God Laughs – At the Great Pretenders.

God Laughs – At the Great Pretenders.

God Laughs – At the Great Pretenders.

“The One who sits enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them… The wicked plot against the righteous; they snarl at them in defiance. But the Lord laughs, for He sees their day of judgment coming… They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths, their words cut like swords. ‘After all, who can hear us?’ they sneer. For your part, Lord, you laugh at them.”  (Psalm 2:4; Psalm 37:13; Psalm 59:6-8).

It seems to me that our Lord God has an ironic sense of humor. He is reported to have deep belly laughs when He looks at mankind and sees how ridiculous we can be. He seems to laugh whenever we humans do things that are laughably absurd. God sees irony everywhere, He observes behavior that is unexpectedly foolish in light of His greatness. God seems amused when He sees the opposite of what one should expect in a God-filled universe. He chuckles at attitudes that defy logic from His perspective. On the one hand, God isn’t surprised by anything. On the other hand, He seems to be pleasantly scornful at what we humans can do.

People build an immense building and think it will reach God and enable access to Him, and God finds it ridiculous. He sees nations without a conscience conspire against God to cut Him out of their laws and society, and God can only say, ‘Are you serious?’ He sees a man who thinks he can become equal to Him in every respect, a god-player, and God can only shake His head. God observes someone who thinks He is able to flee His presence and live as if He doesn’t exist, and God can only look at him with righteous scorn. He hears many of us utter obscene and hurtful language thinking that no one is within earshot, and God can only say, ‘You’re just kidding me, right?’ He sees so many who think they can do evil and live without restraint, and God can only sigh in sad amusement, knowing there will be a true come-to-Jesus moment waiting in the future. God knows that there will be a Judgment Day coming, and He takes joy in the reality of a moral universe that He created. He knows that all who have rejected Him will someday reap what they sown if they have rejected His grace in life. All this foolishness, all this thoughtlessness… Is it that we don’t have a high enough view of God? Is it that we have too high a view of ourselves? Both? Perhaps what makes God laugh loudest is our futile hubris, our unrighteous chutzpah.

Our downfall is probably attributed to our hubris, which can be defined this way:

HUBRIS: a Greek word that means excessive pride; exaggerated self-conceit; overwhelming self-confidence; sheer arrogance; in ancient Greece, hubris was a character flaw reflecting a defiance of the gods, when someone would foolishly or maliciously act against the divine order; someone with hubris always has a lack of self-awareness and won’t stop to examine his behavior or consider other actions; people with hubris are generally too full of themselves to question their motives or actions; people who are overcome with hubris eventually bring about their own downfall. As Rabbi Jonathon Sacks once wrote, “If Scripture is our guide, what makes God laugh is a person’s delusion of grandeur.” 

‘On the day appointed for the meeting between the leaders of Tyre-Sidon and Herod Agrippa, Herod took his place on his throne, robed in pomposity, and regaled them with a lot of hot air.  The people from Tyre and Sidon wanted to flatter Herod, since they wanted to make peace with him, and they shouted during his speech things like, ‘The voice of a god! The voice of a god and not of a man!’ For God, that was the last straw. God had enough of Herod’s arrogance. And immediately, because Herod did not give the glory to God, an angel was sent from heaven to strike Herod down. Herod had not given to God any of the credit due Him. So Herod was afflicted with a sickness that resulted in his bowels being devoured by maggots. He then died a painful death, rotten to the core.” (Acts 12:21-23).

Herod Agrippa 1 was the grandson of Herod the Great, the king who was at the birth of Jesus and ordered the massacre of infants in Bethlehem. This line of supposed royalty in Israel’s history was infamous for their cruelty and hunger for power. During this last chapter in Agrippa’s life, we find him trying to make some peace with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So on the day scheduled for their meeting, Herod, robed in silver and gold, approached his raised platform and proceeded to give a speech to appease his visitors. The people in attendance dearly wanted to curry the favor of Herod so their district could acquire more food for their people, so after the speech they shamefully flattered Herod with words like ‘Oh! He speaks like a god! No man could speak like that! He has the voice of a god!’ 

That’s more like it, thought Herod, that’s what I have wanted all along with these people! Herod whole-heartily embraced the praise and honor of the people as if he actually deserved all of it. Yes, thought Herod, I truly am worthy of all this praise! The hubris of Herod is astounding as he accepts the glory due the Lord God, as he presumes a worthiness which rightly belongs to the almighty God. The Lord takes exception to this grandstanding, because He is a jealous God. He is full of righteous zeal to retain the truth of His worthiness. “God’s jealousy is God continually seeking to protect His own honor.” (Wayne Grudem).

God is truth. It follows, then, that He would be a perfect stickler for the truth. All the earthly idols and pretenders that claim devotion are unworthy, so God stands on the truth of His worthiness. Anything else, and He wouldn’t be true to Himself. God is divinely impatient with untruth, He doesn’t abide it, He meets it straight on. He doesn’t want His people to be lured into any kind of untruth, into the belief that He is merely one option among many. That is a falsehood. His glory is the absolute fact of the universe. There is only one true God, and He refuses to share His glory with gods and idols, because that would be an utterly false thing to do. “I am Yahweh, that is my Name; I will not yield my glory to another, nor my renown to idols.” (Is. 42:8). God righteously harps on the truth, and He refuses to be misrepresented by false gods or empty idols. He is jealous that He be honored exclusively, because that is the truth of the matter. He fights untruth through divine jealousy. He will forever reject a tainting of His sacred Name, because He is a warrior for the truth. God’s Name has been truthfully honored and worshiped for eternity in the heavens, and so naturally He would say, “I will be jealous for my holy Name.” (Ezek. 39:25).

So God sent one of His angels to inflict Herod with a sickness unto death… Herod’s bowels were devoured by maggots. Perhaps the angel allowed Herod’s intestines to be consumed by parasites right there in the throne room. We don’t know the details. But sure enough, God was disgusted with Herod’s constant attempts to be the Great Pretender to the throne. Herod’s arrogance and his bloodthirsty cruelty in his assaults on the Christian church reached a boiling point for the Lord, and He revealed His jealousy for not only His glory but also the welfare of His followers. Herod Agrippa paid the ultimate price for reveling in the glory and praise due solely to the Lord God.