Behold, the days come, said the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water…
Whether these words apply to the past, or refer to the future, their awful solenmity is undiminished; the existence of tremendous power is implied. These are the utterances of a Mind whose purposes are fully settled. There is an awful determinateness about this language. The Speaker, whoever He may be, is not to be trifled with. He asserts His sovereignty over the physical and the spiritual alike. He says, "I will send a famine upon the land; every root shall be withered up," etc.
I. A revelation of the Divine will constitutes man's richest blessing. In the text it is referred to by implication as food. Its withdrawment is compared to a famine. Hence, also, Jesus Christ reveals Himself as the "bread of life," the "Bread sent down from heaven," and "the meat that endureth to life everlasting." "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." As this natural bread is fitted to sustain these physical functions, so the spiritual bread is indispensably necessary to the prolongation of this spiritual life. We are entitled, therefore, to argue that a revelation of the Divine will constitutes man's richest blessing. This is proved —
1. By the intellectual satisfaction arising from harmony with the Divine will. The mind can rest in God; short of God it is restless. In God it enjoys the serenest calm. The intellect finds in God all that its capacious powers demand.
2. By the moral purity arising from obedience to the Divine will. Moral purity is unattainable, except through this holy will.
3. By the inspiring views of the universe obtained through, the Divine revelation. Look at the universe apart from this Holy Book, and that universe is crowded with mysteries. But look at the universe through this Book, and at once it is flooded with celestial splendour, it is vocal with heavenly music.
II. THE WITHDRAWMENT OF THIS REVELATION CONSTITUTES MAN'S DIREST CALAMITY. It is described in the text as a "famine." Why is it so great a disaster?
1. Because man would be sundered from the central life of the universe. Sever his connection with this Book and you have severed his connection with God. Amputate a limb, and having sundered it from the vital heart that limb will rot. Excise the leaf from the tree on which it trembles, and sundered from the root it shrivels and dies. So with man; take this Book away from thy mind, desist from perusing this sacred page, and thou art sundered from the central life of the universe; the heart from which thou didst derive thy nourishment has ceased to communicate with thee. Thou shalt die of famine, and of thirst.
2. Because human happiness is the result of mental conditions, and these mental conditions can be formed and sustained alone by a Divine revelation. Pure happiness is not dependent on the external.
3. Because man would be left in ignorance of his Creator's purposes. He would resemble a traveller in an unknown country, not knowing but his very next footstep will plunge him over a precipice, or that he might fall into the pit dug by the hand of the enemy. He would find himself, indeed, surrounded by memorials of gigantic power, but he would not know what the intent of that power is in relation to him.
III. MAN'S TREATMENT OF THIS REVELATION DETERMINES ITS CONTINUANCE OR SUSPENSION (vers. 4-10).
1. The beneficence of God in granting a revelation. When humanity fell from His favour He might have retired into the depths of everlasting silence, and never have spoken another word to a disloyal race.
2. The importance of making the best of our privileges. While the sun does shine, O toil in its light. In the years of plenty lay up for the years of scarcity.
3. The necessity of grateful appreciation on the part of the Church. It is through you who do appreciate this will that the revelation thereof is continued. But for you the world would be left in intellectual darkness, and would perish with moral hunger.
IV. THE LOSS OF THIS REVELATION WILL SHOW MEN ITS PRECIOUSNESS. "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." We are continually realising this principle. We never estimate our privileges aright until we are in danger of losing them, or until they have vanished from our view. We see most of the bird's beauty when the bird spreads its wings for flight. And so with our moral privileges, when they are vanishing from our sight we behold beauties that never impressed us before. You have a striking illustration of this in the case of Saul, the first king of Israel. When he was little in his own eyes, God spake with him; he was in continual communication with the Great Ruler of the universe. But when he waxed haughty, the heavens were as brass, and God answered him no more. "Bring me up Samuel; give me some link that shall connect me with my God! Oh, the horror of this moral loneliness! Bring me up Samuel, my own teacher, that connected me with the Eternal and the Divine. Oh, for one glance of him, for one pressure of that warm hand, for one rebuke even from that stern voice!... Connect me with God" is the desolate cry of the lonely spirit. The withdrawment, then, of this revelation will shew its preciousness. Two facts are clear —
1. We fail to appreciate blessings with which we are most familiar. Who cares for the rising sun? who cares for that setting orb? We may see it every day; familiarity has engendered indifference. Show men some little fireworks, and they will hurry in crowds to look at them. So with God's Book. We have it so freely that we are in danger of its total neglect. Why, the fact that you have a book that professes to come from God ought to arouse you into the most intense solicitude. The fact that we have a book that you know has come from God ought to arouse your energies into an activity that will never weary, and your gratitude into a zeal that will never cool.
2. Our non-appreciation of these privileges is a sufficient reason for their withdrawment. Oh, you know not how near may be the loss of your most precious privileges.
V. THE RECOVERY OF THIS REVELATION WILL EVENTUALLY BE FOUND IMPOSSIBLE. "They shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, but shall not find it." God can retire. There are depths in the universe to which He can betake Himself, which are inaccessible to you. Spirits crying out in agony for that "old family Bible," the very reading of which was so intolerable to them in the days of their youth; running to and fro to seek some man to guide them, but every man they address says, "I am in search of the same blessing." They hear of some messenger of God in the far distance, with swift feet they run to him, and, alas! it is vanity — he has no message from God. "They shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it." What is the picture? The human mind is a blank; that God-given brain a blank, every idea about God taken out of it. "I have held My light, and you have refused; I have taken it away," saith God. "I have spread My board, I have given a world-wide welcome, and ye refused. I have taken the viands away, and now you are running through the universe crying for God. But God has retired into depths to which you cannot penetrate." Such is the idea of my text. Men awakening to a sense of their privileges, when their awakening is too late.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: