The third of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse pictures food shortages such as the world has never seen, following on the heels of horrific warfare that lies just ahead for mankind!
Warnings about famine may sound absurd to affluent, overfed nations in Western Europe, North America, and other “First World” regions, where obesity is a growing problem. Yet large segments of the human family suffer daily hunger and starvation as agonizing facts of life. While many religious leaders talk about love, peace, and tolerance, they fail to see—or to understand the significance of—tragic events that were prophesied long ago and are coming alive today.
Jesus foretold that, shortly before His prophesied Second Coming, the world would experience increasingly severe famines on a global scale (Matthew 24:3–8; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). The Apostle John symbolized these global famines with the third horseman of the apocalypse, a rider on a black horse, carrying a balance scale—an instrument for measuring wheat and other grains for sale (Revelation 6:5–6). According to Bible prophecy, famines—along with disease, natural disasters, and deadly global warfare—will bring about the deaths of one-fourth of the world’s population.
To many modern ears, this may sound like morbid science fiction or the scare tactics of an alarmist. This is a subject that trendy, “feel-good Christianity” does not like to talk about. For many in the developed Western nations, “food scarcity” today is little more than a supply chain issue that means there is only one cut of meat in the supermarket display, or that there are five kinds of rice available instead of ten. And even to the extent there is a problem, few connect it with the words of Scripture.
But the truth should sober us. Actual global conditions show that our world is beginning to resemble what the Bible has long foretold. For decades, Western relief agencies and the United Nations directed most of their food relief efforts toward famines across Africa. Yet in more recent years, food insecurity has spread to other regions. Earlier this year, the U.N. called world attention to severe food shortages affecting populations in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Yemen (“Food insecurity soaring across 20 hunger hotspots,” News.UN.org, January 27, 2022).
It is sobering to realize that biblical prophecy warns of severe food shortages developing in more affluent Western countries. Long ago, God told the rebellious house of Israel that “one-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword [war] all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds” (Ezekiel 5:12). The lack of rain and ensuing drought will be major factors contributing to this dire situation (Leviticus 26:19–20; Deuteronomy 28:23–24).
Widespread drought and lack of rain are not the only causes of modern famines. Severe or erratic weather, related to climate phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, can bring torrential rains, freezes, and tornadoes that damage crops and create food shortages. Wars that drive farmers off the land reduce food production, disrupt distribution systems, and destroy stored food. Political opponents are often deprived access to food supplies. Access to arable land has become a tool for political influence in some troubled countries, with favored parties or groups gaining access denied to opponents.
Structural changes foisted on debtor nations by the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund also generate famine conditions in segments of society. Nations that are “encouraged” to grow cash crops for exports, instead of raising food, often become unable to feed themselves. The displacement of rural subsistence farmers by large corporations also sends many into poverty and starvation.
While political and social battles continue over “climate change”—disputing whether recent climate extremes are just part of a natural cycle or have been worsened by mankind’s poor stewardship over the planet—the costs of environmental deterioration are severe and must eventually be paid! Fish stocks in the world’s oceans are in serious decline, devastated by modern factory-fishing techniques. Meat is becoming more and more expensive to produce, leading to the burst of interest in “plant-based” replacements that are being pushed by environmentalists, as well as by the multinational corporations seeking to profit from the crisis.
Misguided government policies, amplified by drought, have caused devastating famines in the past—and, as prophesied, they continue to do so today, with signs that famines will worsen. The Ukraine in 1932–33 saw an estimated five million farmers die because of famine brought about by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization of farmlands. And how many Ukrainians may die even this year because of food disruptions brought about by Russia’s invasion? An estimated 30 million Chinese starved for some of the same reasons during their nation’s “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950s. Though it is impossible to get a reliable figure from the tightly controlled state, some observers estimate that more than three million North Koreans died between 1994 and 1998 because of their government’s draconian policies.
So, we should not take it lightly that, in our present day, the European Union wants to maintain central control of Europe’s food supplies—agriculture, fisheries, food processing, and distribution—which could have sobering consequences.
When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses prophesied that if they obeyed the laws of God they would be blessed with “rain in due season” and abundant crops, but if they ignored the laws of God, He would “break the pride of your power” by making “your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze” so that “your land shall not yield its produce” and disease epidemics would afflict their flocks and herds (Leviticus 26:14–22).
God also warned that, because of disobedience, “you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” and that God would “cut off your supply of bread” (Leviticus 26:16, 26). God later warned the Israelites that in addition to crop damage by drought and insects, “you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually” and your flocks and herds will be “violently taken away from before you” and “given to your enemies… a nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land… you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see” (Deuteronomy 28:23–42).
What God foretold is beginning to happen today, to Britain and to other modern descendants of Israel in Europe and South Africa, bringing to mind Ezekiel’s prophetic warning, “When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine… and cut off your supply of food…” (Ezekiel 5:14–17). God has warned His rebellious children, “I will heap disasters on them… they shall be wasted with hunger” (Deuteronomy 32:23–24).
The third horseman heralds the coming of a time of famine more severe than our world has ever witnessed before. As the modern descendants of ancient Israel have largely rejected God’s law and have jumped enthusiastically onto a moral “toboggan slide” to decay, God’s punishment is imminent, as He uses not just the weather but also the greed of modern secular mankind to set into motion a prophesied time of famine that would bring the world to ruin and utter destruction were it not for the return of Jesus Christ to save us from ourselves. To learn more about the third horseman and his ride, as well as the other horsemen that warn of crises ahead, request our free booklet Prophecy Fulfilled: God’s Hand in World Affairs.