• Famine Forecast Nothing is beyond the control of God. For those who will accept this as more than a trite cliche, there is peace and even freedom. Our circumstances are the not ebb and flow of a random universe, but the divinely directed course of the Almighty. Not only does He allow, but He orchestrates our situations for His glory and our good. This confidence liberates the Christian to accept his lot with full assurance that it will produce precisely what the Lord intended if he will trust and persevere. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28) The first century Church was about to have their faith tested by difficult circumstances in the form of famine. Some prophets from Jerusalem had come to Antioch, bringing with them the message that widescale famine was approaching. The Scriptures are not so explicit, but it seems reasonable that it was this news that prompted them to come, warning their Antioch brethren. Luke writes in retrospect, informing us that the famine occurred during Claudius’ reign. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, was emperor from 41AD until his death in 54. (His adopted son Nero succeeded him on the throne.) Historians: Tacitus, Josephus, and Suetonius all make mention of this famine and place it in approximately 46AD.

• Faith Building The famine certainly didn’t take the Lord by surprise. Rather it provided the Giver of daily bread with an opportunity to teach His people. “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;” (II Cor 9:10) Paul was referring to another gift sent to Jerusalem when he wrote this letter to the Corinthians, but the principles are non-specific. God is the one who provides both seed and bread, but is interested in a greater harvest – one of righteousness. Would God allow – even direct a famine? Consider what was gained by the Church as a result. The Lord could have provided manna just as easily, but instead used the Church as the mechanism of His provision. “And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.” (Ac 11:29) Jerusalem was forced to recognize their gratitude to Antioch. Antioch in turn (though experiencing famine as well) was able to share and receive their reward just as the Philippians would later when sharing with Paul. “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” (Php 4:17) And both congregations were reminded to seek first His kingdom and rely on God to feed and clothe them. (Mt 6:31-33) They would soon need that faith for what they did not know was coming – Nero, and Roman persecution. Through the famine, God was preparing the Church just as He had the apostles, by forcing them to trust Him for their most-basic needs. Having come through that test, they would be ready to trust Him more. Such lessons of faith cannot be learned any other way. God will not leave the Church unprepared for the tasks and challenges that await her. A present-day famine of sorts looms larger each day on the horizon, and the faithful will be stronger because of it. Come Lord Jesus.

Next Week: Peter and James
Mark Miller

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