Amos 8:11
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:
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Amos 8:11. Behold the days come, saith the Lord — This is spoken of events which were yet at some distance. That I will send a famine in the land, not of bread, &c., but of hearing the words of the Lord — When Amos prophesied, and for a considerable time after, there were several prophets, and abundant opportunities of hearing the word of the Lord, in season and out of season: they had precept upon precept and line upon line. Prophecy was their daily bread; but they despised it as Israel did the manna in the wilderness; and therefore God threatens that he would hereafter deprive them of this privilege. It appears that there were not so many prophets in the land of Israel, about the time that their destruction came upon them, as there were in the land of Judah; and after the ten tribes were carried away captive, they saw not their signs; there were no more any prophets among them; none to show them How long; Psalm 74:9. The Jewish church also, after Malachi, had no prophets for many ages. Now, 1st, This was the departure of a great part of their glory: what especially made their nation great and high was, that to them were committed the oracles of God: but when these were taken from them their beauty was stained, and their honour laid in the dust. 2d, This was a token of God’s highest displeasure against them: surely he was angry indeed with them, when he would no more speak to them as he had done; and had abandoned them to ruin, when he would no more reprove them for their sins, and call them to repentance by his messengers. 3d, This made all the other calamities that were upon them truly melancholy; that they had no prophets to instruct and comfort them from the word of God, nor to give them any hopeful prospect. We should say at any time, and shall be compelled to say in a time of trouble, that a famine of the word of God is, of all others, the sorest famine — the heaviest judgment. It is not improbable that this threatening was intended to look further than to the judgment now referred to, even to the blindness which has in part happened to Israel, in the days of the Messiah, and the veil that is on the hearts of the unbelieving Jews. They reject the gospel, and the ministers of it, which God sends to them, and covet to have prophets of their own, as their fathers had; but they shall have none, the kingdom of God being taken from them and given to another people.

8:11-14 Here was a token of God's highest displeasure. At any time, and most in a time of trouble, a famine of the word of God is the heaviest judgment. To many this is no affliction, yet some will feel it very much, and will travel far to hear a good sermon; they feel the loss of the mercies others foolishly sin away. But when God visits a backsliding church, their own plans and endeavours to find out a way of salvation, will stand them in no stead. And the most amiable and zealous would perish, for want of the water of life, which Christ only can bestow. Let us value our advantages, seek to profit by them, and fear sinning them away.Not a famine for bread - He does not deny that there should be bodily famine too; but this, grievous as it is, would be less grievous than the famine of which he speaks, "the famine of the word of the Lord." In distress we all go to God. Rib.: "They who now cast out and despise the prophets, when they shall see themselves besieged by the enemy, shall be tormented with a great hunger of hearing the word of the Lord from the mouths of the prophets, and shall find no one to lighten their distresses. This was most sad to the people of God; 'we see not our tokens; there is not one prophet more; there is not one with us who understandeth, how long!' Psalm 74:9." Even the profane, when they see no help, will have recourse to God. Saul, in his extremity, "inquired of the Lord and He answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" 1 Samuel 28:6. Jeroboam sent his wife to inquire of the prophet Ahijah about his son's health 1 Kings 14:2-3. They sought for temporal relief only, and therefore found it not. 11. famine of … hearing the words of the Lord—a just retribution on those who now will not hear the Lord's prophets, nay even try to drive them away, as Amaziah did (Am 7:12); they shall look in vain, in their distress, for divine counsel, such as the prophets now offer (Eze 7:26; Mic 3:7). Compare as to the Jews' rejection of Messiah, and their consequent rejection by Him (Mt 21:43); and their desire for Messiah too late (Lu 17:22; Joh 7:34; 8:21). So, the prodigal when he had sojourned awhile in the "far-off country, began to be in want" in the "mighty famine" which arose (Lu 15:14; compare 1Sa 3:1; 7:2). It is remarkable that the Jews' religion is almost the only one that could be abolished against the will of the people themselves, on account of its being dependent on a particular place, namely, the temple. When that was destroyed, the Mosaic ritual, which could not exist without it, necessarily ceased. Providence designed it, that, as the law gave way to the Gospel, so all men should perceive it was so, in spite of the Jews' obstinate rejection of the Gospel. Behold; note well what now I shall declare to you, and consider it.

The days come, saith the Lord God; surely, speedily, and according to the threats of God.

I will send a famine in the land; by a signal hand of Divine displeasure it shall appear to be from God, that such a famine cometh upon them of Israel.

Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water: a spiritual famine joined with a corporal famine; their bodies were pined with famine, destitute of bread and water; and this God sent too. but the famine of the soul is worse and more grievous.

But of hearing the words; either the written word which Israel had among them till their captivity, but afterwards should ever want both it and those who should interpret it to them, or else the word of prophecy; now they despise it, though they have it, but then they shall desire it, and have it not. They shall hunt after prophets, to tell them when their troubles shall end, though now they hate prophets who warn them, that their troubles might not begin: now Israel despiseth a prophet’s counsel, then they shall hunt for it, but not have a prophet to give them counsel, as Psalm 74:9.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God,.... Which Kimchi interprets of all the days of the second house or temple after Malachi, when prophecy ceased; but it rather has respect to the time of Shalmaneser's carrying captive the ten tribes, when they had no more prophets nor prophecy among them, or any to tell how long their captivity should last, or when it would be better times with them, Psalm 74:9;

that I will send a famine in the land; which, in a literal sense, is one of God's arrows he has in his quiver, and sends out when he pleases; or one of his sore judgments, which he sometimes orders to come upon a people for their sins: but here is meant,

not a famine of bread; or through want of that, which is very dreadful; as was the famine of Samaria, when an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and a certain measure of dove's dung for five pieces of silver, 2 Kings 6:25; and as were the famines of Jerusalem, when taken both by the Chaldeans and Romans, when delicate women boiled and ate their own children, Lamentations 4:8;

nor a thirst for water; which is more distressing and tormenting than hunger; and to be slain with thirst is to be destroyed in the most afflictive manner, Hosea 2:3. Lysimachus is said to part with his kingdom for a draught of water; and the torments of hell are set forth by a violent thirst for it, Luke 16:24; but something worse than either of these is here threatened:

but of hearing the words of the Lord; the word of prophecy, and the preaching of the word, or explaining the Scriptures. Of this blessing the ten tribes were deprived at their captivity, and have been ever since; and the Jews, upon their rejection of Christ, have had the kingdom of God, the Gospel of the kingdom, the word and ordinances of God, taken from them, and remain so to this day; the seven churches of Asia have had their candlestick removed out of its place, and this famine continues in those parts to this time; and, by the symptoms upon us, we may justly fear it, will be our case before long. "The words of the Lord" are the Scriptures, which cone from him, and are concerning him; the doctrines of grace contained in them, the wholesome words of Christ: hearing them signifies the preaching of them, Isaiah 53:1; by which hearing comes, and is a great blessing, and should be attended to, as being the means of conversion, regenerations, the knowledge of Christ, faith in him, and the joy of it. Now, to be deprived of hearing the Gospel is a spiritual famine, for that is food, bread, meat, milk, honey, yea, a feast; it is food that is savoury, wholesome, nourishing, satisfying, strengthening, and comforting; and when this is took away a famine ensues, as when a church state is dissolved, ministers are ordered to preach no more in such a place, or are scattered by persecution, or removed by death, and none raised up in their stead; or when error prevails, to the suppressing of truth: all which is done, or suffered to be done, for indifference to the word of God, unfruitfulness under it, and contempt of it, and, opposition to it; which is a dreadful case, when such a famine is; for the glory, riches, and light of a nation, are gone; bread for their souls is no more; and the means of conversion, knowledge, comfort, &c. cease; and people in course must die, for lack of these things; see Isaiah 3:1.

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:
11. Behold, days are coming] Amos 4:2.

words] Read probably (with many MSS., LXX. Vulg. Pesh.; cf. Amos 8:12) the sing, “word,” the regular term for a particular communication from Jehovah.

11–12. Then, in the general distress, there will be an eagerness to hear that word of Jehovah, which is now scorned and rejected: men will seek everywhere throughout the land to find a prophet who will declare it to them, but in vain. The reference may be partly to Jehovah’s moral commandments, which, when it is too late, the people will be ready to obey; but chiefly, no doubt, it is to the counsel and advice which, in a national crisis, Jehovah was wont to send His people through the prophets.

Verse 11. - This shall be the bitterness at the end; they had rejected the warnings of the prophets (Amos 7:12, etc.); now the Word of God and the light of his teaching should fail them. Famine. When the light of God's revelation is withdrawn, their longing for the Word, however sore and great, shall remain unsatisfied, like that of Saul (1 Samuel 28:6). They may grieve like the psalmist, "We see not our signs; there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long" (Psalm 74:9); but it will be in vain (see a similar punishment threatened, Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Micah 3:7). Amos 8:11And at that time the light and comfort of the word of God will also fail them. Amos 8:11. "Behold, days come, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that I send a hungering into the land, not a hungering for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Jehovah. Amos 8:12. And they will reel from sea to sea; and from the north, and even to the east, they sweep round to seek the word of Jehovah, and will not find it." The bitterness of the time of punishment is increased by the fact that the Lord will then withdrawn His word from them, i.e., the light of His revelation. They who will not now hear His word, as proclaimed by the prophets, will then cherish the greatest longing for it. Such hunger and thirst will be awakened by the distress and affliction that will come upon them. The intensity of this desire is depicted in Amos 8:12. They reel (נוּע as in Amos 4:8) from the sea to the sea; that is to say, not "from the Dead Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west," for Joel 2:20 and Zechariah 14:8 are not cases in point, as the two seas are defined there by distinct epithets; but as in Psalm 72:8 and Zechariah 9:10, according to which the meaning is, from the sea to where the sea occurs again, at the other end of the world, "the sea being taken as the boundary of the earth" (Hupfeld). The other clause, "from the north even to the east," contains an abridged expression for "from north to south and from west to east," i.e., to every quarter of the globe.
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