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6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8 ESV)
Are you a fan of Tom Cruise? If you were, you surely know that he has Irish heritage. Many North Americans can trace their ancestry back to Ireland and there is a reason behind it. Between the years of 1845 and 1849, the potato crop failed in successive years. As potatoes were the staple food of Irish, nearly one million people died from starvation or from typhus and other famine-related diseases. Nearly an eighth of the Irish population died as a result of the famine and almost two million Irish left the country during that period.
1) The Impacts of Famines
What are the impacts do famines have?
Like the Irish famine, there would be a large influx of migrants leaving for other neighboring countries and countries abroad. Due to the recent Syrian civil war, many agonizing Syrians have already left their homeland.
Shocking photographs reveal Syrian children so undernourished and some are forced to ‘eat from garbage cans’ in Syria. These poor folks are living in eastern Damascus, which is still held by rebels and where government forces are declining to let any food in. A three-year-old boy should weigh about 31 pounds. This photograph of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy who weighs less than 14 pounds really saddens me. Struggling for survival, hoping for a better life elsewhere, more than 5 million Syrians have already fled the country.
Naturally, the large influx of migrants to neighbouring countries would cause racial tension. Also, new migrants have to adapt to the new way of life and they have to try very hard to gain the acceptance in the new environment.
2) The Causes of Famines
What are the causes of famines? Natural and human factors are two main causes of famine. One of the most common human causes of famine is warfare. The recent Syrian civil war is a good example. Wars would destroy crops and food supplies. Moreover, warfare would also disrupt food distribution systems. Before the Second Coming of Christ, one of the signs is the escalation of wars. Due to warfare, many lives would be lost and the shortage of food would be very visible.
Moreover, the irreversible global warming would play a part in the increase of famines around the world. Friends and believers, as we are all part of the global village, we must do something to slow down global warming, not just for our own sake, but for the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren.
3) One of the Signs
What are the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Before Jesus the Messiah comes again, the increasing number of famines would be very prominent. This is the prophecy that must be fulfilled according to Matthew 24:7.
Famines are horrible and spiritual famines are scary as well. The famous American Old Testament scholar Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. spoke of spiritual famine. In his own words, “It is no secret that Christ’s Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, “junk food”; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her.” He concluded in saying, “Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.”
As a guest speaker, I have often heard churchgoers complaining about the irrelevant and powerless preaching at their churches. I sympathise them, but at the same time, it reminds me to brush up my preaching, so that my sermons would not only be more relevant, but would be more powerful to touch and transform lives as well.
God hasn’t withheld His Word. There are Bibles everywhere. There are a lot of good Christian books available. There are numerous great preachers around the world. All I want to say is that human factors play a role in spiritual famine. As many Christians and church leaders aren’t interested in knowing and experiencing more of God on a firsthand basis, it causes spiritual famines around the world.
In 2 Timothy 3, the Apostle Paul speaks of the dangers of the last days. As individuals are so involved to please and satisfy themselves, including Christians, people might be well-fed physically but starved spiritually (Revelation 3:17).
Most of the Christians nowadays don’t read the Bible daily as a habit. According to my observation, many followers of Christ are starving spiritually. Sadly, numerous Christians don’t feed themselves with God’s Word, and on the other hand, many church leaders simply cannot cope with the malnourishment of their church members. It’s pretty safe to presume that spiritual famines would be more noticeable at the Second Coming than today.
God is the Provider of our physical and spiritual needs. Jesus Christ is called the Bread of life (John 6:48) that He will supply our emotional and spiritual needs endlessly. When I conclude my message, let me ask you a question: have you known Jesus as the Lord and Saviour? If you are a believer, I encourage you to continue to trust Him for supplying your physical and spiritual needs, and to find satisfaction in Him alone.