A famine not of bread, but of the Word

I witness on Twitter a lot. I also contact other Christians and we encourage each other and share verses, or just say “hi.” Tonight I responded to another friend’s enthusiasm for the website http://www.biblegateway.com. She said “it rocks. Seriously.” I agree. It is comprehensive and the search function is efficient. I replied to that effect, and also shared my even more favorite website, http://www.bible.cc. That site has commentaries, a Strong’s Concordance, and the translations in Greek and Hebrew. I use bible.cc every day, multiple times.

After our tweets subsided, I got to thinking about how blessed we are in America, to be able to access the Word like that at any moment.  Further, at the touch of a few keys we can access the greatest biblical minds of the current and past days and read their commentaries, or even instantly translate the bible into any language. I can click a button and any verse or chapter can be translated into Creole, or Danish or Bulgarian or Arabic or… anyway, the list goes on. How wonderful to access the Word like this!

Bible Gateway is only one of many such sites we can access here in America and people in other countries can too. I understand that there are places in the world where such unrestricted access to the word is not possible, but overall, the climate as it is now is that bibles are available, even those that have to be smuggled in to Jesus-unfriendly countries or places. Even better, there are mature Christians around and preachers around who understand and can explain it.

The Old Testament prophet Amos foretells of a time when
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.
“People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD,
But they will not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)

How terrible! Just when they need it the most, it will be gone! The rapture will occur soon, and the church will be gone, and with it, the people who embody the Word. These are the Christians, the people who understand the living waters contained in the flowing words of the bible. Immediately after the rapture, the many millions of fence-sitters will understand what had happened. These are people who have heard the Word, who perhaps have a believing spouse who disappeared, or who grew up in a Christian family but never got around to professing, they will know. They will look for the Word but they will not find it. Oh, bibles will still be immediately available, but how can they understand what they are reading, especially since the Holy Spirit will have withdrawn His indwelling ministry that in part is teacher of the Word? (2 Thess 2:6-7; John 16:13). The bible gives us a mini-picture of someone who is new to the Word and struggling to learn:

“Philip ran up and heard him [the Ethiopian eunuch] reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31)

Praise Him that the Spirit had told Philip to go up to the Eunuch and interpret with the eunuch! There was no dearth of access to the Word in the days of Acts and no shortage of it in the time beyond. Anyone who wants to learn the Word can. And so it has been throughout the church age. All one needs to do is find a preacher, go to a library, borrow a bible, contact the Gideons who have been passing out the Word since 1899.

That is going to change abruptly. Amos foretells of that time when people will “go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.” Now, some interpret the Amos passages as limited to Israel only, with there being a famine of the Word through the prophets, and surely this was so. Malachi was the last prophet and it was over 400 years before the next one – John the Baptist- came along. Others interpret the verses as being the last days and there being a famine of access to the Word because the rapture had taken place and the Church, the body of believers who witness and interpret to unbelievers- is gone.

The phrase The LORD uses through Amos, “staggering to and fro” is reminiscent of another prophet’s phrase of the last days:

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan 12:4). This we know for sure means the time of the end. Many will go to and fro. Why? Perhaps they are looking for the Word! And knowledge of the Word shall increase throughout the Tribulation. Eventually, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are sealed for their ministry. The Two Witnesses appear and proclaim and exhort. Then an angel flies around the world spreading the gospel. But initially after the rapture, there will be a famine. People will run about, looking for answers, looking for comfort, looking for truth. They will not find it. The next verse describes what will happen:

“In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.” (Amos 8:13) They are thirsty because the Word is the living water. Jesus told us this fact in the scene with the woman at the well: “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Drink up while you can!