“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord,
‘when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it’” (Amos 8:11-12, NIV). How are we to understand the meaning of these verses?
In Amos 8, the prophet describes devastating effects of God’s judgment on unrepentant Israel. God will punish the people for their sins by sending famine upon the land. But in verses 11 and 12 the prophet speaks of hunger and thirst for God’s Word. The tragedy that will stand out above all others is a famine of God’s Word because God will be silent, and no other famine could be worse.
Often when the people of Israel experienced great distress, they would turn to the Lord for a prophetic word in hope of guidance. This time God’s answer will consist of silence. A part of God’s judgment on His people will be the Lord’s withdrawal of His Word through His prophets.
If God’s people continue to be disobedient, the prophet says, the time would come when they will be eager to hear the message, but it will be too late to turn to God’s word in hope of escaping the judgment. This is the result of Israel’s persistent refusal to hear God’s message through Amos. Like Saul before his last battle (1 Sam. 28:6), the people will one day come to realize how much they need God’s Word.
An entire population will frantically search for God’s Word, the same word that they chose to ignore in the prophet’s time. Those especially affected will be the young. While the former generations had heard God’s Word and rejected it, the young people never will have the opportunity to hear the prophetic proclamation.
In what ways is it possible to silence the voice of God in our lives? However scary that thought, dwell on the implications. How can we make utterly sure that never happens to us?