Christians are Starving to Death in America?
When we hear the term “starvation”, images of legs and arms so thin one can see the outline of the victims bones and picture their swollen abdomens. The book of 1 Kings tells of a famine that was so great parents were willing to eat their own children. Even today the fear of famine is only one apocalyptic event away. One company offers survival food with a twenty-five year shelf life. Some meat and food companies have had to shut down due to Covid-19.
In America today there are millions who are starving to death. They have lost their appetite for God’s Word and as a result they are being starved of the spiritual nourishment needed for eternal life. Jay Leno used to do “man-on-the-street” bits on The Tonight Show. He asked a young man on the street, “Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?” The confident answer was “Pinocchio.” There are two generations of Americans who are Biblically ignorant in an age of instant information via the internet. At no time in the history of man has the Bible been so readily available to everyone in every language in just about any location around the globe. Yet few read it and fewer believe the Truths found within its pages. Amos’ prophecy concerning a great spiritual famine has come true in twenty-first century America. Amos is the famous prophet of God from Judah sent to the Kingdom of Israel seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. He was a sheep herder and fig picker from the town of Tekoa. Israel needed Amos’ God-ordained message even in their golden age under King Jereboam II. With a booming economy and secure borders Israel felt safe. They had been blessed with great material wealth and luxury (Amos 6:1-8). However, they were internally plagued with immoral behavior, such as, greed and injustice at all levels of society (Amos 2:6-8).
America is no different. The Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in Courtrooms because of the fear that the messages of “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie)” would create a hostile work environment. They cannot be displayed in schools for fear that the students might be influenced by commandments which encourage them to honor their father and mother. Amos also spoke out against Israel’s vain worship (Amos 5:21ff) and insincere religion (Amos 8:4-10). Finally, he predicts a spiritual famine throughout the land of Israel in 8:11-14.
A Famine of Hearing
Amos begins by proclaiming the end of the hearing of God’s Word in Israel. “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” (8:11). Amos is not saying that the Scriptures would be destroyed, but that he was not going to bless them with prophets guiding them. They had a very negative attitude toward Truth. “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly” (Amos 5:10). They had rejected God’s Prophets and even forbidden His prophets to prophesy. They regularly persecuted and killed the prophets of God. Amos would experience this rejection personally.
Paul experiences a similar rejection of the Word by the Jews in His day. He, like Amos, rebuked them and warned that their rejection of the Word would lead to spiritual self-destruction. Paul admonished them, “the Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” ’ “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts 26:25-28).
A Lack of Spiritual Food
After God removes His prophets from Israel “they shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it” (8:12). They will search from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea to no avail. They will search for spiritual food during this famine of the Word of God like starving men and women search the land for food to eat and not find any.
The Strongest Will Not Be Able to Stand
“In that day the fair virgins and strong young men shall faint from thirst” (8:13). During a famine it is the elderly, sick, and very young which succumb first to starvation. However, this spiritual famine will afflict those in the prime of their life, the virgins and young men. Those who have their whole life before them and need God’s Word to guide them. Those who want to know the direction of their future. Those who need to remember their Creator in the days of their youth (Eccl. 12:1).
The Diet of Junk Food
Amos explains why the people will be spiritually mal-nourished. “Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, who say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan!’ and, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives!’ They shall fall and never rise again” (8:14). The real reason for judgment on people and the land is their reliance on false worship and fake gods. The cities of Dan and Beersheba were geographical markers of the land. Dan being the northern most and Beersheba the southern most cities of ancient Israel. They may have searched everywhere from coast to coast for God’s Word, but what they really were finding was the false religions they erected throughout the land.
– Daniel R. Vess