When we think of the word famine, we think of an extreme scarcity of food. But in Amos 8:11, we read of a different kind of famine: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the Lord (NASB).’” In the midst of their prosperity, Amos is calling the Israelites to realize they are suffering a famine of the heart. Amos is reminding them of their need to return to the ways of the Lord, to return to the Word of the Lord.
Amos points out how Israel has ignored caring for the needy in their land. Even worse, they exploit the poor. Their physical lives were full and not wanting, but they suffered from a famine of the heart. They go through the motions of religion, yet abuse the less fortunate. Amos pointed out that Israel viewed the Sabbath and God’s appointed festivals as something that interrupted their business: “Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market (Amos 8:4).’”
A famine of the heart can be difficult to see, yet it can be far reaching. By its definition, a famine is characteristic of a nation or widespread in a particular area. There may be physical prosperity in the land that masks the famine of the heart, but as Amos points out, the signs are evident. There is a deep hunger, a gnawing feeling that something is not right. They seek to feed their starving heart with things that do not satisfy the hunger. As followers of Jesus, we have the gift of the bread of life to feed the starving heart, the parched soul, the famished land.
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” – Revelation 3:17
© 2019 CGThelen