Last Sunday morning during our devotional time together, Patty and I read from 2 Kings 4, the story of Elisha providing food to the prophets in the midst of a famine.
Ironically, as we opened our Bibles, the local newspaper was lying on the coffee table. The headline read, "Spring Crop Reduced as Drought Fear Grows." As everyone in America knows, there is a serious drought here in the Southeast, where Patty and I have a home -- crops affected, water supplies dangerously low.
In our Bible study we were directed to read Leviticus 26:3-5, "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit." Later in the study we read Amos 8:11, "The days are coming, declares the sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the Land, not a famine of food or a thirst of water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord."
For months I have been wondering if this drought is God's judgment. Last Sunday, I put the Bible down and said, "Okay, Lord, I get it."
But why, you ask, would the Lord send a drought on the American Southeast? That is the Bible belt: the highest per capita church attendance in America.
Well, think about it. The Scriptures, in my opinion, do not speak to a secular nation like America; they speak to God's people. The Old Testament was addressed to Israel; the New Testament speaks to the New Israel, the Church.
Now, I hesitate to say that God has said this or that, for fear of being presumptuous -- or maybe even being dismissed as a crank. But I cannot get the thought out of my head. Sunday's newspaper and our assigned Bible study, I suppose, could have been a coincidence, but I do not think so. I think God is speaking to the Church -- notice I did not say America -- today.
So what is He saying? That we have been disregarding His Word. That we have been going to church to make ourselves feel good and have our ears tickled. That therapy has replaced truth. There is more than a drought; there is a famine of reading and living by the Word of God.
I think God is telling His people to repent, to get serious about what we believe, to hunger for the Word of God, to seek holy living, and to ask God's forgiveness.
We need to repent, as well, for not applying God's Word, and repent for looking for a political savior while neglecting the true Savior. We need to repent for blaming our nation's moral collapse on the gay-rights movement, or on the media, or on the politicians, and look right at the people whom God expects to know better -- those who call on His name: you and I.
Thank God there are leaders who are now getting it and speaking out, like Bill Hybels, who two weeks ago publicly repented for failing to make disciples in his church. Others need to follow Bill's lead.
Whether or not the drought is God's judgment -- and I cannot help but believe it is -- I do believe He is speaking to us loudly. Turn from our smug, contented ways, and let waves of repentance sweep over our churches.
Everybody is worried today about climate change. Well, the first step in fixing it is to get on our knees.
From BreakPoint®, December 12, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship