A Famine for the Words of the Lord

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On our recent visit to the village of Timahoe in County Laois, I saw an unusually large old pot used as a container for some lovely flowers. “That’s a famine pot,” a local lady informed us. Apparently there are famine pots throughout the island of Ireland, a reminder of the terrible potato famine which resulted in the deaths of approximately one million people in many parts of the country between 1844 and 1852. These pots were left in a village square or green and filled with food by those who could afford to do so – in order to meet the needs of the starving. Famine… it is difficult to imagine those terrible hunger pangs in our western society, where we have an assortment of food and plenty of it – even freely available when necessary, at certain outlets for those who are not so well off.

Somehow, though, these thoughts on famine led me to think of famine from a spiritual point of view and reminded me of the words of Jesus: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4v4)

“It is written…” Jesus always used these words before every statement He made to the devil, during that time when He was tempted in the wilderness. Could it be that many who claim to know the Lord today are being tempted and entertained by the devil, but they cannot say “it is written…” because perhaps they have no knowledge of what is actually written.

We are living in days of spiritual blindness and in an era when people have never had so many versions of the Bible available to them – clearly not a good thing, for we see a departing from God’s Word; not only in secular society but in supposedly Christian circles too. “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 words of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8v11&12)

How wonderful to have access to God’s Word in all its truth and purity! It is there for us to read and appreciate; it is there to guide us, to comfort us and to show us how to live – but it must be applied to our everyday lives. Lack of discernment and spiritual blindness are surely a result of not spending time with the Lord, listening to what He has to say to us through His precious Word and being willing to put Him first in our lives.

God forbid that these words would apply to Christians today: “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long…” (Psalm 74v9)

To seek the Lord in prayer and ask for His intervention in the things that trouble us is so necessary – but not any less so than studying the Lord’s great letter to us, as contained in the Bible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Timothy 3v16&17)

One thing that I have learned just recently for myself is that the longest Psalm (119) talks about God’s Word in nearly every verse. It is referred to amongst other terms as: thy precepts, thy law, thy testimonies, thy way, thy statutes, thy judgements, thy commandments, thine ordinances, thy word…

And these should be the words of every servant of the Lord… “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119v127&28)

Surely when His servants esteem the Lord’s commandments above gold and when we delight in His law above all else, our hunger for His Word will be satisfied when we accept what He says to us, without trying to make it fit in with the ideas of this world? “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119v165)

There is no doubt that many changes have occurred in places of worship in the days in which we live. Many old hymns have been discarded for no valid reason; the mode of worship has completely changed in some quarters – often not for the better; while the Word of God has been twisted, often in sinister ways, to give credence to wrongful behaviour in today’s society.

As servants we can say with the psalmist… “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.” (Psalm 119v125) How true these words are for today! The blight which caused the potato famine could be likened to a spiritual blight which may result in the famine spoken of in Amos. As Christians we must take a stand on the issues of our day and on the evil laws passed by governments throughout the world, for in the words of the Psalmist: “It is time for thee, Lord to work: for they have made void thy law.”(Psalm 119v126)

Surely the Lord’s will for all men and women (for whom He loved and died) is not that they would be tormented by a spiritual famine but rather that they would repent and that these words would be their portion: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v103 -105)

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