A Famine in the Land

For March 21, 2019
Approximately seven-hundred and sixty years before the birth of Christ, the Old Testament Prophet Amos warned ancient Israel of the consequences of disobeying God. In Amos 8:11-12 (NLT), he declares a most catastrophic warning to God’s people—both then and now (my emphasis):

The time is surely coming, says the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from border to border searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.

For ancient Israel, this was a time of material prosperity under the reign of Jeroboam II. Yet rampant idolatry, wanton licentiousness, corrupt and abusive leaders, injustice, excessive self-indulgence, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and underprivileged plagued this nation.

Because they chose to pursue the pleasures of sin while rejecting their Lord, they were subject to His chastening and dispersion at the hands of the Assyrians less than 40 years later.1

If Amos’ warning sounds familiar, 2 Timothy 3:1-7 presents a similar declaration concerning the grave spiritual condition of many during the “last days (my emphasis):”

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Like ancient Israel, are we spiritually bankrupt and in grave danger today amidst our affluence?

I am concerned with how so many people adopt the opinions of “experts” who insist human beings are not created by God—in His image—with special, unique, incomparable intrinsic value; then we spoil, pamper and worship the animal kingdom, along with our pets, almost to the point of supreme deity.

Yet we can show little consideration for the sanctioned murder of a precious human life in the womb—especially in those instances when the medical technology to preserve life (coupled with the Hippocratic Oath) is an available, feasible alternative.

In Mark 10:14 (KJV), our Lord Jesus declares: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Yet many feel our children’s exposure to the Bible and prayer is somehow detrimental. Here, some will argue that supplying youngsters with contraceptives (instead of teaching abstinence) is somehow more beneficial and practical.

In addition, socially underdeveloped people (with a misplaced sense of entitlement) will often resort to violence to obtain the newest, biggest, or best “toy” they can have. Unfortunately, their actions often conflict with another person’s physical, financial, or emotional well-being; leaving behind vast numbers of abused, exploited, physically and emotionally traumatized victims of the perpetrator’s self-centered extravagance, sexual prowess, tyrannical oppression, and brutal assault.

Although these victims are often irreparably devastated, the harmful outcomes are irrelevant to the perpetrator because “it’s a dog-eat-dog world” where “only the strong survive.” Thus to them, the “ends will always justify the means” because “it’s not personal; it’s only business.” No wonder our news reports seem to grow gloomier by the day…there is a famine in the land!

God is the embodiment of love and holiness. He does not delight in our deprivation and famine. As 2 Peter 3:9 teaches, He is patient and longsuffering towards us because He does not want anyone to perish. Instead, He wants everyone to come to repentance.

To remedy the famine, God sent His Son as the Bread of Life, as presented in John 6:35-40 (NLT), to satisfy us forever:

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them…For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Jesus is the Seed of the Woman promised to Abraham, through whom the entire human race would greatly benefit.2 He is God’s Suffering Servant who redeemed a lost humanity as Isaiah 53:6 (KJV) foretells: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

As “The Good Shepherd,” His vicarious death imparts new life to His precious sheep just as He promises in John 10:10 (KJV): “The Thief [Satan] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Our Lord’s mission and message was distinct from anything seen or heard before or since, and His theme is simple:

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”3

The Apostle Peter summarized these revolutionary ideas when he declared: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV) We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the final analysis, absolute safekeeping is ours because He died for our sins and rose for our justification according to Romans 4:25.

As Christians, we should never live our lives based on the false assumptions of those who do not know the Lord and scoff at the Bible. Instead, we should always live by the biblical principles contained in our Christian faith. In this way can create an oasis where others can benefit greatly from God’s grace and love along with ourselves (as we grow spiritually as well).

By faith, we are a spiritual people whose very existence depends on Christ the Bread of Life and the Living Word. As we obtain His life-giving resources from the Bible that enable us to grow spiritually and morally, over time we can become astute practitioners of the Christian faith who express a growing moral consciousness to produce the living fruit that changes lives positively while validating our Christian witness.

Is there a famine in the land? Not for those of us who love the Lord…and love His Word.

 

 

  1. For further discussion, please see: H.I. Hester, The Heart of Hebrew History: A Study of the Old Testament, 42nd printing, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1980), 281-282, and C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, “Amos” in Volume Ten: Minor Prophets of the Commentary on the Old Testament,  reprint, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 233-239, 252ff.
  2. See: Genesis 3:15; 12:1–3.
  3. See: John 3:3 and Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV).