“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“When I will send hunger over the land,
Not hunger for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather [a hunger] for hearing the words of the Lord. – Amos 8:11
The thought behind this is that this judgement is really a withdrawal of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit to make the word of God live and be desired. The text does not say that the written word of God is withdrawn. The bible may well be present in an abundance. What the text is saying is that there will be no work of the Spirit to give understanding to people about the food which the soul needs. This means that people will be still able to read God’s word, but will not be able either to accept its message, or be given ministers and preachers to expound and explain the word, nor the blessed work of the Spirit to apply the truth and give the gift of faith.
About this some believers may be ready to say, “If we are deprived of all the Lord’s ‘gifts,’ we still have the Bible.” True; and we would add, “Ye need not that any man teach you;” for you have received the Holy Spirit, who can “guide you into all the truth;” and happy are those who thus find daily food for their souls. But there is another side to this. How many are there who read the Bible as a routine, and get nothing for their souls? Why is this? Are we not told that Moses and the prophets were read in the Jewish synagogue every sabbath-day? so that, with the Scriptures in their hands, and read at stated intervals, there was such a famine of the word of God, that they knew not Him of whom the Scriptures which they read spake, but actually fulfilled the same in condemning Him. Again, was not Nicodemus well-instructed in the facts and letter of Scripture? yet was he not ignorant of the foundation truth that a man “must be born again” either to “see” or to “enter into the kingdom of God”? And is it not in the present day most appalling, with so many Bibles and so many readers, to find so few who declare with divine certainty, founded on God’s word, their present possession of eternal life; and fewer still who speak of God’s word, because it testifies of Christ, being the daily food of their souls? – H.H. Snell
Truth is a blessing, but God has every right to withhold it, just as He withholds rain when His people turn from Him. People may be vaguely aware that things are breaking down, that life seems to have a lot more tragedies, and that nothing seems to work as it once did, but they will not make the connection between their hardships and their spiritual deafness. – David Grabbe
I don’t know about you, but it’s an entirely frightening prospect to me. A famine of hearing the words of the Lord. You won’t die, unlike famines and droughts, not physically at least – but you will likely starve and thirst spiritually till your spiritual death. Don’t ask me what spiritual death is like, or if it’s theologically possible – I’m frightened even by the very idea of it. A famine of the word of God is perhaps one of the heaviest judgement on humanity. – Zec