May 2, 2020

And Now Famine?

You probably saw the headline a few days ago, “As famines of ‘biblical proportion’ loom, Security Council urged to ‘act fast.’” Biblical proportions? Weren’t we talking about famines a few days ago ourselves?

“Noting that the global spread of COVID-19 this year has sparked ‘the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,’ executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley pointed to deepening crises, more frequent natural disasters and changing weather patterns, saying ‘we’re already facing a perfect storm.’”

The UN news website continues: “As millions of civilians in conflict-scarred nations teeter on the brink of starvation, he said, ‘famine is a very real and dangerous possibility.’”

Beasley painted a grim picture of 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse, coupled with an additional 130 million on the edge of starvation prompted by the coronavirus, noting that WFP currently offers a lifeline to nearly 100 million people — up from about 80 million just a few years ago.

“If we can’t reach these people with the life-saving assistance they need, our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over three months,” Beasley said. “This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19.”

Was that 300,000 people starving to death every day for three months? Do you mean 27 million people? A crippling pandemic followed by famines “of biblical proportions” — no wonder he calls it “a perfect storm.”

Did you know God prophesied a devastating global famine before the end of the world? The shepherd prophet Amos recorded the prediction: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it’” (Amos 8:11, 12, NIV).

A famine of biblical proportions — but not a famine of food — rather a global famine driven by desperate hunger for the Word of God that apparently will no longer be found.

Will all the Bibles on earth disappear? That seems highly unlikely. Rather, Amos’s somber warning depicts a time when God’s appeals to this civilization will finally cease. Humanity will have had its golden opportunity to respond to “the last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world … a revelation of His character of love.” Having uttered their irrevocable “No” to God, perhaps these, like the worried antediluvians outside the ark’s closed door, offer to reconsider their “No.” But it is too late. “They will not find it” — the words of God, the promise of the Savior, the offer of forgiveness and restoration.

But good news — this sad word doesn’t have to be the last word for this civilization right now. Why? Because you and I very well know where the Bread of Life can still be found in glorious supply — where the Water of Life still flows in crystal streams. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John 6:35, NIV). Knowing what we know or Whom we know, we remain God’s most effective and final strategy to stave off the predicted global famine! 

Which is why, when this lockdown is lifted, I’m praying none of us will go back to letting everybody else be Christ’s witnesses. No — you and I thus far have been spared the frontal assault of the coronavirus pandemic — which makes us God’s humble strategy to stave off a spiritual famine of biblical proportions. Our friendly deeds of love, our simple witness for Jesus are a revelation of God’s character of love to people more open to Him now than perhaps ever before.

As someone once said, “Witnessing is one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread.” And that really is good news.

This post originally appeared on the New Perceptions television ministry blog, The Fourth Watch.