Earthly Consequences of Sin, Jonah

Earthly Consequences of Sin

            Besides having an eternal impact, sin carries earthly consequences. These consequences are educative and/or punitive. There are a lot of people including Christians, who cannot, or do not want to believe this is true. In the passage I present below, we’ll see how Jonah's bold and inconsiderate actions were bitterly punished when he doesn’t comply a divine assignment given to him. Today, after knowing the outcome, we think there was no punishment, but there was; let's take a look.

"1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying: 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD."        (Jonah 1:1-3)

            When Jonah happily got on board of the ship and showed no concerns about disobeying God, he had no clue as to what was about to happen. Like many people do today, he disobeyed God's commandments believing it had no consequences.

       "4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god… 8 Then said they unto him: Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil in upon us. What is thine occupation? And whence comest thou? What is thy contry? And of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them: I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him: Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them."   (Jonah 1:4-10 abbreviated)

            Jonah was already beginning to suffer the consequences of his disobedience towards God's commandments. Due to his defiance, he found himself in the middle of a storm that threatened the lives of others. This has to torment the mind of anyone who has a conscience. Even the unbelievers would reproach him for defying God. That's why they said: “Why have you done this?” Here came another consequence for his sin.

       "11 Then said they unto him: What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? For the sea wrought, and was tempestuous… 15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from her raging."                                                                (Jonah 1:11-15 abbreviated)

            Jonah's chastisement for disobeying God's commandments did not end here; he still needed to go through more to soften his obstinate heart.

       "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."        (Jonah 1:17)

            Did you think Jonah would go unpunished for his disobedience of God's commandments? Let's say you ride on an airplane sometime in the future and in the middle of the trip, you see the two engines catch on fire. Would you suffer a great deal? Would you know if the problem could be fixed or not? If after hydroplaning safely into the middle of the ocean you learned that the radio was broken, no one could report this catastrophe, and the plane began to sink; what would your state of mind be? Would you feel bitterness due to the lack of hope? Is this punishment? Isn't this something similar to what Jonah experienced?

            If after the airplane had sunk, and after swimming through waves for a great deal of time, you see huge fins around you in the water, wouldn't the desperation be multiplied? Would you have any faith left in you? And if after minutes of uncertainty you see an enormous fin coming directly towards you; how many of you would stay calm? Isn't this horrible punishment? If you see an enormous monster coming to attack you. How many of you would stay calm and in good spirit? Isn't this terrible punishment? This same thing is what Jonah suffered.

            Not even the most stubborn, who allow themselves to be influenced by a "faith" they don't have, would have resisted this without losing control. When your faith becomes weak, that is when you realize the severity of a situation. That is when you realize that you are in the stomach of a great fish and seconds go by… and nothing happens; and minutes … and nothing, and hours go by… and you are being digested. Who wouldn’t have suffered bitterly? Who would not have repented a thousand times for not obeying the clear commandments of God? Who would not have come to understand that God's commandments are to be obeyed not theorize? Who would not have promised to read the Bible everyday to fin all God's commandments, if they could get out of that situation? That is how Jonah suffered.

            We can say the same thing about problems, unpleasantness, and sufferings of all kinds that supervene Christians. Don't believe that a "fish" would swallow a Christian just by chance. On the contrary, according to Mt 10:29 not even a little bird shall fall to the ground without the acknowledgement of the father. Let us not believe that our sufferings lack a relationship with our behaviors.

            We know that if we touch several bared electrical cables with a sign that says "do not touch", this could cause us a great pain, suffering and even death, which is why we do not touch it. Even a person, who is not civilized or is too young to omit the warnings would suffer the consequences. It doesn't matter if this person ignores the fact that electricity exists; it doesn't matter if this person has a lot of faith in the assumption that electricity doesn't exist; it doesn't matter that this person would have convinced himself that there are no consequences; if he touches the electrical cords, he will suffer the consequences.

            Because we know the dynamics ruled by the laws of physics in this world, we are careful with danger. If we are "uncivilized", or "not mature" enough in reference to the dynamics ruled by the laws of the spiritual world, (the other "dimension", that has to do with ourselves), we will be "electrocuted", embittered, "swallowed", etc. This will happen as we don't proceed according to the way Creation has been ordained in reference to everything spiritual.

            Christians are very prompt to learn the example of forgiveness to Mary Magdalene, but not wanting to learn or think about the example of the punishment of Jonah. Let's try not to be sent to Nineveh for a second time. God's commands are to be obeyed, not to be talked about. Let's read the Bible to learn them.

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