Modern Food Shortage—Does It Fulfill Bible Prophecy?
BIBLE writing was completed almost 1,900 years ago. Could the Bible therefore possibly tell about modern famines? Could it foresee the high prices that you pay at the market as a result of limited food supplies?
‘No—that is impossible!’ respond some persons.
But it is wise to examine the evidence closely before answering. If the Bible correctly predicted the modern food situation, then we could expect the other things it foretells also to come true. This fact makes the matter worthy of our attention.
THE BIBLE PROPHECIES
First of all, just what does the Bible foretell about food shortages? Jesus Christ, before his death, was asked: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” In answer, among other things, Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.”—Matt. 24:3, 7; Luke 21:11.
That prophecy came true on a small scale between the year 33 C.E. (when Jesus spoke it) and the year 70 C.E., when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. During that thirty-seven-year period, Biblical and ancient history tells us, famines struck Palestine, Rome and Greece.—Acts 11:28-30.
But Jesus’ words were to have a larger, greater fulfillment when he arrived in kingly power. (Matt. 25:31) The facts show that mankind has witnessed fulfillment of that prophecy since 1914.
But have there not been food shortages many times prior to 1914? Yes. Then in what way are these since 1914 any different from those in the past? There is one really outstanding difference.
Jesus’ prophecy, when taken with Revelation 6:1-8, is predicting worldwide food shortage. Biblical scholar A. B. Bruce explained Jesus’ words that “there will be food shortages . . . in one place after another” literally to mean that there would be shortages “here, there, everywhere.” Who will deny that food shortages have indeed taken place “here, there, everywhere” since 1914? Just consider the recent international food picture.
WORLDWIDE FOOD CONDITIONS
Drought has hit the African continent. A United Nations report says that in the nation of Ethiopia between 50,000 and 100,000 persons, mostly women and children, died between April and August 1973. Some reports show even higher death tolls; 1,000 persons per week are still said to be dying of starvation. Farther west, below the Sahara Desert, millions of persons are in danger of starvation in what has been called ‘the worst drought in Africa’s recorded history.’
Meanwhile, Asia suffers from a sweeping rice shortage. The Asian rice stock per person, according to some estimates, is the lowest in thirty years and prices have skyrocketed 200 to 300 percent.
But many persons, perhaps including you, do not now live in obvious famine conditions. You may still have access to an abundance of food, relatively speaking. Nevertheless, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization director-general A. H. Boerma says worse conditions are ahead for the whole world. Biologist Paul Ehrlich believes that actual worldwide famine is approaching. When? Back in 1970 he stated: “I think an estimate of 1975 is still as good as we can make, but it could be anywhere from 1972 to 1985, depending primarily on luck. I think the actual date is a quibble.”
The evidence of worldwide shortage is already evident in most “developed” countries. Have not food prices taken a sharp upward rise in recent months in the U.S., western Europe and elsewhere? Why? The food supply is limited. So the greater demand causes prices to go up.
In these countries more persons on fixed incomes are now forced to live with less food. Farmers in some areas keep round-the-clock vigils protecting fields from thefts, which now occur even in daylight. Because of the high cost of meat, cattle rustling and animal poaching have become increasingly common.
Modern food shortage is real; its effects are being felt virtually everywhere. But what is responsible for the shortage?
CAUSES FOR WORLDWIDE FOOD SHORTAGE
Part of the answer to that question is found in the words of Jesus that accompany what he said about food shortage. Luke’s Gospel account shows that Jesus predicted large wars to occur along with food shortages during “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Luke 21:10, 11) Men have seen more war since 1914 than in any comparable period in history. With what result? National economies have been disrupted, farmlands and water supplies ruined. Millions of strong young men who could have been farmers have, instead, died on battlefields. Ghastly famines have accompanied and followed those wars.
Furthermore, there is the matter of rapidly expanding world population. There are now almost four billion persons on earth; every year there are seventy-five million more added.
Earth’s growing population clamors for food. And as nations of the world become more affluent materially, they want what they view as a better diet, including, particularly, meat. The desire for beef is further straining an already strained worldwide farming system. In what way?
In that every pound of beef requires, on an average, about seven pounds of grain for feed. Thus it requires 2,000 pounds of grain every year to feed the average American and Canadian. Over 90 percent of this grain goes to produce meat, dairy products and eggs. On the other hand, persons living in less developed countries eat only about 400 pounds of grain annually, most of it being consumed directly. As the desire for a meatier diet intensifies, so does the need for larger amounts of grain.
Yet to further aggravate the food problem, there are fewer farmers. Big cities, their industries and social life, lure many away from an agricultural way of life. Currently, for instance, only 5 percent of the U.S. labor force is devoted to farming. The number of farmers in western Europe is rapidly declining.
Even in nations considered largely agricultural, the farm no longer attracts. That this is the case is shown in a United Press International report from Guyana saying that the minister of agriculture is again trying to convince the Guyanese people “that farming is a worthy vocation” and that “the psychological blocks against working the land” must be removed.
Thus, fewer farmers must grow even more crops. To try to accomplish this they have developed a reliance on more sophisticated methods and modern technology. But these are not entirely successful. Why?
MODERN TECHNOLOGY’S FAILURE
Well, to produce more crops farmers have become specialists, growing one or two varieties of crops over many acres of land. This can be disastrous. Why? One variety of plant needs only one variety of disease or insect to wipe out the entire crop.
Modern farming methods have also contributed to the food shortage in another way. Modern farms need oil. But currently there is a petroleum shortage. The U.S. food industry, the largest single user of oil in that nation, requires petroleum for its machinery. Further, a large percentage of the huge U.S. crop uses petroleum-base fertilizers. Propane, a petroleum derivative, is needed to dry crops for storage or transport.
How vividly we can see that man’s technology has not been able to surmount the tremendous problems to provide the world enough food to eat. Actually, technology has often been part of the problem. There are, however, causes behind the food problem that are not so apparent. What are these?
OTHER SOURCES OF HUNGER
A major problem is greed. Economic, political and national rivalries have divided men, and, as a consequence, billions of people have suffered. Thus, even if a major problem like the population of the earth were brought under control by men, do you honestly think that hunger would end? Well, consider:
Did the nations with abundant food supplies freely share their food when the population situation was not so critical? No. Have the wealthier nations fully provided for the hungry and poor within their own country? No. Why, then, believe that if man solved the problem of population people would suddenly all have enough to eat? Man’s greed would prevent it.
What we see happening today as respects food shortage does indeed fulfill Bible prophecy. Prophecy also reveals, however, that shortly this worldwide selfish system will be put out of the way for good. God’s Word promises that the earth will thereafter be made a paradise that will yield abundantly to feed all righteous men. You can be alive at the time when, as the Bible says, “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”—Isa. 25:6.
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SHORTAGES ARE REFLECTED IN HIGH PRICES AT THE MARKET . . .
. . . AND IN ACTUAL STARVATION FOR MILLIONS