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Starvation of the Lambs


Dr. Jay Worth Allen

Behold, the days come, said 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 word of the Lord . . .
and they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it

(Amos 8:11).

Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the northern kingdom of Israel was riding high and living low.  Moral standards had all but disappeared, honesty was a thing of the past and the poor were treated as social lepers.  But money was flowing and trade was booming, so they didn’t trouble themselves with the negatives.  Strange as it may seem, in this mix of milk and honey and hunger, Temple attendance was booming.  Mega synagogues, with their fine-tuned music and high pageantry, entertained the public in masses.  But not with preaching, for they “commanded the prophets, saying, ‘Prophesy not’” (Amos 2:12).  Every one believed, because Israel was built on faith in God, that God was on their side and would see them through any and all adversity . . . no matter what they did.  They were living on the endowment of their ecclesiastical past.

By this time God had abandoned all hope of winning this self-satisfied, farce of a nation.  How the mighty had fallen.  So God decided to launch an A-bomb in the form of a sheep-herder named Amos.  Amos exploded through Israel’s heartland like a blitzkrieg prophet of doom!  “Thus says the Lord,” Amos shouted, “for three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment . . .”  The Lord was going to judge His people!  The clock had been ticking, and the time was now!  The recently occurring natural disasters, drought, poor harvests, sickness, and earthquakes were all announcements of the Lord’s displeasure, but no one was paying attention (Amos 4:6-11).

And this was just the beginning.  Soon the whole Nation would be enslaved and deported (Amos 5:27).  But the worst of all had happened, there was “a famine of hearing the word of the Lord.”  Israel had been promised, through God’s prophets, direction, whenever they needed it.  All through Israel’s history God had sent His prophets to give them His word for guidance and comfort.  But since His people wouldn’t pay heed to the prophets He’d sent, then no more prophets would be sent!  This was a picture of spiritual starvation, destitution and abandonment.  Israel’s hearts were hungering for a word from the Lord, but their hunger would not be satisfied. The word of the Lord was nowhere to be found.  There was “a famine in the Land.”

Amos is a prophet for this present day.  His vision is a picture of the spiritual starvation of today’s Church.  The famine he saw is ours.

Spiritual starvation in the Church is the most unnatural state possible!  The New Testament positions the Church as inheriting all of God’s promises: life, joy, love, welfare, et cetera,  ad vitam aeternam (for all time, for eternity) through Christ.  “For He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23).  The Church is guaranteed assurance and guidance from God - the Holy Spirit - for eternity.  In the New Covenant we do not, nor will we have an endless succession of corporeal prophets, “clothed in camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey” preaching to us, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, as the Old Testament saints did; instead, the Holy Spirit, “who spoke by the prophets”, has been given to reside within each individual member of the Body of Christ to interpret, authenticate and apply both Old and New Testament teachings to each Christian in every generation - “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:6).  The Church is the fulfillment of the promises of God.

So what do we see in the Church today?  Do we see the promises of God manifest, or something else?  Shouldn’t we at least expect to see the Church today believing that the witness of the two Testaments, is the Word of God?  Shouldn’t the Church be clear on the central message concerning God in Christ; Christ in you” our “hope of glory”?  Shouldn’t the Church see plainly how God’s Message effects all men, with its demands for a life of faith, hope, love and obedience?  Yes. . . but we’re not!  Clarity on these matters is so lacking in the life of today’s Church, that the Church today is unhealthy, out of sorts and is in the midst of spiritual starvation.

Was starvation inevitable?  I believe it was.  For the past few years the Church has not been preaching the biblical Gospel.  The nature of Christ’s salvation and His relation to the Church has been woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. The Church has laid down the Bible and picked up experience.  So that we are now interpreting the Word of God with the consistency of our experience, rather than interpreting our experience to make it consistent with the word of God.  And the Church is starving to death!

To the world, the Church must seem like a rank and file mass, staggering in a fog, not knowing where we are or which way we’re going.  Our preaching is hazy; our heads muddled; hearts fret; doubts reign; uncertainly abounds - all to the tune of Contemporary Christian Music.  Why is this?  We could blame modern pressures, but that’s like Eve blaming the serpent.  The real trouble is us.  We have grieved the Holy Spirit with biblical skepticism and unbelief, and God has withheld Him.  He has not removed Him, but rather He has ceased speaking through Him.  We are experiencing divine judgment - the Starvation of the Lambs.

Is there a solution?  Yes.  And a simple one.

The Church, individually and collectively, must begin to feed on its “bread of life,” the Word of God.  We must begin, once more, to believe and preach, that the Bible is God’s Word written.  It’s His Book.  He wrote it.  It’s God breathed.  It can be believed in.  We can cast our life and our all upon it.  We can have absolute confidence in it.  In the words of the Psalmist, “It is tried in a furnace of fire, purified seven times.”  And the promise of God, respecting His Book is: “He will preserve it from this generation even into forever.”

We must, once more, believe that God’s written Word is the rule of faith and life.  We must desire God’s Holy Words; love them; embrace them; and be transformed and changed by them.

And finally, We, the Church must be completely dependent upon the Word of God as the means of grace.  The Bible is the meat for our souls; a light for our feet; a sure and steadfast, everlasting instrument for our salvation; a comforting agent which makes us glad;  it is the Words of everlasting life.

We cannot call back the Holy Spirit into the Church and revive God’s work by our own actions:  that quickening is the prerogative of God alone.  But we can at least remove the stumbling-stones over which we have fallen.  We can set ourselves to rethink the true God-breathed doctrines of revelation and inspiration of His Word in a way that will eliminate skepticism and uncertainties about their divine and eternal truth.  We can again believe God, and no other.  No task is more urgent in our time - unless we ‘re content with starvation.


Starvation of the Lambs
Published:  20 September 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.

Published:  30 September 2010 in the Faith Column of The County Journal.
(precursor to the author's END-TIMES APOSTATE CHURCH SERIES)

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