Famine [Amos 8:11-13]
יהוה is describing the terrible times of judgement that will come. Not only will there be "natural" disasters, great misery, distress and bitterness; but there will be a spiritual dearth. Israel scorned and rejected יהוה and His word, now that will be taken from them and then they would appreciate the value of that which they have scorned and rejected and seek after it. Is not this spiritual dearth, a lack of spiritual dimension, a scarcity of the word of יהוה what we see in Western (once called "Christian") nations today? A famine would come upon the land but not a famine for food and water but a lack of hearing the words of יהוה - a spiritual famine. A natural famine is distressing but far more devastating is a spiritual famine. If there is a lack of food then trust in יהוה can sustain us - but if He is not there - there is then no hope! Anything can be endured as long as we still have communication with God. But how terrible when He becomes silent. But is not the beginnings of this what we are experiencing today? There are the young, the pure, those spiritually uncontaminated by the false religion, genuinely seeking God and His word but they faint from hunger – there is no one to supply it
The need to read - ? famine for the word of God – never before has God’s Word, the Scriptures, been so available more Bibles, translations, commentaries, concordances, tapes, videos, internet! many formats, freely available at low cost We have the word available like never before – but do we read it, study it, meditate on it, absorb it? How rare a man like Don Hay is. But the verse does not say that there will be a famine for word of יהוה – it says a famine for hearing the words of יהוה.
The need to hear – preaching: The Scripture is there, but is it preached? Today what difficulty there is finding a church where there is Bible teaching, where God’s word is preached in truth and not some human philosophy/psychology dished up in religious terminology. [Apostolic and church hunt – only one requirement: uphold the inerrancy of the Bible and teach it – Peter Lucas] here are many who preach nice comfortable, encouraging, inoffensive messages that say what people want to hear - but where is the genuine word of יהוה? (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.)
Revelation: What is it to hear the word of the Lord? (Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.) does faith come if you read out loud but not silently? Logos/rhema difference – general and specific revelation. Specific revelation is always in accord with general revelation, it is a subset of it – but it is made specific and relevant to you in your situation now! It is God Himself speaking to you! [verses at baptism – "since youth" – Timothy; "all Scripture is inspired" – general truth; but was God speaking to me!- give a delight in His Word] We need to hear God! You can know Scriptures have all the correct doctrine and orthodox belief but until Jesus reveals Himself to you, you have no life. We need revelation – that is what hearing the word of the Lord is. We desperately need it, and there is a famine for it. It is a tragedy when then word of יהוה is rare. We must not despise prophesy – our need for it is dire. Who sends the famine? יהוהּ – like the rest of the judgements (earthquake, sun darkened) it is God's doing. This is not just man's neglect of God's word, no, God deliberately withholds revelation (cf. 1 Samuel 3:1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.). Worse than physical hunger, is spiritual hunger – we can do without food but not without God's word (Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. John 6:26, 27, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” John 6:68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.)
Prophecy: Prophecy is revelation from God, but I'd like to focus in on it. The prophet is the one who speaks the "words of יהוהּ". There is a famine for hearing the words of יהוהּ, the voice of prophecy. People want to hear from God, eager to find out what He says but they find nothing. People today chase from this seminar to that, this preacher to that, this spiritual guru to the next – but they find nothing. There was a time when revelation was frequent but now that seems to have dried up. What has been the response? To say there is revelation when there isn't, to say that revelation is from God when it is not. We have filled the void with flesh and the demonic. False prophesy abounds – source is the flesh, and if that goes on long enough it ends up in the demonic. I have seen it happen! We have a desperate need to hear the words of - they are our life. But what do we find a spiritual famine. This tragic situation occurred at times in the history of God's people: (1 Kings 22:6-8 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?” The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”) Everyone is "prophesying" but it is not the words of יהוה, (Psalm 74:9 We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long. Ezekiel 7:26 Disaster will come upon disaster and rumor will be added to rumor; then they will seek a vision from a prophet, but the law will be lost from the priest and counsel from the elders. Micah 3:6,7 Therefore it will be night for you —without vision, and darkness for you —without divination. The sun will go down on the prophets, and the day will become dark over them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths because there is no answer from God. 2 Chronicles 15:3 For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. Lamentations 2:14 Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, but they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.) People say thus says the LORD when the LORD has not spoken. Same thing happened in Jeremiah's day (Jeremiah 23:9-40 As for the prophets: my heart is broken within me, all my bones tremble; I have become like a drunken man, even like a man overcome with wine, because of the Lord and because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; for the land mourns because of the curse. The pastures of the wilderness have dried up. Their course also is evil And their might is not right.“For both prophet and priest are polluted; even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the Lord.“Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them, they will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it; for I will bring calamity upon them, the year of their punishment,” declares the Lord. “Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: they prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray.“Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water, for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.’ ” [judgement because of false prophecy] Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord. “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace” ’; [what people want to hear, nothing offensive] and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ “But who has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? “Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest; it will swirl down on the head of the wicked. “The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it.“I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds. “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord. Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord. Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you saying, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ then you shall say to them, ‘What oracle?’ The Lord declares, ‘I will abandon you.’ Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, ‘The oracle of the Lord,’ I will bring punishment upon that man and his household. Thus will each of you say to his neighbour and to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ For you will no longer remember the oracle of the Lord, because every man’s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. Thus you will say to that prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ For if you say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ surely thus says the Lord, ‘Because you said this word, “The oracle of the Lord!” I have also sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ ” ’ Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.”) Everyone is "prophesying" but it is not the words of יהוה, the hammer that breaks rock, the fire that consumes, life changing, awesome, making impact - no sooner is it spoken than it is forgotten. True prophecy, יהוה’s words, is rare in our day. Men who have stood in the courts of יהוה, heard His words and then spoken them to man. There is a famine for hearing the words of יהוה.
Drought breaking: There may be a spiritual drought, but you needn't dry up! (Jeremiah 17:7,8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.). Life giving water can still be found. In a spiritual drought there is the counterfeit and the false. There is so much prophesying that isn't the word of יהוה that some reject prophesy altogether, say that the dispensation of prophecy is over. That is not what God's Word says: (Joel 2:28,29 “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.“Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.) It is the Holy Spirit that gives life. The genuine word of makes an impact, you hear Him and you are never the same again! - you are changed, His word is effectual, accomplishes His intention, it bring life! (Isaiah 55:1-3; 55:6-13 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David. 6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. “For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”) Here in Amos Israel realized what they had lost, were seeking the words of that they had previously rejected. It is the same today Too late people will realise what they have lost (cf. Matthew 25:1-12 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’). They will suddenly wake up to their need of the Spirit given, quickened word of יהוה. They will search desperately everywhere in order to fine the word of יהוה. And don’t we see this running everywhere to every speaker and seminar, trying to fine the true word of יהוה? But, tragically, they will not find it! It is too late! There are those wandering from church to church, but not finding the word of יהוה. Where do you find it today? There are only a few springs left, most have dried up. Terrible tragedy! Amos 8:13 - Beautiful, genuine, sincere, unspoiled young men and women will faint from thirst. They have been robbed! They genuinely seek God’s word but it is not to be found - the older generation before them has rid the church of it - so now their spiritual life languishes and fades away for lack of food and spiritual nourishment - the Peters of this world, so keen but Apostolic left them to starve, there was no word of the LORD to be found and so their beautiful life, full of promise, dissipated - they either dried up or bought into the same deception, religious, humanistic hype as their "spiritual" guides. Tragic indeed! Who would leave a new born baby to starve?!
We need to recognise that we are in a famine, in desperate need of the Holy Spirit to bring revelation, come to Jesus for that water, plead that God will send water on the thirsty and floods on the dry ground (Isaiah 44:1-8 “But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; and you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants;and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water.’ “This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’; and that one will call on the name of Jacob; and another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the Lord,’ and will name Israel’s name with honour. “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. and let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’ ”)
"Lord have mercy and poor floods on our thirsty land, once more may Your word go forth. Send us prophets to speak Your word to us! Amen!" May יהוה pour out His Spirit once more.