Friday, July 8, 2011

Looking at the coming famine

Earlier today I wrote about a terrible drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. It is truly saddening to see these things happening because although I glory in His promises coming true it also means suffering and death for many. And death for the unsaved means an eternity away from God, in hell. In that essay I quoted a news article that said, "The striking images of the landscape seem to represent a deceptively simple assessment of the drought: the dirty work of Mother Nature."

It is the LORD who sends the rain in preparation for the crops. (Psalms 147:8). It is the LORD who sends it to the obedient. (Leviticus 26:4). He appoints seasons in His own authority. (Acts 1:7). "Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:17) He sends the crops, the seasons and the weather for our benefit, to His glory. He can, and will reverse the process when we fail to thank Him and refuse to acknowledge His authority. That is the spiritual fact.

On a practical level, famine is both biological and social. It occurs to a person individually while it is happening to all others around the sufferer. And unlike pestilence, where sick people are quarantined, privately sequestered, or are too insentient to socially connect, famine leaves the individual able to share in it with others.

"When starvation becomes a mass experience, the phenomenon is no longer purely biological." (Dirks).

Famine is sneaky because the population has no clue that this crop failure will lead to a continual shortage, or that this lack of monsoon rains will lead to a permanent drying-out. It is only after successive storms or failures or absence of expected weather that it become apparent that food will not be coming. By then malnourishment or early stages of starvation may have already set in.

The biological consequences of famine begin with scarcity, move to malnourishment, elevate to starvation and finish with famine. Starvation happens when the energy demands of the biological unit exceed supply. Technically, starvation begins 4-6 hours after the last meal, when the body has broken down all that will be or is able to be used, and no new food is forthcoming. However since a person living in a healthy culture will then consume more within a reasonable time period after the last meal, the negative effects are not really felt. After a day or so, though, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and ketosis begin. After 24 hours, there are impacts to the tissues as loss outpaces fat. As starvation continues, exhaustion sets in and there is decreased tolerance for work. People move more slowly and adopt an energy saving posture. "In mobilizing its reserves, the body progressively selects fat over muscle as fuel, allowing life to be sustained for one to three months in acute starvation." (Dirks). Things go rapidly downhill from there, with all sorts of nasty things happen to the individual's biology. And that's just starvation, not famine. But you can see, it happens quickly. Though drought and famine take a long time to set up, when it hits, the body, mind, and soul shrivel pretty quickly.

In the earlier essay about the African famine, I wrote that in the first few sentences mother nature was blamed, and in addition, war also precipitates famine. In this UK Independent article, they said, "The problem is that droughts which once came every decade now come every couple of years. A recent study suggests that dry conditions in East Africa are set to continue because of climate change. The cold weather phase known as La Niña, the counterpart to the warming El Niño, is likely to dominate now. That will make the region's rain fall over the sea, bringing drought. Yet if climate change is unreservedly the fault of the rich world, Africans must take the blame for the other major contributory factor - armed conflict. Somalia is riven with civil strife, from warlords to Kalashnikov-toting cattle-raiders."

War does have a devastating connection with famine. In Revelation 6, first there is war, then there is scarcity, then there is death. Those are Seal Judgments two, three, and four. In history, famine has almost always followed war. As the Red Cross says in discussing humanitarian aid, "the fact must be faced that food aid alone will never eliminate famines nor the suffering they cause. It still falls short of meeting the victims' needs and appears essentially inadequate to solve their problems." That's because there are complex reasons for it that also include war, conflict, and strife.

The Red Cross again, "It might at first sight seem difficult to prevent certain conflict situations from resulting in disastrous famines. However, a closer scrutiny of war/famine situations shows that in most cases famine is linked to disrupted access to sources of food that are usually available, rather than to their absence." This would seem to be borne out because the Tribulation's wars spark famines but access to good food and to transport of that food is available and continues throughout the 7 years. It is only at the end, Revelation 18, when it all comes down.

Famine is destructive to those societies where malnourishment is always present, and soon after initial starvation sets in, financial ruin and disease take over. For some societies, they may at first adapt to conditions that in many cases don't affect them. There is such a thing as "class famine." We see in Revelation 6:6 that millions starve, unable to afford more than a loaf of bread even though they worked all day, while in Rev 18:13 we see that all the while, a hefty trade in food luxuries had been ongoing. ("and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep...") There are the very rich and the very poor, and you can bet the very rich will not be affected by famine. The Tribulation's predicted scarcities will be characterized by class famine.

When famine conditions deepen, the 'Law of Diversification and Polarization' comes into play. As Dirks quoted Sorokin, "simply put, this means that catastrophe brings out the best and the worst in people. It exaggerates what is already there." Sociological studies show that at first, people share when disaster strikes. As the disaster continues, and/or as supplies run short, sharing ceases. Starvation's biological effects are that people become exhausted and irritable. Volatile situations erupt. Populations tend to migrate, looking for better conditions. The 1901 Indian Famine Commission called it "unusual wandering." When adding to that the prophecy that love grows cold (Matthew 24:12), people are unthankful, (2 Timothy 3:2-4) and their thoughts are only evil continuously, (Matthew 24:37, Genesis 6:5) then you can see that violence will soon become the norm just at the time when people are physiologically least able to handle it.

So let me sum up the ivory tower talk: famine will occur, followed by the worst brought out in people who are marauding hither and yon, looking for anything they can steal so they can stay alive. Violence breaks out and a true Darwinian human 'survivial of the fittest' is played out in front of atheists everywhere, with the starving exhausted falling where they lay in irritable convulsions, dying bye degrees while no neighbor cares.

Oh, but Jesus cares. His famines may be one of His sore judgments, yes, but it is to alert rebellious people that He is still in control and He is still holy. His control includes an eternal and infinite love for all His children. He wants you to turn from your carnal thoughts and lifting up of Mother Nature and replace those with perfect thoughts and spiritual infinity in His love. As long as you have not rejected him and slammed the door shut, you can enter the door to heaven by repenting of sins. He is the door and he stands ready to allow all who would believe to enter. (John 10:9)

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7) What is beyond that door? Certainly not war or famine or exhaustion or violence. See what is there:

"Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Ez 47:8-12, millennium kingdom)

"All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”" (Ez 48:35)

Waters flow and heal, fruit grows and restores. The LORD is there. Any person can partake of this scene. Any person can walk on the grass and sit under trees beside restorative waters. The Gospel is exclusive: Jesus is the only way. The Gospel is inclusive: any person can accept Jesus as their savior and forgiver of sins. I hope you make the choice to enter in to His rest, escaping all the Tribulation things and choosing to partake of the Eternal things. All it takes is a prayer to Jesus that you know and understand you're a sinner, unworthy to enter His realm, and ask Him to forgive those sins. Since He is sinless and died as the sacrifice for your sins, your debt is paid. But you have to ask. Do it soon, my beloved friend. Soon.

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