FAMINE FOR GOD!

Famine for God!

Badlands, South Dakota. Note sign warning to “Beware … Rattlesnakes”.

When we visited the Western United States, we saw much that exhibited the glory of God in creation.  Numerous national parks that boasted of incredible scenery, each of which were beautiful in their own way.  But the Badlands prompted us to wonder what the pioneers thought when they were traversing such inhospitable terrain.

Desolation – the breeding ground for rattlesnakes – the harshness of the terrain and the intense heat of the summer with the horrible freezing temperatures of the winter. Much of the area boasts no grass or tree coverage … just harsh rock.  Nothing warm and wonderful here – only hardship and difficult living conditions.

The prophet Amos had difficult living conditions too.  It was his lot to forecast the future to the people of Israel, to tell them of the coming discipline from God, to tell them of captivity and hardship.  Not something people wanted to hear.  Not the “good news” that would make everyone happy.

Indeed, in the Book of Amos we read:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when 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.

Amos 8:11

The Lord, the God of gods and Lord of lords, the Creator of heaven and earth, is telling the people that, in the coming days, there would be a famine of “hearing the words of the LORD.” 

There would be no more prophets, no more preachers.  There would be no more reading of the scrolls or of the scriptures.  There  would be no congregations for ministers to preach to.  The word of the Lord will be precious and scarce.  There will be Bibles to read but no minister to preach the Word and provide application for daily life.  It is as if there is water in the well but no way to draw the water up so that you can drink of it. 

Matthew Henry says:

“it was a common saying among the Puritans that brown bread and the gospel are good fare. But it is here a threatening that on the contrary they should have plenty enough of bread and water, and yet their teachers should be removed. … This was a token of God’s highest displeasure against them. Surely He was angry indeed with them when He would no more speak to them as He had done, and had abandoned them to ruin when He would no more afford them the means of bringing them to repentance.”

Matthew Henry Commentary

Why did this punishment come upon them?  Because they went after the gods of the surrounding nations and considered those gods to be better than the Almighty God.  The result is described by Matthew Henry in this way:

“Those who thus give that honour to idols which is due to God alone will find that the God they affront is thereby made their enemy, so that they shall fall and the gods they serve cannot stand their friends, so that they shall never rise again. They will find that God is jealous and will resent the indignity done Him, and that He will be victorious and it is to no purpose to contend with Him.”

Matthew Henry Commentary

I realize that Amos prophesied millennia ago.  But, the God who spoke in the Old Testament is the same God that speaks today.  His attributes are infinite and unchanging.  Thus, if He is angry about people giving honor to gods that should be given to Him, that anger is still justified and the effect of it will still be felt. 

God’s grace and His patience stop the awful wrath that will come at the end of time.    But His holiness demands that the indignity of running after other gods must be dealt with.  God has frequently said that He is a jealous God. 

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me,

Exodus 20:5

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24

But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.

Joshua 24:19

They have made Me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

Deuteronomy 32:21

In these difficult days, turn to the Lord, the God of gods and Lord of lords.  Read the Bible, study the Scriptures, listen to preachers who are true to the Scriptures.  Saturate yourself in the Word and let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and paths in what is right and holy. 

Scripture is clear that the time for turning to the Lord is now, not at some time in the future.  No one knows how many days or hours we have on this earth.  God knows, but we do not.   At some point in time, God will send a famine on the world, not for food but for the Word of the Lord. 

Don’t find yourself in the “Badlands” without “water”. 

Don’t wait until you cannot hear the Word of God due to the coming famine.

Listen to the Word and learn. 

Listen to the Word and repent. 

Listen to the Word and rejoice in your salvation.

Lord, Your word says that there will be a day when the word of the Lord is not heard in the land.  I pray that Your grace, patience, compassion and mercy would be upon us.  We have gone after the gods of worldliness, of power, of money, of greed, of arrogance, of self-satisfaction, all of which are unworthy of You.  In Your mercy, cleanse us and turn our eyes to You and Your Word.