Several times the Scriptures repeat the words, “there was a famine in the land.” There was the time when Abraham left for Egypt, then when Isaac went to Abimelech, and then of course, when Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt.

There was famine when Naomi and Elimelek left Bethlehem in the Book of Ruth. Famine also takes a leading role in the story of the prodigal, in Luke 15:14, and is the reason the son decides to turn back for home.

God’s people through the millennia have seen that, whatever the cause of famines or crises, God can and does work out his purposes. In the details of history, we see his people protected and sustained. We may not understand, but as we are reminded in Isaiah 55:8 and Proverbs 3:5-6, our own thoughts and ideas are not God’s. He is Sovereign and can work exactly as he chooses. However, if you remember Amos 3:7, he “does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”

Another re-occurring phrase in Scripture is: “They did what was right in their own eyes.” We can all be guilty of doing that – it must be an age-old problem because that phrase appears at least seven times in the Book of Judges.

Through the stories of people like Joseph, Ruth and others in our Bibles, we see God’s hand saving his people from starvation – not just individuals and families, but whole nations.

In the Book of Amos we see a shepherd and a tender of sycamore figs in the role of prophet to the nation of Israel. There’s a strong call for justice, repentance and for the nation to turn back to God.  He accuses them of complacency, idolatry and a lack of social justice for the poor. He makes it clear that all will answer to God; that complacency can have disastrous effects and that compassion should stop greed, slavery, corruption and injustice. Superficial religion prevents spiritual integrity and true obedience. These themes ring true in our days now.

There is though, another mention of famine towards the end of the Book of Amos, in chapter 8:11. This time it’s not a famine of food or water that God threatens, but of the word of the Lord. There was no appetite for the word of God anymore, they looked to anything but God for answers.

A famine of the word of God

When CFI are represented at Christian festivals we often hear that there is a famine of the word, even in the church in the nation. Many are concerned about preaching from only the New Testament. I sense we are in these days again and not just in our nation. You will have your own viewpoints on where we are as a nation. We are told we must pray for our leaders and those in authority and we like never before need to pray for the UK and the UK church. Whichever way, a recent survey showed that many in our nation think the Ten Commandments are ‘pretty irrelevant’

Please pray for your local ministers to have a heart for studying the word of God and seeing it in the context it was written. Pray that they will feel the Holy Spirit leading them to a greater understanding of the Lord’s heart for Israel and for the Jewish people.

Pray that many more in the Church would become aware of the 2,000 years of Christian antisemitism we have to bear and repent for. Pray we all see opportunities to be friends of Israel even in our everyday lives, as well as in other aspects like our shopping habits and our support for the Jewish community in the face of growing antisemitism.

Pray for the Government and MPs to see the challenge facing the Jewish people and the stance we had in previous centuries as a nation of Judaic-Christian heritage. Pray we return to being a blessing to Israel and return to the true word of God.

Julia Soakell

May 2019