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: 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
When I was about twelve years old, a friend and I bicycled over twenty miles to a place called Pigeon Springs. We packed light for the long ride, even though we planned to camp for three days before someone picked us up. Our peddling worked up quite an appetite, and we dipped freely into our food supplies. Consequently, by the end of the first night, all of our food was gone!
My mother had tucked a lone can of tuna fish down in the bottom of my bag. I do not care much for tuna fish, but by the next morning, I was getting pretty hungry. We ate the tuna, though we did not have bread or anything else to go with it. Pigeon Springs had some crawdads and a few minnows, and I looked at them longingly. I caught a crawdad and thought for a while about eating it, but I just could not do it.
We decided to buy something at the nearest town, nine miles away. Pooling our resources, however, revealed that we only had a few coins. Talk about lack of planning! We were able to buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, and we subsisted on that until the third day. Were we ever glad to have a good meal once we got home!
It is one thing to be physically hungry, and it is another to be spiritually hungry. In our focus verse, Amos foretold a time when the Word of God would be gone from Israel because they had not cherished and obeyed it. The people would want God’s direction, comfort, and instruction, but they would not be able to find it, even though they would search diligently.
We want to learn a lesson from this text. God’s Word is readily available to us today. Let us be certain that we treasure it and follow God’s instructions that are found in it. Each moment is an opportunity to live for God and glorify Him with our lives.
This chapter began with an analogy based on a basket of summer fruit that God showed Amos, which is described in verses 1 and 2. God was telling Amos that, like a basket of summer fruit ripe for eating, the people of Israel were ripe for judgment.
Verse 3 painted a gruesome picture. The point was that the songs of the people would be changed to wailing because of the number that would be dead. The grief would be so strong that people would work silently.
In verse 5, Amos directed his words to the merchants. They observed the new moons and Sabbaths, but were anxious for those days to be over. Their attitudes indicated that they were only keeping the requirement of not buying or selling on holy days because they had no choice. Their preference would have been “business as usual.” In addition, the merchants were dishonest, measuring incorrectly. They even sold the “refuse of the wheat,” which should have been thrown away or given to the poor. Thus they cheated their customers and pushed the poor further and further into poverty, or even slavery.
This oppression resulted in the promise of God’s judgment. God, as always, spoke in a way the people could understand. Earthquakes, darkness, mourning, and famine were symbolic of the punishment to come. The people’s mourning would be bitter.
Amos predicted that in their sorrow the people would seek for the Word of God, but not find it. They had disregarded God’s instructions by mixing idolatry with their worship. They had not heeded the prophets He sent. So His Word would not be available to them, though they would search the land for it. Even the young and strong would be unsuccessful. What a sad pronouncement against a self-indulgent people!
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The visions of judgment upon Israel
E. The vision of the basket of summer fruit (8:1-14)
1. The revelation of Jehovah (8:1)
2. The declaration of Jehovah (8:2-3)
3. The explanation of Jehovah (8:4-14)
a. The cause of judgment (8:4-6)
b. The course of judgment (8:7-14)
(1) The land (8:7-10)
(2) The people (8:11-14)
Today, determine to ensure that a spiritual famine does not consume your life. Seek God while He may be found.