Famine of Hearing
Copyright 2002 by Nina Wallestad. All rights reserved.
Jacob, an ancient Israelite suffering from famine, and Chris, a modern-day believer
Jacob in Bible-era rags and Chris in modern-day beach clothes
Beach towel, beach chair, beach bag, sunglasses, water bottle, bag of chips, Bible
On the beach
Chris gains a new appreciation for the Bible upon meeting Jacob, who suffers from a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
God causes people to hunger for His Word.
“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.” (Amos 8:11)
Imagine that you are on a long hike in the woods and, in the middle of the day, with the hot sun shining down on you, you realize that you forgot your water bottle! Oh no! Now every step you take, you’re thinking about how thirsty you are, and how cold that water is, and how good it would taste. You’re wondering how long it will be until you get back home so you can get a drink!
That’s kind of how the people of God felt before Jesus came. You see, at the end of the Old Testament times, God stopped talking to His people. For 300 years, God was silent. He didn’t say a word to the people. After 300 years of God’s silence, the people were longing to hear God’s words again, much like a thirsty person longs for a drink of cold water. God was preparing them for the time when Jesus would come to earth and be God’s final Word.
“Famine of Hearing” by Nina Wallestad. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
After a pause, JACOB enters, crawling on hands and knees. His movements are slow, as if he’s been crawling for days through the hottest of deserts. He notices CHRIS and crawls more desperately toward her.
JACOB: (barely able to speak) Ahh…. Uhhh…. Uhhhh.
JACOB collapses in a heap on the towel at CHRIS’ feet. Only then does she notice him.
CHRIS: (standing, startled) Oh! Oh my goodness! Are you all right? (moving closer to inspect him) Can I help you? Should I call a doctor?
JACOB: (barely able to lift his head) Wah…. Wuh….
CHRIS: (trying to guess his meaning) Wah? Wuh? (pause) Oh, of course! Water! (fishing in her bag) I’ve got some water in here somewhere! Don’t go anywhere, okay? (stops her search to look at his seemingly lifeless body) Oh, right. Yeah. (pause) Water. (She resumes her search and soon produces a bottle of water) Yes! Here we go! Water! Water! (She kneels down to JACOB, lifts his head and pours water in it.) Not too fast, now. You don’t want to make yourself sick!
After swallowing a gulp or two, JACOB sputters out the water in CHRIS’ face. CHRIS wipes her face, but continues to hold the water bottle to his lips. Still too weak to speak, JACOB pushes the water bottle aside, shakes his head “No” and collapses again.
CHRIS: No water? Are you sure? (pauses. When he doesn’t answer, grows more panicky) Umm. Okay. Let’s see. You look like you haven’t eaten in weeks. But, never fear! (begins searching bag again) I’ve got food, too! Just stay right there. (stops her search to look at him) Oh, yeah. Right. (pause) Food. (resumes search and produces a bag of chips) See, I told you! Food! (opens bag of chips, grabs one and waves it under his nose) Munch all you want. They’ll make more. Ha. Ha.
Upon sniffing the chip, JACOB comes to and props himself up on one elbow.
CHRIS: (encouraged at this sign of life, holding chip out to him) Go ahead! Eat it! You must be starving.
JACOB: (gaining strength, sitting up more, pushing chip away) I am starving, but not for that.
CHRIS: (slightly offended) Hey, I know it’s just junk food. It’s not at all healthy, but as hungry as you are, you shouldn’t be so choosy.
JACOB: Forgive me. It’s just that I’m not thirsty for water or hungry for food, not even healthy food.
CHRIS: But you look like you haven’t eaten for days!
JACOB: More like years. Three hundred years, give or take.
CHRIS: (thinks he’s crazy) Three hundred years. Right. (pause) Why don’t you have a seat? I think the sun has gone to your head. (She helps him to his feet and he collapses with exhaustion into the chair.)
JACOB: It’s true. There’s been a famine in my land for more than 300 years.
CHRIS: What land? Where are you from?
CHRIS: Really? I don’t remember hearing about any famine in Israel. (pause) In fact, just yesterday I bought some oranges at the store, and they were stamped “Product of Israel”.
JACOB: I keep trying to tell you. It’s not a famine of food or water.
CHRIS: What other kind of famine is there?
JACOB: The very worst kind. A famine of hearing.
CHRIS: A famine of herring? You’re starving because there’s no more fish in Israel?
JACOB: No, no. (points to ear) A famine of hearing. To be exact, a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
CHRIS: Come again?
JACOB: You see, my people, the people of Israel, have always had this special relationship with the Lord God. He speaks to us through His prophets, and we listen and obey. Or, I should say, we’re supposed to listen and obey. We don’t always keep our end of the agreement.
CHRIS: I see.
JACOB: It wasn’t like that at first. At first, the Lord God would speak, and we would listen and obey. (pause) But, as the years went by, we would still listen when God spoke, but we wouldn’t always obey. Eventually, we stopped even listening.
CHRIS: What happened then?
JACOB: At first, we didn’t notice the change. But slowly we began to realize that, when we stopped listening to God, God stopped talking to us. (pause) I remember how we laughed at the old prophet, Amos, when he predicted the Lord would send a famine through the land.
At the mention of Amos, CHRIS begins searching her bag again. She quickly produces a Bible and searches the pages.
JACOB: (standing, mimicking Amos with a booming voice) “Thus saith the Lord, ‘The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land…”
CHRIS finds the words in her Bible and begins reading them aloud in unison with JACOB.
CHRIS and JACOB (in unison): “…not a famine of food or water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord…”
JACOB is stunned into silence as CHRIS continues reading.
CHRIS: “Men 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.” (pause) Wow! It’s all right here in the Book of Amos, just like you said!
JACOB: (still stunned) The words! The words of the Lord! Praise Jehovah!
CHRIS: You act like you’ve never seen a Bible before!
JACOB: A Bible?
CHRIS: Yes! The Bible! The Word of God? Every word that God ever spoke is recorded right here in the Bible. (pointing to the verses) See? Here are the words of Amos that you were quoting.
JACOB takes the Bible from her hands and gazes in wonder at it. After a moment, he begins to flip pages, moving through the end of the Old Testament and into the New Testament.
JACOB: These names in the middle, these I recognize: Amos, Zechariah, Micah, Obadiah – now there was a prophet, let me tell you! But it should end right here, at Malachi. That was when the words from God stopped. What is this ‘New Testament’? Who is this Matthew? And Mark? Luke?
CHRIS: Those are the names of followers of Jesus who wrote some of the New Testament.
JACOB: Jesus? Who is Jesus?
CHRIS: The Messiah, of course, God’s son, the Savior of the world. It’s all there in the New Testament. It begins with the birth of Jesus and tells the story of His life….
JACOB: (gasping) The Messiah! This can’t be! This is too wonderful! First, I learn of this Bible that contains the Lord God’s every spoken word, and now I discover that the Messiah has come! (In disbelief, he slumps back down in the chair.)
CHRIS: If you think that’s wild, wait till you get a load of this! (taking the Bible from him and flipping to the Book of John) You’re really going to love this! John, one of Jesus’ followers, wrote this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He’s talking about Jesus, the Messiah!
JACOB: It’s all so clear to me now. The people stopped listening to God, so God stopped talking to them. For 300 years, not a word from God. Little by little, a great hunger for God’s words grew in our hearts. And then, after 300 long years of silence, God sends the Messiah to be His Word to us. (overcome) Wah… Wuh…
CHRIS: Wah? Wuh? (pause) Word! You’re hungering for the word again?
JACOB: No! Water! I think I’m going to faint!
CHRIS: (handing him the bottle) Here! Keep the bottle. (pauses while he drinks, then begins to lead him off stage) Hey, I’ve got an extra Bible that I want to give you. Come with me, and I’ll get if for you. It’s in my car.
JACOB: Car? What’s a car?
Today, we need to be hungry and thirsty for Jesus, to seek after Him just like thirsty people search for water to drink and hungry people search for food to eat.
* Thank you, Jesus, for coming to our world and speaking God’s words to us.
* Please help us always to listen to God’s words and obey them.
* Please cause us to hunger and thirst for you, Jesus.
Copyright 2002 by Nina Wallestad. All rights reserved.