Starving to Death
Almost 2,800 years ago, God came to a farmer named Amos. He told Amos to put down his rake and pruning shears and take up the mantle of a prophet. Amos’ assignment was to speak uncompromising words of coming judgment to the corrupt northern kingdom of Israel: prophecies that included natural disasters, military defeat and eventual exile. Then, in the middle of graphic descriptions of earthquakes and foreign invasions, came this warning:
“The days are coming,” declare the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).
From her beginnings, the northern kingdom of Israel had played a game of chicken with God. For political expediency, she had set up idols and instituted forms and rules of worship in defiance of God’s explicit patterns and laws for His people. And false worship, as it always does, led to apostate living.
Judgment did come and the nation experienced everything that Amos warned of, including the awful silence of God. Israel had rejected His Word so often that God withdrew, leaving them only the hollow reverberations of their own lies.
In the time of Old Testament Israel, people were guided by the Law and the uncompromising message of the prophets. Today, we have the written word of Scripture and its promises to God’s people. One of those promises is that even in the darkest of times, God preserves His witness in the world (1 Kings 19:18).
Amos was the first of a new kind of prophet. Most were called from a traditional vocation, and few sought their assignment because each understood the burden of speaking God’s truth to an apostate culture.
Our famine is coming: not a famine of God’s word, but of God’s truth. We are living in a time with the clear teaching of Scripture is being bent and twisted into a thousand different shapes to justify every type of sin. We must be willing to speak about both God’s righteousness and the love and forgiveness available in His Son. As in Amos’ day, it won’t be easy. But for the sake of those who are searching for truth and for the God who has created us for this time, we must be willing to accept our part.
Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience… 1 Peter 3:15