World News and Trends: Famine stalks the earth

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Does the Bible reveal why famine has become a greater concern throughout the world?

Said a striking feature article in The Wall Street Journal: "Now and then across the centuries, powerful voices have warned that human activity would overwhelm the earth's resources. The Cassandras [i.e., prophets of doom] always proved wrong. Each time, there were new resources to discover, new technologies to propel growth. Today the old fears are back" (March 26, 2008, emphasis added throughout).

A UN agency projects that our planet's population will grow by 1.4 billion more people by 2025. Significantly more food and water is being consumed by the average individual. A middle class is growing rapidly in countries like China and India, resulting in increased demand for high-protein diets.

The article continued: "Demand for resources has soared. If supplies don't keep pace, prices are likely to climb. Further, economic growth in rich and poor nations alike could suffer, and some fear violent conflicts could occur."

Other mainstream magazines and newspapers are covering this major story. Time magazine stated: "Prices of rice, wheat and other basic foodstuffs are soaring beyond the reach of the world's poor, triggering riots, pleas for aid and fears of a deepening threat to security. Add this to the list of items that could threaten world peace: food" (March 17, 2008).

The Economist weighed in with these insightful comments: "High food prices do help poor farmers, but they also hurt the more numerous category of people (poor city dwellers as well as landless rural folk) who must buy food to survive . . . The World Food Programme (WFP), a UN agency, has just issued an urgent appeal for $500m, to cover higher food costs. America's Agency for International Development (USAID), a huge financer of food aid, is asking for $350m. The short term outlook seems grim" (March 29, 2008).

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme, stated: "We are seeing a new face of hunger. People who weren't in the urgent category now are" (ibid.).

Overall world food prices have risen by more than 75 percent since the year 2000, increasing by more than 20 percent in 2007 alone. For instance, London's Financial Times reported on March 28, 2008, "Rice prices jumped 30 percent to a record high yesterday, raising fears of fresh outbreaks of social unrest across Asia, where the grain is a staple food for more than 2.5 [billion] people." Rice also remains a staple foodstuff in Africa, and some smaller countries there have experienced riots and social unrest.

Richard Watchman offered this insight in The Observer: "Scratch beneath the surface of major social or political upheaval . . . and you will find that food shortages, brought about by crop failure, naval blockade or spiralling price, lie at the heart of the matter" (March 2, 2008).

Does the Bible provide any insight on our growing global food plight? In His lengthy prophecy of the end time, Jesus Christ spoke of a pattern of epochal events that would periodically trouble the earth from His time some 2,000 years ago, intensifying just before His second coming: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences [disease epidemics], and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew:24:7-8).

The book of Revelation primarily concerns itself with events that will happen prior to the end of this age of man. Paralleling the specific "sorrows" mentioned in Christ's prophecy, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are featured in Revelation 6. The third rider, of the black horse, stands clearly identified as the specter of famine (verses 5-6)—to plague the earth just prior to Christ's return.

To understand the significance of these four horsemen, identified respectively as religious deception, war, famine and disease, request or download our free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled. (Sources: The Economist, Financial Times, The Observer [all London], Time, The Wall Street Journal. )

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