By Nathan Jones
How bad is famine in the world today?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the fourth end times signs of famine prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:7.
Vic: Nathan, could you list the first three end times signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 before we get into the fourth sign — famine?
Nathan: The first three of the end times signs Jesus told us would increase in frequency and intensity like birth pains before His return were false teachers and false messiahs, wars, and earthquakes. Then Jesus got up to sign number four which is famine.
Vic: Often time when people think of famines they only think about biblical times, like during the time of Joseph, but there are a lot of famines plaguing the world today.
Nathan: Yes, exactly. Remember also in Matthew 24 the first question the Apostles asked Jesus was, "When will the Temple fall?" One of the answers Jesus gave was famines. He said there would be famines before the Temple would fall. We read in Acts 11:27-28 about a man named Agabus who said during this time in the life of the infant Church that some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of those prophets' name was Agabus. He through the Holy Spirit predicted a severe famine that would spread over the entire Roman world. This happened historically during the reign of Claudius Caesar, which was 41-54 AD. And so, the people of the First Century knew about famines because there were some before the fall of the Temple.
Just like in those days, Jesus said that famines will come more frequently and more intensely the closer we got to His return. His response also answers the second question the Apostles asked Jesus, "What are the signs of the end of the age?" This means before the Rapture of the Church.
I've got to tell you, we who live in the West live very well. When you read the statistics about famine in other parts of the world it's just heartbreaking.
Vic: Yes, here in the United States we are very blessed because everywhere you turn there's a grocery store or restaurant. In our city her in Miami we have Publix, which are like Super Walmarts. They sell any type of food you could want and it's just a few minutes away. An abundant supply of food here in the West is why famines are such a foreign concept to us.
Nathan: The world has experienced tremendous famines just in the 20th Century alone. There was the great Chinese famine in 1959-1961 where 43 million people starved to death. Also in Russia in 1921, 5 million people died from starvation. During World War II another million died from starvation. In 1974 another 1.5 million died. In Ethiopia, if you remember back in '84 and '85, there was so much talk about the Ethiopian famine where the world watched reports on TV of 400,000 men, women and children starved to death there. In '96 North Korea experienced a famine where 3.5 million people starved.
Did you know that the occurrences of famines is even worse in the 21st Century, Pastor Vic?
Vic: No, I didn't.
Nathan: We are really isolated here in the West, just like you said. I'm sitting here with a bag of chocolate covered cranberries, and most countries don't even have access to the most basic stables of food. We are really blessed, and I think the reason is because our country was based on Judeo-Christian values, on God's law. Though we are pulling away from our roots, the Lord has continued to provide blessings to America because there are still many believers in Christ living here.
So far in the 21st Century, Bread for the World reports that there are 17 famines going on in the world right now in places such as Myanmar, Malawi, North Korea, East Africa, Kenya and Somalia. They report there are 925 million — that's almost a billion people — who go hungry every day.
Did know that every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger related causes? That means one child every five seconds dies. Just in the last minute, 12 children have died from starvation.
Vic: That is so tragically sad, but because people don't see famine in their own country, they don't think it's really happening. So you're telling us that in the 21st Century 17 famines have occurred?
Nathan: Yes, 925 million people go hungry and 1.4 billion people, a quarter of the world's population, live in extreme poverty.
There are also recessions and droughts going on in the world, especially like this year's drought in California. It's really hitting the food market hard. You've probably gone into your local grocery and noticed food prices have double in most areas.
Vic: Don't get me started on that, Nathan! My wife does the food shopping and rising food prices is something she gets a little bit irate about, especially when egg prices just keep going up. All the simple basics of life are steeply on the rise.
Nathan: Yes, you used to be able to buy an onion for a quarter. Now its like $1.50. Rising food prices push people who are just making ends meet down below poverty level. Did you know that by 2010 famine had pushed 100 to 150 million people below the poverty line?
Vic: I'm originally from the Dominican Republic. I was born there and today my church leads a lot of mission trips there. We go to these villages and it just breaks my heart to see these people's living conditions. Seeing such poverty is a sure reminder of how much we are really blessed here in the US.
Nathan: But, I wonder if our blessings are coming near to an end. I don't know if you've been keeping up with the drought going on in California, but it's getting so bad now that even well water is running out. Hopefully the freak flooding they're now experiencing will help with that.
California is the breadbasket of our nation. We get so much of our fruit and vegetables from there. This year they were talking about not just a drought, but a super drought or a mega drought. Regular food production could not be coming from California anymore which means that our country's resources and ability to get the food that we need will continue to diminish.
In the second and last part of our discussion on the end times sign of famine, we'll be rocked at how horrible famine will be during the coming Tribulation.