Have you ever wondered what the “famine of the word” might look like? No doubt we have all dabbled in a little speculation from time to time and considered situations that might fulfill the prophesied famine of hearing the words of the Lord. It is highly likely that this event is still ahead of us. We see this from the context of the statement: “’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’” (Amos 8:11). When this statement was made the nation of Israel was doing well economically, as the reign of Jeroboam was prosperous. The national mood was upbeat. What was at issue was that their prosperity had taken their focus away from God and His law. Typically, in good times Israel forgot God – they marginalized Him. Amos’s message addressed this attitude. He reached out in front of the situation (prophesied) and warned them of consequences down the line if they were not to change. Specifically, some of his language clearly addresses “the Day of the Lord”. The words of Amos 8:9-10 match Joel’s “Day of the Lord” pronouncements.
The comment, “the days are coming”, points generally in the direction of the Day of the Lord – something at a distance. However, that distance is mitigated by an end time context. According to all that scripture informs us of concerning end time events, we can conclude that we are in the period loosely defined as “the end time”. Conditions today appear to be quite like those of Jeroboam’s day. Prosperity deflects attention away from God and any need for His involvement. In this setting we are warned that the days are coming when God’s people will experience a famine of hearing of God’s word. As conditions worsen to the point of becoming hurtful, people will want to hear what God has to say about all this, but there will be silence. “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” (Amos 8:12).
Since God’s Church speaks the words of the Lord – the word of God – does this imply that the Church is silenced in some way? It would seem so. Here is an example: there are indications that legislation sponsored in certain states in the US is being prepared that will make upholding biblically stated standards on subjects such as homosexuality against the law. The legal term is reparative therapy. A minister quoting from God’s word on the subject of homosexuality could be prosecuted if the person being counseled felt the slightest discomfort (see the wording of California Bill AB 2943). It would only take one Church of God to be taken to court and shut down for a domino effect to take place. Yes, we must allow that the day could come when the voices of the Church of God are silenced. While in this day of free speech this may seem far-fetched or even ludicrous, events are moving disturbingly fast in this direction.
The point is, are you prepared to maintain your spiritual relationship with God without the support of an organized Church? Can you sustain your spiritual energy and drive on your own? Meeting individually in friends’ homes or in small groups has proven challenging for some. Fellowship within a larger group brings with it a group dynamic that generates a certain amount of energy. While that is usually helpful, it is not the internal energy that each member of the body needs to have within him- or herself. The seven Churches of Revelation each demonstrated the need to avoid letting the social pressures surrounding each congregation detract from their relationship with God. Each Church is admonished in some way to focus on personal repentance – their own spiritual dimension.
The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “… give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away … how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him …” (Hebrews 2:1,3).
It is time to ensure that our batteries are fully charged for the times ahead. Let us give more earnest heed to the things God is telling us while we have the opportunity to do so.