Amos and the Famine of Hearing

“The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine on the land–not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger everywhere from sea to sea, searching for the word of the LORD, running here and going there, but they will not find it.” Amos 8: 11,12

        Some years ago I chaperoned my daughter’s class trip to the art museum in Worcester MA. One of the exhibits was a rebuilt chapel from the Middle Ages. As we approached the altar we were greeted by a primitive crucifix with Christ in his agony.

     One of the little boys tugged on my pant leg. “Mr. Lillie why is that man hanging there? Who is he?”

      “Well that’s Jesus on the cross.” I said mildly.

     “That’s a funny name I never heard it before. What did he do wrong?” The little boy asked.

     I found it hard to believe that anyone in my daughter’s class had never heard the name of Jesus…at least as a swear! But it was true. Here was a child whose family had never even spoken the name of Jesus in their household.

     One night as I was leading youth group I opened my teaching with these words “Tonight we are here to teach the gospel…”.

     An honest girl in the back raised her hand and asked “What does gospel mean? I have never heard that word.”

     We live in a country where 80% of the population cannot name the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, where almost everyone can name the four Beatles but almost no one can name the twelve apostles (to be fair there are three times as many apostles as Beatles).

     I think we can safely say we are experiencing a “famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”

    It is important to note that Amos did not say there would be a famine of the word of the Lord but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

    The Scripture puts me in mind of one of the apostle Paul’s prophecies about the end times:

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear.They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4 NLT

     But Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to give the church instruction about what to do when such a time comes upon them.

 “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you.” 2 Tim: 4:5 NLT

     In these days while the rest of the world “staggers here and there”, the church can and should stand solid knowing that we have that Word of life. We don’t need to fear as the world rocks around us. We can keep a clear head knowing that whatever suffering lies ahead for us it does not compare with the glory which shall come after.

      Christian, you might think we are heading for trouble but I tell you judgment can be the church’s finest hour. For in it we retain hope for those who will walk humbly before God!

     Are you afraid of what is to come?