Listen to this, you who rob the poor and trample down the needy! You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless. You measure out grain with dishonest measures and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales. And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor. Then you enslave poor people for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals.
“The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from border to border searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. Beautiful girls and strong young men will grow faint in that day, thirsting for the Lord’s word.”
(Amos 8:4-6, 11-13)
In his prophecy of judgment, Amos condemned the practices of various groups in Israel. For example, these merchants kept the religious festivals, but not in spirit. They couldn’t wait for the holy days and Sabbaths to be over so they could go back to making money. Their real interest was in enriching themselves, even if that meant cheating (shortchanging the quantity while boosting the price, or even selling chaff as wheat). They broke God’s laws concerning the use of dishonest scales (Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13-16). Worst of all, they didn’t really worship God.
The attitudes of the people of Israel revealed that they had no appetite for God’s word when prophets like Amos brought it. Because of their apathy, God planned a different type of famine: He would take away even the opportunity to hear his word. Little did they realize that the silence of God was much worse than the rebuke of God.
We have God’s Word, the Bible. But many still look everywhere except in Scripture for answers to life’s problems. You can help them by directing them to the Bible, showing them the parts that speak to their special needs and questions. God’s Word is available to us. Let us help people know it before a time comes when they cannot find it.