Hope for Victims of Famine
“MOST major famines since World War I have been caused in part by war and revolution,” state Drs. Brown and Anderson in the book Historical Catastrophes: Famines.
This fact brings to mind an old prophetic vision popularly called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Picking up this theme, an African newspaper reported: “The Four Horsemen are on the rampage in the unhappy land of Ethiopia.” Few, though, realize the marvelous hope this vision contains.
Causes of Premature Death
The third horseman of the Apocalypse pictures famine. He rides with “a pair of scales in his hand,” and a voice calls out: “A whole day’s wage for a loaf of bread.” (Revelation 6:6, Weymouth). Ahead of him gallops a horseman picturing war—war so widespread and prolonged that he is said “to take peace away from the earth.” These horsemen show the close connection between famine and war.—Revelation 6:3-6.
As to this connection, the book Historical Catastrophes: Famines comments: “Often food production is reduced because of a shortage of manpower . . . The fighting may cause the destruction of valuable crops. Trees and other plants that take many years to replace may be destroyed. Transportation and trade may be disrupted so that one region starves while another nearby region has surpluses of food.” This was the tragic experience of millions during World Wars I and II, as well as between those wars, and it continues to affect millions today.
The two horsemen described above are followed by another named “Death.” He pictures the premature deaths that have struck millions since the critical year 1914. War and “food shortage” top the list of foretold causes. (Revelation 6:7, 8) Wars have claimed over 100,000,000 victims since 1914 and “food shortage” even more. “More people have died of hunger in the past five years than have been killed in all wars, revolutions and murders in the past 150 years,” states the book The Hunger Primer.
Hope for the Dead
Closely following horseman “Death” is something that spells hope. It is “Hades.” Apparently, then, many victims of premature death are in Hades. What is meant by the word “Hades”? It is a transliteration of the Greek word haiʹdes used in the Bible, and it corresponds to the Hebrew transliteration “Sheol.” (Compare Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2:31.) These terms refer to a place of unconscious rest, the common grave of mankind from which there is hope of a resurrection.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; John 11:11-14.
Later, this assurance was recorded in the book of Revelation: “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne . . . And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12, 13) Thus a marvelous future awaits many who have suffered death because of famine. If, after their resurrection, genuine appreciation is shown for God’s provision for salvation, such ones will be “judged” worthy of everlasting life on earth.—Psalm 37:29; John 5:28, 29; 1 John 2:1, 2.
But when will this resurrection take place? After the first horseman of the Apocalypse, who pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘completes his conquest.’ (Revelation 6:2) Jehovah God has enthroned his Son, Jesus Christ, as King over all mankind. (Revelation 11:15) He “is the One decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”—Acts 10:42.
Hope for the Living
Soon the earth will be cleansed of all who oppose Christ’s rule. Selfish man-made governments will be removed. (Daniel 2:44) “As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth,” but those who submit to earth’s heavenly King “will be left over in it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) For such survivors, hunger will become a thing of the past.—Isaiah 25:6; 65:21, 22.
With his God-given superhuman power, Jesus Christ will ensure that earth’s ecology is restored to perfect balance. (See Mark 4:37-41.) Africa’s Sahara and other advancing deserts will be driven back. God’s original purpose for an earth-wide paradise will become reality. (Genesis 1:28; 2:7, 8; Luke 23:43) As foretold, “the desert plain will . . . blossom as the saffron. . . . For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain.”—Isaiah 35:1, 6.
The Bible describes Christ’s rule in this moving way: “He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul . . . There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:8, 13, 14, 16.
[Picture on page 9]
Famine, the third horseman of Revelation, rides today in much of Africa
[Picture on page 10]
Soon there will be a time of plenty for Africa and all the world