Throughout the bible there have been severe famines. God had blessed Abraham but there was a severe famine in the land. Genesis 12:10 “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.” Later there was another famine. Genesis 26:1 “Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time.” There would also be another even more severe famine but God had already prepared to save His people as He had given a promise to Abraham. Genesis 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Another famine was coming and God prepared Joseph to save his household. While we don’t always understand completely the ways of God, we know as Jeremiah tells us Jeremiah 29:1 “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” God then used Joseph. Genesis 37:5 “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” Then the brothers plotted to get rid of Joseph and Joseph ends up in Egypt. Then Pharaoh also has a dream and calls for Joseph to interpret the dream. Genesis 41:16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Then Joseph tells Pharaoh what God said. Genesis 41:28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.” Joseph is then placed in charge and eventually his family is saved. After their father Jacob dies Genesis 50:18 “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
God’s plans are not always liked by the whole at least until the plan unfolds. God saved His people by allowing Joseph to be sold as a slave, then to be imprisoned and then placed in a position of power, which in the end would save His family. Genesis 41:39 “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” Not only did God save His people, He has made it possible that whoever calls on His name will be saved. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Philippians 2:9 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God has made a way for all our households to be saved and continues to make a way. During the time of the Judges, there was also a famine. Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.” This also happened in the New Testament. Acts 11:28 “One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world.” Like these times in scripture, we too have a severe famine taking place and we are very similar to those in Judges. Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Today there is a famine taking place and churches have gone their own way, doing just as they see fit. While there are still famines taking place, this famine is even more devastating than a famine in the land even though as Global news reported last November 2020, “2021 will have ‘famines of biblical proportions,’ Nobel UN agency warns.” This famine is worse that that. 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 for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” This famine is already here. Isaiah describes the people of today’s church. Isaiah 30:9 “For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” This passage tells us that our teachers have been hidden because of our disobedience. People are looking for the truth and not finding it but instead of hearing the words of the Lord they are being deceived instead.
Jesus came to save us and set us free but that meant we must obey His words. The only way out of this famine is to repent. Then the church will have teachers who teach truth as Malachi says. Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” When we look at how the church was to be we see God’s power at work through His disciples and whole households were saved. First we see what Jesus does. John 4:46 “Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” 53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed. 54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.” The church today needs to take Jesus at His word just as this man did. Don’t wait to see signs and wonders, just believe but signs and wonders will follow the teaching of God’s word just as Jesus said. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
We then see Peter being directed by the Holy Spirit. Acts 11:11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” First of all notice the direction of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10 tells us what happened. Peter preached, the power of the Holy Spirit was present and his household was saved. Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
Then we see what took place when Paul and Silas were in jail. This happened because Paul cast out a demon from a slave who was making money for the owners. Acts 16:23 “After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.” Acts 16:25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
You also need to be aware of the opposition there is to your household being saved. Here we see the opposite of entire households being saved. Titus 1:10 “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” There are all kinds of rebellious people teaching false gospels and doctrines of demons. In the Old Testament you saw Israel sacrificing their children to Baal. I won’t go into that but they were offered to foreign gods. By following the teaching (other gospels) of these rebellious people you are sacrificing your household just as Israel did. Even Solomon “followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. 7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.” Leviticus 18:21 “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” When you follow other gospels, you are following other gods. This famine causes those who are disobedient not to hear what God is saying through His word.
But there is good news and great hope. As we read earlier, Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” As we saw with Joseph, God’s plan saved His people. Job tells us Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Psalm 33:11 “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” God wants to save your household but He wants you to be part of something even bigger. Jesus told us Matthew 12:48 “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” When we turn from our wicked ways and repent and then follow God’s word, Ephesians 2:19 “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When the church does as we are commanded there will be power present just as we have seen in all these examples. Nothing can thwart God’s plans.