Even with abundant food supplies why do the poor starve? Learn what you can do and discover the ultimate solution.
Why do the world’s poorest inhabitants starve in an age of abundant food supplies? The world has the knowledge, the tools and the resources to end worldwide hunger–yet thousands die every day from malnutrition.
Why does this happen?
More importantly what can be done to help end the suffering of millions of humans? It is a big problem and it will get larger in coming years. Join us on Beyond Today as we look at world hunger and what, if anything, you can do to help.
Have you ever had anyone come up to you and ask for money to buy food?
What was your reaction? Did you feel uncomfortable? Did you think the request to be a fraud–that you were getting ripped off?
Did you feel uncomfortable–that your “space” was being invaded by someone not like you and you just wanted to move away from the moment and the person–there was nothing you could do?
When I was a boy at home I can remember people coming to our door and asking for food. Usually it would be a man who definitely looked down on his luck. Actually, they never really asked for direct food handout or money. They would usually ask if they could perform some work on the house in exchange for a meal.
My mother never turned away any request by someone knocking on our door. What she would do was offer to make them a sandwich since there was no work needed. But she always had compassion on someone who was down and out and had a need. She always gave something. I never saw her turn her back on someone who was hungry.
Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; (Matthew 25:35For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:×)
This is the place to begin as we look at the awful problem of millions not having enough food to eat in a world where there is plenty. Before we look at any prophecies of greater famine to come before the end of the age we should anchor ourselves in Christ’s statement that our heart should be turned toward a practical solution to a problem when we can do something about it.
Why, you might ask, is this necessary? Aren’t famine and hunger such large human issues that have always been a part of life? Aren’t they too large for any government to effectively do anything to solve? The answer to the first is yes and to the second we can shrug our shoulders and wonder if there really can be a solution in our time. But if we take Christ’s statement to heart we must admit we have an obligation to do something to help the poor–even if they will “always be with us”.
Christ made another significant statement about famine that we cannot ignore. In His Olivet Prophecy–spoken to His disciples on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem– Christ said famine would be a sign of his coming and of the “end of the age”. Famine will increase as world events come together in the storm of events prior to the Second Coming.
The scourge of famine has appeared cyclically throughout history. Often it is caused by drought, blight, floods and other natural means beyond human control. At other times the causes are all too human—war, social unrest and breakdown, and inefficient or outright malevolent government policy.
In today’s global society, there should be no real obstacle to alleviating the effects of food shortages wherever they occur. Modern agricultural methods and generally stable weather patterns produce bumper crops in the developed world resulting in massive levels of food production, more than enough to feed the hungry of the world. There is no reason to expect people to starve when this is coupled with the means to transport food to any location in the world. Yet famine and suffering from food shortages continue—and at times even grow.
Christ’s prophecy was expanded in Revelation chapter six where we see the famous “four horsemen of the apocalypse” ride across the earth unleashing a tide of devastation upon humanity. These four horsemen parallel what Christ spoke in His Olivet Prophecy.
Notice what it says in verses 5-6: “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’” What does this mean?
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains this passage: “This amount of money suggests food prices about twelve times higher than normal…and implies inflation and famine conditions . A quart of wheat would supply an average person one day’s sustenance. Barley was used by the poor to mix with the wheat.” Food shortages cause inflation in food prices. And higher prices make the remaining food harder to afford.
Oil and wine, though, are typically symbols of plenty. The reference here could indicate there will be pockets of abundance in the midst of famine. Christ’s reference to famine “in various places” (Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.×) indicates the same possibility.
The cry to not “harm” the oil and wine could represent attempts to safeguard the pockets of abundance against plundering. However, The Living Bible interprets the phrase in Revelation to mean that there is practically no oil and wine left. That would also fit with the admonition that what is left not be harmed—lest there be none left at all.
In any case, the opening of the third seal indicates the onset of a period of severe famine unlike any in the past. While famines of varying severity have struck throughout history, it appears things will get much worse.
Recent famines and food shortages remind us the potential is great. In 2009 the number of chronically hungry people in the world rose to 1.2 billion, one sixth of the global population. A report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows a sharp rise in food [prices and lack of investment in infrastructure contributes to growing hunger. The report shows that global food output will have to increase by 70% to feed a world population projected at 9.1 billion in 2050.
Can this be done? Will other factors aggravate these chronic shortages making them so large they get out of control?
This story of famine is not a pleasant one to discuss. No one likes to look at pictures of starving people in Africa or Asia when drought or political upset
occurs. But there are causes for these global calamities and Christ not only tells us they will occur but he also shows us why. He not only tells us in advance what will happen but that the outcome is in His hands.
Our booklet, The Book of Revelation Unveiled, takes you through an explanation of these end time events.
This booklet take you through an overview of the most intriguing book of the Bible. If you have always had questions about this book but thought it one that is impossible to understand then this is the booklet you want to read. It gives you a common sense, understandable explanation of God’s plan to restore this world to peace and stability.
Go online right now to beyondtoday.tv to download, read or order your free copy. Call toll-free 1-triple-eight-886-8632. That's, 1-triple-eight-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
Can world famine be prevented? Can food shortages be prevented? A story from modern times can show us a way forward.
In 1968 a book called The Population Bomb was published. The author, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, predicted a dire scenario of famine and death for millions in the developing world because of a lack of food. I remember reading the book and being horrified at what lay ahead.
But something happened, that is, something failed to happen–the famine did not materialize. Millions in Asia and Africa did not die.
Why? What happened to prevent the predicted catastrophe?
At that time the work of one man come to the fore and saved millions of lives. The man was Norman Borlaug a plant scientist who led a research effort during the 1950s and '60s that started what became known as the “Green Revolution.” His work in Mexico led to the development of a variety of hybrid grains that could be grown in many climates, was immune to many common diseases and produced larger yields. The result was larger harvests to feed the world's growing population.
Borlaug died recently. In an article published at the time of his death, The Wall Street Journal wrote that from the time of the U.S. Civil War through the Great Depression of the 1930s, the average American farm produced 24 bushels of corn per acre. By 2006 output had multiplied to near 155 bushels per acre. The same results have occurred around the world and are the key reason the world's burgeoning population has been fed and kept alive. The article went on to say, “In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared that malnutrition stands 'at the lowest level in human history,' despite the global population having trebled in a single century”.
Norman Borlaug’s work was largely responsible for this.
Borlaug's work has been heavily criticized because of its reliance on lots of fertilizer and pesticides. Fears of genetically modified food keep some grains out of world markets. But the poor who survived because they were fed do not have the luxury of such debates. They lived and grew to adulthood as humans created in the image of God. At a future point on God's timeline they will come to know Him in the fullest and truest sense and have the opportunity to take their place within the family of God. Every human life has value. Whatever anyone might say, Borlaug's work allowed many millions to live instead of starve to death.
Where does this bring us with this subject?
As we have seen by more recent reports, hunger is on the rise again as the population increases. Unfortunately, food shortages and resulting famines in developing nations have not been eliminated. Weather upsets, government policies and political corruption have created pockets of famine resulting in the deaths of many hundreds of thousands.
The world continues to face potential shortages of the basic resources of food and water. There will be a time when the problems will be too great and simply overwhelm humanity. We have seen that Christ’s prophecies reveal a time of world upheaval at the close of the age where famine will ride with a fury upon the earth.
Quite frankly, when this occurs there will be nothing that will prevent the loss of life and the suffering of many. The fact of these prophecies is a time of tribulation such as has never occurred in human history. The prophet Daniel put it this way, “At that time Michael shall stand up, that great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be at time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered”.
Other prophecies indicate this judgment will come as a result of God’s intervention for mankind’s disobedience to His eternal spiritual law. The resulting starvation will cause the social structure to unravel at a frightening speed. The results are horrifying to contemplate.
Now that is what your Bible shows for the future. But what about today? What can be done about hunger? What is our personal responsibility?
Remember what Christ said. , “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;” Christ went on to say, “…in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.×)
Christ is teaching that we have an obligation to help where we can and where it is practical or possible. It is up to each of us to consider the scripture and act when confronted with an opportunity to do something.
There are many examples of people and groups who engage in famine relief in places like Ethiopia or Sudan. The cause of famine in these regions is often due to deliberate government policy or the lack of development that prevents food from either leaving or coming into a region.
Hunger strikes these regions that have ample water, land and conditions for growing food but because there are no roads, no irrigation and no stable government policy people starve. They have to rely on the charity of other nations to provide food to keep people alive.
Should you choose to get involved with a group that helps these stricken areas then do so. You are following Christ’s teaching.
Remember Norman Bourlag? He was one man who made a difference. His work literally saved the lives of millions of people. He never got rich off his work, instead his efforts prevented a monumental tragedy from unfolding. The “green revolution” will not prevent the prophesied famine of the end time, but it reminds us the best of the human spirit when engaged, can solve the problems of suffering.
And then remember the example of my mother. Like so many of her generation she knew what it was like to go without food. She determined she could not turn her back on a legitimate request for food. I have tried my best to follow her example. So should you.
Finally, pray “thy kingdom come”. The problems of war, famine and disease are monumental. Throughout history they have plunged the world into periods of suffering and setback. Men and women have stepped up to negotiate treaties, feed the hungry and create and administer medicine to heal. But the problems continue.
You and I can do good things and model the way of God’s kingdom. Which is the right and good thing for us to do, it’s our personal responsibility.
But in the end it will take the coming of that kingdom to the earth to solve the causes for all the problems and suffering.
It is the humility that acknowledges this truth that causes us to look up, to God, for the intervention that will save all human flesh.
Coming up will be our discussion with the Beyond Today presenters but first let me discuss the Good News magazine that we always offer on our programs. This publication comes out 6 times each year and always contains articles on Christian living, Biblical teaching and world events. This magazine you will look forward to each month to provide you with helpful and encouraging articles about God and His way of life. It will help you navigate the challenges of life and achieve a successful life.
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