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A Famine Of Hearing The Words Of The Lord

Amos 8:11-12
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it.

Approximately in 720 BC when Amos wrote this, the 10 tribes of Northern Kingdom of Israel had been captured by the Assyrians. While exiling in Assyria, the proclamation and practice of the true Biblical faith was officially prohibited and banned.

Before their exile, the people of Israel repeatedly dishonored and disregarded the words of God by turning to worship foreign gods and idols, they had shown no repentance and remorse towards the Lord. They continually committed injustice towards their own people and oppressed the poor, full of corruption and dishonesty. Even their priests and prophets were untrue to God. Acting religious and pretending to be upright, they were actually rotten in their hearts. Thus, God gave them over to their lusts and evil desires.

Similarly, as we approach the end of this age, we will also encounter this famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Far worse than any famine of the lack of food and water, there is a spiritual famine ahead of us!

Thanks be to God, this coming judgment is only temporal. Its purpose is to call the people of God back to the Lord, back to true repentance and to the fear of the Lord. God's favour and blessing awaits the hearts that have enough of spiritual starvation, hunger and thirst, and are looking forward to be restored and reconciled back with God.

Though Amos was the prophet who wrote this, it was the Sovereign Lord Who was speaking through him. As God is faithful, whatever He said will be done. He has the power and authority to perform all that He has promised and spoken through His prophets.

Though this seems like harsh words of judgment, but it is actually a message of grace and love. God warns us ahead of time by saying, "Behold, the days are coming." Announcing well in advance, God gives ample time and opportunity for repentance and renewal so that those who believe His words will seek Him and escape the wrath that is to come.

Throughout the history of mankind, God always gives grace and mercy by sending messages of warnings and admonitions ahead of time. Like in the case of Nineveh, God sent Jonah to preach to the inhabitants of the wicked city. The people repented, and God withdrew His judgment.

This famine is not simply a withdrawal of the Word of God for spiritual food and nourishment. It is about the people of God who have stopped reading and desiring the true Word of God, and trying to find nourishment elsewhere! They will begin to feel their thirst and hunger in their souls, but they will not be able to find the spiritual food to feed themselves. Even when they read their Bibles or go to their churches, they will be unfed and unsatisfied. Always looking and longing for something but never getting anything!

Haggai 1:5-6
5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
6 “You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;

And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

Romans 11:7-8
7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
8 Just as it is written:
God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”

The Written Word of God is not withdrawn. Bibles will still be available and in abundance. But the problem is that spiritual understanding will be withheld. Without the Holy Spirit, the Word of God will not come alive and become flesh! The people of God will still be able to read the Word of God, but they will not be able to comprehend, understand and receive the divine messages within.

Deuteronomy 32:28-29
28 “For they are a nation void of counsel,
Nor is there any understanding in them.

29 Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end!

Jeremiah 4:22
“For My people are foolish,
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge.”

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said that the seed was the Word of God.

Luke 8:11-15
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

The seeds falling by the wayside are those who hear the Word, but they are easily snatched away by the devil even before they can believe in God and be saved. The seeds falling on the rocks are those who hear with initial enthusiasm. But that enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep or last long. It fades away at the very moment when troubles and temptations arrive. And the seeds falling among the thorns are the ones who hear, but the seeds are choked before they can bear any fruit to maturity. Nothing good comes out of it as they go about their lives worrying about their tomorrows, making money, and having fun. But the seeds in the good ground are those who treasure the Word of God, and hold on to the Lord no matter what, trusting and abiding in God until a harvest occurs.

Likewise in churches today, even after the pastors and preachers have sown the seeds of the Word of God weekly by expounding and explaining the Holy Scriptures, many Christians will still go home hungry and thirsty because they do not apply the truth and live the life by believing and trusting in God till the very end.

Worst still, some pastors are no longer sharing the Word of God. They are now sharing whatever their congregations desire to listen. We are now living in a time when people won’t listen to the truth anymore but will go around looking for pastors and teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will carelessly and thoughtlessly follow their own misguided ideas and evil intentions. They have created a false reality, and a false value system to increase the feeling of self worth and importance.

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

As in the days of Amos, such a famine exists today across the world. Everyday, many new and strange doctrines and revelations are popping out here and there. Many of them even have scriptural backings and endorsements of famous pastors and ministers. How to discern what is of God and what is not? What is folly? What is wisdom? What is true and what is not? There are so much confusion and controversy. Another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel!

2 Corinthians 11:3-4
3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Instead of a pure and simple devotion to our Lord, many will be led away, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. They become gullible, believing and soaking up whatever others are sharing with them even though they are preaching another Jesus than the One in the Bible, or with a different spirit than the Holy Spirit they have received, or show them a different way to salvation but not in Christ.

In undermining the authority and truth of God's Word, they simply choose whatever Bible verses that suit what they want to say, turning God into whatever they want God to be, and even twisting and turning the scriptural verses and meanings to fit whatever is acceptable to them. In doing so, they contaminate and even poison themselves and their followers. As they do not share the pure Word of God, their souls remain unfed and unnourished! Thus famine results in such perilous times where such perilous men abound!

2 Timothy 3:1-9
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving
, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

This famine is like people going to an international buffet serving all kinds of food, drinks and desserts. They will go for items that they crave for. And some food that they crave for may not necessarily be good for their health and of any nutritional value. Some food have been processed, canned, dehydrated, and loaded with chemicals and toxins. Some food if consumed excessively may even cause indigestion, food poisoning and other health problems. They have eaten, but their bodies still lack those nutrition and nourishment that are necessary for their well-being, health and growth.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This message of Amos is a wake-up call for Christians and churches today. To know of the pending dangers in dishonoring and disregarding the authority of the Bible as the infallible Word of God. It is time to repent and return to God again, believing what He said will be done.

We cannot continue teaching blasphemous doctrines that contradict the Holy Scriptures. We cannot go on starving ourselves in this famine by seeking answers elsewhere and not God. Our life is still in Christ. In Him we live and move and have our being!

Only in Christ, we can seek and find the Bread of Life that will satisfy our hunger in this famine of the hearing of the words of the Lord.

Written on: 18 December 2017