In Amos Chapter 8, we find this passage alluding to the silent years of the inter-testamental period:
“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.
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.
– Amos 8:11-12
During a famine, life-giving rain ceases to fall and the people go hungry. In the famine of the inter-testamental era, God’s Word was not heard in Israel from Malachi’s time until Jesus’ ministry. Why did God’s people stop hearing from heaven during this 400-year pause? It was only after persistent rejection of revelation. His people would not allow His word to transform their hearts. When people reject His advances time and again, they eventually lose the ability to understand what He wants.
The New Testament warns us that this can happen to us, as well. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 says that those who reject love for the truth do so because they take pleasure in unrighteousness. The truth is, many choose evil over good because of the gratification they get from sin. They ignore what is truly good, not knowing or caring that they are missing out on unspeakable joys. Most sinners are blinded to truth and meaning and purpose because they fill their days with the more fleeting hedonistic pleasures of the flesh.
What about when God’s people turn from Him, though? Israel as a nation was selected by God, but they continually resisted His Word until He stopped speaking to them altogether. The implications are terrifying if you are looking for revival in one of the many nations that were once overwhelmingly Christian and have now largely abandoned belief.
God punished Israel because His continued mercy led to deeper corruption. Financial prosperity and easy living allowed the people to live carefree in their sin, forgetting about the God who delivered them from Egypt and blessed them to begin with. Only when judgement came did the Old Testament Israelites repent and return to the Lord.
In Romans 10 through 11, we see that God hardens Israel because of its rejection of the truth. Ultimately, Paul says, they will be grafted back into the tree of His family if they stop their unbelief. Yahweh has not nor will He ever forsake those who seek and believe in Him, and He will dispense mercy on those who turn from their sin.
If there is a famine in your land, whether literal or spiritual, call out to the Lord. Pray for your people that they might return to Him. Ask Him to show you the way, to reveal the truth, even if it is uncomfortable. Now is the time to put our houses in order – God can provide a land of Goshen for His people in the midst of a famine. God feeds His prophet even when hunger plagues the earth.
– Matthew Foley, ISOW Writer and Instructor