The famine for God’s word (Am 8:11-8:12)

“Says Yahweh God!

‘The time is surely coming

When I will send a famine

On the land.

This will be

Not a famine of bread,

Not a thirst for water,

But of hearing

The words of Yahweh.

They shall wander

From sea to sea,

From north to east.

They shall run

Back and forth

To seek

The word of Yahweh,

But they shall not find it.’”

Yahweh God said that the time was coming when he was going to send a famine on the land of Israel.  However, this was going to be a different kind of famine, not a lack of bread and water, but a lack of the words of Yahweh.  They could wander from sea to sea, from the north to the east, running back and forth.  However, they would not be able to find the word of Yahweh, although they are hungering for it.

No food for humans or animals (Joel 1:17-1:18)

“The seed shrivels

Under the clods.

The storehouses

Are desolate.

The granaries

Are ruined,

Because the grain has failed.

How the animals groan!

The herds of cattle

Wander about.

They are perplexed

Because there is no pasture

For them.

Even the flocks of sheep

Are dismayed.”

The devastation of the grasshopper locust plague has left seeds shriveled up. The storehouses and granaries are ruined and desolate. The grain harvests have all failed. The farm animals groan. The cattle herds wander around looking for a grass pasture. They and the flocks of sheep are perplexed and dismayed. Both humans and animals lack food.

The farmers and the shepherds (Jer 31:24-31:25)

“Judah

With all its towns

Shall live there together.

The farmers

With those who wander

With their flocks

Shall live there together.

I will satisfy the weary ones.

I will replenish

All who are faint.”

This is something like the old western USA problem about the farmers and the cowboys. How could they get along? Here the towns of Judah are asked to get along with each other. At the same time, the farmers who till the land have to get along with the shepherds and their flocks, because they might wander into their planted areas. Yahweh was going to replenish those who were weary and fainting.

The stern response of Yahweh (Jer 14:10-14:10)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning this people.

‘Truly they have loved to wander.

They have not restrained their feet.

Therefore Yahweh does not accept them.

Now he will remember their iniquity.

He will punish their sins.’”

Yahweh gave an unambiguous response to this sinful confession of the people. He said that they loved to wander. They had not restrained their feet. Therefore, Yahweh was not going to accept them because he was going to remember their iniquities. He was going to punish them for their sins.

The end of Babylon (Isa 47:14-47:15)

“See!

They are like stubble.

The fire consumes them.

They cannot deliver themselves

From the power of the flame.

This is no coal for warming oneself!

This is no fire to sit before!

Such to you are

Those with whom you have labored.

You have trafficked with them

From your youth.

They all wander about

In their own paths.

There is no one to save you.”

Babylon will become like stubble that a fire consumes. They cannot save themselves from the powerful flames that are not like a warming fire or a fire to sit around and talk. They have worked with these people from their youth. They wander all around. No one is there to save them. Babylon is doomed.

The problems of surety (Sir 29:14-29:20)

“A good person

Will be surety

For his neighbor.

But the one who has lost

All sense of shame

Will fail him.

Do not forget

The kindness of your guarantor.

He has given his life for you.

A sinner wastes

The property of his guarantor.

The ungrateful person

Abandons his rescuer.

Being surety

Has ruined many

Who were prosperous.

It has tossed them about

Like waves on the sea.

It has driven the influential

Into exile.

They have wandered

Among foreign nations.

The sinner comes to grief

Through surety.

His pursuit of gain

Involves him in lawsuits.

Assist your neighbor

To the best of your ability.

But be careful

Not to fall yourself.”

Surety is guaranteeing of a loan or the collateral for a loan. Obviously, a good kind person will guarantee a loan for his neighbor. However, there are shameful people out there who will take advantage of this generous guarantee. A sinner and an ungrateful person will waste this guarantee. They will abandon their rescuer. Sirach says that guaranteeing loans for others has led many a prosperous person to be ruined and tossed about like waves on the sea. Some have been exiled and wander from country to country. Quite often the sinner and his actions lead to law suits. Sirach then ends with this cautionary note that you should try to help your neighbor as much as possible, but be careful and not fall yourself.

The results of actions (Prov 21:16-21:18)

“Whoever wanders from the way of understanding

Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Whoever loves pleasure

Will be poor.

Whoever loves wine and oil

Will not be rich.

The wicked are a ransom for the righteous.

The faithless are a ransom for the upright.”

If you wander from the way of understanding, you are headed for rest in the assembly of the dead. If you love pleasure, you will be a poor man. If you love wine and oil, you certainly will not be rich. The wicked ones are a ransom for the righteous, while the faithless ones are a ransom for the upright. Actions have consequences.