Famine of God’s Word

The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 22

Unknown“‘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 8:11-12).

Imagine living in a land whose leaders (kings and priests) govern without a baseline of right and wrong and whose people love to have it so. No one would feel safe. No one would be safe. This is Northern Israel during Amos’ day.

Though Israel is experiencing great political prominence (6:1), prosperity, and parties, with music, drinking and entertainment (6:4-6), they are morally and spiritually corrupt. Immorality, idolatry, and social injustice filled their land, “”Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail” (8:4).
Only an encounter with God can save Israel from themselves.

Israel will not seek God, so God acts. He gives Israel “cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places . . . . I also withheld rain from you . . . . I blasted you with blight and mildew . . . . The locust devoured” locusts and plagues (4:6-11) Sadly, nothing gets Israel’s attention. Israel abandons the LORD and rejects His prophet.

God therefore promises Israel that captivity will accomplish what famine, drought, plagues and locusts could not. Israel will be shaken among the nations “as grain is sifted in a sieve” (9:9).

The book of Amos, however, isn’t a cliff-hanger; it ends in hope. God promises to restore Israel, to “repair its damages . . raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old” (9:11). He promises to restore the fortunes of His people, to rebuild her cities, and plant Israel once again in her land (9:14-15). His silence and their captivity will discipline His people, but they will return to Him once again.

This sober scene in Israel’s history reveals a number of truths about God and man:

  • Men in rebellion against God are worse off than they imagine.
  • Captivity awaits those who refuse to listen to His prophet and respond to God’s discipline.
  • God’s silence and captivity are a terrible and fearful discipline.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Amos 7:1-9:15; 2 Kings 14:28-29; 15:6-29; 2 Chronicles 26:22-23; Isaiah 6:1-13):
What hope does Amos give Israel at the end of his prophecy? What does this reveal about God’s faithfulness to His promises given to Abraham and David?
What does Isaiah’s vision reveal about God?