Sermon Illustrations

Introduction: Let me say first of all that the Bible is a very sacred Book, not to be trifled with. It’s precious and untold numbers of believers have given their lives to simply have and read it, let alone defend it against any number of attacks.

Having said that, there are a number of places where one can perhaps see a bit of humor or a “what did he just say?” moment. None of these illustrations are intended to make fun of the Word of God—not at all. After all, as one writer pointed out some years ago, even the Lord Jesus used some humor when He accused the scribes and the Pharisees of swallowing a camel (imagine swallowing all those humps, etc.—Matthew 23:24)!

Here in this first example, we’ll see the history of the situation and the humor in it. Then we’ll try to find a lesson or application. For this one, we turn to Genesis 31.

Text: Genesis 31:26-30, KJV: 26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? 27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? 28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. 29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

The history

In the broader context, Jacob had left his home and family and settled many miles away with his uncle and that family. Over the years, Jacob had married sisters Leah and Rachel, plus each wife was given a handmaid or servant girl. Jacob had six sons and a daughter with Leah, and two sons from each of the other three women.

Jacob had stayed with Laban for 20 years but now it was time to leave. He shared his concerns with Leah and Rachel, and they were “all in” for leaving, too. So, they left, but didn’t tell anybody they were leaving.

Word got to Laban, as it eventually would, and he plus others followed after Jacob and all that he owned. Laban found Jacob at Mount Gilead and basically proceeded to read Jacob the riot act! More of the details are available in my message, “Jacob-his “Mizpah” moment” and another illustration, “Misapplied scriptures, Gen 31, 49, the Mizpah moment”

But what we want to find here is the humor, and find it, we will!

The humor

Laban’s spiritual condition may be one of the greatest unknowns in the Bible. When Eliezer, servant of Abraham, had come years before, Laban greeted him and the company with words like “Come in, thou blessed of the LORD (Gen. 24:31)”. Then, when Eliezer asked for permission to take Rebekah back to Abraham’s country, Laban and his father Bethuel both said, “This thing proceedeth from the LORD (24:50).

But now, years later, Laban had a handful of “gods”, or “elohay” in his possession here ( and “teraphim”, for images, in verse 34 in the original language ( Rachel, though, had stolen them and kept them so that nobody would dare ask her to move so they could search.

So with this in mind, Laban is “hotter than a furnace”, as I’ve heard some folks say, blasting Jacob for this and that—we don’t know how much else was said but not recorded—and out of the blue, he blurts out, “Why did you steal my gods?”

Let that sink in for a moment.

If that isn’t an unintentionally humorous moment, I don’t know what is! Laban had either never been a believer in the True God, or, if he was, like some, he added a few “gods” for whatever reason. And these “deities” that he may have worshiped, more or less faithfully—we’ll never know down here—were not theft-proof! They, his “gods”, couldn’t defend themselves from the hands of his own daughter.

Jacob had faith in The Only God That There Is and stayed true. No humor there. But, Laban? He might well be known for the first unintentionally humorous text in Scripture!

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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