Because there were always some who suffered more quickly and more deeply from the onset of famine, it also tested the willingness of God’s people to show charity to those who were less fortunate. Believers living at the time of both Nehemiah and Paul responded
positively to this faith challenge (Neh 5:1-13; Acts 11:28-30). And lest we think that those tests are a thing of the past, we need to remember that the final days of this world’s history will also be marked by famine (Matt 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11; Rev 6:8), giving us our opportunity to trust the Lord and care for those in distress when the days become difficult.
The second setting in which the biblical authors frequently mentioned famine was in regard to God using it to punish covenant violation. God could prevent famine from ever tarnishing the lives of his people, but he declared that he would permit its presence if they failed to live up to his clear commands (Deut 11:13-17; 32:19, 24). A number of the instances of famine mentioned by the biblical authors were punitive (1 Kings 18:2; 2 Kings 25:3), and later prophets continued to raised the threat of famine repeatedly as they warned God’s people that their ungodly attituded and behavior were bringing this trouble their way (Isa 51:17-19; Jer 14:11-16; Ezek 5:16-17). And finally, as horrible as real famine was, there was one metaphorical famine that topped them all. Amos warned of such a famine to come that would be “not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).