Droughts and Famines Increasing
In our modern, secular age, most people are focused on themselves—on their work, entertainment and the acquisition of material things. Few understand, or make any connection between, widespread weather-related events and ancient Bible prophecies. Yet those sobering prophecies are coming alive today! Around the globe, long-predicted environmental plagues are beginning to affect millions of people's lives. We appear to be approaching a critical juncture in the history of human civilization—one that is clearly mentioned in Scripture.
When Jesus was asked, "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?", He said His return would occur at a time characterized by "wars and rumors of wars… famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:3–8). The Apostle John saw a vision of four horsemen that would usher in the end of the age (Revelation 6:1-8). A white horse pictures false religion. A red horse pictures war and violence that will spread around the earth. A black horse, with a rider holding a pair of scales, pictures a time of scarcity, soaring food prices and famine. A pale horse portrays death by, hunger, disease and natural disasters that will affect one quarter of the earth! The prophet Joel predicted that the Day of the Lord—Christ's return—would bring unprecedented disasters, including a devastating period of drought in which "the grain is ruined, the new wine is dried up… the harvest of the field has perished… all the trees of the field are withered… Is not the food cut off before our eyes?" (Joel 1:10–16). The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a coming time of judgment that would include "droughts… because the ground is parched, for there was no rain in the land… no grass" (Jeremiah 14:1–6). Isaiah prophesied that in Egypt "The waters will fail from the sea, and the river will be wasted and dried up… and everything sown by the River [the Nile] will wither… the fishermen will also mourn" (Isaiah 19:5–8). Reports from around the globe reveal that these conditions are increasingly evident today and are predicted to grow worse—aggravated by global climate change!
During the last decade, drought and severe weather conditions have afflicted a number of areas in the United States. Arizona is in its twelfth year of drought and southern California has just experienced its driest autumn and winter in over a century. One Palm Springs news report even stated, "We've had wind storms and a wicked winter frost [which severely damaged citrus and other crops], but no significant rainfall… this is one of the worst droughts in about 100 years." Forecasters see this drought expanding into Nevada, Utah, western Colorado and New Mexico. Drought conditions also persist in Wyoming and western South Dakota, and in the Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas regions. High temperatures and little rainfall have also afflicted southeastern states, including northern Florida, Georgia and Alabama. In April, a hard frost nearly wiped out the entire fruit crop (apples, peaches, plums and nectarines) and much of the grape crop in Missouri and Indiana, and severely damaged winter wheat crops in central Kansas and Alabama.
In eastern Australia, the Murray-Darling basin (an area about four times the size of the United Kingdom) has experienced "the worst drought in the nation's history" (www.timesonline.co.uk, April 19, 2007). The 55,000 farmers in this region grow nearly all of the country's stone fruits, vegetables, rice and cotton (www.timesonline.co.uk. These weather-related crop failures foreshadow dramatic increases in food prices. The drought cut Australia's winter wheat crop in 2006 by nearly 60 percent. Since Australia is the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, after the United States, this means lower revenues from exports and less grain for Australia's primary markets in Asia and the Middle East (www.stuff.co.nz, March 24, 2007).
News stories report, "More than 5.5 million people are short of drinking water because of acute drought in southwestern China" (www.news.bbc.co.uk, March 24, 2007). Low rainfall in China also affects six million livestock and half a million hectares of land. In northwest China, hundreds of thousands of people are in need of emergency water supplies due to a lack of rain. To complicate matters, billions of tons of untreated chemical and sewage wastes pollute China's major river systems, making the water undrinkable and toxic to aquatic life in the rivers.
Major parts of Africa are plagued by serious drought conditions. South Africa, normally an exporter of maize to other African countries, is being forced to import maize due to "the worst drought in 40 years. Some old-timers say it is the worst drought ever" (Mail and Guardian, March 17, 2007). As maize prices rise, many farmers will be forced to slaughter much of their stock. One farmer "curses the bad weather, which he believes is the worst in his farming career." He states, "My harvest is gone… It's ugly" (ibid.). Forecasters fear this drought is the beginning of a long dry spell for the summer rainfall regions of South Africa—that could become worse with climate change. Other parts of southern and eastern Africa have been grappling with drought conditions for several years. In addition, water levels in Lake Victoria—a source of the Nile River, the longest river in the world—have been dropping at an alarming rate. About 45 percent of the drop is due to drought and 55 percent to poorly planned hydroelectric dams that now control the outflow from the lake. The growing demand for electricity and irrigation in the ten countries that comprise the Nile Basin (which covers 10 percent of the African continent and is home to millions of people) could generate conflicts and water wars over access to this dwindling resource (www.irn.org.
The Bible records that God long ago issued very sobering warnings to Israel—warnings that they were to share with the world (see Deuteronomy 4:1–10). God warned that "if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes… I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze… for your land shall not yield its produce" (Leviticus 26:14–20). God later repeated these warnings: "If you do not obey the voice of the Lord… all these curses will come upon you… your heavens… shall be bronze, and the earth… shall be iron… The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust… until you are destroyed" (Deuteronomy 28:15–24). Scripture reveals that "all these curses shall come upon you… because you did not obey the voice of the Lord… to keep His commandments and His statutes… because you did not serve the Lord… with joy and gladness of heart" (Deuteronomy 28:45–47). As mankind exceeds the environmental limitations of the earth, and ignores God's spiritual laws against idolatry, theft, adultery, murder, abortion and other abominations, we should not be surprised that these ancient and significant prophecies are coming alive today!