Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Famine of Hearing The Word

I have spent days trying to put these thoughts into words and organize them on screen. I'm still not sure I'm quite there even yet.

During our study of the minor prophets, this verse came up:Amos 8:11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD." What implications does this have for today?

It seems to me we are suffering a definite famine of hearing the word of God in these days. It has been kicked out of the schools and out of the public square to a great extent. Within liberal churches, even though it may be read every Sunday, its authority is widely ignored and its meaning twisted by the culture and personal moral preferences. Our enlightened western society seems to be deliberately rejecting, even fleeing from God, His word and His authority over us. Morality has been abandoned in favour of an anything-goes, self-centered, pleasure-is-all model of behaviour.

But notice that, according to the verse, the famine is coming from God. It is He who is sending it. I believe that as much as we might arrogantly claim that it is we who are asserting our independence and our self sufficiency; as much as we may think we are in control of our own destiny, it is not done without God's allowing us to do it.

I think Romans chapter 1: 18-32 especially applies here. God has given us over... to sexual impurity ... to shameful lusts... to a depraved mind. We have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. In other words, we, as a people and as a society have been so insistent in having our own way that God has said, in effect, "OK, go ahead!" I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that in the end, either we say to God, "Thy will be done," or He will say to us, "Alright then, thy will be done."

Back to the Prophets. In Ezekiel chapters 9 and 10, Ezekiel sees God's Glory leaving the temple -- but it does so in stages. It does not leave it all at once. It pauses at the threshold, as if offering a chance for repentance. Is God's Glory and all that it entails; His blessing and protection, leaving our nations? Is it too late? Is this North American society about to be granted what we seem to want? I hope not, but I fear so. I believe it is now leaving, and will indeed leave completely if we as a people do not repent, turn around and follow the right path. Today it is at the threshold, poised to leave if we continue to push it away. Only a great repentance and revival can change what otherwise must inevitably follow.


Take Care


Jonathan D. Groff said...

I think you are right. I was always fascinated by the passage in Exodus when God says he will harden Pharaoh's heart. And I think the two ideas are linked. When we decide we want something, God, at a certain point, will simply give us over to it. On the other hand I think it speaks to God's wonderful love and mercy, that for so long he will strive to keep us close to him. We have to really want to get away from him. And even then he won't always allow it. It's like when a parent says to a child that they discipline because they love them. It's a scary thought when that parent decides to simply let the child go and do whatever he/she wants. Imagine the circumstances that must bring that about.

At the risk of starting an argument I am in no way even close to being educated enough to sustain, I would like to simply suggest that this is could be an interesting idea in the explaining of predestination. It seems clear that we hear the word of God only because he allows us to.

John K said...

Hi Jon,
Predestination is never an easy concept around which to wrap our heads, is it? Of course, as Jesus said, no one can come to him unless the Father draws them. Elsewhere he says that when he is lifted up he will draw all men to himself. The question in my own mind, then, is this; are we all drawn in some fashion, but some do not respond?

The other matter is, of course, that the person without the Spirit cannot understand the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness to him. IOW, no one can even begin to understand the truths of Scripture without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which is given only at the moment of regeneration. Which means, of course, that before we are born again, none of us can really "hear," in the sense of comprehending, the word of God.

The Nicky said...

Hi everyone, it's great to be back in the "modern age" after the hurricane left us without power for 18 days.

In response to Jonathan, I have come to view the dichotomy of predestination versus free will in a rather unique light...I see God creating ALL possible outcomes simultaneously, leaving them suspended just beyond the moving envelope of Time in which we exist; then, as we are confronted with choices, the paths we choose lead us inevitably into a future arranged for us in advance, with all other possible worlds dropped away. This gradual narrowing of future events culminates in the final choice (God or not God) which leads to either of the only two eventual outcomes (eternity with God or eternal separation from God). This is a familiar idea to readers of "alternate history" school of fiction; I have merely turned it on its head, in that human choices lead to a decrease of possible worlds, not an ever-growing multitude of co-existent universes. I guess this can be hard to reason out, if one is not familiar with this genre of literature, but it makes sense to me, preserves God's sovreignty, and retains the element of free will which ZI feel is vital to any understanding of the true nature of love. I welcome any insight or discussion of this, as I have the vague outlines of a book on this theme in development.

John K said...

Hi Nicky, forgive me for not even realizing you were in the path of the hurricane. Perhaps you will post on it, but welcome back.
Here is my take on predestination, and to me it reconciles almost every difficulty, and biblically at that. I believe that the elect is the body of Christ. In other words, God ordained from the foundation of the world that all who come to faith in Christ would be saved. I believe that all 'predestination' passages in the Bible can be read with this context in mind and be seen as doctrinally consistent. He then calls all people to seek Him, and promises that all who do seek will find and to all who knock the door will be opened.
But notice that it is God who opens that door. It is not up to us to open it ourselves and walk in. I believe this view upholds both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility.