Page 1

And there shall be

FAMINES


Other reports in the Series:

And there shall be

PESTILENCES

And you shall hear of

WARS

Many shall come

IN MY NAME

Why the SPECIAL WARNING Series? The purpose of this series is to show what is prophesied in God’s Word to come upon the The modern-day descendants of ancient Israel at SPECIAL the end of the age. In Matthew 24:5-7, Christ WARNING described the world conditions of our time. Series The responsibility of God’s true Church is given in Ezekiel 33:6-11: “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Therefore, O you son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; thus you speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” This four-part series describes these conditions in detail, demonstrating how 6,000 years of human history have seen them escalate, to the point that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]” (Matt. 24:22).

This publication is provided free of charge and in the public interest by The Restored Church of God. It is made possible by the voluntary, freely given tithes and offerings of the members of the Church and others who have elected to support the work of the Church. Contributions are welcomed and gratefully accepted. Those who wish to voluntarily aid and support this Work of God around the world are gladly welcomed as co-workers in this major effort to preach the gospel to all nations. Copyright © 2002, 2003 The Restored Church of God. Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. The Restored Church of God is not responsible for the return of unsolicited articles and photos. Scriptures are quoted from either the King James or the New King James version, unless otherwise noted.

Contact The Restored Church of God P.O. Box 23295 Wadsworth, OH 44282 (330) 334-2266 P.O. Box 4064 St. Catharines, ONT L2R 7S3 Canada www.TheRCG.org info@TheRCG.org


And there shall be

FAMINES F

AMINE HAS EXISTED through-

out human history. Yet Christ said that “famines” would immediately precede His Return (Matt. 24:7). What did He mean? His warning is echoed in Revelation, which depicts the opening of the third seal and the arrival of the black horse (Rev. 6:5).

Famine is steadily growing worse—and is prophesied to become catastrophic before the end of the age! It is our job to warn you. This booklet describes the greatest time of famine ever to strike the world. It also answers the question—WHY? It will contain material so appalling, that you should never again take food for granted! The World as We Know It?

Because of man’s disobedience to God, we are drawing closer to the end of this present age. Great prophecies are unfolding before our eyes. But does the average person view world events in the light of Bible prophecy? Does anyone understand what is happening? The answer is an emphatic NO!— except for a few. Not even world leaders understand the significance of major events and trends. They refuse to learn the lessons of the past and ignore God’s warnings about the future. “Experts” tell us that, given enough time, mankind will solve all of the problems it faces—without the need for divine intervention! But God tells us that all manmade solutions will ulti-

mately fail (Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23). Do you ever worry about where your next meal is coming from? Though most in the Western World do not (generally taking for granted three meals a day), for many this is a day-to-day concern—a reality they cannot escape! Few understand the facts. Our food supply is limited. Its continuance is dependent upon many things. Some of these things are within man’s ability to control. Others are completely out of his hands. We will see that even those things which man cannot change, by physical, scientific, or technological means, can be changed by obedience to God’s laws. This is another fact that few understand. In His inspired Word, God promises blessings for obedience to His laws and statutes (Lev. 26:1-13; Deut. 28:1-14). He also promises curses for disobedience (Lev. 26:14-39; Deut. 28:15-68). Among the curses that will result from disobedience is FAMINE! What is Famine?

When you hear or see the word “famine,” what comes to mind? Do you think of people in underdeveloped third-world countries? Do you recall images of starving Ethiopians and others in distant lands? This is the common picture that forms in the minds of Westerners. But the Bible prophesies that the entire world will soon be plagued by famine. Can you imagine standing in line for hours…for a bowl of watery soup? Most people find it annoying to stand in line for hours to dine at a fancy restaurant. To even stand in line for hours at

an amusement park is not “amusing” for most. What if you had to stand in line all day for a loaf of bread? Does this seem too “awful” to be true? This is the reality of famine. It is a reality that will not go away soon. And God’s Word shows that it is going to get far worse before it gets better. Revelation 6:6 states, “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see you hurt not the oil and the wine.” This depicts two things. First: In some parts of the world there will be plenty of food, but little money to purchase it. Second: In other parts of the world, there will be massive shortages of food. The last phrase in this verse suggests great scarcity. Famine is more than a lack of food. It is more than an agricultural problem. These are the most obvious elements. It is a disaster comprised of many contributing factors bringing catastrophic results. Famine can arrive in the wake of war. In their aftermath, natural disasters can leave the unnatural disaster of starvation. Human efforts to end the suffering often fail. Unlike some diseases, there is no known cure—and there is no end in sight. Ezekiel 5:12 prophesies that one-third of the world’s population will die from famine and disease immediately before the Return of Jesus Christ to this earth: “One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst…” Notice this: “Famines are about death; that much is obvious to the casual observer. But, in reality famine is 1


about more than death. To the author of [the book of Revelation]…Famine is an entity distinct from the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse—War, Pestilence, and Death. In the latter distinction, famine was seen as a catastrophe separate from war and pestilence and apparently also separate from death. “Famine is…a catastrophic disruption of society as manifested in a cumulative failure of production, distribution, and consumption systems…the human death toll…is only one part of the overall problem. A long-term depletion of resources carries the implications of famine far beyond the realm of a discrete event. Once a localized crisis has passed, the process of nation-building is severely impeded by the loss of people, community integration, livestock, savings and even the government’s capacity to tax and invest. Such losses make the process of social and economic rehabilitation very difficult because they compound the poverty that predated, and contributed directly to, the individual crisis. The famine survivors of today can easily become the famine fodder of tomorrow” (Famine and Food Security in Ethiopia, Patrick Webb and Joachim von Braun, p.11). Preludes to Famine

When it comes to cause-and-effect relationships, human beings usually have trouble connecting the dots. Consequently, the BIG PICTURE is often invisible or, at best, blurred. Professing Christians, who claim the Bible as the source of their beliefs, often choose to distort its plain statements. They do not connect “…sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4) with “…the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Human nature always finds a way to reason around God’s instructions. Inability to discern cause and effect has resulted in a world filled with numerous problems, including religious confusion, hate, crime, war, injustice, poverty, famine and disease. Silently, ominously, the specter of famine has spread in this past century. So far, this has primarily occurred in the second and third world countries. However, man’s best efforts, along with innovations and technology, have not 2

stemmed the tide, and now the increasing possibility looms over all—including the developed nations—as the causal factors are compounded and expanded in scope. Fuel Shortage…Food Shortage?

An observation should be drawn from the turn-of-the-century “Y2K” problem. Although it did not turn out to be the disaster that many experts predicted, the “doomsday” scenarios presented are still quite plausible. For instance, a prolonged fuel crisis could lead to catastrophic problems, food shortages being one. Consider: If farmers have no fuel for their equipment, then planting and harvesting, and all the intermediate processes requiring the use of fuel-driven machinery, come to a stop. The following quote illustrates the devastating effect that a fuel shortage, even of short-term duration, can have on agriculture: “A farmer depends on a heavy supply of fuel at certain times of the year, rather than a constant steady small supply, such as urban homeowners and automobile drivers need. In the spring of 1973, however, as planting was in full swing, fuel was often unavailable. Cotton crops just sprouting could not be tended; preparation and planting on some farms was halted. Longtime fuel customers waited precious days for delivery of their fuel” (World Crisis in Agriculture, Gary Alexander and the Ambassador College Agricultural Research Dept., p. 11). Unless farmers can resort to primitive, non-modernized methods, and remain productive, they are out of business. In an age when many have already left farming and relocated in urban areas, this spells disaster. Notice the following stunning quote. As you do, recognize that 95 percent of the original colonists lived on farms. “Only two percent of the U.S. population are farmers and ranchers,” reports John Cromartie, an economic research analyst for the National Agricultural Statistic Service of the U.S. Census Bureau. History suggests that the above two percent is a number that will continue to shrink. Picture an ant carrying an elephant and then ask how long that can last.

Also consider that grocery stores (which would be non-existent without farmers), from which we are accustomed to obtaining the bulk of our food, “…operate on razor-thin profit margins, which requires keeping low inventories and using a ‘just-in-time’ (JIT) delivery mechanism to restock on a daily or weekly basis” (Time Bomb 2000, Edward Yourdon and Jennifer Yourdon). The context of the above statement is that of electronic monitoring of grocery store inventories. But it illustrates the reality that, at any given time, there is no more than a three-orfour-day supply of food on grocers’ shelves. Does this statement shock you? It should shock and frighten you—especially when you consider how little it takes to create civil upheaval and outright mayhem today. In a society built on the principle of “every man for himself,” when the “cupboards are bare,” chaos will reign supreme! “Unlike other natural catastrophes, famine is not a sudden disaster but a long-drawn-out process passing through several stages. The rains fail, vegetation withers for lack of water, food gradually dwindles. Shortage becomes scarcity and eventually complete dearth. It may take many months before this final, dreaded stage is reached. Drought is still the main traditional cause of famine. Some famines have followed upon calamitous floods. There have been cases...when a new disease attacks the main food crop of a people, as in the terrible potato famine of Ireland. Armies have inevitably brought famine in their wake, killing the men who should be working the land or by deliberately laying waste the land itself” (Catastrophe And Crisis, Jeremy Kingston and David Lambert, p. 79). Starvation affects human beings in a profoundly different way than do other catastrophes. Depriving the body of vital nutrients decreases its ability to maintain proper functions, and increases its susceptibility to disease. Psychological effects include fear, uncertainty and dependency, which can escalate on both individual and collective levels. “What do people do when faced with the threat of starvation? In most cases, everything in their power.


The people who die during famine should not be seen as passive victims but as losers of a hard-fought struggle for survival” (Webb and Braun, p. 56). Historical Overview

In this booklet, we will review some historical accounts of famine, and their primary causes and effects, before examining how famine is prophesied to come upon the entire world. Famine is a disaster unlike other disasters, which, to a degree, can be responded to and remedied. It is a problem that has plagued the world throughout history. This state of affairs began when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:6-7), taking upon themselves the authority to determine right from wrong. Sin has cut man off from God (Isa. 59:1-2). For 6,000 years, man has been “sowing to his flesh and reaping corruption” (Gal. 6:8). It has been said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This has proven true in almost every aspect of human endeavor. In examining history, we will see that, rather than acting to prevent disaster (Prov. 22:3), government almost always reacts to disaster—in ways that lead to further disaster. Not only have leaders not learned from the mistakes of others, but they have also failed to learn from their own mistakes. We will see that, when addressing the problem of hunger, government actions have resulted in the deaths of millions, time and again. In a world cut off from God, mankind lacks contact with the solution to his problems. This results in many kinds of humanlydevised remedies that are equivalent to treating cancer with aspirin. Famine in Egypt

The seven-year famine that struck Egypt (circa 1680 B.C.), as recorded in Genesis 41, is not the only such episode in their history. In A.D. 1201, the nation was plagued by a famine that had horrible consequences. The following quote, from Professor Fekri Hassan, illustrates the depravity that raged in its wake. Bear in mind that “low flood” indicates a lack of water: “The impact of a series

of low floods, even if they occur over a few years, can cause distress, famine, plague and civil unrest in Egypt. For example, in 967 A.D., a low flood caused a severe famine that left 600,000 people dead…Once again, in 1201, low Nile floods followed by another low flood in 1202 caused a catastrophic famine. “This eyewitness account comes from Abdel-Latif Al-Baghdadi, a physician/scholar from Baghdad who was in Egypt from 1194 to 1200 AD. He reported that people emigrated in crowds and that those who remained habitually ate human flesh; parents ate their own children. Graves were ransacked for food, assassinations and robbery reigned unchecked and noblewomen implored to be bought as slaves. ‘All Upper Egypt was dying of hunger, to such an extent that everyone has come to eating his children…The entire country has become starved like a starved grasshopper, with people going to the north and to the south (in search of grain)’” (Ancient Apocalypse: The fall of the Egyptian Old Kingdom). Another astonishing account describes the same famine: “‘There was no longer any hope that the Nile would rise; and as a result the cost of provisions had gone up…A vast multitude sought refuge in Misr and Cairo, where they were to meet with frightful famine and appalling mortality…and the pestilence and a deadly contagion began to take their toll, and the poor, under the pressure of ever-growing want, ate carrion, corpses, dogs, excrement, and animal dung. They went further, and reached the stage of eating little children, roasted or boiled’” (Dr. Abdal’Latif, Realation de l’Egypte par Abd-Allatif, Medecin arabe de Baghdad, Paris 1810 [written 12011207], Raey Tannahill, Flesh and Blood: A History of the Cannibal Complex, London 1975). This paints an abominable scene that many will not accept as possible in our modern age. But God’s Word promises that it is coming! Cannibalism will follow in the wake of the great end-time famine prophesied to come upon this world! Notice Leviticus 26:26, 29: “And when I have broken the staff of

your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread by weight: and you shall eat, and not be satisfied…you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall you eat.” In an age when parents are already killing their own children (through abortion and other forms of murder), can the atrocity of eating them be too far in the future? Famine in Europe

The continent of Europe has been plagued by large-scale famine numerous times throughout history. The following quote demonstrates that, when left to his own devices, man inevitably turns trial into worse tribulation: “From 800-1300, the total production of Europe had increased steadily…By the beginning of the 14th century, however, the population had grown to the extent that the land could provide enough resources to support it only under the best of conditions…A wet spring in the year of 1315 made it impossible to plow all of the fields that were ready for cultivation…the food reserves of many families were quickly depleted. People gathered what food they could from the forests: edible roots, plants, grasses, nuts, and bark. The Spring and Summer of 1316 were cold and wet again…peasant families had less energy…and a much smaller food supply in reserve to supply them until the next harvest…Draft animals were slaughtered, seed grain was eaten, young children were abandoned, and many older people voluntarily stopped eating and died so that the younger members of the family might live to work the fields again. There were numerous reports of cannibalism…” “Much of the seed grain and much of the draft animals had been eaten at the height of hunger in the late Spring of 1317, and many people and animals were simply too weak to work effectively, but about ten to fifteen percent of the population had died from pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and other sicknesses that had worsened by the sufferer’s weakness, and there were fewer mouths to feed. So Europe was able to recover, although only slowly” 3


(Introduction to Medieval History, Professor Lynn Harry Nelson). In Leviticus 26:4, God promises “rain in due season” as one of the blessings for obedience to His Law: “I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Deuteronomy 11:14 states, “I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil.” History would have painted a very different picture here had the rains come when needed. Though most fail to realize or acknowledge it, God controls the weather. Mankind will be brought to that realization. We have already seen bizarre, unprecedented weather patterns. Until God gets the world’s attention, these will only grow worse! Germany—1630

The famine that struck during the Thirty Years War in central Europe is a prime example of a man-made catastrophe: “By 1630, western and eastern Germany and nearby lands had been embroiled in 10 years’ fighting… Famine and pestilence had cut [Germany’s] population from some 70,000 to only 16,000. People had survived by eating rats and chewing hides; in one reported case a woman dined upon a soldier who had perished in her home” (Kingston and Lambert, pp. 187188). Famine in Ireland

Ireland has been a land of grinding poverty. During the mid-19th century, a time when Ireland was pressing for greater self-rule, half of its people lived in extreme poverty, surviving solely on the yearly potato crop. In 1845, a fungus that thrived in the wet climate destroyed that year’s harvest. Half of the population hovered on the brink of starvation. The blight continued for two more years, killing one million with starvation or ensuing disease. Food raised in Ireland was sold by greedy landlords and shipped to England. The British believed the Irish to be exaggerating the dire conditions. They 4

refused to send aid, by policies of “Let all things run their natural course.” Another million Irish fled, migrating to North America. Many, weakened by the famine, died enroute. In six years, the population dropped by 2 1/2 million. The population of Ireland, prior to the famine was about 8 million, compared to about 15 million on the British mainland. Ireland never recovered, and today, the population of the north and south combined is no more than 5 million—compared to 58 million on the British mainland. Today, Ireland’s agricultural industry is primarily dairy, the one crop growing in the climate being silage (grass). It is farmed intensively with artificial fertilizers, leading to the depletion of the already thin rocky soils. Although strains of blight-resistant potatoes have been developed, the farm economy is precariously poised upon the success of a non-diversified industry hit by “mad-cow disease” and bovine tuberculosis. This scene portends a repeat of history. Throughout the world in past centuries, the small farmer was a diversified producer. Everything on a farm was useful or edible. Today, the farmer banks his whole future on one or two grains. If he is wrong in his assessment of which crop to grow in a given year, he may flood the market, devaluing his crop. He is totally dependent on mechanization and the petroleum industry to provide power and fertilizer. He has nothing to fall back on if a crop fails. This practice shows little or no forethought and is a recipe for future disaster. This is a description of a worldwide problem, one created by greed and competition. It is a description of “the house that man built” (Matt. 7:26-27). “While many may ponder the consequences of global warming, perhaps the biggest single environmental catastrophe in human history is unfolding in the garden. While all are rightly concerned about the possibility of nuclear war, an equally devastating time bomb is ticking away in the fields of farmers all over the world. Loss of genetic diversity in agriculture—silent, rapid, inexorable— is leading us to a rendezvous with

extinction—to the doorstep of hunger on a scale we refuse to imagine. “To simplify the environment as we have done with agriculture is to destroy the complex interrelationships that hold the natural world together. Reducing the diversity of life, we narrow our options for the future and render our own survival more precarious” (“Shattering,” Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney, p. ix). Famine in the Soviet Union

The Soviet treatment of two twentieth century famines is a prime example of inappropriate government action in response to a crisis. In his report entitled, “The Soviet Famines of 1921 and 1932-3,” Brian Carnell writes, “In the space of little more than a decade the Soviet Union managed to inflict two devastating famines on its people and provide a blueprint for how governments could and would transform natural disasters into full blown starvation. “…The famine of 1921 began with a drought that caused massive crop failures, including total crop failure on about 20 percent of Soviet farmland. Although certainly a disaster of large proportions, such periodic drastic crop failures were not unknown in Russia. A similar drought struck in 1892, for example, which led to the worst crop failure of late tsarist Russia…The Bolsheviks, by contrast, simply ignored the famine until it was largely too late. Unable or unwilling to admit natural disasters could strike in the worker’s paradise, Lenin took actions to protect himself politically but did nothing to prevent the starvation. In May and June 1921, Lenin ordered food purchases abroad, but earmarked them for the politically important cities rather than for starving peasants. Bolshevik leaders avoided visiting the areas suffering from famine… Although exact casualty figures don’t exist, a Soviet estimate put the death toll at 5.1 million. “The massive famine which struck the Soviet Union in 1932-33 was, like the 1921 famine, caused by government actions…the death toll was staggering…estimated 7 million died from famine in 1932-3, with 5 million of those being Ukranian victims.”


Ukraine—1933

The following quote summarizes events that brought about another man-made famine: “Ukraine, ‘the breadbasket of Europe’ is a land famous for its fertile black earth and its golden wheat. Yet…seven million Ukranians starved to death although no natural catastrophe had visited the land…people starved while the Soviet Union exported butter and grain…” (“Black Famine in Ukraine 1923-33: A Struggle for Existence,” Andrew Gregorovich) “At the peak of the genocide, which was in March 1933 according to Prof. Conquest, Ukranians were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day, 1,000 per hour or 17 every minute. Estimates of the total deaths vary from 5 to 10 million but 7 million is the accepted figure. This was almost one-quarter of the population of Ukraine. “The children were especially devastated with one estimate stating that ‘no fewer than three million children born between 1932 and 1933 died of hunger’…One third of the children of Ukraine starved to death in the famine” (“Genocide in Ukraine 1933,” a speech given by Andrew Gregorovich, Senior Researcher, Ukranian-Canadian Research & Documentation Center, Toronto). The following quotes, from eyewitness accounts, help present the horrible picture of millions of people starving to death: “And the peasant children! Have you ever seen the newspaper photographs of the children in the German camps? They were just like that, their heads like heavy balls on thin little necks…one could see each bone of their arms and legs protruding from beneath the skin, how bones joined, and the entire skeleton was stretched over with skin…the children’s faces were aged…Not human faces!” (Forever Flowing, V. Grossman, pp. 156-157). “I saw ravages of the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine—hordes of families in rags begging at the railway stations, the women lifting up to the compartment windows their starving brats, which, with drumstick limbs, big cadaverous heads and puffed bellies, looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles”

(The God That Failed, Arthur Koestler, p. 68). Human nature always seeks to blame someone else when things go wrong. Many times, people point their fingers at God, as the title of the abovequoted book illustrates. Mankind has never acknowledged that his continual disobedience to God is the true cause of all suffering. “In modern times, famine in Europe is uncommon. Agricultural expertise and the generally benign climate mean that good use can be made of the land without exploiting it. But famine is only uncommon, not unknown. Efficient husbandry is no match for policies of starvation deliberately imposed in time of war” (Kingston and Lambert, p. 86). The above statement demonstrates the cause-and-effect relationship between famine and war, as does the following account. Leningrad 1941-1942

“The siege of Leningrad is an event of massive significance in the 20th century Russian history…the death toll—some 800,000 people—was the worse there has ever been in one city, and it became the largest-scale famine ever seen in the industrialized world…‘The Germans were bombing and shelling the city throughout the blockade—but we estimate that…750,000 died as a result of hunger or related diseases…’” “‘During the hungry winter…the authorities were very afraid of cannibalism—not only of those who starved of natural causes, but also murder for the consumption of human meat. Over 300 people were shot for committing this crime, and…More than a thousand others were imprisoned…’” (War Stories— Lifting the Lid on the Siege of Leningrad, R. Bakhtiarov, N. Cherepnina, A. Dzeniskevich, M. Frolov, I. Kozlov and A. Samsonova. Famine in China

Government policy was also a major catalyst for famine in China. In his report entitled, “Chinese Famine of 1958-1961,” Brian Carnell continues: “Historically, China suffered from more than its share of famines. Poor communication and transportation networks

made it difficult for markets in grain to emerge. Combined with political instability, this often meant that a localized crop failure led to famine since importing food from other parts of the country was extremely difficult. As an example, about 5 million people died during a famine in the 1940s exacerbated by civil war and the policies of the nationalist KMT. “Ironically, the Chinese Communists, led by Mao Tse-Tung, prevailed in the civil war in part because they won the support of peasants by promising…an end to famine. “…To understand the cause of the Chinese famine, first the reader must look back to the Soviet famine…Under Stalin, peasants and others were forced into large collective farms where the state dictated farming methods…all private farming efforts were strictly forbidden…in 1956 grain yields fell by up to 40 percent…The predictable results of these measures soon followed–famine on a scale never before seen in China or any other part of the world. Unlike previous famines which had been localized to one or another region of the country, the famine of 1958-61 struck the entire country. “But as millions of people starved to death, nobody could publicly acknowledge the reality of the famine or criticize the collectivization efforts. When Minister of Defense Marshal Peng Dehuai wrote a private letter to Mao summarizing the disaster he was purged as a ‘rightist’ by Mao. During much of the famine most officials reported enormous gains in agricultural output, and China continued to export large amounts of grain. In some areas, grain was maintained in storage facilities while people starved…The death toll was staggering…estimates range anywhere from 30 to 40 million deaths caused by the famine…Ironically, much as the Chinese used the Soviet agricultural policies as a model with disastrous results, so China’s experiment in collectivized agriculture was used as a model by several developing nations who experienced much the same results. Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia and North Korea all adopted 5


the collectivized agricultural experiment at one time or another and suffered from man-made famines.” Communication and transportation inadequacies also exacerbate food shortage problems, as the following statement illustrates: “The poor communications that exist in most of the countries exposed to famine danger make the situation there that much worse. In the 1870s, a three-year drought afflicted north China. Famine resulted and in five provinces law and order disintegrated. Grain piled up in the coastal ports but the transport available to take it inland was woefully inadequate. Between 9 and 13 million people starved to death, perished from disease, or died in food riots” (Kingston and Lambert, pp. 80-81). Even in today’s world of technological advancement, many Third World countries are plagued with communication and transportation shortfalls, which cripple their ability to procure adequate food and other supplies for their citizens. Often, the crucible of war further compounds these problems. North Korea—1997

In an interview with a former U.S. relief official, Andrew Natsios reported on the situation he witnessed in North Korea: “We saw two orphanages and a kindergarten. The orphanages, 40 to 50 percent of the children were acutely malnourished; they had all of the physical evidences of quash Nucor, which is a protein deficiency which can kill a child, and edema which is a swelling of the face when there is no muscle tissue and fat tissue left, just bone and skin, the body will fill up with water…We do know that Pyongyang, the capital, is getting 450 grams of food a day, which is a minimum ration, but it will keep you alive. The rest of the country is getting 100 grams, which is way below what you need to survive…100 grams would be a small cereal bowl, maybe two cups worth of rice boiled in water, and then they put leaves and roots in it to make it a bit more interesting, but they’ll have one of that a day” (“Starvation in N. 6

Korea,” Online News Hour, June 11, 1997). Sudan—1998

As we study famine, notice that we are moving chronologically toward the present time. We are also moving around the entire world. Let’s now examine another modern famine, occurring in a country in Africa. “The famine United Nations officials began predicting of Sudan…has arrived with a vengeance, and despite the advanced warning relief missions have not been able to prevent what many expect could be a horrific loss of life. “Latest projections…suggest as many as 1.3 million Sudanese are at serious risk of starvation, and that number already has doubled from estimates of only two months ago. The last time a famine of this magnitude occurred, more than one million Ethiopians starved…But the civil war alone cannot be blamed for all of the problems plaguing the Sudanese. The powerful El Niño weather phenomenon has delayed the rains that normally would have fallen by now, further destabilizing an already shaky harvest outlook…Those who did put down seed have seen little or no rain to nourish their crops” (Doug Rekenthaler, “Somali Famine Worsens—1.3 Million At Risk of Starvation Due to War, Drought,” July 10, 1998). In a report written one year later, on this same Sudanese famine, we read: “Even so, at least 60,000 people died, many of them children…” (BBC East Africa Correspondent Martin Dawes, Sudan—One Year After the Famine, July 14, 1999). North Korea—1999

The following account draws even closer to the present. Graphic accounts have seeped out of North Korea about a modern famine of staggering proportion, when one considers the size of the country afflicted by it: “Those who make the dangerous trek out of North Korea these days bring with them the incredible tale of an entire country apparently starving to death en masse, the product of a brutally repres-

sive Communist government and several successive years of catastrophic droughts and floods. They are bone-thin and stooped, their stunted growth belying their actual ages…Cut off from the rest of the world by their hyper-secretive government, the people of North Korea have suffered with little notice by the outside world…With relief supplies running out, once again North Korea is facing a tenuous battle, one that could add more deaths to the estimated two million who have already starved. “To survive the months ahead, millions of famished North Koreans will eat wild plants, tree bark, and noodles and cakes made of indigestible grasses and cornstalks…This so-called food has virtually no nutritional value and can cause severe digestive problems—especially in the elderly and very young. Many end up dying from infections and stomach problems…the ongoing famine already has killed at least two to three million…” (Stephanie Kriner, “North Koreans Face Another Summer of Starvation, Hopelessness,” April 14, 1999). “Interviews with refugees and private aids on China’s border with North Korea paint a stark picture of developments inside the isolated country where some reports say that a famine may have killed as many as 2 million people since the mid-1990s. “Refugees described a grotesque landscape of crumbling families, homes without electricity or heat, and towns and villages where promised foreign food aid did not arrive or was reserved for ruling party elites, whose neighbors survived on twigs, leaves, cornstalks and frogs” (“Portrait of a famine,” Washington Post Foreign Service). We live in a world that is hopeless without God. It is a world that is only going to change when Christ returns. Famine in Ethiopia

“Despite standard images of suffering associated with famine, there is no standard explanation for its occurrence. Multiple factors are at work to generate conditions conducive to societal breakdown and individual starvation. Multiple actions are required to prevent it” (Webb and Braun, p. 31).


Famine and Ethiopia have been equivalent terms for many years. Drought, deforestation and civil war have destroyed much of the country’s agriculture. The ensuing famine has caused the deaths of millions. Millions more have fled to refugee camps, where international organizations have provided food and medical aid. The following quote illustrates the error of this human approach toward solving a problem: “[F]amine is a development issue and not just a humanitarian concern. The artificial wall between relief and development must be breached. Rebuilding the food security of millions of vulnerable households therefore has to be a central pillar of development in any famine-prone country. “For this, there is no…easy or inexpensive solution. There are finite resources in the donor community and among poor governments for investment against famine…The feeding camp is a symbol of failure; it signals that policymakers failed to invest their resources more appropriately in the recent past. “Policymakers and planners [are] awakening late to the realization that not preparing against famine can be more expensive in the long run than responding to individual crises” (Webb and Braun, p. 4) Do you grasp the significance of this last statement? Mankind always seeks to solve his problems by addressing the effect and not the cause. Providing food and medical aid cannot eradicate famine. Regardless of how much money, food, medical aid, etc., is put towards a solution, the problem will remain the same. Why? Because human nature remains the same. Until man’s governments are replaced by God’s government, the many problems that abound in today’s world will not go away! “Little more than a decade ago, world hunger was almost entirely blamed on the forces of nature. Drought, flooding or some other weather-related event took responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people who went to bed hungry every night. But now more and more people are starving due to human causes, according to a

recently released report by the Flood and Agriculture Organization (FAO). ‘For the first time, human-induced disasters such as civil strife and economic crises have more effect on food shortages than nature-induced crises,’ said Dr. Hartwig de Haen, assistant director of FAO. In 1984, man-made disasters accounted for only about 10 percent of the total food shortages around the globe. The remaining crises stemmed from natural causes, such as drought or flooding. FAO’s statistics suggest that humans now play a role in more than 50 percent of all food shortages. “…economic setbacks have pushed much of Asia into a food emergency. In Korea alone, hunger galloped from 16 percent to 48 percent of the population. In Cuba, economic woes exacerbated by drought and flooding threw the country into massive food shortage… Afghanistan’s hungry citizens increased from 33 to 62 percent of the population…Cambodia, one of the leaders in decreasing global hunger, was unable to feed 63 percent of its people…In 27 countries, the number of people going hungry increased by almost 60 million” (Stephanie Kriner, “War, Economic Crises Increase World Hunger,” December 9, 1999). Famine in the 21st Century?

To most citizens of affluent nations, it is inconceivable that famine could occur on such a scale as to affect their own personal, daily lives. Most tend not to even think beyond the limited realm of their own circumstances. In addition to taking for granted favorable weather conditions, they do not acknowledge man’s proven proclivity to wreak havoc on his environment, as described in the following statement: “The chief responsibility for causing famine has shifted…from nature to man. Nature can still produce calamitous droughts when…changes occur in the pattern of rainfall distribution. But man can make the harmful effects of a drought very much worse. “Mankind has always had the ability to alter his environment for the worse…we already live in a starving world, where [2 billion] people go hungry every day, where another [1.5 bil-

lion] barely manage…” (Kingston and Lambert, p. 94). There is a cause for every effect. Why are people starving to death in an age of awesome scientific and technological advances? It is because man has ignored all of God’s Laws, not only those contained in His Ten Commandments. These provide the basic principles of proper human conduct, which, if obeyed, in spirit and letter (as Christ emphasized in Matthew 5), would lead to happy, peaceful, and truly productive lives. There are many other biblical laws governing human actions and behavior. Included among them are laws pertaining to agriculture. If mankind obeyed these laws, there would not be the tragedy of famine in the world today. But man continually rejects God’s clear commands. So it is only going to get worse. Land Sabbaths

God’s laws are as sure as the law of gravity. He has set in motion a law of land sabbaths that was to be kept from the very start of the nation of Israel. We find this law in Leviticus 25:1-7: “And the LORD spoke unto Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. That which grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, neither gather the grapes of your vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you, and for your servant, and for your maid, and for your hired servant, and for your stranger that sojourns with you, and for your cattle, and for the beast that are in your land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.” The law of land sabbaths was instituted so that farmland could be given one year in every seven years to replenish lost nutrients. 7


Crop rotation is, to a certain extent, a way of giving land its needed rest. This involves planting a different crop each year in a given plot as opposed to planting the same crop year after year. In times past, many farmers would plant grasses in fields that had been sown in corn or some other “cash crop” the previous year. This allowed the land to be replenished with vital nutrients. “Crop rotation is a wise practice for many reasons, disease avoidance being a major one. Most pathogens survive in crop residue, but only for a limited time, and most pathogens do not infect multiple crops. Therefore, their populations and the risk of disease can be decreased by crop rotation” (“Plant Diseases,” Gary Munkvold, extension plant pathologist, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University). The practice of crop rotation has been largely abandoned today. And in this age of competition and greed, land sabbaths have been forgotten. God placed man on this earth “to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Instead, man has chosen to exploit, pollute and destroy it. God has promised, however, that the land will receive its rest. In Leviticus chapter 26, pertaining to a time of captivity of Israel’s modern descendants, we read: “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lies desolate, and you be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when you dwelt upon it” (vs. 34-35). The entire world can look forward to this time. It is part of the good news that follows the bad news described in this booklet. (To learn more about this good news, read our booklet Which is the REAL GOSPEL?) Rain in Undue Season

As mentioned, one of the blessings for obedience to God’s laws is “rain in due season.” This means enough rain when it is needed, but not too much—and little or no rain when it is not needed. In many areas of the world, uncommonly heavy rains have resulted in mass flooding. The immediate death tolls are staggering, and the long-term 8

effects are far-reaching. “The Worldwatch Institute in Washington recently estimated that weather-related disasters in 1998 cost at least $89 billion. More important, 32,000 lives were lost and hundreds of millions were driven from their homes. In China alone, spring and summer floods affected more than 300 million people – roughly equivalent to the population of the United States. “Across the globe, natural disasters and weather extremes simply became a part of life…In the United States, the world’s tornado capital, the number of twister-related deaths reached its highest level in 24 years. “Rainfall totals in the Ohio Valley, New England, the upper Mississippi valley, and Los Angeles were more than 200 percent above normal. Northern California experienced its wettest May ever, with some regions receiving precipitation levels a whopping 800 percent above normal. Some of those torrential rains could have been used in Mexico, Indonesia, the southern United States and elsewhere during a year when severe droughts and catastrophic fires plagued much of the earth’s equatorial latitudes” (Doug Rekenthaler, Worldwide Disaster Aid and Information, December 11, 1998). Overdue for Rain

As the previous statement indicates, drought has been occurring more commonly in some parts of the world. It is going to get worse. In a report dated December 15, 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated, “Conditions that lead to severe droughts such as that of the late 16th century could recur in the future, leading to a natural disaster of a dimension unprecedented in the 20th century…Even in the absence of significant greenhouse warming, however, future droughts may be much more severe and last much longer than what we experienced this century. “If anything, climatologists are beginning to understand how very little they actually know about such phenomena” (Rekenthaler, December 18, 1998).

As this statement indicates, man does not acknowledge that God controls the weather. But God has promised that man will acknowledge Him. Romans 14:11 states, “For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’” In a reference to a great drought that struck the southwestern United States from 1540 to 1598, Stephanie Kriner wrote, “If such a drought were to occur today, it would have detrimental effects on agriculture and water supplies…a La Niña—the cooling of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean—caused the drought, and…the recurring weather event could make it happen again. The worst hit areas were northern Mexico and the southern United States. ‘That is the same region today that is influenced by La Niña,’ [University of Arkansas geoscience professor] David Stahle said. “‘This drought [1540-1598] was not a consequence of global warming. We don’t know what caused it. The factors that did cause it could return…If such a drought were to occur today, it would wipe out certain agricultural activities…And it would put enormous stress on water resources,’ Stahle said. ‘This would have a dramatic effect on society.’” In Leviticus 26:19, we read of part of the curse pronounced on this world for disobedience: “…I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.” This is definitely a description of drought conditions. In a New York Times article dated August 28, 2001, “Drought Creates Food Crisis in Central America,” David Gonzalez wrote: “From Nicaragua to Guatemala, many of the region’s poorest people have been reduced to scavenging for mangoes and bananas after seeing the bean and corn fields they planted months ago reduced to a crunchy tan carpet of withered stalks and wrinkled leaves…Officials estimate that more than 700,000 people have lost at least half of their crops…‘These people are…depending on an uncertain rain for an uncertain harvest that will only maintain them in a precarious situation..’” In a Toronto Globe and Mail article


dated August 15, 2001, “Drought, from coast to coast,” Alanna Mitchell and Dawn Walton wrote: “From sea to shining sea, Canada is so devoid of rain this summer that it is facing what may be the worst national drought in history…every part of Canada is afflicted with profound water deprivation…where it is dry, it is horrid… farmers are getting less than a quarter of the rain they would expect…some only 16 percent…” “…pastures are empty of anything to graze and…barley and hay crops barely poked their heads above ground.” “For all our technological wizardry, we human beings still owe our existence to a few inches of topsoil, an occasional thunderstorm, and a handful of crops” (Fowler and Mooney, p. 3). Ultimately, we owe our existence to God. He created the soil and sends the rain. Job 5:10 states, “[God] who gives rain upon the earth, and sends waters upon the fields.” It is God who blesses our efforts, if we are striving to obey and please Him. Why are we experiencing droughts and floods on such an unprecedented scale? It is because the world has not tried to please God and is reaping the rewards of disobedience. We read in Jeremiah 5:24-25: “Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that gives rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: He reserves unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you.” Man Vs. Environment?

Another expanding threat to modern man’s already endangered eco-system is a direct result of his indispensable transportation and electric power requirements. As with various other questionable side-effects of man’s innovations that ignore cause and effect, this fact has only recently been brought to light. “Ground level ozone pollution, also known as smog, is eating away at agriculture all over the world. Worse yet, new research in Europe reveals the damage to crops isn’t always visible. Crop yields…fell by as much as 14 per-

cent when plots were exposed to high levels of ozone…Ground-level ozone is created when nitrogen oxide emissions, primarily from automobiles and power plants, react with oxygen in the air. Although controls exist…for emissions of ozone precursor gases such as nitrogen oxide from vehicles and industrial plants, pollutants still manage to travel far and wide, damaging crops and impacting human health in rural areas. “Ground level ozone interferes with a plant’s ability to produce and store food, so that growth, reproduction and overall health are compromised. Plants exposed to ozone are more susceptible to disease, pests and environmental stresses. In the United States, smog has been shown to reduce agricultural yields for vital crops such as soybeans, kidney beans, wheat and cotton” (Robinson Shaw, Environmental News Network, June 27, 2000). Even man’s best efforts to curb such un-welcomed news are restrained in the current environment of increased international tension and financial stress. Does Man Know Better Than God?

The term “pollution” usually connotes “industry vs. environment,” as exemplified by the above quote. We connect it with oil or toxic chemical spills, or factories belching black smoke into the atmosphere. We think of automotive emissions, or of ultraviolet radiation coming through holes in the ozone layer. People probably never think of pollution in terms of a potato (until 1845, the Irish did not). The Irish famine came as a result of man’s tampering with (polluting) God’s creation. An attempt to make the perfect potato (by “weeding out” genes that produced “undesirable” characteristics) instead yielded a single (polluted) strain of potato that was destroyed by a single blight! Even with favorable weather conditions, man has always found a way to work against the environment. In efforts to produce bigger and better vegetation, and fatter animals (and to produce more of them faster), science and agriculture have practically destroyed the inherent nutritional value in everything we eat—not just by what they

have put in, but also by what they have taken out. Genesis 2:8-9 states, “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” This scripture makes no reference to the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, artificial hormones or any other chemicals. As mentioned, God placed Adam in the garden of Eden to “tend and keep it.” He did not say to Adam, “Here is this piece of land and a few puny animals. It’s not much to look at. But it’s the best I could do. See what you can do with it.” It was only after Adam sinned that God said, “Cursed is the ground for your sake” (Gen. 3:17). From that time forward, man has been doing things his own way. He has stripped the earth (and the food that comes from it) of its minerals and nutrients. Nitrogen fertilizers, commonly used today, aid in the growth of crops, but deplete the soil, rendering it less able to support crops in the future. “Inevitably, however, some farmers (and perhaps manufacturers!) began to think that if nitrates are good then even more nitrates will be better still, so the overuse of fertilizers, both artificial and organic, became a commonplace. What the crops could not absorb, the rain washed away into our rivers and lakes. This led to a condition called ‘eutrophication’ in which there is excessive growth of unwanted vegetation in the water such as algae which choke rivers and use up all the dissolved oxygen thereby killing fish and other desirable aquatic creatures. Eutrophication increases the cost of water purification and when nitrates enter domestic supplies the water can be unpleasant to taste and even harmful to children when the concentration of nitrate is high enough. A further problem is the ‘leaking’ of excess nitrate from farmland into natural habitats which can modify the natural plant populations and reduce the quality of wild areas…” (“High Yield Management Systems and Environmental Constraints: The World Scene,” 9


Encarta Encyclopedia, D.J. Greenwood and J.J. Neeteson). “Nearly 40 percent of the world’s agricultural land is seriously degraded due to problems like erosion and nutrient depletion, raising doubts about its ability to produce food in the future, a new study says. “When combined with expert assessments, the study suggests that almost 75 percent of crop land in Central America is seriously degraded, as well as 20 percent—mostly pasture—in Africa and 11 percent in Asia…The world grows about 1.8 billion metric tons of grain a year but will need an additional 40 percent in the next two decades to feed a growing population” (Environmental News Network, May 22, 2000). Our Duty as “Watchmen”

This booklet has shown many causes of famine. Space did not permit covering all of them. An example is clearcut logging. This practice denudes the landscape, causes erosion, and contributes to the expansion of deserts by raising soil temperature. Deforestation also contributes to climatalogical extremes by changing the complex interactions between earth’s eco-systems that God carefully designed. These problems will all grow steadily worse and result in the worst time of famine that the world has ever known. Famine is always followed by disease epidemics (pestilences), which, at the time of the end, will also occur on an unprecedented scale. It is our responsibility to warn you. As part of the duty of the watchman of Ezekiel 33, this booklet has warned of what is coming. Many reading it will not heed. But we read in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” In the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” in Luke 15:11-32, we find that it took famine to bring the young man to his senses. He repented and served God (vs. 18). Will it take this coming great famine to wake you up? The Bible shows that God’s plain instructions have been ignored, time and again, throughout history. In the coming kingdom of God,

His laws and statutes will be kept and will result in agricultural blessings enjoyed by all mankind. Notice Amos 9:13-15: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. And I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.” Christ said, in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” This present world does not “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” It is as the days of Noah, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, with everyone doing “what is right in his own eyes.” But the time is coming when mankind will keep God’s commandments, which Christ summed up in Mark 12:30-31: “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” And in that time, God will say, as we read in Joel 2:23-24, “Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.” We find, in Revelation 7:16-17, a description of the time when famine will be eradicated: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne will feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of

waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Your Choice

This booklet has painted a clear picture. Have you seen it? The scope and frequency of famine continue to grow worse. Christ said that war, famine and disease would be a sign of His Return and the end of the age (Matt. 24:3-7). Certainly, these scourges of mankind have existed for thousands of years. Since these things have always existed, He could only have meant that these conditions would, in fact, grow worse in scope and frequency! Skeptics will refuse to accept that famine, pestilence and war are growing worse. They will ignore the facts and bury their heads in the sand. They will not be willing to acknowledge the increasing size and frequency of famine in our time. God offers a way of escape to all who are willing to take it. Life involves choices—and you now have a choice. You have seen the facts. Christ spoke the truth about coming famine. God proclaims to all mankind, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both you and your seed may live: that you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave unto Him: for He is your life” (Deut. 30:19-20). What will you choose? F Read the following booklets to get a better perspective of what will happen next. Your physical life and spiritual life depend on it. • REVELATION Explained at last! • Are these the LAST DAYS?

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Ezekiel Warning Series Famine