Is It Biblical to Be Funny?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
One of the funniest lines in all of Scripture is found in Exodus 32. While Moses was away with God, his brother Aaron led the people to give their jewelry and wealth to melt down and make a golden calf for idol worship. When confronted by Moses, Aaron’s defense was “they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”5
The Historical Books
In the history books of the Old Testament, both Gaal6 and Nabal7 got drunk and, like drunk guys hopped up on liquid courage often do, popped off about how they could take guys much tougher than them, only to wake up with a hangover, a foreboding sense of dread, and empty colons as they pondered the beating that awaited them. Though it is not said, one wonders if they were frat guys.
Arguably the funniest scene in the entire Old Testament is found in the octagon report of 1 Kings 18:25–29:
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
In this legendary showdown, God shows up and shows off to reveal himself and his servant Elijah. When it came to the prophets of Baal, though, their false god never made it to the ring. So, Elijah mocked them, saying in effect, “Perhaps your god has not yet made it to the octagon because he’s sitting on his toilet throne dozing off, so maybe you guys should go bang on the door really loudly and see if you can get your god out here for my God to open a can on.” God loved this man so much that he took him straight to heaven in a fiery chariot rather than let him taste death.
The Old Testament prophets are filled with all forms of humor. Amos 6:4–6 sounds like a commentary on MTV’s Cribs:
Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils.
Or to put it in our vernacular: there is mad judgment on all vintage jersey– wearing pimps with phat cribs rolling a fleet of cars decked out in rims with spinners, enjoying the finest strip clubs, sitting in the VIP room sipping Hennessy through crazy straws by the bucket.
Isaiah 3:16–24 says:
The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.
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