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Worldwide Hunger, a Sign of the End

By: Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr

Fear has taken hold of the nations. Fuel prices are spiraling; global food prices are skyrocketing. Hunger stares millions in the face, and the hungry vent their anger in streets protests.

From Haiti to Indonesia, millions of starving people have taken to the streets demanding a halt to the escalating food prices.

Remarkably, governments the world over don’t seem to have a handle on the problem. People are crying out to their governments for help as the Egyptians did in the days Joseph, but relief appears not to come quickly enough. Today’s governments lack the divine foreknowledge and enterprise of Joseph who stored food in abundance over a 7-year period of plenty so that the people would not starve in the subsequent 7-year period of famine. (See Gen. 41:55-57).

Not as lucky as the Pharaoh of Joseph’s day, the government of Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis of Haiti has since been brought down by the food rioters! Imagine that!

Undoubtedly, the world food crisis has plunged the nations into ‘distress’ leaving governments perplexed as to the way out.

In times like these, the news simply sounds too distinctly biblical to discount:

“… and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea [of people – Rev. 17:15] and waves [troubles] roaring.

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth” (Luke 21:25-26).

In Matt. 24:7-8, Christ mentions ‘famines … in various places’ as one of the end-time signs which will mark “the beginning of sorrows” (or “birth pains” as in the NIV – 1 Thess. 5:3).  As every beginning has a progression and surely a conclusion, so the prophetic beginning of sorrows or birth pains. An escalation in the sorrows—of which hunger is part—is to be expected!

And that’s the sense one gets in Rev. 6:5-6 where worldwide hunger is pictured as a black horse whose rider holds a pair of scales in his hands.

The four horses of Rev. 6 as a whole portend doom for the inhabitants of the earth in the last days. The first horse represents the antichrist who goes forth “conquering and to conquer”; the second horse represents war; the third horse is a harbinger of hunger, and the fourth that of death. Of relevance to this message is the third horse—the bringer of famine blighting millions today!

As with the present crisis, the apocalyptic famine is characterized, if not caused, by high food prices. Yes, dramatic increases in the prices of food largely account for the global food scarcity; this is what has brought the nations to their knees with hunger!

Rev. 6:6 reports:

“Then I heard what sounded like a voice, among the four living creature, saying, ‘A quart [litre] of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages” (NIV).  According to Biblical scholars, this is about 10 times the normal price!

With precision, price-driven famine has hit almost the entire world, not just the poorer nations of the world but also almighty America, the reputed ‘breadbasket of the world’.

Readers of The New York Sun were recently greeted with the scary headline: “Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World” when the paper in its April 21, 2008 edition reported: “Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing. Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks” (www. nysun.com/national/food-rationing-confronts-breadbasket-of-the-world/74994).

Even worse, the report goes on to say that some stores have gone as far as to limit rice purchases to one bag per customer so their stocks would stretch to others!

In Japan, another wealthy nation, it’s not the scarcity of rice that’s causing the panic, but rather that of butter—a vital ingredient in bread and cake making. As a country with a high dependence on food imports, Japan is especially vulnerable to the current food crisis. This, its citizens are acutely aware of and are justifiably worried. “According to one government poll, 80% of Japanese are frightened about what the future holds for their food supply” (www.theage.com.au/japans-hunger-becomes-a-dire-warning).

Fear has taken hold of the nations; panic has gripped them. So-called experts attribute the nascent global famine to a hotchpotch of factors, among them the diversion of grains into the production of bio-fuels, income growth in China and India enabling a more affluent lifestyle involving more, richer food, and high energy costs. 

But there is yet another factor unacknowledged by the experts—hunger as an end-time sign decreed by God! As the apostle Peter says in 1 Pet. 4:7, the end of all things is indeed at hand, and we must constantly be alert to this fact as believers. World events happen according to God’s pre-ordained prophetic programme.

As the “possessor of heaven and earth’, He alone has the real solution to the global famine. Governments are trying to manage the crisis, but so far their efforts have yielded little. Food prices are so astronomical (rice registering a 70% increase on last year’s for example) that government mitigation measures have become a mere drop in the ocean. The government of Ghana has, for instance, unveiled a package of measures aimed at cushioning Ghanaians against the soaring food prices. The measures entail a reduction in import duties on major food items and waiving of levies on fuel (Daily Graphic, Friday May 23, 2008).  While this should lead to some reduction in local food prices, questions remain as to how it will work out in a free market economy like Ghana’s where government exercises no price control. With external factors mainly responsible, the government’s intervention is seen as having negligible or no effect in real terms.

In situations like these when men come to their wits’ end, our Hope is God alone. Whether or not food prices spiral to the sky, He is still our Shepherd, and we shall not want (Ps 23:1-2). When we look to Him as our Help, He provides us with a shade against the heat of the sun (hardship) and the moon (affliction) – Ps 121:1-6. He provides the Real Cushion! Such a moment has come, rely on Him. (See Gal. 4:6). The hoof steps are in the distance; He follows swiftly with salvation.
n local food prices, questions remain as to how it will work out in a free market econ