the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
Is one of God's four sore judgments which the Lord threatened to send upon Jerusalem; the sword, and the famine, the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast. (See Ezekiel 14:22) And though it may be said by some, that famine may be induced by natural causes, yet it must be allowed by those who believe the Scripture, that natural causes are but the agents and instruments of divine appointment. Who can doubt but that the plenty in Egypt, which was succeeded by seven years famine, was to bring about the gracious purposes of the Lord concerning Joseph and his family, that Israel might be led out of Egypt? Who can question that the famine in the days of Elisha was the same, when we are told, that the Lord called for it seven years. (2 Kings 8:1) And who will put down to natural causes what the Lord accomplished lay instruments, in themselves so feeble, when in the days of Joel the Lord's great army ate up the whole produce of the land? (Joel 1:1-20; Joe 2:1-32, etc.)
But reader! how dreadful soever a famine in a land may be, when for the wickedness of the people the Lord sends it, yet the word of God speaks of a famine yet more alarming. How very solemn are the words of the Lord, by the prophet, on this subject, Amos 8:11-12 "Behold, the days come, saith 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 words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even unto the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." What an awful sentence is this! And by as much as the soul is infinitely more important in value than the body, by so much must be the famine of living bread here threatened. But to what period of the church are we to look for its accomplishment? Was it not eminently fulfilled in the instance of the house of Israel, when, after their rejecting the Lord of life and glory, the Lord scattered them over the face of the earth, and left the nation to a wandering state, "without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an image, without an ephod, and without teraphim?" Yea, are they not still in this awful state? Oh! that that sweet promise may be hastening for its accomplishment, which the prophet who related the famined state of Israel declared also, by the same authority, should be at length fulfilled. "Afterward" (said he,) "shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness many days." (Hosea 3:4-5) But let not the reader close up his view of this spiritual famine as it relates to the Jews, without going farther, and enquiring whether the threatening may not belong equally to the Gentile church? yea, and whether it is not now in the present hour accomplishing in the earth? Is there not a famine of hearing the word of the Lord in numberless places which are called Christian countries, as well as idolatrous lands? Are there not multitudes who call themselves after Christ, but yet know no more of him than the name? Yea, to come nearer home, are there not villages and country places in this kingdom where the spiritual famine prevails, notwithstanding our land is called, a land of Bibles, and societies for disseminating the word of God are every where opening? Alas! while the grand and distinguishing principles of the faith of Christ are so openly and impudently denied; while God the Father's gracious purposes in the gift of salvation by his dear Son, is thought nothing of; while the GODHEAD of Christ, and redemption wholly by his blood, is daringly opposed; and while the person, work, and influence of God the Holy Ghost is not made the very foundation of a sinner's hope, in reading the sacred word to make wise unto salvation; while these things are kept in the back ground, and the object with many in teaching is but to introduce a flimsy system of morality to supply the place of vital godliness, is there not still a famine, yea, with many, with the Bible in their hand? Pious regenerated Christians see this, and find cause to mourn in secret over it; while they can only pray the Lord to take away the reproach of our land, and remove this spiritual famine from our people. Oh, for Jesus, the living bread, to feed his people with true understanding and knowledge!
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Famine'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​f/famine.html. London. 1828.