The Bible mentions several times of historical famine. But here's the thing about famines: No one likes them. No one likes a time of lack, of short supply and scarcity. On the surface, we all prefer times of abundance -- when our cabinets and bellies are full.
But if we pay attention and tune in to God, our famines can become times of great blessing.
Let's consider three Biblical famines. They were encountered by Abram (the Father of our faith), his son Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob. The specific accounts of these famines are all found in the book of Genesis. For the purposes of this post, just note the following: Each man came to a place where there was no food in the land. Although they were all called and blessed by God, they each faced the prospect of starvation.
How did they handle it?
Abram went down to Egypt where there was food, although God sent him to Canaan. God knew there would be a famine and He wanted Abram dependent on Him, not Egypt. More on that in a future post. But Abram was human, like you and me, and he did the logical thing - he went where the food was.
Isaac reacted to his famine differently. He followed God's instructions and stayed put. He worked the land under his feet and received a big harvest in return.
Jacob was old when his famine hit. He could hardly travel, so he sent his sons to Egypt to go fetch the food. He had no idea that what his sons would find was greater than any meal he would ever taste.
By going to Egypt, they inadvertently reunited him with his son, Joseph, who had been secretly sold into slavery many years previously by those same sons. They lied to Jacob that he was dead. The old man had almost died from sorrow. But now his joy would overflow.
So what can we make of all of this? What are the takeaways from our times of famine?
Here are four truths to consider:
1. Expect Times of Famine: Everyone faces times of scarcity. This happens in your Land of Promise - whatever that may mean to you. It happens even when you're doing exactly what God told you to. But the beautiful part is that it won't last forever. God won't allow a famine (or anything else) to thwart what He wants to do in and through your life. There's no life that occurs solely on the mountaintop. Famines (and feasts) will come and go.
2. Famines Affect Believers and Non-believers Alike: When the famine comes, being a believer is not a pass; being a pastor, prophet or patriarch is not a pass. In fact, as a believer, God may bring you through a famine to find out who or what you're truly relying on.
Is it yourself? Is it your money? Where is your true faith and reliance? Famines will reveal the answer.
3. Famines Require a Response: Sitting alone and dying in the face of your famine is not an option, so what will you do? In the Biblical account, each man took a different approach to the famine. We should borrow from all three:
Abraham returned to a place of worship. He went back to the altar he had previously built and worshiped. That was a wise decision. Sometimes the famine is there to beacon you back to wherever you left off with God.
Isaac went to work! The passage says that Isaac sowed the land in his time of famine. Here's a question: What can you sow? You've got time, talent and treasure. Maybe you've gotten off track in one of these areas of sowing and you need to get back on target. Learn from the experience and take action in a godly direction.
Jacob rested. In Jacob's case, he was reunited with Joseph, who he thought he would never see again. This reminds us of the grace of God. A time of famine can also be a time of rest and reflection - a time to shore up our trust in the Lord.
4. Famines Precede Great Blessing: Each man's famine ended with him being materially and spiritually further ahead of where he started. What first looked like a situation that would threaten their lives ended up greatly enriching their lives.
You may be experiencing a famine today. Remember these four pointers and remember that God hasn't changed. He is still Lord of the famine and Lord of the harvest!
This post was extracted from a longer, spoken message. If you would like to hear the audio version, just click the image below.
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