What is the famine described in Amos 8:11

Watch the complete sermon here: https://www.bridges.church/messages/our-impartial-god-amos-select-verses/

Friends, if you joined me in the worship services last Sunday, either in person or online, you know that we are going through a series in our sermons on the minor prophets, and we spent some time this past Sunday on the Book of Amos. It’s a fascinating book. I know I really learned a lot in my preparation for the message, and I hope you’ll go back and listen to it if you happen to miss it. But there are some questions that come up in the Book of Amos that we should absolutely take seriously and consider. And one of those is found in chapter eight, verse eleven of Amos, where it talks about a coming day of famine.

This is what it says in chapter eight, verse eleven. The days are coming, declares the sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land. But it’s not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. That doesn’t sound great. We need to ask some questions about what is this famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

Well, we know that from reading the rest of Amos, we have some clues as to when this might happen. It’s a coming day of judgment. Verse nine of chapter eight talks about in that day. It’s describing something that the rest of the Bible describes, a coming day of the Lord, a coming day of judgment. It’s not going to be a happy day.

It’s going to be a painful day for those who are under God’s judgment. And part of the judgment that will come, chapter eight says, is this famine of hearing the words of the Lord, well, why will this famine exist? We look for at three reasons. On Sunday, there might be more. But specifically, as a reminder in the Book of Amos, we know that Amos is pointing out Israel’s injustice, that they were turning a blind eye to the poor, that they were not using their resources to help the whole community.

They were rather hoarding their own resources, their financial means, and they were not sharing it with others. And that’s not simply a lack of charity or stinginess. It’s injustice. And you can go back to the sermon on Sunday to hear more about that. But we also know that Israel was guilty of immorality.

There is great immorality back then. There’s great immorality in the world today. And this is immorality among God’s own people. You can read about that in chapter two of Amos, where it’s described there in a particular verse, particular type of perversion and sexual immorality that God will bring judgment against. And then also, we talked about that Israel was guilty of this sin of idolatry, this turning away from the one true God to false gods.

And they were also going through the motions of their worship. They were offering sacrifices, but not offering sacrifices that really cost them anything. They were just giving lip service to God. It was just surface level stuff. And we talked about how we can point out Israel’sins, but how in many ways we are guilty.

Today, even again, God’s people, his followers, can be guilty and are guilty of some of these same sins. And so that’s describing the when this famine will be and the why this will be this coming day of judgment. But the bigger question is, what does this actually mean? And I came up with two possibilities. There might be more.

But the first possibility, this famine of hearing the words of the Lord, is that people in that day will seek the Lord and just simply not find him. That these people who have rejected the message of the prophets up until this point will one day look for a prophet of God, but not be able to find a prophet of God. Why? Because God is just simply, in this coming day, going to stop speaking. And that idea sounds foreign to us because why would God indeed stop speaking?

This idea of people hungering and thirsting for a message from God, and it’s just going to be too late. Well, Jesus shared parables like that, like the parable of the ten Virgins, that in that day that there will not be any more warnings. It’s going to be this again famine of hearing God’s voice and a person who’s saying, wait, I didn’t get a chance. It’s going to be too late. That’s a terrifying prospect to consider.

But that could be one possibility of this famine, of hearing the word of the Lord. It’s just that God simply stops speaking and revealing himself to people who have not been interested in hearing from him in the first place. But there’s a second possibility here, in that it’s not going to be a lack of God’s word or a famine of God’s word, but really a famine of people hearing the words of the Lord. And in other words, it’s not simply a case of God withholding his message. It’s a case of people so hardening their hearts that they refuse to listen.

And so it’s not so much a problem on the preacher or on God. It’s really the problem of the hearer. And so we know from parables of Jesus, like the parable of the sowers, that sometimes God’s word goes forth. And because of people’s hearts or the shallowness of our hearts and the cares of this world that we allow to crowd into our hearts. God’s word doesn’t get firmly planted in there and it doesn’t really take root.

And so it’s really about our hearts either possibility to me, again, is terrifying. I keep using that word, but when I think about this prospect of spiritual famine, it should be terrifying to us because Jesus said, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. We receive physical life, certainly from food, but this is describing real life, eternal life, abundant life that Jesus came to give. And we can’t get that simply from bread. And so we’re not simply talking about a lack of bread.

We’re talking about this distance between us and God. And again, it’s so scary to even think about. And yet the Bible is very clear on those consequences. And so to me, it should remind us of the good news. And again, there was good news in my message on Sunday.

I encourage you to go back and listen to it, that there is hope for us today in that God is still speaking, God is still working, God is still convicting. And so we should not take that for granted. It’s a blessing to hear from God. God wants to reveal himself to us. But there does come a day Romans one talks about, when at some point God gives people over to their sins.

It’s basically saying, you want to go your own way. Don’t be surprised if at one point I actually let you do that. God is saying, and that’s not God’s kindness, that’s God’s judgment. And so we should be grateful and eager and hungry to hear God speak to us. And all the more we should lean in.

When God says, hear this, he’s not simply just giving us some instruction for us to hear, and then it doesn’t really matter what we do with it. He’s not giving us a series of options. He wants us to hear, and he wants us to live it out, and he wants us to obey and to fear him. Well, I know that this has been a challenging question, but it’s one we need to wrestle with. But I am so grateful that you could join us.

I’m grateful for the voice of God and that God still does speak today. Let’s listen to him. Thanks for joining us. Bye.