No Laughing Matter

Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (James 4:9)

A. In our text, James contrasted two different attitudes people have toward God – one was careless joy, the other was sober humility.
1. The phrase “no laughing matter” is used in response to someone who takes a light-hearted approach to a serious matter.
2. This lesson will consider five examples of this in the Bible and what all of them have in common.

B. Sarah Laughed at the Promise of a Son (Genesis 18:9-15)
1. Her skepticism was understandable (Genesis 18:11-12; 17:17)
2. However, the promise was given to Abraham prior to this (Genesis 17:15-21) – so likely she had heard of this
3. Here, Abraham and Sarah had different reactions (Genesis 18:12)
4. Sarah was ashamed of her reaction and denied laughing (Genesis 18:15)

C. Lot’s Sons-in-Law Thought He Was Jesting About the City’s Destruction (Genesis 19:12-14)
1. This may have seemed unbelievable to them
2. However, they just witnessed the attack on Lot’s house and the men stricken blind (Genesis 19:4-11)
3. Lot “went out” to them (Genesis 19:14) – implied by this they were either part of the mob or at least witnessed all of this.
4. Despite their relationship with Lot’s daughters, they were unwilling to side with him

D. The Tribes Mocked the Thought of Reinstituting the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1, 5-11)
1. The Passover had been neglected (2 Chronicles 30:5)
2. However, this was part of God’s law (Deuteronomy 16:1-3) – should have been observed
3. This was to be done to enjoy God’s favor (2 Chronicles 30:6-9)
4. Yet the majority rejected this invitation (2 Chronicles 30:10-11)

D. The People Mocked the Warning about Captivity (2 Chronicles 36:15-16)
1. The Jews were God’s people (Deuteronomy 7:6) and Jerusalem was His city (Deuteronomy 12:5)
2. However, the sequence of events leading to captivity had already started. (2 Chronicles 36:5-7; 9-10)
3. God, in His compassion, warned about Babylon coming (2 Chronicles 36:15)
4. Yet they had already rejected God (2 Chronicles 36:11-14) – therefore, they would not listen

E. The People Laughed at Jesus for Saying Jairus’ Daughter Was Only Asleep (Luke 8:41-42, 49-53)
1. The condition of his daughter may have seemed hopeless (Luke 8:42)
2. However, Jesus had shown His ability to perform miracles (Luke 8:39-40; cf. John 5:36; Acts 2:22)
3. Jesus spoke of death as temporary (John 5:28-29; 11:11, 13)
4. They did not have or understand this concept,

F. Everything That Was Laughed at Came to Pass.
1. Sarah had a son (Genesis 21:1-5)
2. Sodom was destroyed (Genesis 19:23-25)
3. The Passover was reinstituted (2 Chronicles 30:13, 15)
4. Jerusalem was conquered (2 Chronicles 36:17-21)
5. Jairus’ daughter was raised (Luke 8:54-55)

G. What Do All of These Examples Have in Common
1. All of these examples were of people who lacked faith in God and His word
2. These were written for our learning (Romans 15:4)
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
3. We need to have faith in God – believe God’s promises, heed God’s warnings, obey God’s word

By Gary D. Murphy

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