With this article, we want to give some thought to the words found in Amos 8:11-14, concerning the subject of “A Famine in the Land.” As we do so, we want examine the text and make proper application of it to the Nation of Israel to whom it was written and then to us today. At the time of the preaching of Amos, Israel was going through a period of prosperity. On the other hand, though, there was much injustice, greed, ease and luxury. Their religious background was much like ours today. There was an abundance of religious rites but little righteousness. Idolatry was being practiced at Dan, Beersheba, Gilgal and Bethel. As a whole, there was a great state of moral decay in Israel.

Due to the disregard of the teachings of the prophet Amos, the Lord expressed to Israel concerning the upcoming famine. It would not be a famine due to the lack of food or drink.
Although He does not say there was not to be such a famine also. But, rather, the famine dealt with spiritual things. Man, in his times of great need or distress, has always turned to the Lord. But now the Lord says there would be no more messages from Him via the prophets. They had cast out and despised the prophets as they set out to proclaim the word of the Lord. Now when Israel turned to them for direction there would be none coming.

How tragic that really was! Imagine what it would be like to turn to the Lord and He not be there to answer. Israel, in all of their self-sufficiency had turned the Lord completely away from them.
In verse 12 an interesting statement is made concerning Israel: “…they shall wander from sea to sea…” The word “wander” is used to describe the unsteady seeking of bewildered persons. It represents those that are looking for something that they do not know where to find it. Thus, Israel is described as a bewildered, befuddled people going from sea to sea, to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but being unable to find it. A similar idea is seen in Ephesians 4:14.
Perhaps with the availability of the Word of the Lord it might be hard for us to understand this.
But when we look at it from a physical point of view we get a different picture.

If we look at it in view of food or drink perhaps we will understand it more easily. As we look at our text and look around us we see the famine in the land today. Not one imposed by God, or even natural elements, but one brought upon our own selves. Although we have not yet reached the point wherein we are unable to find the Word of the Lord, we are definitely starving when it comes to spiritual matters. Especially when it comes to the lack of knowledge of the Word of God so ever present today. Again and again we hear people say, “I can’t understand the Bible.” But when we look back we see that their parents and grandparents had no trouble understanding it. And they were, in many cases, not as well educated as those who claim to not be able to understand the Bible.

From what I see it is not a matter of “can’t” but “won’t” when it comes to understanding the will of the Lord. We have self-imposed a famine on the land. We are a malnourished world when it comes to understanding the Word of God, and this is by choice. We have quit:

“Hiding the word of God in our hearts” (Psalms 119:11)
“Searching the scriptures” (John 5:39)
“Searching the scriptures to see whether those things are so” (Acts 17:11)
“Studying to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15)

And because of this, we are biblically malnourished. The only way that we can correct this problem is to again become people of the Book. In years past the Lord’s people were recognized for their degree of Bible knowledge. It is sad to say, but this is not the case anymore!

The reason for this is that we spend more time with the daily paper, TV Guide, Facebook, or a hundred other things than we do with the Bible. And as long as we continue along these lines there will always be “a famine in the land”. A famine that is not only going to affect us eternally, but also our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, if the world lasts that long.

We need to become people of the Book once again. We need to become students of the Word as our spiritual forefathers were. When this is done, the famine will be gone, but until it is done the famine will continue to increase.