Here the results of Jonah’s disobedience are immediate and dramatic. There is a mighty storm directed right at Jonah. Its suddenness and fury are something even the pagan sailors can discern as being of supernatural origin. That is not the norm, however. The results of sin are often more like the physical response you have to a debilitating dose of radiation. You don’t suddenly feel pain the moment you are exposed. It isn’t like a bullet or sword tearing into you. You feel quite normal. Only later do you experience symptoms, but by then it is too late.

Sin is a suicidal action of the will upon itself. It is like taking an addicting drug. At first it may feel wonderful, but every time it gets harder to not do it again. Here’s just one example. When you indulge yourself in bitter thoughts, it feels so satisfying to fantasize about payback. But slowly and surely it will enlarge your capacity for self-pity, erode your ability to trust and enjoy relationships, and generally drain the happiness out of your daily life. Sin always hardens the conscience, locks you in the prison of your own defensiveness and rationalizations, and eats you up slowly from the inside.

All sin has a mighty storm attached to it. The image is powerful because even in our technologically advanced society, we cannot control the weather. You cannot bribe a storm or baffle it with logic and rhetoric. “You will be sinning against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

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