“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 to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12
The setting of these verses reveals Amos, a prophet from Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was prophesying to the Northern Kingdom called Israel. Jeroboam had become king of the Northern Kingdom about 165 years before, when the 12 tribes of Israel were split, after Solomon’s reign into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom. Deut. 16:16 stated that all the men of Israel were to appear before the Lord three times a year in Jerusalem to worship. (“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty.”) Jeroboam knew that if this happened the heart of the people would turn to Rehoboam, king of the Southern Kingdom and that he would be killed. So he set up substitute worship in Bethel and Dan by making two calves of gold--idols--for the people to worship. (I Kings 12:26-29: “And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.”)
What Jeroboam started was continued by the next 12 kings of the Northern Kingdom and the nation waxed worse and worse. And there came a time God sent Amos to prophesy in Israel. He prophesied against all nations around Israel, including Judah, before he said anything against Israel. No doubt the people agreed with Amos while he was speaking against the other nation’s sin. But when he spoke against Israel, the priest of Bethel told Amos to go back home and prophesy there--we don’t want to hear what you have to say. (Amos 7:12-13: “Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.”)
Amos continued to prophesy, basically stating a famine was coming. (verse 11 in our text) A famine is usually a time of testing. The famine he spoke of was a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. This could involve two things. First, that the word (truth) was not being proclaimed in Israel. This was true for they were worshiping idols. This could apply to us today for there is not a lot of truth preached and truth is sure not practiced much in our day. Second, the people did not have an ear to hear, a spiritual ear. Eight times in the Bible Jesus said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mat. 13:9) If you study the history of Israel, there had been two great prophets that proclaimed truth--Elijah and Elisha. Even in Elijah’s day he got to the point that he thought he was the only one standing for truth, but the Lord said 7000 had not bowed a knee to Baal. (“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” I King 19:14,18) The Lord has always had a witness and He always will.
Amos’s prophecy stated plainly that there would come a time that the people would look for the Word of the Lord and not be able to find it. (verse 12 in our text) The Lord has put an emptiness inside of man that cannot be satisfied with anything but God. So some men begin to look for the Word to find satisfaction. They will wander to the north--probably refers to going up to Dan since Bethel was in the south where Amos was. They will not find satisfaction at the other golden calf. They will go to the east, which is the place of all kinds of pagan religions. They will not find it there. You may say west is not mentioned but it is--from sea to sea. The Mediterranean Sea was to the west. In essence Amos said you shall wander north, east, and west and not find the Word of the Lord--no truth in the land and no ears to hear.
Notice, he did not mention south. What is south? Jerusalem and the temple--a place to meet God and where truth was. Uzziah was king at this time. II Chron. 26:4 says, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did.” Truth was in the South at Jerusalem. Why would they not go south? Because they had worshiped the golden calf for 165 years and their minds were captured by tradition. Even Judah in Jeremiah’s day said, “We will not walk in the old paths”--they would not find the truth--old paths. (Jer. 6:16: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”) These people are no different from people today. We are warned not to be captured by tradition and yet we are as a whole. (Col. 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”) We like the way we are--no ears to hear and do not want the truth. In fact when truth comes, many call it a new doctrine. No! No! Just the old, old story of truth. We have a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
Since this is the case, what do I need to do? Must I relocate to be saved? I am hearing some say “You will not be saved where you are, you must come to our place.” And they will tell you, “You must move to be saved--relocate. You are not going to get help where you are.” They will tell you to move where truth is preached and practiced. It is true you must have truth preached and practiced for you to be saved but do you need to relocate? In some cases you may have to and in other cases you may not have to. The bottom line is you must find the divine will of God for you. What does the Lord want you to do? You need to beware of these preachers who tell you what the will of God is for your life.
Abraham relocated to Egypt when a famine came. I know it was a time of testing and not for salvation, but he got in trouble. His wife brought back Hagar and we still have trouble from that today. The problem was Abraham did not stay where the Lord told him to stay.
Naomi and her husband left the house of bread (Bethlehem) when a famine came. She thought she did not have anything and went to Moab only 30 miles away. After ten years she went back confessing she went out full and came back empty. She lost her husband and two sons.
Cornelius in Acts 10 did not have to relocate to be saved. He had responsibility as a centurion in Caesarea. He was a Gentile and also lost--dead in trespasses and sins. We could say he had two strikes against him, yet he did not have to relocate to be saved for he did what was right were he was and God sent an angel to tell him how to get Peter, the human instrument, who told him words whereby he might be saved.
The Eunuch in Acts 8 did not have to relocate to be saved. He was in search of God and went to Jerusalem to find Him and didn’t. But on the way home, God sent the human instrument, Philip, who preached to him Jesus and he was saved and then he went back home to his people. We were told by our guides in Jerusalem in 1975 that the Eunuch was instrumental in a Baptist Church being started in his home land.
When people talk about relocating to New Hope Baptist Church, as pastor it scares me. I have never told anyone to move here but I have told them to do what the Lord says. After all, what do we have here? I know truth is preached and practiced, which is good and right, but you need to realize that we are not experiencing a great move of God. In fact, I do not know of any place right now in America that is. Seems we are having a famine of hearing the word of God. Also, I do not know how many years I have left to preach and pastor. We do not know what tomorrow holds. I ask the church recently if I had to leave for what ever the reason, “What kind of pastor would you call? Would you settle for a preacher who would not preach and practice the truth?” I’m afraid they would for some are tired of the manna--tired of truth. The reason I say that is because I have seen other churches call pastors who practiced easy believism and go in a different direction than God wanted them to. Folks, we are in a mess across this nation.
Must I relocate to be saved? You had better find the mind of God. Do not listen to any preacher who will tell you that you must move to their place. That is not right. You had better try the spirits that are telling you what you need to do about relocating. You need to know what you are doing if you decide to relocate.
The culture is different just a few miles away even in our country. The work ethic is different and the economy is different. You need to be careful or you will get out on a limb and the devil will saw it off.
You say I’m 99 % sure. That is not enough. You need to be 110% sure before you relocate. Be careful or you will be like Naomi and lose everything you have.
As I was studying this message, I realized I did not have to relocate. I grew up in a church that did not have a whole lot of the power of God present. Oh, they had truth in word but I did not have an ear to hear and there was not enough power to quicken my spiritual ear to hear. Some way, some how, I went south. I’m not saying you have to go south but I did. I went south to Camp Zion, Myrtle, MS. The power of God was there and the gift to preach that God had placed in me got stirred. I do not understand all that but I went south where the power of God was and He knit my heart with the human instrument God used in my life. He came and preached, and he came and preached, and he came and preached. Are you listening? After I was saved he told me some of the things he had told me when he first came but I didn’t hear him. He loved me where I was and little by little I began to hear. That is why we try to bring in those who preach and practice the truth--they are fresh to you. But if you had them every day, you would get tired of the manna.
You do not need to relocate unless you are sure what God’s will is. When you come to a meeting, there may be a spiritual high. But after the meeting you can not get a holy grunt out of anybody. That is kind of the way it was at Camp Zion. You do not need to check the place out only in a meeting. Spend some time there in the day by day routine and stay for some time before you make up your mind to relocate. Find out what God wants you to do. He may want to save you where you are so you can be instrumental in starting something there.
Thank the Lord I did not have to relocate to be saved. The maniac of Gadara wanted to go with Jesus after he was saved. I can understand that. Everybody in his area knew he had run naked through the graveyards. No doubt when they saw him later, they pointed and whispered “That’s him.” But Jesus told him, “...Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19) It would have been easier to have gone somewhere else.
There was a time in my life that there were three preachers in three states at three different churches, all at the same time, telling me I was suppose to be with them. I did not know what to do. I was at Camp Zion again for a week and an impression came to me that I should start a print shop where I lived. I told my wife about it when I got home and she said she had the same impression. Three days later I bought a print shop just eight miles from my house and proceeded to build a building to house it. The print shop was not profitable but it kept me in this basic area so that I was ready to go to New Hope Baptist Church when they called me as pastor. If I had relocated I would have been out of the will of God.
The Lord put me at New Hope right in the middle of all the preachers that knew me and had figured out what was wrong with me, at least they thought they had. It would have been easier to have gone out west to new territory where nobody knew me and start afresh. But that was not the right thing to do for that was not God’s will.
Must I relocate to be saved? Only if it is God’s will, otherwise, be still and ask God to give you an ear to hear and the Lord will visit you in His time in salvation. You may have to come to the meetings, like the men of Israel had to go to Jerusalem three times a year, to get truth and carry it back to your home, state, country, or where ever and see something get started where you are. I’m saying you may. I do not know what you will have to do.
I am trying to let you know I’m scared when someone says they are coming to New Hope. You must be in the will of God or you will get out on a limb and the devil will saw it off and you will hurt yourself, your family, and the cause of Christ.
If it is God’s will for you to relocate to New Hope, I will do whatever is necessary to help you. You will need help if you relocate. There are a lot of voices that will lead you astray. You need to hear God’s voice, find His will, and do it.
This is just some of the thoughts dealt with in this message preached at New Hope Baptist Church. If you would like a CD or DVD of this message, please feel free to contact us. All our material is free of charge. (Pro. 23:23) If I can be of help in any way, please feel free to contact me. I care for your soul.
THE PERSUADER - May-Dec., 2010