The movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in theaters the week before Thanksgiving. Moviegoers will see what happens in the lives of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark when they become the targets of a totalitarian nation after winning the 74th Hunger Games.
This science fiction movie, set in the future, is based on the 2nd book in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The author said she wanted to take on powerful issues like extreme poverty, persecution, consequences of war, struggle for survival, and starvation.
A non-fiction book of the Bible, set in the distant past, based on the words of a man named Amos is in some ways an Old Testament version of the Hunger Games. This author also takes on powerful issues of life and deathly deprivation—namely, starvation that is spiritual. In the book we hear:
‘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. 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’ (Amos 8:11-12).
Ancient Israel was not like Panem, that futuristic totalitarian nation, but she was a people who were to regulate their own life by choosing to follow God’s revelation. Israel did not, however, really want to have their life regulated by God, by what he had to say. As a consequence God warned the people that eventually they would lose his words altogether. He said a dreadful famine of those words was on its way.
That’s how it can work for a nation today, too. The Protestant Reformed Church of France was dramatically shut down when virtually the whole church fled under persecution. Some 500,000 Huguenots fled the country. As a result the Reformation never took root in France as it did in England. Today, in other Western countries, even God’s broad moral code is being lost—not to persecution but mostly to neglect.
D.A. Carson, a Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, speaks to what could be called, our spiritual hunger games.
So may Bibles, so many Bibles—and so little thoughtful reading of them. The next stage is the Bible as source of proof texts; the stage after that is the Bible as quaint relic; the next, the Bible as antiquarian magic; the next, implacable ignorance—and all the while, a growing hunger for something wise, something stable, something intelligent, something prophetic, something true. And the hunger is not satisfied.
Carson says that the only answer to spiritual hunger is the fulfillment of what Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
So, while the solution for eradicating the world’s hunger for food and its thirst for water is a hunger game not easily won—the answer to a famine of hearing the words of the LORD is right at our fingertips.
Now that’s something to Celebrate!