Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
This verse seems unnervingly to apply more and more to our own country, though it was said first to Israel. I wonder, would we even miss it?
Consider first the state of the world now, and their resistance to all things godly, and the universal acceptance of sin. Such a thing is not unusual, since it was said of the men in the days of Noah that all men did that which was right in their own eyes. However, this disease has even found its way into the churches- including once-solid, fundamental, Baptist churches. The corruption and falling away from the old paths are symptomatic of a deeper malady: that of not listening to God’s message. If the churches paid more attention to the message in God’s Word rather than trying to accommodate unbelievers and wayward Christians, there would be less erosion in the integrity of the people of God. As they begin to more and more disregard God’s message, so the sin increases, continuing in a cycle of further disregard and leading to further sin.
Here in this passage, the people of Israel are obviously not paying attention to the message they are given. As punishment, God decides to send a message in the form of complete silence. Now, this may seem laughable, considering that the people don’t seem to care in the first place- but God certainly knows what He’s doing. We know from history and from the Bible that God had already sent physical famines of drought and other punishments, things that the people of God ignored completely. Now, He sends a famine of His message- the prophets which had once cried from the streets for repentance now fall silent, no longer urged by God to preach His Word. A deep, awful silence falls over the entire land, and while at first it may seem like a relief not to hear that irritating message yet again, before long someone takes notice.
Consider the very next verse- “And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Though previously they had paid little heed, they were certainly listening now, and actively seeking God. When God speaks, they ignore the message. When God is silent, it’s noticeable- and, once noticed, it is very alarming, compelling them to “run to and fro” to seek God- and yet, still He remains silent.
I can’t help but wonder – what does this mean for the people of God today, who continue to ignore Him and push Him aside in favor of more immediate desires and wants? While it may seem a small matter for God to fall silent- “finally, no more of that irritating, meddling preacher hammering from the pulpit about my activities during the week, or pressuring me to give a little more of my time and money to the church!”- very soon the effects will be noticed, and even the most resistant to God will begin to feel the vacuum that is left. Where will the people of God, who are called by His name – where will we be then?