What Should We Do in the Face of Famine in the Church Prophesied in the Bible?
A gust of autumn wind blew through, sweeping up the fallen leaves in the yard. Sitting by the window, I frowned and pondered over these verses, “Behold, the days come … 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 Jehovah” (Amos 8:11), and “And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amos 4:7). It can be seen from these verses that God will cause famine to befall the religious world when His followers all deviate from His way and no longer obey His words. That is to say, the desolation of the church is ordained by God, but what is God’s intention behind that? And what inspiration can we people of the last days gain? With this in mind, I came before the Lord, prayed and sought to Him. After I consulted the Bible and some spiritual books, the riddle in my heart was finally solved.
From the biblical records of what the temple was like at the end of the Age of Law, I gained some enlightenment. At that time the temple had lost God’s leadership, where the chief priests and Pharisees who served God lost the heart that revered God and offered lame and blind livestock as sacrifices to God. Though they had violated the laws and commandments of Jehovah God, they received no discipline or punishment. Besides, they didn’t follow the way of God, and often deceived the common people for the sake of their own interests and even devoured widows’ property. They only focused on talking about the literal doctrines of the Bible and theological theories instead of leading the people to follow the way of God and obey the laws and commandments. As a result, they turned the temple into a “den of thieves.” Just as it is recorded in the Bible, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12–13). From these verses, we can see that, the temple at that time had turned into a place where livestock and poultry were bought and sold and money was exchanged, no longer a place for worshiping God.
When the Lord Jesus came to do new work, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, asked people to confess their sins and repent, and performed many miracles and wonders, such as allowing the blind to see, the lame to walk, and lepers to be healed. At that time, the Holy Spirit turned to defend His work, which resulted in the gradual desolation of the temple. God’s intention in doing so was for people to see that He had done new work outside the temple and thus to leave the temple to follow the Lord Jesus’ work and gain His redemption. The Pharisees, however, were so arrogant that they didn’t seek and accept the Lord Jesus’ work but held onto their own conceptions and even fabricated all kinds of rumors to resist and condemn Him in order to protect their status and livelihood. They doggedly stayed within the temple bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit and in the end missed the salvation of the Lord Jesus.
This reminded me of the present situation of our church. Externally, we often attend meetings where we listen to sermons, read the Bible and sing hymns to praise the Lord, but when we return home, we have no interest in reading the Bible or praying, losing our previous enthusiasm. The faith and love of the brothers and sisters in general are growing cold and weak, and our spirits are withered and dark; we gain no light when reading the Bible and have nothing to say while praying to the Lord; we only treat God’s words as rules to abide by, but don’t understand His will or have any knowledge of Him; we just focus on the superficial good deeds, yet fail to practice God’s words when encountering things. Moreover, many of us are following the trends of the world and coveting worldly enjoyment, unable to extricate ourselves. In the church there appear more and more iniquitous actions like struggling in jealousy, fighting over fame and profit, attacking and excluding each other, and forming small groups; the pastors and elders only talk about biblical knowledge and theological theory, unable to say something fresh and bright to supply our lives. In order to change this situation, they tried many methods such as holding Bible study classes, prayer meetings, and scripture recitation competitions, and arranging for the brothers and sisters to pray for the church by turns, which temporarily excited our enthusiasm, but afterward we were still passive and weak. … Given the present situation of our church—most of the pious Christians are dark and withered in spirit and no longer feel the Lord’s presence—it seems as if we have been abandoned by the Lord. I then recalled when we first believed in the Lord. At that time, the brothers and sisters were full of faith, each burning like fire. Even when we suffered persecution and tribulations, we never became negative or weak, but still persisted in attending meetings and preaching the gospel to bear witness to the Lord’s name—it was totally different from the desolation of the church now. The Bible says, “The church … is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). But obviously our church now is nothing like what is said in the verse.
What should we do in the face of the desolation of the church?
So what should we do in the face of the desolation of the church? I then thought back to when the Lord Jesus came to do work. At that time, the Lord Jesus didn’t work in the temple, but in the countryside, by the sea, in the wilderness, and on the mountains. Only when people walked out of the temple and accepted the Lord Jesus’ work, could they enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit and obtain the Lord’s salvation. Just like when Peter, Matthew and the others heard what the Lord said and witnessed how He performed the miracles, they recognized that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah, and thus followed His work and gained His salvation. Though they left the temple and no longer worshiped God there, they obtained the Lord’s personal guidance, watering and shepherding because of accepting His present work with a heart of longing and seeking, and meanwhile gained the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). So faced with the desolation of the church, we should actively seek and follow the footprints of the Lord as Peter and the other disciples did. But how should we follow the footprints of the Lord? Actually, the Lord’s words have long since told us the answer. The Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13), “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). The Lord’s words make it clear that He will return to speak and utter words and bring into His house the sheep that are able to recognize His voice and belong to Him. Through the desolation of the church, God intends for those who truly love the truth and believe in Him in various denominations to actively seek the Lord’s utterances and accept His personal watering and shepherding. Through reading the present words of God, fellowshiping about the truth, singing hymns and praying, they can obtain the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and gradually their lives will keep growing and their knowledge of God will deepen. In the end, they will be able to maintain their faith in God, glorify and bear witness for God no matter what persecution or tribulations befall them. Such people are the wise virgins prophesied by the Lord Jesus who are able to attend the wedding feast with the Lamb and gain the true salvation revealed in the last days as prophesied in the Bible. In contrast, those who obstinately remain in the churches and wait for death regardless of how thirsty and dark they feel in their spirits are the foolish virgins prophesied by the Lord Jesus who will be abandoned by Him.
Now when I again read these two verses, “Behold, the days come … 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 Jehovah” (Amos 8:11), and “And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amos 4:7), I finally understand God’s will—God hopes that we can walk out of the rainless place, find the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and have our spirits nourished.
Dear friends, have you found the utterances of the Holy Spirit?