Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Laughter of the Lord

Ever wondered what makes God laugh? Perhaps a knock-knock joke? An amusing story with a twist in the tale? A Paddy Englishman, Paddy Irishman and Paddy Scotsman joke?

Perhaps you've never thought of God laughing. Sometimes his family doesn't help - we can seem like the frozen chosen, or as Wallace Benn says, more uptight than upright. Yet the Scriptures present the Lord God of heaven as one who laughs. Not just once, but several times in the Psalms.

But what is it that brings laughter to the Lord?

This afternoon I was reading Psalm 2 with an older brother. Not really remarkable, we meet up every fortnight for an hour of Bible study and discipleship. What struck us today, though, is that we find the Lord laughing in the middle of the Psalm. Here's what it says:

4He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.

Who are the 'they'? Who is it God is laughing at?

1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The 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."

Rebellious humanity raging against God brings out the Almighty laughter. The important people (so-called) of the world, the kings and the rulers might call a conference; you might find united nations joining together to oppose the Lord and his Anointed (his special King), but while the people and nations may be serious, it just makes God laugh.

Why is that? Can you imagine a group of ants raging against a human in the back garden? They're puny, no match at all, compared to the human. They may seem big and important, but they can't stop the human doing what they will. Similarly, while Barak Obama or David Cameron or Robert Mugabe may seem important and powerful in this world, their rebellion against God will not succeed.

If it's true of the powerful people, how much more of us? We may think that we can rule our own destiny; chart our own course, but against the Lord, we can do nothing. Our rebellion brings out God's laughter.

Perhaps most topically, what makes God laugh? The pompous denunciations and declarations of the new atheists - Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and their ilk. They may rage and foam and spout, trying to persuade us there is no God. God's response? Laughter.

God's king rules, and God will give him his inheritance of the whole world. As the Psalm concludes (in a similar way to Psalm 1), there are two ways to live:

10Now 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.

Be wise and be warned. King Jesus reigns - will you kiss him in submission and repentance and be blessed by taking refuge in him; or will you perish in the way by having his wrath upon you?

Two ways to live - with serious consequences. It's no laughing matter for us - but are you making the Lord laugh at your puny rebellion?

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