Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when 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
Living in our prosperous country, it is difficult to imagine hunger, and even worse, a famine. We see the images of starving and dying children in war torn third world countries, but we still can’t relate, because we have never been hungry ourselves. Oh we say the words, “I’m starving” so easily and flippantly, but this does not treat the subject with the importance it needs and deserves.
Amos is considered to be one of the ‘minor prophets’, and we tend to skip past the small book in the Old Testament, and possibly even ignore his warnings. I think we do this at our peril. We often talk and discuss the fact that our churches are slowly becoming empty, merging, and even closing down altogether. According to Amos, the minor prophet, this is not the source of the problem.
In the same way that some poor countries are suffering a famine of food, we in our prosperous western ‘bubble’ are suffering a famine of hearing the words of the Lord as Amos said. How is this possible, I hear you ask? Our undisputed legacy that we call the Bible, is the word of God. Let me say that again. “The Bible is the Word of God”. Do we treat it as that? Do we see it as so important? How else do we hear from God?
How often do we read the Bible? How MUCH of it do we read at a time? I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is enough for me to read a nice cosy little verse which makes me feel good, and then I go into my day, or end it. We are living in the prophetic days of Amos where there is a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, and that is because we don’t care enough about the author. At the root of this symptom, is the reason our churches are dropping in attendance and membership. A point to finish. The verse says that it is God Himself who sends the famine of hearing the Word of the Lord. Israel had been given every chance to listen and feed on the Word, and they had satisfied their hunger elsewhere. This famine involved both leadership and people alike, and so it is today. Since God obviously takes our spiritual condition seriously, should we not do the same?