August 26, 2015

Amos 8:11-13

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

From the Wall Street Journal – May 26, 2015:

      At least 40% of South Sudan’s population will face severe food shortage
      over the next couple of months as the latest escalation in a bloody civil war
      disrupts farming and aid deliveries….The number of people facing food
      shortages is projected to hit 4.6 million by July, nearly one million more
      than in April, said Erminio Sacco, the chief adviser for the United Nations
      Food and Agriculture Organization….  “People are cut off from markets,
      cannot plant crops, have lost their livestock and are hiding in the bush and
      swamps with no food, no utensils to cook [with] and no roof over their
      heads.”  …South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after
      a long-simmering power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his
      former deputy Riek Machar boiled over.  The violence has split the country
      along ethnic lines, pitting Mr. Kiir’s Dinka community against Mr. Machar’s
      Nuer tribesmen….More than 50,000 people have been killed since the con-
      flict erupted and around 500,000 others have fled to neighboring countries.

Sudan and surrounding countries have been experiencing famine – both man-made and natural – increasingly over the last decade.  The results have been horrible, resulting in a statistic that says more than one in ten Sudanese children die before reaching their fifth birthday!  Toby Lanzer, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, estimates 50,000 children could die this year alone from hunger and disease!

Jesus predicted an increase of wars and famines in Matthew 24:6 through 8 as we move toward the end of this age:

      And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars….For nation will rise
      against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be fam-
      ines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the
      beginning of sorrows.

But there is another kind of famine we are experiencing, and it is even more deadly – a famine of God’s Word!  This is what Amos 8:11 through 13 says:

      “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.  They shall wander from sea to sea, and
      from north even to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of
      the LORD, but shall not find it.  In that day the fair virgins and strong
      young men shall faint from thirst.”

This describes an exacerbated situation in the Tribulation – the last seven years before the fulness of the kingdom of God is manifested.  But we are seeing a preview of it now – a famine of God’s Word – especially in the western church!  So many who claim to be Christians are Biblically illiterate!  And here is the real tragedy of it:  the Bible has never been more available in any culture or society than it is now in the western world!  One poll reports there are 4.4 Bibles per household in the United States, which has over 123 million households.  That works out to over 542 million Bibles in the US!  According to a study called “The Bible in American Life,” conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, while 80% of respondents said they read the Bible at least once in the past month, only 9% read God’s Word daily!

And why is this spiritual famine more deadly than a Sundanese famine that might kill 50,000 children in the next year?  It is because the death such spiritual ignorance leads to is eternal death – separated from God in this life and, upon physical death, forever suffering in hell, apart from God and all hope of redemption!

I recently read a book by Tom Doyle called Killing Christians, about persecuted believers around the world.  In the strict Muslim country of Sudan, a smuggler hides under a corpse in a coffin to bring Bibles into that country from Kenya.  The Bibles he had acquired were worn from years of daily reading by Kenyan believers.  And his instructions to those who received the scriptures was, “Read them and memorize them as quickly and as much as you can, and then pass them on to other waiting believers.

What if we were forbidden to read God’s Word in this country?  What if our Bibles were confiscated and burned?  Would you have obeyed Psalm 119:11?  It says, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might sin against You.”  Would you be ready to carry the Word with you internally – stored in your mind and heart?

There is coming a time when God…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.”  Will we experience it here?  Are you preparing?

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