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A Famine of the Word of God

Only a heart of stone could be unmoved by the pictures of famine victims in Yemen, Somalia, and South Sudan. To gaze on the emaciated frames of little children, and the empty eyes of despairing parents, prompts questions that are not easily answered.

And it elicits outrage too, when we hear of corrupt regimes whose leaders misappropriate resources to fund foolish conflicts or to increase their own fortunes. They are blind to the plight of their beleaguered citizens, and often wilfully so.

Christians cannot and must not ignore the plight of the suffering. We are to help those in need, primarily our fellow-believers, but not exclusively. (Galatians 6:10)

The Bible speaks of another famine.

“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.” (Amos 8:11) Thus the Lord pledged to deal with Israel, judging her in kind – as she turned away from His Word, so now that Word would be taken from her. What a catastrophe!

Martin Luther imagined such a predicament in his day: “No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear. God grant that we and our descendants be not witnesses of such a calamity.”

Luther’s prayer must be ours.

But how do we preserve this precious inheritance? By giving it due place – prizing it, studying it, preaching it, obeying it, living it. Like the Psalmist, we must express the conviction that God’s Truth is of more use to us “than thousands of gold and silver” (119:72) – and we must mean it.

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