“Behold, the days come, says 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: 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.” Amos 8:11-12
While in prayer at the ministry the other morning, the Lord opened my eyes and caused me to see something very deep in these two verses and I will attempt to convey the depth of what He showed me to you…if I can. Sometimes when the Lord reveals something spiritual, it is very hard to convey it into words.
Just as we as a human race are living in Proverbs 30:12- 14 (“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.”), we are also living in the times of this Amos prophecy.
Let us just consider a few truths from this text. The first thing the Lord showed me is that it is not a famine of the word of God. Right here in my office I have 15 different bibles; all of them different translations. I have a Septuagint, two Greek New Testaments, an Amplified bible, a Worrell New Testament, a Study Critical Apparatus bible, a bible that has 26 different translations in it, etc., etc. On my iPad, I have even more translations available, and I believe I have 165 versions available to me on my Bible-Works study program for my computer. God’s word is everywhere. Mary Ann was here earlier studying and she had three different bibles opened up during her study.
Look at our text again very carefully and see if you notice something. Did you notice that it’s not an issue of a lack of God’s word, but it is an issue of “hearing” God’s word? “Behold, the days come, says the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land… of hearing the words of the Lord.” This has always been the case down through the ages of time…people not hearing or wanting to listen to God’s words.
I go to a fellowship where the word of God is given with great power and conviction (which is rare nowadays), and you can tell that he’s gotten it fresh from heaven and watered it with much prayer. And there have even been times I have left with many tears in my eyes even to the point that I was unable to speak, and have felt like I was the only single person in there while the message was being delivered. And I have noticed people sleeping, texting on their phones, joking around, watching stuff on the internet, looking at their watches if it goes a few minutes over, etc., etc. These are all outward signs of an inward sickness. A sickness of not wanting to hear God’s words. It will get worse as time progresses. Mark my words…the time is coming when people who really desire God’s words and want the deeper things of Christ will find each other and have deep fellowship around God’s word. Sincere Christians who are desiring to live a holy, perfect, upright, and blameless life before the Lord will get connected by the Holy Spirit to find each other and minister to one another and build one another up.
There will always be fake ones among us who play the part and talk the part, but whose inner lives are defiled and unworthy of the Christ because of their motives. It’s a lot easier to pass off a counterfeit 50-dollar bill than a counterfeit 25-dollar bill. Why? Because people are used to the 50-dollar bills and would never give a 25-dollar bill a second thought. Jesus said that you would know them by their fruits. It’s actually pretty simple. People who lack discernment lack God’s word.
Let’s say that a man is not feeling well and he goes to see his doctor. His doctor asks him what are his symptoms. He may say, “my stomach really hurts, it’s hard for me to keep food down, I’m real tired all the time which is not normal for me, and I coughed up some blood a few times.” The doctor would say that these are all symptoms of a stomach ulcer and would probably do an EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy) to confirm his prognosis. You see, his outward signs (symptoms) are just something to show a much deeper and hidden problem happening on the inside of him.
My dear brothers and sisters, we are living in this Amos famine right now. And Jesus dealt with it in His day as well. They could not and would not hear His words. The ones who could not because they knew Jesus as a man and could not see past His humanity and just couldn’t see that it was actually the Father in Him speaking to them; and the ones who would not because their hearts were so hardened they refused Him and they refused His words, and they refused His way, His work, and His will. He said in John 8:43, “Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word.” If you’re able to listen, then you will be able to understand
Why are people “not able to listen to” His word? It all goes back to the parable of the sower. The four types of soil mentioned in Matthew are the four conditions of the human heart at any given time when God’s word is being spoken and presented. Those four types of soil are 1) Hard-hearted, 2) Shallow-hearted, 3) Half-hearted, and 4) Whole-hearted…respectively. At any given time on the planet, every single person’s heart is within one of these four categories. People choose to not listen. It is a choice. It is written, “they have closed their ears.” I find it very interesting that the most quoted Old Testament scripture that is quoted by the Lord Himself and other writers of the New Testament is the Isaiah 6:9-10 passages that reads, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the HEART of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed…” And please take note as to how “Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” BECAUSE “the HEART of this people has grown dull.” It’s a heart issue!! It’s always been a heart issue!! And it will always be a heart issue!! Can you really see this truth? Can you receive this truth? Where is your heart today before God? God knows, and soon all the world will know. It will all come out and be made manifest to all in but a very short time. Will you be found a faithful servant or one of the foolish ones? Everything pertaining to the Kingdom of GOD IS A CHOICE OF YOUR WILL. Be not deceived brethren, God is not, and will not be mocked. He is alive and well and listening to all and observing all and His note-taking skills are unprecedented and unsurpassed. You had better be getting very serious and sober and solemn about God and His word or you will miss out on it all!!!
“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.”
Many today are going coast-to-coast and traveling all over to hear God’s word. And much of what they are hearing is NOT God’s word. It’s like cotton candy that is just sugar blown up to look good and be colorful but in reality it has no nutritional value at all. They run to this apostolic conference, that prophetic conference, this worship seminar, that financial seminar, etc., etc., etc. Why is this? Because they are not satisfied with the manna that is right before them. Right in front of their eyes each morning as they arise is manna all over the ground. It’s called the bible – God’s Holy Word. But this isn’t enough. Like the Israelites of old, they murmur in their hearts and complain that God’s word is not enough. They want quail (Numbers 11:31-33). I have news for you, God will give you quail in abundance if that is your hearts desire.
You have the word of God to gather each morning (which the Bible calls manna “Angel’s food”) and yet you will not gather it. It is too labor-some and burdensome to go out and gather just enough for the day “for you and your family.” This is a sad state of affairs indeed.
The word for hearing in the Greek is ἀκούω. I find it very interesting that this is the same word that is used in the Septuagint for “hearing” from our text from Amos 8:11. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Our Lord had access to the Septuagint and He also spoke Greek as well as Hebrew. And he used this same word for “hearing” that was written in Amos as He did in Matthew. This is a very powerful truth if you’ll just think about it for a moment.
Let us now consider the very last clause of our text, “…and shall not find it.” Christians who are spending all their time and money going here and there and everywhere to hear God’s word “shall not find it.” Because God’s word is not over here or over there; it is nigh you, yea even in your heart and on your night-stand or coffee table. The deepest men I have ever fellowshipped with and have grown with are all men of the word of God. They study His word, they live His word, they eat His word. His word is everything to them. When we get together, we fellowship around God’s word and His word alone. None of them run to this conference or to that conference. They’ve seen the folly of it all and the vanity of it all and the emptiness of it all. It will never feed you or fill you up with good food, because most of it is just cotton candy. Mary Ann told me of a conference she was asked to attend last year or the year before. She went with a friend and when she got home she said it was all flesh, fluff, and erroneous.
You will not find what you’re looking for outside of the word of God. Rise up and gather the manna that is before you. It’s in God’s word brethren…everything you need for godliness, life, instruction, and growth in grace and knowledge is to be found in His word, the Bible.
Why do we as parents get upset at our children the most? For not listening to us, and for not heeding our voice or giving our instruction a place in their hearts. And it is usually to their detriment. How do you think the Lord feels? Are we really any different than the ones in the wilderness who tempted Him, provoked Him, murmured against Him, demanded quail, worshipped other Gods, etc.? There is no difference at all – NONE!!
Do you need more faith? The disciple asked Him to increase their faith in Luke 17:5 and His reply was that if they “had faith as a mustard seed…” How does faith come? By HEARING the word of God (Romans 10:17). When you read, study, meditate, and listen to the word of God, faith is being planted in you. But it takes time guys. It has to be consistent, and it has to be watered.
And if your personal living before God is not righteous and holy, then this will greatly hinder, slow down, and can even kill the faith that the Holy Spirit is attempting to grow in you.
Brethren, all through the word it has always been a listening issue. The word “heart” has 5 letters in it. That’s 20% per letter to make 100%. And the first 80% is “h-e-a-r.” I just this second thought of that…that’s actually pretty powerful. Psalm 48:8 says that we will hear first before we can see. If you really want to “see” deeper things of God, you will first have to learn to listen to Him in His word; and when you begin to really listen…then and only then will you begin to really see.
I will leave you with a quote from Jonathan Leeman:
“God’s Word is an extension of God Himself. To hear His Words that comprise the whole Bible is to hear Him. To obey His Words is to obey Him. To ignore His Words is to ignore Him. God invests Himself in His Words, God so identifies Himself with His Words that our response to His Words is our response to Him.
You can measure a person’s opinion of God by his or her opinion of God’s Word. That’s why a person who loves God loves His Word. God’s Word is an extension of Himself—His identity, purposes, affections, and power.
The action of speaking is an expression of a person….There has been a satanic impulse inside each of us to separate God from His Word ever since the serpent said to Adam and Eve, ‘Did God actually say….? It’s part of our fallen nature to say we love Him and yet give no heed to His Words. We claim to love God, but how much time in the week do we spend reading the Bible?
God’s Word gives witness to God. I can assure you my wife would not be pleased if she e-mailed me at work and asked me to pick up five items at the store, but I picked up only three and explained, ‘I assumed your e-mail was merely giving witness to your words, and that I was free to pick and choose from the list.
There’s a mystical impulse among many Evangelicals that wants to close its eyes and simply experience God’s presence and love. But imagine sitting next to a friend on a couch and saying, ‘Don’t talk to me. I just want to feel your presence.’ In Scripture, God communes with His people by communicating with them…through His Word.
Do you want to measure your regard for God? Then consider your regard for the Bible. It’s Him addressing you. It’s Him drawing near with love and warning. Are you listening? Our attitude should be like Jeremiah’s who considered the false prophets of his day and trembled: ‘My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and because of His holy Words’ (Jer 23:9)”