A recent survey of church members revealed, among other things, a  fact that we  should have known  already; namely, that there is a  gradual decrease, even  among the saints, of  hearing  much  preaching of the word of God. Suggestions  ranging from  shorter sermons, services to be more spontaneous, and informal types of meetings, while  good in themselves, convey the big picture—that today’s Christian either  feels  quite  adequately  informed about the  word of God, or  doesn’t really  find  delight therein. Admittedly, preachers are not perfect on their oratory; but few have  ever been  perfect. There is a deeper reason for the empty pews and the  darkened windows.

One ray of hope could lie in the  fact that many of our members listen (we hope) to good  radio sermons. But what they  probably have  not realized is that their  absence from the assembly is  slowly  but  surely having its  effect  in discouraging the local congregation.  And when the local  congregation  dies  back  far enough, then the radio programs and all other concerted  efforts, such as  missions, homes for  orphans, Christian education and the like, will fall for lack of  support and demand.

Further proof that the  love for God’s word has waned lies in the  dilemma  facing our  Sunday schools. I  doubt  if  we ever have had  a better  Quarterly lesson book, or an  array of more timely lesson  subjects from which  to  study. Yet many are  tired of Quarterly, tired of the International lessons, and  evidently  tired of the Bible in general. Those who persevere and try to hold things together, lack the stimulation that is so pleasant when newcomers and newly born Christians join the class and  are really  hungry for words from God.

But  we  do live in blessed days, when God’s word is  still plentiful and readily  available. I say  blessed days because, according to  Amos 8:11. It will not   always be  so.  “Behold, the  days shall come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a  famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words  of Jehovah.” The meaning of the word for famine  is  “scarcity of  food, shortage of grain.”  So for there to be a famine of the  word of Jehovah there will have to be some  radical changes from the situation as we see it now.

We must not  overlook, however, that this famine of hearing the  word of Jehovah will be brought upon the land by God Himself. “I will send,” He says, taking the matter  out of man’s hands and out of man’s timing altogether. And this is  no new way for God to deal with man. He has  closed the mouths of His prophets before, and has sent times when there was  “no frequent  vision.” In such  time, men did that which was “right in their own  eyes.” Many today have  some strange ideas of what is  right, when  we hear them champion abortion, homosexuality, women’s lib, and the rights  of criminals. Would you be willing to live and abide by what the courts of the land are calling  right today? Even the  Supreme Court of our  nation has lost its moral equilibrium on many  occasions.

There Is An Alternative

            The answer to famine is to have a supply of food stored away for the lean years. God sent  Joseph to Egypt in order  that before the coming  seven years of famine,  he  could guide them to save and thus provide life. (This, by the way, is a  type of Christ, who is Himself the Word of God.) We can be  feeding on the word, and  committing it to memory, where it will never fail us. And it will be  available to  pass on to the  next  generation if we are willing to teach it. Parents are spending much money to educate their children, that they may have an abundant life in this world of  affluence. But the  one thing that is  being  overlooked is the  Word. If we have it “laid up in our heart, that we might not sin against God,” we will also have it available  to teach to our children when we  “walk with them along the way, when we sit down, and when we rise up.”

Today, with most of the  world at  peace, with the economy booming, and men pleasure-mad, God’s word is not in very great demand. To the sinner it seems  superfluous and outdated. But times will change. We have the Lord’s word for that. God will rise up and shake mightily the earth. There will be the removal of things that can be  shaken. But through all this, God’s word, which can never be shaken, will endure and will again become the  beacon of eternal life.


Robert Heid, in the  Word and Work; Vol. LXXI, No. 5, May, 1977, P. 130