Summary: Famine times in our life challenge all of our convictions. These are often difficult times in our lives, but they also present an opportunity for God to show Himself in miraculous ways.
During the 20th century, an estimated 70 million people died from famines across the world, of which an estimated 30 million died during the famine of 1958–61 in China. Dictionary defines it as any extreme and general scarcity. In biblical times famines weren’t uncommon and this scarcity of food would lead to hunger, starvation and ultimately death. Those who could produce in these times became rich and powerful. Famines became times of testing where everything you believe comes into question and your convictions are put to the test. Last week I was spending some time with the Lord and He challenged me to preach a message about famine with all of you this morning. God often spoke with His people when times of famine were coming or gave instruction during famine. God sends out a warning to the church today, we are going to go into a time of famine and He does not want us to be casualties of it. Our convictions will be tested and we will need to rely on biblical truth to endure this time. With that in mind there are a few principles that God wants us to apply to our lives now so that we might be a light in some very dark times. While the world may fall apart, the church and His truth will stand.
1) God is not bound by this world (vs 1-5)
It is hard for most of us to imagine going through a famine in the land as they had in Isaac’s day. Imagine, due to the elements, you could not grow or even buy food to feed your family. It would inevitably cause death from malnutrition and starvation. There was nothing anyone could do but hope to survive until the famine ended and the rains came. Isaac is trying to save his family from the reality of this terrible famine and God tells him the he is going to bless him in the midst of all of it. This was a severe famine and I imagine that Isaac would have been wondering how exactly God was going to bless him by staying where the famine was the worst. Isaac would have known first hand of God’s ability to provide after his experience on the altar. God had always been faithful to his father and he knew that God was not bound by the realities of this world.
We have a tendency sometimes to get caught up in our circumstances and lose sight of the limitless ability of our heavenly father. Our society is going through the beginnings of some very difficult times financially and the temptation may be to become consumed with what’s going on, lose hope, and try to, in our own wisdom, come up with a solution to the problems. If there is one thing we should all know by now is that we are never strong or wise enough. It is only through God that we are more than conquerors and in these difficult times you must trust in God. He has been faithful in the past and He will continue to be faithful because He is not bound by finances and world markets. The first principle of famine living is trust in God. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5
2) God calls for obedience (vs 6)
In a time that would have been extremely difficult, God asks Isaac to do something that defies current logic. If there is a famine and you are a farmer it makes sense to move to where there is no famine in order to save your herds and family. Seems logical, but God tells him to stay. Isaac begins to move towards Egypt, but God tells him to stop when he’s in the middle of the Philistine territory. God always seems to be challenging our logic, but it is all for a greater purpose. God wanted to show himself faithful and powerful to Isaac and to all those around him. So we have verse 6, “so Isaac stayed in Gerar.” Isaac had immediate and obedient action towards God’s command.
We should all respond to the call of God in like fashion. No questions, no pauses to pry about it, just obedient action. How are we meant to be obedient in these times where work and finances will be scarce? Be obedient as good stewards of what He’s given us. We must ask for His wisdom in how we spend our money and we must give to God what is His through giving. We must also continually strive to be faithful to His will in our lives. This means actively participating in ministry, growing in relationship with Him and the spreading of the gospel. It’s not just a matter of being tight with your money, that’s our wisdom and we have been called to be generous hilarious givers. “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him.” Col. 2:6