what sort of puny rebellion man is up to. This is foreign and offensive to our modern sensibilities.

Early Church Persecution

The other example I would like to highlight is found in Acts 4. It is the story of Peter & John being brought before the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and being scorned for their preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In response to this castigation Peter & John return to the group of believers in Jerusalem and tell them what had happened. The immediate response of the entire group of believers is to turn to Psalm 2 in prayer.

Psalm 2 (quoted above in full) is a messianic psalm that highlights the Lordship of Jesus upon his resurrection. The believers in the book of Acts knew what the resurrection of Jesus meant. It meant that Jesus was the Lord’s anointed. If you look at Psalm 2 you will see God’s response & what happens to the nations that set themselves up against the Lord’s anointed. God’s response to rebellion against His anointed is laughter. That’s right, laughter.

Furthermore, the end result of rebellion against the Lord’s anointed is being dashed to pieces like a piece of pottery. For those of you who don’t know, this is exactly what happened to Jerusalem in 70AD and it is exactly what Jesus prophesied would take place in Matthew 24. But Psalm 2 does not just say this is what will happen to Israel when they reject the Lord’s anointed, Psalm 2 says this is what will happen to all the nations who do not make peace with the Son.

Pop Evangelicalism & the Humor of God

This does not sit well with modern pop evangelicalism. In our day and age the Gospel has been transformed into the “3 Steps to Heaven” program. Therefore, we individualize everything to the degree of online marketing firms.

This is not the Biblical Gospel!

The Gospel of the Bible is a Gospel of cosmic and historic significance. The Gospel is the story of the take over of the Kingdom of God upon this sinful world. The historical event of the resurrection stands as the decisive victory in the great battle over this world; the Kingdom of Heaven won this battle!

We need to return to a Biblical understanding of this sort of cocky humor. When the Supreme Court thinks they actually have some sort of say over what marriage is we should look to the scriptures and see that God is laughing; and we should be too! We should be laughing because we should know that this is not something that is up for debate! We should laugh because we should know that in the long run every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and opposition to this truth can only end in broken pottery!

Instead of taking this stance modern Christians have either embraced the heresies of the modern culture or apologized for what the Bible says about our culture’s licentious behavior. We need to return to a Biblical understanding of the humor of God. We need to laugh at the apostasy of our culture knowing that the victory is Christ’s and whether in revival or in destruction his name will be exulted.

Food for thought.

Michael

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3 comments

  1. what would life be humorless? The film “Life of Brian” seems to me to be one of the best lessons of humor about this. A worthy cause or reason for Moses write the 11 commandment: Do not be stupid.

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