“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
I’m sure most of you have seen commercials or have seen pictures of young children in different nations of this world, who were living in starvation. They had skinny limbs with bloated stomachs because their nation was suffering from famine. It sure can cause compassion to rise in your heart for these poor helpless children. Thank the Lord for those who go help these people in the time of their great need. There is another famine that I want to talk about, a famine that I believe is even worse than a famine of food. I don’t know about other nations, but this famine is very prevalent in America. It is a famine of the word of God.
The thing that is the most absurd about this spiritual famine of the word of God is that there is not a shortage of Bibles in our nation. I have had pleas from other nations to send them money so they can purchase Bibles for their people. Here in America, even the poorest of Americans can obtain a Bible. At our church we have given away many Bibles. How many Bibles do you have? How many different versions do you have? It would sound ridiculous for someone to complain that they are starving to death because they haven’t eaten a thing for a month and yet food is all around them. You would immediately question them to why they are not eating the food that is there before them. Well, that is how ridiculous the famine of the word of God is in our nation. We don’t have a shortage of the word of God in paper and ink or electronic devise, but we do have a shortage of men who will preach and teach the word of God. We have a shortage of people who really believe the word of God. We have a shortage of people, and even Christians, who will open their ears to hear the word of God.
Years ago it used to be a very negative thing to be called a church hopper. A typical church hopper was a so-called Christian, who was always disgruntled with whatever church they were in. This isn’t right, that isn’t right. They complain about the music. It’s too loud or too contemporary. The pastor’s suit is too expensive or he doesn’t dress well enough. The people in the church don’t love me. There are too many hypocrites in the church. I’m sure most of you know people like this. However, today I am seeing church hoppers of a different sort. In fact, I don’t want to use the negative connotation of “church hopper,” instead, I see these people as genuine saints of God who are searching for a church that still preaches and teaches the word of God in Spirit and in truth. I have heard of people wanting to move to other states, just so they could go to a church they believed still preached the truth. I have heard from a few saints who told me they went to every Christian church in their city and could not find one that still preached the word in Spirit and in truth. By the way, I do understand that there are those who say they are looking for a church that preaches the word, but they are just looking for a church that has the same old look of the churches they grew up in.
Yes, there is a famine of the word of God in this nation. A famine of the most devastating kind. In most churches you will hear a reading of scripture, you will hear talk about the scripture, but yet you can leave as hungry or even hungrier than when you entered the church that morning. It seems no different than it was in the days of Samuel.
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision” (I Samuel 3:1).
The word “precious” declares that the word of God, though it had value, was rare. Now it may not have been any less rare than in those days of Joshua and Judges which preceded Samuel, for they had the writings of Moses. What was rare is that there was a shortage of those who believed and lived the word of God. The books of Moses could have very well been like the average Bible in American homes, up on the shelf collecting dust. The Bible is different from any book in the world in that it isn’t a book that is to be read as much as it is a book to be believed upon and lived out. You have to believe to such a point that you are trusting your whole life to what the Bible says. That means that you will believe and live out every principle, precept and commandment in the Bible.
We are quick to want to blame the ministers for our fallen churches. No doubt, the buck stops with them. Read what Hebrews says. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). So you can see the heavy responsibility there is on those who rule over our churches. For those like me, who are ministers of the gospel, this portion of scripture should have extra weight to it. I don’t ever want to fail in being a faithful minister of the Lord.
It is not just the ministers who are responsible for the famine of the word, it is also any Christian who has minimized the word of God. They don’t want to really hear what the Bible says. They want the preachers to tell it a little different. They want the smooth word, just like in the days of Isaiah.
“Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:10).
These kind of Christians put pressure on the pastors, not to eliminate the word, but to lighten it up, water it down and nullify it with hyper-grace teachings. Unfortunately some, if not many ministers, cave into the pressure. Add to it that many pastors have come to think their ministry is to fill pews instead of minister, with great authority and power, the word of God to the body of Christ. If they are looking to fill pews, they will do what it takes, and the first thing that has to be altered is the preaching of the word of God. So even though you may hear the word of God read and preached in most churches in America, you will find, according to what I hear, a great famine of those who preach the whole counsel of the word of God. You will find a shortage of those who delight in hearing it and obeying it.