Summary: Could ther be a SPIRITUAL FAMINE in the United States today? If so, what can we do about it?
A FAMINE IN THE LAND
Have you ever been REALLY hungry or thirsty? Can you think of a time when you were REALLY, REALLY hungry or REALLY, REALLY thirsty?
I can honestly say I KNOW REAL THIRST! As you know I keep a glass of water handy when I preach – I have this medicinal PUMP implanted in my abdomen, which delivers constant medication to my spine for chronic pain. Early on, the Dr. told me one of the medication’s primary side effects is DRY MOUTH – “YOU AIN’T JEST WHISTLIN’ DIXIE DOC!” - I get SO dry – my lips stick together and I have to pry them! I try to wet them with my tongue – but it gets stuck to the roof of my mouth! My MOUTH and throat feel like the arid, parched, SAHARA desert, with it’s dry dust, prickly cactus, and tumbling tumbleweed! When I try to swallow – there’s nothing there! So I seldom go ANYWHERE without something to drink, and when I do, it’s not long before I’m looking to buy something! I’m NOT COMPLAINING mind you – in fact I’m EXTREMELY grateful for this technological blessing from God. And whenever this medically induced MAN-SIZED THIRST is flung upon me – I seldom go more than 30 minutes without relief!
IMAGINE how TERRIBLE it would be to go for days, even weeks – without adequate food or drink! The people of ISRAEL KNEW! They KNEW FAMINE in the land! They KNEW HUNGER! They KNEW THIRST! Even WORSE – they knew SPIRITUAL FAMINE!
Now - Think for a moment about all the gospel preaching and teaching available over the radio, TV, and Internet TODAY. Imagine the plethora of Christian books, magazines, and tapes at arm’s reach. Consider that the average American home has SEVEN (7) bibles in it. Understanding that 96% of Americans have a church within 2 miles of their home; that there is a Church BUILDING on practically every corner; and there are twice as many PREACHERS as there are CHURCHES; -- answer this – QUESTION? COULD THERE BE A SPIRITUAL FAMINE IN OUR LAND? You be the JUDGE!
1. First, CONSIDER JOSEPH’S PAIN.
There was a man – his name was Joseph. He was a son of JACOB, and became one of the TWELVE TRIBES of Israel. He was a favored son of his father, causing jealousy among his brothers. Thus, he was rejected and betrayed and thrown into a desert pit! Then his brothers sold him into slavery to the Egyptians. These were the brothers who were to inherit the COVENANT PROMISE of God through Abraham. Joseph’s brothers continued to live the good life in Canaan with their father’s blessing while HE languished as an accused sex offender in a foreign prison! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?
PAINFULLY, it seemed that Joseph was under God’s judgment. Bryan Huppert says “his soul had entered into the irons and the word of the Lord came and tested him.” In that dark, stinking, dungeon like prison, Joseph learned the secret of ABIDING moment by moment in the secret place of the MOST HIGH. Many scholars believe that Joseph was a CHRIST TYPE – and that he was seated in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ long before his earthly exaltation to the throne of Egypt. In the MIDST OF HIS PAIN – Joseph learned to ABIDE IN God!
WELL, If JOSEPH is a CHRIST TYPE – then we MUST also CONSIDER Christ’s PAIN! I imagine His was the most “GUT-WRENCHING” cry of PAIN and LONELINESS in history! It came from a hill called Golgotha – the place of the skull. It came from a CROSS - a cruel and wretched instrument of death! It came from the MESSIAH Himself! “My God, WHY have YOU ABANDONED Me?” No other words have so much PAIN, so much HURT! Jesus had been with God for ETERNITY – and now He was ABANDONED, ALONE – and DYING in PAIN! Jesus endured the physical and emotional abuse, including the beating with a “cat of nine tails.” He remained strong through the mock trials. He watched in silence as those He loved ran away! He didn’t cry out when they pierced His hands and feet! But -- when His Father turned His head – it was more than JESUS could take!
QUESTION? “WHY?” -- “WHY?” Why did He do it? Why did Jesus SUFFER such PAIN, AGONY, and ABANDONMENT?
I BELIEVE He did it for US! Jesus’ heart was broken for every time folks like you and me cast despairing eyes toward a dark Heaven and cry out “WHY?” Could it be that His heart was broken for the HURTING? Could it be that His desire to take on YOUR PAIN – propelled Him to the CROSS? Beloved, it was YOUR PAIN – and MY PAIN – which caused Jesus to fall under the weight of that Crossbeam. He died on that Cross so He could SHARE your PAIN!