What situation comes to your mind when you hear that old saying – “God has a sense of humor?” I have numerous scenarios that come to mind. Oddly, it seems God’s humor is at play more often than we realize. And it’s a brilliant sense of humor. As humans, we try to develop a sense of humor, especially in teen years. And since we are made in God’s image, the quality of humor is there to be developed. I want to look at God’s humor as we continue Part 2 of our Scripture dissection of 1 Kings 18. (See Part 1 in a recent article – God’s Timing.)
Tear Into It – God’s Humor
First, I suggest – take a look at Tear Into It. That article explains how and why we introduce Scripture dissection exercises every few weeks in our article rotation.
To tear into “God’s Humor,” let’s continue the story from Part 1, God’s Timing, which sets the stage for today.
Look up 1 Kings 18:20-40 in your Bible for a full story. For this content’s purposes, here’s a bullet backstory of developments in my words.
- God’s Timing (v. 1-19), we learn Elijah has a lot of courage. He literally tells King Ahab what to do and how.
- Today’s portion, we learn Ahab follows Elijah’s orders! That’s an improvement for Ahab who previously scoured the country to kill Elijah.
- Gathered at Mount Carmel are Israel, 450 Baal and 400 Asherah prophets (T=850 prophets), King Ahab, Elijah . . . and GOD!
- Elijah applies a bit of humor as he confronts the people about their “double-mindedness.” He says (perhaps with a smile), “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision?” Then he challenges them to make up their minds definitively who they will serve. Stop being lukewarm. (v. 21 and Rev. 3:16)
- Now – the bet is on! He (1 prophet) takes on 450 Baal prophets in a contest. (RISK) Would you do that? Seriously? 1 vs. 450?
- Elijah lets them choose a bull for their altar. But he gives a contest rule: no fire – yet! He says this contest is to see whose God responds with fire to burn up the sacrifice.
- The people agree it’s a fair test.
- Baal prophets go first. Incidentally, from morning till noon, they jump around the altar, crying out to their god. That’s half a work day! Would you do that? Seriously?
- At lunch time, Elijah uses humor again and mocks their ridiculousness. “Yell louder! After all, he is a god; he may be deep in thought, or perhaps he stepped out for a moment or has taken a trip. Perhaps he is sleeping and needs to be awakened.” (v. 27)
- Loud yelling follows. Then cutting themselves till there’s more blood from them than from the bull on the altar to be burned up! All afternoon, those prophets work into a frenzy.
- What happens next? NOTHING!
Then The Story Turns
- Elijah calmly calls the people to himself. (Perhaps chuckling just a bit?) And he takes a huge risk in this contest – perhaps thinking, “What if God doesn’t answer? What if He doesn’t show up when I call for Him in front of all these people?” By the way, this is a similar risk Elijah asks Obadiah to take in Step 1 – God’s Timing.
- First, Elijah simply speaks the very invitation God gives: “Come near to Me.” (v. 30, Jas. 4:8)
- Elijah wants the people and prophets to see God and respond definitively to Him.
- Then he REPAIRS the altar of God (it was in dis-repair) – the place people come near God and connect with Him in their hearts. Elijah –
- Builds it back up.
- Places the sacrifice on it.
- Tells the people to pour lots of water over sacrifice and altar – with a trench to catch the extra water.
- Then he says – “add more water.”
- A third time – “add more water still.”
- THIS point is another display of God’s incredible humor. “Make this scenario just a little more impossible – and then I’ll show up.”
- Now Elijah simply prays. He reinforces God is all He claims. Then he affirms he is God’s servant. And he closes with – “Answer me so the people see and believe.”
- Whamo! God targets the sacrifice with fire which burns everything up, including the water in the trench. Everybody back up!
Now Let’s Dissect – God’s Humor
With each Scripture dissection, we engage four focuses:
- What Does It Say?
- What Does It Mean?
- Make It Personal
- Make A Commitment.
1. What Does It Say?
This story contains precious reminders of God and His eternal principles. Incidentally, this includes not only His power and justice, but also His love – and His sense of humor.
Without any effort, God reinforces His claims. At the same time, He affirms Elijah is His faithful servant. (Both those are answers to Elijah’s prayer. First, God reinforces His claims. Second, He reinforces Elijah is His faithful servant. That was Elijah’s prayer.)
Further, He calls the people to “Come near to Me.” And ultimately, He does all this with delightful humor through a contest. Even Elijah’s words to the people engage (perhaps borrow) some of God’s humor.
Coincidentally, there’s another thread in this story. It presents an “order” to God’s involvement.
FIRST – God asks you to trust – obey – and sometimes sacrifice something.
THEN – He responds to your faith. He shows up strongly. And He helps you, honors your faith, blesses your obedience, and multiplies any sacrifice you have made on His behalf. Afterall, the truth at the root is this. “I desire mercy (steadfast love) and not sacrifice.” (Hos. 6:6) Jesus repeats this verse in Mt. 12:7.
So, God’s order of response, indeed, involves man’s decisions.
Truly, a great conclusion is this: God is real. He is present in the affairs of man. He will not sacrifice His essence just to prove something to man, even if a man dares Him to. His self-awareness and self-knowledge is intact. Incidentally, this means He doesn’t have to explain Himself to people and He doesn’t have to defend Himself. Rather, He pours Himself into strategies that help people grow in faith, know His power, trust His goodness, and relax in His love.
God is confident in His power and His mercy. He loves His people and invites them continually, “Come near to Me.” But He also holds calmly to who He is and what He is capable of doing. He has nothing to prove.
Subsequently, everything God does is careful, measured, truthful, powerful, merciful, and even engages the real stuff of every-day life, including human humor (which, incidentally, comes from God since we are made in His image).
God is in control.
3. Make It Personal
I don’t know about you, but I see all kinds of ways to make these messages personal. Let’s be creative and begin with –
FIRST – God asks you to trust – obey – and sometimes sacrifice something. Are you doing this?
THEN – He responds to your faith. He shows up strongly. Wait for it!
There is no limit to how God will help when you adopt His order. His deep love for you means He will use His power and resources on your behalf. Even when you suffer in this life (and you will – it’s a broken world. Our fault, not God’s.) He promises to carry you through everything. He will lift you up – if you let Him. And He will use your lovely life to bring glory to Himself.
4. Make A Commitment – Application Thoughts And Questions
From Part 1 – God’s Timing – we discussed three responses God wants from His children –
- Trusting Him deeply.
- Obeying Him severely.
- Loving Him passionately.
But now – commitment application on today’s content.
- Do you open your heart daily to receive what God wants to reveal about Himself, His power, His mercy, and His love for you?
- What specific action steps are you taking to “Come near to Me” (God’s invitation). Be specific about how you will respond to Him.
- Did you know God has a sense of humor – and since you are made in His image, so do you?
- Whenever possible, do you speak God’s words to encourage people (including yourself) to come near Him?
- Does your life (every thought, word, and action) give credibility to God’s holy essence?
- Is your life goal to lift God up and honor Him?
- Since God has clearly proved His essence, goodness, and love – do you willingly follow His “order” and take the next step to trust – obey – and sometimes sacrifice something?
- If you do this from your heart, God will show up and honor your faith.
- I challenge you to . . . .
- Trust God deeply.
- Obey Him severely.
- Love Him passionately.
POINT – Notice we still haven’t even gotten to God’s resolution of the famine . . . yet . . . so stay tuned.
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