The dismaying news is that every act of disobedience to God has a storm attached to it. This is one of the great themes of the Old Testament wisdom literature, especially the book of Proverbs. We must be careful here. This is not to say that every difficult thing that comes into our lives is the punishment for some particular sin. The entire book of Job contradicts the common belief that good people will have lives that go well, and that if your life is going badly, it must be your fault. The Bible does not say that every difficulty is the result of sin—but it does teach that every sin will bring you into difficulty.

We cannot treat our bodies indifferently and still expect to have good health. We cannot treat people indifferently and expect to maintain their friendship. We cannot all put our own selfish interests ahead of the common good and still have a functioning society. If we violate the design and purpose of things—if we sin against our bodies, our relationships, or society—they strike back. There are consequences. If we violate the laws of God, we are violating our own design, since God built us to know, serve, and love him. The Bible speaks sometimes about God punishing sin (“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. . . . They will not go unpunished,” Proverbs 16:5) but some other times of the sin itself punishing us (“The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right,” Proverbs 21:7). Both are true at once. All sin has a storm attached to it.

Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner writes: “Sin . . . sets up strains in the structure of life which can only end in breakdown.”1 Generally speaking, liars are lied to, attackers are attacked, and he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

I have just completed a six session Bible study based on Tim Keller’s new book, The Prodigal Prophet (the book of Jonah). It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book. Sessions include:

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Running from God / The World’s Storm

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Who is My Neighbor?
Embracing the Other

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #3
Chapters 5, 6
The Pattern of Love
Running from Grace

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #4
Chapters 7, 8
Doing Justice, Preaching Wrath
Heart Storms

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #5
Chapters 9, 10
The Character of Compassion
Our Relationship with God’s Word

Prodigal Prophet, Lesson #6
Chapters 11, 12
Our Relationship with God’s World
Our Relationship with God’s Grace