Saturday, August 20, 2022

Famine for the Word

Over the decades, I have heard credible men of God warn of a coming day when the Church will experience a “famine for the word of God.” At first, I took this to refer to a time when the Bible would be suppressed even in Western-style democracies as governmental authorities sought to persecute the true faith.

Believers have known persecution of that sort over the centuries, and almost certainly they will experience such dark times again before the coming of Jesus.

Bible red ribbon - Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
[Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash]

These prophetic voices often cite a passage in the
Book of Amos to validate their prediction: “The days are coming when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Yahweh” - (Amos 8:11).

In context, the prophecy was given to the Kingdom of Israel, and the New Testament does not reapply it to the Church. In Amos, the “Word of Yahweh” does not refer to the Hebrew Scriptures, but to the “words” of Yahweh spoken through His prophets. As God withdrew His hand from Israel, His prophets became few and far between.

However, whether directly applicable to our times or not, this “famine” is now the reality among the saints, and in ways that are quite faithful to the original passage.

The great irony is that this “famine” is raging when access to the Bible is easy and inexpensive, and tens of thousands of “prophets” and “apostles” claim to speak for the Lord, and in Amos, it was Yahweh Himself who withdrew His spoken word. Perhaps when actual persecution does come, it will be God’s judgment for disrespecting His Word.

There are genuine prophets today, but to find one and hear a genuine word from the Lord you must slog your way through the vast swamp of deceivers that has inundated the churches of Jesus Christ.

However, the real cause of this “famine” is the ignorance of Scripture that prevails in too many congregations. Many believers do not know what the Bible says or how to study it for themselves, leaving them open to deceivers and “doctrines of demons.”

Many “prophetic” leaders steer Christians away from reliance on the Bible. Instead of clinging to Scripture, believers are encouraged to pursue subjective personal experiences and “revelation” from the “spirit realm.” Why study the Bible when you can receive “downloads from Heaven” through dreams, visions, deciphering Hebrew numbers and dates, and angelic visitations?

This is a tragedy of our own making. We prefer exciting experiences and ear-tickling “words” from Facebook “prophets” to the written Word of God. Jesus warned that many deceivers would come and “deceive many,” and so it has come to pass in our day. As Paul warned:

  • Many choose not to “endure sound doctrine; instead, having itching ears, they have heaped to themselves teachers after their own lusts, and turned aside their ears from the truth, and turn aside instead to fables.”

Fortunately, the Apostle left us instructions on how to avoid deception and apostasy by “holding fast the traditions you received from us,” and that tradition has been preserved in the New Testament.

When dark days do come, it will be the principles found in the Bible that will see us safely through trials and tribulations. However, if we do not take advantage of the present opportunity to learn the Word, it will be too late when the storm does arrive.

  • Ignoring Scripture - (Was the Apostle Paul serious when he exhorted Timothy to only appoint elders and ministers who were above reproach?)
  • Mysteries Revealed - (God’s mysteries are unveiled in Jesus, especially in his Death and Resurrection. Are we looking for revelation in the right places?)
  • Stand Fast in the Tradition - (To avoid deception and apostasy believers must cling to the apostolic traditions, lest they drift away)