Massive Drought Grips Australia

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Massive Drought Grips Australia

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The worldwide debate over the warming of earth's environment makes daily headlines. Some reports say that a small increase in the world's temperature could cause billions of people to be without water. Dire reports hint at human extinction if world governments do not take drastic measures to reduce man's pollution of the planet.

In the midst of this debate, one nation in the developed world is facing a major drought crisis.

Australia is considered to be the driest continent on earth and, as we go to press, huge areas of the country are in the grip of the worst drought in living memory. With many reservoirs at an all-time low, many towns and capital cities are under severe water restrictions. Billions of dollars are being urgently spent on water conservation methods and on seeking and developing alternate water supplies as reservoirs continue to drop to critically low levels.

In his book Drought in Australia, Justin Healey documents the history of drought in Australia and the widespread impact of the present drought. He writes that this latest drought has hit agriculture hard, with declining productivity severely affecting the rural areas and the national economy.

Crop failures and livestock losses are common. Farmers are, in many cases, struggling to survive. Facing huge financial losses and debt to the banks, there are those in the farming community whose despair is such that suicide seems the only way out.

The headline on page 1 of The Australian newspaper, April 20, "Murray Running on Empty," highlights the country's plight. The Murray-Darling river system supplies water to a huge section of Australia—from southern Queensland, through New South Wales and Victoria and emptying into the sea in South Australia. It is one of the nation's largest food bowls, producing some 70 percent of the nation's agricultural produce and worth $6 billion Australian dollars annually.

On April 19, Prime Minister John Howard described the situation as an "unprecedentedly dangerous situation." He said that irrigation water to the farmers in the Murray-Darling basin would be cut to zero unless "very substantial" rainfall was received in the next six to eight weeks.

As The Australian reported, "The nation's food bowl will be sacrificed to provide drinking water to towns and cities" in this drought-ravaged region. One farmer described this as "the mother of all droughts."

But why should the Australian farming community have to suffer like this? Why should there be such severe drought in the first place? There is a cause for every effect. World News and Prophecy explores the reasons behind the issues that confront and concern us—from a biblical perspective.

Who, or what, is to blame?

Prime Minister Howard has not signed Australia to the Kyoto treaty governing carbon emissions and the global environment.

Some, highly critical of this decision, blame Australia's current drought on global warming and warn that failure to take the measures demanded by environmentalists will result in an even larger and more widespread drought.

An April 20 editorial in London's The Independent illustrates the argument.

"Moreover, this is a taste of things to come—not just for Australia, but the world. As the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear, the runaway warming of the earth will bring severe drought in its wake. And the economic consequences will be disastrous."

The debate about what is behind global warming goes on, with both sides arguing their points passionately. Scientists are divided on the question, with most claiming global warming is man-made while others assert it is part of a natural cycle of earth's weather patterns.

What God's Word says about drought

Perhaps the debate is obscuring a more important matter. Rather than participate in the politics of the issue, we choose to point to what God's Word says about drought, and the connection it makes to human behavior. The Bible shows God can and does control the climate of nations according to His will. When He chooses to intervene, it is often because of sin, the transgression of His divine law.

Australia and other nations facing catastrophic drought should be looking at their failure to live up to their spiritual "treaty" with God as a fundamental cause of drought. Prayer with repentance is a good first step toward a solution to the problem.

Australia in Bible prophecy

Though Australia is not directly mentioned by name in the Bible, it is included by virtue of the fact that the people of British descent who colonized the country are the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.

Through the Bible and history, our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy traces and identifies these English-speaking peoples of Australia as being part of the descendants of Ephraim, one of the grandsons of Jacob.

Australia is one of the nations on earth today fulfilling God's promise of national inheritance to the seed of Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob (Genesis 17:4 Genesis 17:4As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.
American King James Version×
; 28:14; 35:9-11). The Bible, therefore, has much to say about Australia.

Promises of blessings and curses

In Leviticus 26:3-5 Leviticus 26:3-5 [3] If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; [4] Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. [5] And your threshing shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage shall reach to the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
American King James Version×
God gave this promise to ancient Israel: "If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely."

On the contrary side, the chapter continues: "But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you...I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit" (verses 14-20).

The apostle Paul wrote that the historical things that happened to ancient Israel are there for our learning (1 Corinthians 10:11 1 Corinthians 10:11Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.
American King James Version×
). Clearly there is a connection between obedience to God's commandments and the blessings that accompany that obedience.

When we examine the way people live in Australia and other English-speaking countries, it is just as clear that they do not personally heed, or take into consideration, God's way of life as instructed in the Bible.

The Bible explains that drought comes as a direct result of disobedience to God and, indeed, the disobedience of humankind in general over thousands of years has contributed to the detrimental climate changes that are currently affecting the whole earth.

If Australians would turn wholeheartedly to God and set their hearts and minds to obey Him, the drought would come to an end. The farming community would again enjoy rain in its season, and the land would yield its produce.

Everyone, farmer and city dweller alike, would enjoy the blessing that comes from obedience to God's commands. WNP