Laughter is scientifically and biblically proven to relieve stress and provide joy. And as we are entering week three of the COVID-19 lockdown, we could all use some mirth right now.
So let’s have some reverential fun with the Bible!
God has a sense of humor, and He shows it in the many comical stories featured in His Word. And here are my five favorites ones.
5. The sarcastic prophet (1 Kings 18:17-40)
Elijah once had a famous showdown with 450 prophets of Baal to determine whose deity was the strongest. Both sides laid a bull on wood but put no fire to it. The prophets were to call upon their god for the fire while Elijah was to call on the name of the LORD. The prophets went first and called Baal from morning to noon, but nothing happened.
So dear sweet Elijah taunted them.
1 Kings 18:27 says, “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.’”
The prophets started crying out loud and even cut themselves until blood spilled, but to no avail. They continued calling upon Baal until evening (maybe with more taunts from Elijah) before finally giving up.
Now, I do not condone Elijah’s mockery, but it made me laugh! Especially when he suggested that Baal was too busy because he was dealing with the other throne.
And as if to rub salt in the injury as well as display the might of God, Elijah poured water over the bull and wood until it was dripping wet. Then he called upon God, and God sent a fire that “consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”
The moral of the story is that there is no other God besides Yahweh.
4. The people who had too much fish (Numbers 11: 1-20)
After God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, He brought them to the wilderness and provided them with daily manna — a kind of sweet bread. But after some time, the Israelites were tired of eating manna day in and out, which is quite understandable. But rather than to ask God for meat, they complained against Him (Numbers 11:4-6).
As a result, God became angry, and He gave them just what they wanted, but with a twist.
He said in Numbers 11:18-19, “…Therefore, the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you…”
God’s punishment was quite creative! I only wonder if He was literal or figurative when He said the fish could come out of their nostrils. I hope for the Israelites that it was the latter.
The moral of the story is do not complain against God and be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.
3. The deadly sermon (Acts 20:7-12)
We often hear of people being saved after hearing a sermon, but did you know someone has died from one? Here is the story of Eutychus and how he died from longitvis sermonitis.
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.”
Don’t worry; it has a happy ending. Paul found Eutychus and brought him back to life. But guess what? He resumed his preaching as if nothing happened and continued until daybreak! You can’t say Paul wasn’t committed to his teaching. I think this story is the reason why pastors started doing sermon series.
Moral of the story: pastors, don’t preach for too long, congregants just don’t fall asleep in church!
2. The man who ran away naked (Mark 14:51-52)
The gospel of Mark features a peculiar story that isn’t in the other gospels. Here it is.
“And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.”
The first time I read these verses, I burst out laughing. And every time I imagine the scene in my head, I can help but laugh. Commentators believe the young man was John Mark, but he didn’t use his name out of modesty. If that’s the case, it is a bizarre and hilarious way to make a cameo.
I can’t think of any moral for this story. Perhaps it is to be humble enough to share your most embarrassing stories with billions of people?
1. The Philistines and the Ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 5)
My number one funniest Bible story is that of the Philistines and the Ark of Covenant. This story, more than any other one, shows God’s sense of humor.
In 1 Samuel, the Israelites battled the philistines and lost. So, they decided to take the Ark with them the next day so that its power would protect them. But not only did the philistines beat the Israelites, but they also captured the Ark of the covenant.
When the Philistines brought the Ark to the temple of Dagon in Ashdod, strange things began to happen. For starters, the statue of Dagon fell facedown before the Ark.
1 Samuel 5:2-5 says, “And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the Ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the Ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.”
Shortly after, “The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.” (1 Samuel 5:6)
The people of Ashdod became so terrified of God that they sent the Ark of the Covenant to Gath. But God also inflicted that city with tumors so the people of Gath took it to Ekron. When the Ark arrived at Ekron, the people were in “deadly panic” and planned to send the Ark back to its place so they wouldn’t get afflicted.
The Ark of the Covenant stayed in the Philistine country for seven months bringing tumors on the people before it was returned to Israel. And the moral of the story is that God is not a trophy, nor can He be manipulated.
Honorable mention: The runaway prophet
I find the story of Jonah quite humorous overall. When God told Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh of their coming judgment, he ran the opposite direction! So God sent a “mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up.” And while everyone aboard the ship was terrified of the storm and calling out every god in existence, Jonah was peacefully taking a nap with no care in the world.
Nevermind that he was the reason God brought upon the storm.
In a selfish (because he didn’t want to go to Nineveh) heroic act, he told the mariners to drop him in the sea so that the storm would quiet down. The mariners were like, no problem, better you than us. So they threw him into the river, but God sent a fish to swallow up Jonah for three days and three nights. (If Jonah was alive the whole time, I can’t help but wonder how he responded to nature’s calls.)
After the fish spit out Jonah, God sent him again to Nineveh, and this time he obeyed.
He went to Nineveh and gave the most anticlimactic call to repentance ever made. And unlike other prophets, Jonah was angry when the people heeded God’s warning and repented. He was so mad that he wanted to die. Then he sat under a plant, which made him extremely happy, but God called a worm to kill the plant. Consequently, Jonah became angry at God again for the death of his plant and wished to die.
Jonah was one odd prophet!
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
I hope these few stories brought you some mirth. If you have other favorite funny stories from the Bible, drop them in the comments, and let’s keep the laughter going.
Also, check out Allen Parr’s top five funniest stories. His video inspired this post.