Time Line - Signs of the Times - Storm Warning
Famine, Disease, & The Horseman
The image is stark but all too familiar: "Here they come: the stick children with the flat, unseeing stares. Their knee sockets are so large, and their calves are so thin that you wonder how they manage to walk. They are too weak to sweep away the flies that have settled on their mouths and nostrils. They can only hold their bowls out toward the television cameras." The scene being described is not from Bangladesh in the 1970s or Ethiopia in the 1980s but from East Africa today. Graham, Storm Warning, page 195
Photo of storm by Mike Hollingshead, copyrighted image used here with permission granted by Mr. Hollingshead and by www.extremeinstability.com.
Images of famine-stricken people are just some picture from a remote place. You might be asking: "How could this still be reality today?" But the reality and persistence of such an image is a warning of the biblical horsemen to come. They approach us ever so slowly; or, are their foreshadows already here?
Elsewhere the signs are different; we now live in a world so easily over taken by sudden surprises (see Ayers on Surprises). These include diseases like West Nile Virus, SARS, Monkey Pox, and a host of others. Just think of it ... what if SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) had spread globally without containment?
Ebola popped up with frightening and deadly consequences in Africa. What next? Even AIDS is an ongoing surprise. The numbers keep rising! And there is still no known cure or vaccine. Yet the core dilemma of HIV relates to human behavior. Need we say it ... in the majority of cases the disease is spread as a result of behavior the Bible describes as sin. Even future events described in biblical prophecy seem like a direct parallel to the phenomenon of AIDS (see Revelation 16: 2-11).
Further still, consider how precipitous shifts in global change make clear the rapid nature to surprises. Famine and disease may not be new news, but as a global 'judgment' they appear in the biblical text with the Third Horseman ... suddenly, as a surprise, decisively, and globally.
THE BLACK HORSE
5 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. 6 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." (Revelation 6:5-6; NKJV)
The imagery associated with the horseman reveals a rising price for available food and yet at the same time impoverished peoples will still see others who have plenty. Famines have occurred at times when humanity has an excess of food. In an era of global change where climate patterns threaten dramatic shifts there is great potential for dramatic consequences to agriculture and the food supply.
... the third horseman of John's revelation, riding the black horse of famine, as he surges forth to unleash the fury of death by hunger upon the earth. This specter of starvation is perhaps the most ominous and recurrent fear known to humanity. It represents our helplessness and inability to cope with the forces of nature and the utter barrenness of life when the only alternative is hunger and death. Graham, Storm Warning, page 196
MORE MOUTHS TO FEED
The convergence of significant trends is headed to what is often viewed as an inevitable crisis. Certainly shifts in global climate that impact food supplies must be viewed in light of the phenomenal upward spike in human population.
... In 1930, he reported, there were approximately 2 billion people on this planet; by 1975 the number had doubled to 4 billion. By 1992 the total was 5.5 billion, ... Graham, Storm Warning, page 200
As of June 2003, the world population was: 6.34 Billion humans (link is to: http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop)
Are we headed to a precarious situation? More people, food supplies susceptible to the driving forces making change, and the extinction of many species along with simultaneous voracious consumption of the Earth's resources. What will be the first limiting factor—that is, the factor creating instability that moves through the larger (earth-humanity survival) system.
Water and Health
What factors influence food supply and sustain famine (as in the picture described in the quotation at the start of this article)?
Water is life. Water grows plants, sustains our bodies, and so too is the life blood of commerce.
There is a serious concern over water and sanitation in the world's least developed countries. Four children out of every five in the rural areas of the world do not have safe drinking water or sanitation. In Africa, ninety out of every hundred people have no piped water, and worse yet, the great rivers of Africa carry dangerous germs, liver flukes, amoebic dysentery, and other infections. One African authority calls the waterways of that continent "the waters of misfortune." If people in Africa are to survive, they must have pure water and delivery systems comparable to those we take for granted in this country. Graham, Storm Warning, page 206
Use, availability and depletion of natural resources—even something as simple as clean water—is one issue among a complex matrix of global changes. These are signs of the times and signs that precede the horseman's arrival. But that these complexities and problems do exist makes the horseman's approach possible—perhaps inevitable. But what potential is there to put off the horseman? Technically, there is enough food that famine need not happen. But it does! To adequately preserve, store, and ship food would make the world famine free and in turn make for a world with less disease and death.
I feel even more strongly today about the social responsibility of the rich nations sharing their surpluses with the poor—even if it involves changing our thinking about how it should be done. There must be a way to shift grain and dairy products from the storerooms of the rich nations to the empty huts and hovels of those who are dying from hunger around the earth. It is time we put our best Judeo-Christian minds to work on this problem to solve it, for there is no reason why so many people, especially the children of the world, should suffer and die from hunger while we are so well fed. You can't read the epistles of either James or John and draw any other conclusion about where our responsibility lies. Graham, Storm Warning, page 218
The global problems we see are generated in large part by humanity—our action or inaction is driven or confined by what we think and believe. Sustaining famine is as much as anything a product of choice and conflict. Long ago we were tasked to get beyond such hurdles!
Stewardship is clearly a mandate ... a human given task ... given by the Creator. Global problems, much of which is driven by self-centered human motivations is nothing less than a corporate sin. Greed, power seeking, political strategies, market pressures all have been running counter to the stewardship that sustains the earth and even provides a blanket of global health. Famine and disease are signs to the contrary!
This storm warning is simply an indicator of intractable positions humans have backed into by choice. More than good works are required to solve the global problems. Dr. Graham's messages, simply put, point to a future founded on faith which cuts through global sin. The horsemen come promising judgment ... this is the storm ahead of us. What we might like to focus on is another key question: "How is humanity's sin forgiven?"
The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.
Billy Graham is well known the world over for his work in spreading the biblical message of salvation.(www.billygraham.org)
Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!
Quotations attributed to Graham are from: Billy Graham. 1992. Storm Warning. Published by: W Publishing Group (formerly Word Publishing)
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