What is the Famine of the Word of God Amos Wrote About? Is It Happening Today?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the famine of the word that the Prophet Amos wrote about in chapter 8? Is it happening today?

A Severe Famine

What is the famine of the word that the Prophet Amos wrote about in chapter 8?  Is it happening today? Famine usually depicts death and disease since a lack of food causes starvation and death, and that is just what is happening in this world today. There is a famine of hearing the Word of God, but that is by their choice, but even worse, there are many churches today where there is also a famine of the Word of God because many sermons today are strictly topological. That is, they address certain topics in the Christians life, and that’s fine, but when we fail to read and preach the Word of God in sermons, the sheep will starve to death. Starving sheep will eat just about anything…good or bad, but more often bad than good. When we don’t partake of the Word of God on a daily basis and we miss the preaching of the Word from the pulpit, Sunday school, and Bible studies, we also starve ourselves. We are, as a nation, experiencing a most severe famine. When people get spiritually hungry, they try to seek out other things rather than the embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and the Word of God. They strive to find purpose in life, so they’ll listen to nearly anything and everyone.

Day of the Lord

The Prophet Amos came from Judah, the Southern Kingdom and was sent to the Northern Kingdom, which had broken away from the other tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites. Strangely, Amos was sent to warn the Northern Kingdom (Israel) about the coming wrath of God’s judgment. It would come later through the nation of Assyria who came and destroyed their nation and took the people captive. They were taken into bondage as part of God’s judgment. And God’s judgment is coming on all who refuse God’s mercy (Amos 8:7). Verse 9 of chapter 8 tells of cosmic signs that indicate the dawning of the day of the Lord.

God’s Judgment

The day of the Lord includes the coming final judgment of Jesus Christ upon this sin-stained, darkened world. It is a time in which God will pour out His righteous wrath upon all the earth, and in particular, all who have rejected Him and His Word (the Bible). All because they would not hear and heed God’s Word. Indeed, here was a famine of God’s Word being heard in their ears. The prophet’s graphic imagery of death and destruction reminds all of us (especially the unsaved!) that God’s wrath is a terrible spectacle to behold (Amos 8:8–14; Rev 20:12-15, 21:8), but when they fail to read and heed the Word of God, they (and all) choose to reject Jesus Christ Who is their only hope of escaping the wrath of God that is being stored up against them, even as you read this (Rom 2:5, 8).

The Coming Famine

The worst judgment of all, to me, is the famine of the Word, for without the Word of God, no one can possibly know God’s will in order to obey it. This famine will be far worse than missing our daily bread and water. A famine of the Word, in society, and lately, from behind the pulpit, is a famine in which people don’t even know they’re starving and dying. Like victims of anorexia, they look in the mirror and think they’re fine, but really, they are starving to death; they are dying because without Christ, there is no hope. Today, many a true believer has an intense hunger and thirst for a message from God (and they should!), but many aren’t finding the Word being preached in their church. If there is a famine in most churches today, where will they go and what will become of them? The true convert will keep on seeking and searching until he or she finds a biblical church. Even if they have to start one, they will have a desire to know the Word of God and to know the God of the Word.

Departing From the Faith

The Apostle Paul foresaw the day when people would fall away from sound biblical teaching and start to believe satanic lies, even being taught in church. Paul said that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1-2). Instead of loving God and His Word, they will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Tim 3:4b-5).

… even the Devil can appear to be a preacher of righteousness …

Apostate Pastors and Churches

We know that Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), so since he can appear as an angel of light, this means he must have his own churches, and indeed he does! Counterfeit artists don’t counterfeit bubble gum wrappers. They counterfeit something valuable, and Satan loves to counterfeit the genuine, but when preachers fail to mention the need for repentance and faith, which is exactly what Jesus preached (Mark 1:15), and a desire to live out holy lives as God commands (Lev 11:44-45; 1 Pet 1:16), then the sheep will be fed worthless fluff. There will be little or no spiritually nutrious food for which they can grow in God’s grace and knowledge (as commanded).  And the church will be full of false converts who think they’re going to heaven but instead are headed down the broad path to hell.

Abandoning the Word

To an extent, the famine of God’s Word is with us now and it’s growing worse by the day.  A growing number of pastors are abandoning sound biblical teachings and the message of the cross; some I even wet to seminary with! Rather than telling people they are lost sinners in desperate need of salvation and that salvation is found only through Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12), these false teachers will acquire great crowds and great wealth with it, but these churches are actually full of spiritually impoverished goats. Remember the warnings of the Word when it was told that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears and they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). Daily Bible study bathed in prayer is the believer’s best preventative measure against having a personal spiritual famine in their life.  Clearly we must be hearing the teaching and preaching of the Bible in a church, and grow and learn in Sunday school, Bible studies and in pesronal Bible study at home in order to prevent us from falling into doctrinal error.


To avoid a personal famine of the Word, gorge yourself on the Word of God.  Saturate your mind with the mind of God by reading and listening to Scripture, sermons, and studies.  Sadly, some churches are falling further away from sound teaching.  While the world seperates itself from God’s Word, let us draw even nearer…getting closer and closer all the time; closer to God, clinging to His Word; both in the reading of it and the hearing of it through expository preaching and studies. I adjure you my friend to recognize that even today; right now in fact, is the best time to believe (2 Cor 6:2). Your tomorrow is not guaranteed. Put your trust in the Savior now. A failure to do so will incur God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whatever happens to come first.

Here is some related reading for you: Is Hearing Preaching or Sermons Essential to Spiritual Maturity?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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