LOL Biblical Style
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Laughter. Most of the time when one thinks of laughter they think of a stand-up comedian at a night club, or a prank pulled at a summer camp. In other words we generally think of laughter when something is funny.
Even the most casual of Bible students know that the name Isaac means laughter. That’d be like naming your child, “Chuckles” today; could you imagine!? So why name a child, a Covenant Child, a Miracle Child, a Child that would go down in the annuls of history listed in the litany of the Father of a Great People; “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel),” “Father of Nations, Laughter and Prince of God.”
“Hey Laughter, come here please.”
“Laughter, go fetch Daddy his good sacrificial dagger.”
Sounds “funny” doesn’t it?
Well, “funny” thing is, Isaac’s parents didn’t give him that name, GOD DID!
People today name their children after “funny” things. I heard of a girl named “Nautica” after the clothing line. I even have a friend who named their son “Batman”! No lie! I’m not joking! On a TV show called “Guys with Kids” one character named his oldest son “Yoda” after the little green pointy eared Jedi of Star Wars fame. Johnny Cash sings a song about, “A Boy Named Sue.”
A joke is told of a Native boy who asks his father how he got his name.
“Father, I wish to know how I received my name.”
The father said, “Son, when your older sister was born, I looked out the door of our tepee and saw a running deer, and so I named her “Running Deer.” Your older brother, when he was born, I looked out the door of my tepee and say a soaring eagle, so that is why he is named “Soaring Eagle.” Why do you ask Puking Dog?
Can you imagine GOD choosing the name of your child?
“Laughter! LORD can we negotiate!?”
I’m surprised Abraham didn’t raise a fuss. After all he wasn’t above making deals with GOD. Remember how he tried to negotiate sparing the inhabitants of Sodom where his nephew Lot was (Gen. 18:16-33). But we do not see Abraham making a peep. Why do you suppose this is? Because Laughter is a very fitting name.
Yitschaq (Isaac) comes from two Hebrew words. The first, “Tzachak” meaning, “To laugh out loud.” The second, close to the actual name, “Yischaq” means, “He will laugh.”
Have you ever planned a surprise party for someone or purchased a special gift for someone and every time you imagine in your head the look on their face when they open the door and all the guests yell, “Surprise!!!” or in your mind’s eye you see yourself handing them that gift you know they have been wanting, and the look of happy surprise or even shock that comes across their face, you smile to yourself, giddily clap your hands together and LAUGH. Imagine GOD saying to Himself, “Boy, Oh boy, I can’t wait to see Abraham’s reaction when I tell him I am going to give him the boy he’s always wanted!” And the Holy One chuckles to Himself because He is a good GOD who gives good gifts (Matt. 7:7-11).
So it is likely that GOD laughs, not in hilarity, but in joyous expectation. I’m sure He knows that Abraham will soon laugh when he gets the news and will laugh in the future with joy as he bounces baby Isaac on his knees.
Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? Gen. 17:17
Abraham laughs, in irony, shock and a bit of disbelief. “After all this time of Sarah and I trying to have children, we give up and then GOD steps in when we are old infertile and impotent; how ironic!”
Abraham, old enough to be a grandparent laughs as he pictures himself and Sarah with a new born baby. Today, he might imagine himself at Isaac’s graduation taking pictures and a classmate asks, “Hey Isaac, is that your grandparents?” Well, it’d either make you laugh or cry and Abraham laughed.
Sarah too laughed in disbelief. If someone comes up to you and says, “Did you hear? A 90 year old woman just gave birth to a healthy bouncing baby boy. And get this; the father is 100 years old!” You would likely huff and chuckle in disbelief, thinking the dude got the headline from a grocery store new stand tabloid and say, “Yeah, right!” Well, Isaac means to scoff too! The root word “Tzachak” means to laugh in merriment or scorn, depending on the context of the passage in which it is used. Sarah must have laughed in a scoffing way, why else would she try to lie to GOD about it?
Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. Gen. 18:15
The laughter of anticipation, irony, shock and disbelief turns to laughs of joy and fulfillment.
And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. Gen. 21:1-7
In this laughter of joyful fulfillment is mingled the reminder of the laughter of anticipation, irony, shock and disbelief, because when word get out, until they see Isaac with their own eyes, they will laugh in disbelief before they laugh out with joy.
Isaac reminds us to laugh in the face of the impossible, laugh in the face of disbelief, to laugh in anticipation of future fulfillment because we serve a God who specializes in the impossible and the ironic.
The joy (which can produce laughter) of the LORD is our strength (Ps. 21:1)!
Think about a good sincere and needful thing you’ve always wanted, or a dream, vision or ministry you feel you must birth that may seem impossible to obtain. Now go ahead and laugh, for you just might get it!