It is often asked, “Why do bad things happen to good Christian people?” Many Believers struggle with circumstances seemingly beyond their own control. Looking hard into the mirror of their souls desperately trying to find an answer.
I am, referring to those who are upright in character and obedient to the Lord. Those who honestly can not account for any unrepentant or grievous sin that warrants God’s discipline or invites an attack by Satan.
When sin is committed it is not only a sin against God but a sin against man. This means that sin has a ripple effect, touching more that just the sinner in the epicenter of the sin.
Let’s take a look at a couple of circumstances in the bible where this is the case. Joshua and the battle of Ai is a good place to start. Here we learn the effects of one man’s sin on an entire nation.
The Sin of One
The battle of Ai followed the famous battle of Jericho. At the battle of Jericho Joshua warned the people of Israel not to take what belongs to the Lord saying, “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” (Joshua 6:18-19)
A man named Achan stole from the Lord by taking gold, silver and garments from Jericho (Joshua 7:20-21). This was in direct opposition of Joshua’s mandate from God. God had already laid claim to all the spoils of Jericho and planned on giving the booty of Ai to the people.(Joshua 8:2) However, when Achan stole that which should have been dedicated to God he brought judgment upon all the people.
When the Israelites went up to conquer the city of Ai. Joshua did not send the whole army because it was a much smaller city than Jericho. However, during their first attempt they were defeated and about Thirty-Six war hardened Hebrew men were struck down and killed because of one man’s sin. This one man named Achan sinned by theft and disobedience. (Joshua 7:3-5).
Joshua was devastated. The Lord revealed to Joshua the reason for the defeat and how to regain righteous fellowship with the Lord. (Joshua 7:10-12) As a result, Achan and all that he owned were stoned and burned (Joshua 7:25-26),
Israel once again marched against the city of Ai. This time with righteousness restored God fights for Israel once again, and they easily take the city. So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. (Joshua 8:28)
Because of the evil sin of one man (Achan), Joshua and the entire Hebrew nation of Israel were caught up in the results that followed. The nation lost their anointing and fellowship with God which allowed bad things to happen.
Police Your Camp
Joshua and the people were devastated and confused. They had to diligently search out and rectify the sin. This is a lesson to be learned, when you are plagued with bad things, lost, and bewildered as to the cause; Sometimes it’s just not your fault!
Sometimes we need to police our camp, search it high and low. Check all that is within our charge, to be sure that everything and everyone is right before the Lord.
Another instance that shows us how someone else’s sins can effect others is evidenced in the story of Jonah and a Great Fish.
Jonah getting swallowed by a Great Big Fish, which some choose to call a whale, is a classic bible story that I’m sure most are familiar with. More often than not, when the story is told the focus is solely on Jonah and his disobedience.
Have you ever stopped to consider that the Captain and the crew of the cargo ship were innocent bystanders caught up in the storm of Jonah’s sin. These men just like Joshua and the Israelites felt the ripple effects that allowed bad things to happen when they knew they had done nothing wrong.
In this story (Jonah 1:1-17) Jonah was told by the Lord to go to Nineveh. Instead of being obedient, he jumped ship and sailed towards Tarshish.
I hear it all the time that Jonah was running from the Lord. Jonah was running from the presence of the Lord that demands obedience. (Jonah 1:1-2)
Jonah wasn’t some pathetic broke preacher running from God. Jonah had enough money to coerce passage and pay the fare on a cargo ship; so he could run away from his anointed responsibilities to preach. (Jonah 1:3)
Satan does not want Believers to recognize the divine anointing and fellowship that God’s Followers inherit and enjoy. (Ephesians 1:18)
Satan gladly takes any open opportunity to condemn, accuse, and attack all of mankind. (Revelation 12:9-10)
Satan willingly takes responsibility for the bad things in life so he can spread confusion, fear, doubt, and shame. Satan’s desire is kill, steal, and destroy. He will use anything at his disposal to be a stumbling block on your road to sanctification. (John 10:10)
Satan will stop at nothing to make camp with mankind so he can use them for fish-bait. God does not orchestrate our disobedience. Satan is relentlessly diligent in his nefarious ways. (1 Peter 5:8)
The captain and his crew were not Christians but the storm did cause them all to pray. Things had gotten so desperate that they even started throwing money (their cargo) overboard. (Jonah 1:4-5)
These were basically hard-working men on a cargo ship just trying to do their job and make a living. At wit’s end, they were doing everything they could think of to save lives.
Jonah, the ’cause of the storm’ could cares less, and was fast asleep in the bottom of the ship. (Jonah 1:5) The captain finally woke Jonah so they could cast lots and interrogate Jonah, “Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:6-9)
They asked Jonah why he did this to them and what could they do to calm the sea. (Jonah 1:10-11) Jonah said, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” (Jonah 1:12)
Even though these men were not Christians they had to have been basically good people. Simply because, even though Jonah told them to throw him overboard, they tried as hard as they could to row through the storm trying to reach land. (Jonah 1:13)
They of course failed and had to concede to throwing Jonah overboard, where a Great Fish swallowed him up. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
Satan’s plans for the destruction and disobedience of Jonah and the innocent mariners backfired.
These Heathen men braved an epic voyage. A seafaring adventure forever recorded in time. Men who learned to completely empty themselves financially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
- They emptied themselves financially by throwing their cargo overboard.
- They were emptied spiritually with the realization that their useless prayers to false gods could not save them.
- They emptied themselves physically by rowing with all their might, pumped up with adrenaline and driven by fear.
- These men were emptied emotionally when they realized that they must commit murder, and concede to throwing Jonah overboard. Then watch in horror as a Great Fish swallowed Him whole.
Salvation at Sea
Don’t miss this: All of the men aboard ship endured a voyage wrought with fear. A spiritual battle fought at sea through a tempestuous storm that scared the Hell out from them and the Lord into them. These men came to know and fear the Lord. They took vows and even offered sacrifice to the One True God, the God of Jonah. (Jonah 1:14-16)
Jonah was restored to righteous fellowship when he prayed to the Lord from the fish’s belly. As a result of his repentant prayer; the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 2:1-10)
We have learned through scriptures that our sins and the sins of others have repercussions and far-reaching effects on our environment and the people around us.
If you are asked why there are storms in life. Why there are bad things and good people. You can bear witness and testify to the truths found in scriptures; of one man’s sin that hurt an entire nation, and how some stowaway fish-bait saved a boatload of people.
One way to assure righteous fellowship and fair weather is through prompt simple obedience. Obedience to the Lord is the way to strength, safety, virtue, honor, and peace.
Who’s in your camp or in the bottom of your ship? Look at yourself and others around you to learn the cause of the storms in your life. Usually, the person who is not disturbed by the storm is the person that causes the storm.
Do not let sin win. Pray and ask God’s Forgiveness. For God’s grace shines through the cracks in broken people.