(EDITOR NOTE: The following insightful entry was written for Dr. Thomas Horn and Defender Publishing years ago by our friend Mike Bennett)
“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people.”
–Henry Kissinger, 1970
When considering the vast array of horrific hazards modern man might encounter in today’s brutal and challenging world, and those further menaces man may devise through his own efforts and technology, as well as warfare and natural dangers feared in the “brave new world” of tomorrow, the commonplace topic of famine, or shortage of resources critical to societal life, might appear to be a relatively benign and “ho hum,” low-priority issue of concern. In our comfortable and secure Western lifestyles, famine can appear to be a distant and foreign concept, limited to those pitiful images of children with bloated bellies dwelling in the mires of the ghettos and villages in Africa and the subcontinent.
The closest images we can relate to in our culture are those refugees of the Midwestern Dust Bowl of the 1930s, who relocated en masse out West to escape the unrelenting winds, soil erosion, and period of arid drought, or the soup lines, hobos, and impoverished lifestyle of the entire country during the Great Depression. Some of our elderly experienced those days of want as young people, and remembered the improvising, community cooperation, and humility required to survive those days. They as a generation have been known for their frugality, thrift, hesitation to waste, and distrust of banks and other civil institutions—traits that have lasted throughout their lifetimes as a result of the indelible imprint of their earlier deprivation. They were succeeded by a wartime generation that endured loss of working men due to the draft, Liberty Gardens, and rationing of key products such as gasoline, nylon stockings, and rubber tires. The post-War baby boomers, in comparison, have lived a rather idyllic life as far as access to the resources of societal living, with the exception of the short-lived fuel shortages and long gas lines of the early 1970s due to the rise of the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies) oil cartel, with such indignities being limited to being seen driving the “econo” Chevy Vegas and Ford Pintos on the highway.
Since the excesses of the 1980s, a generation has been raised that has been pampered with fast food, processed groceries, and an abundance of excess to any essential resources, such as the proliferation of supermarket chains and malls in every community, resulting in prices that permitted preference for exotic commodities (such as the $4 cup of coffee), gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, and any desire that a full wallet (or more likely, a portfolio of credit cards) could secure. This lifestyle is so detached from the realities of famine, deprivation, and want that the return of such conditions in the West will likely result in major societal upheaval, rampant crime, and the rise in suicide and divorce rates, although such conditions still persist today in much of the world. Indeed, recent reports of massive economic collapse, fuel shortages, and food shortages that are now causing riots in major parts of the world at the time of this writing might well test this generation as a “reality check” of the ever-present threat of shortage and famine; and if these days are indeed the dawn of the last days, these threats may particularly be applied to those who follow Christ, as well as to the rest of the awestruck world.
Famine and the associated prospect of starvation lead peoples and communities to take a number of desperate measures, with accelerating and destabilizing consequences. These include the sacrifice of long-term prosperity and security for short-term survival by taking actions such as killing draught animals (leading to lower production later) and eating the “seed corn,” hence sacrificing the next year’s crop in the vain hope that more seed can be found in the future. Next steps typically include migrations in search of remote areas for food, often into nearby cities in search of greater supplies and distribution, where crime often follows and increases as many peasants and refugees resort to banditry to secure scarce resources. Long-term effects of such periods on society include the widespread proliferation of disease and reduced birth rates, and often upheavals in civil governments and social orders.
Approximately seventy million people have died due to famine and starvation during the twentieth century—roughly equal to both the military and civilian fatalities during World Wars I and II combined (although a significant number of such civilian casualties may be attributed to malnutrition and intentional starvation). Famines don’t always occur because of a local shortage of food; the Great Famine of Ireland, beginning in 1845 (which led to mass migrations of people to the U.S. and elsewhere), occurred as food was being shipped from Ireland to England because the English could pay higher prices, as an example of merely an economic stratagem. A strict free-market approach, enforced by the British Army guarding Irish ports and food depots from the starving crowds, ensured food exports continued as before, and even increased during the famine period. The largest famine ever, the Chinese famine of 1958-61, was due to the “Great Leap Forward” political ideological program led by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. That government policy led to a decrease in food production and ambivalence toward preventing the famine. In Mao’s China, the political need to report only good news resulted in suppression of data about the escalating disaster, and the public did not realize the scale of the disaster until twenty years later, when censorship was lifted after thirty million lives were lost. Other governments in the future might yet again attempt similar maneuvers in the control of media, at least in its earlier stages, or under martial law, government-controlled media conditions.
Overpopulation is also pointed out as a primary source of food and other resource limitations. David Pimental, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, and Mario Giampietro, senior researcher at the National Research Institute of Food and Nutrition (INRAN), propose in their study, Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy, a maximum U.S. population for a sustainable economy at two hundred million.[i] To support a sustainable economy and avert disaster, the United States must reduce its population by at least one-third, and world population will have to be reduced by two-thirds, according to this study. They also believe that the suggested agricultural crisis will only begin to impact us after 2020, and will not become critical until 2050. These dates presume no other global factors such as war or pandemics aggravate the situation; for example, a potential oncoming peaking of global oil production (and subsequent decline of production), along with the peak of North American natural gas production, will very likely accelerate the inevitable occurrence of this agricultural crisis much sooner than forecast. Recent increases in the use of bio-fuels in developing countries are also diverting precious foodstuffs, fertilizers, and arable land away from consumption purposes. Geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer expects the coming decades to bring spiraling food prices without relief and massive starvation on a global level such as never experienced before.[ii]
Just recently, the years 2007 and 2008 brought a dramatic increase in world food prices, ushering in a state of global crisis and fostering instability and social unrest in both poor and developed nations—including riots in Asia, South America, and Europe. The price rises affected parts of Asia and Africa particularly severely, with Burkina Faso,[iii] Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire,[iv] Egypt,[v] and Morocco seeing protests and riots in late 2007 and early 2008 over the unavailability of basic food staples. Other countries that have seen food riots or are facing related unrest are Mexico, Bolivia, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh,[vi] Pakistan,[vii] Sri Lanka,[viii] and South Africa.[ix] Ten thousand workers rioted close to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, smashing cars and buses and vandalizing factories in anger at high food prices and low wages. (Ironically, the country achieved food self-sufficiency in 2002, but food prices have increased dramatically due to the reliance of agriculture on oil and fossil fuels.) Economists estimate thirty million of the country’s 150 million people could go hungry.[x] Between the start of 2006 and 2008, the average world price for rice rose by 217 percent, wheat by 136 percent, maize by 125 percent, and soybeans by 107 percent.[xi] In late April, 2008, rice prices hit twenty-four cents a pound, twice the price that it was seven months earlier.[xii] Among the reasons given for this sudden shortage of local food supplies (and/or associated food price increases beyond the reach of the masses) worldwide were recent actions by the U.S. Federal Reserve in decreasing interest rates so that money is no longer a means to preserve wealth over the long term (i.e., people alternatively invest in food commodities, which causes an increase in demand and therefore price), as well as other changes to the world economy.[xiii] More recently, Gerald Celente, chief executive officer of The Trends Research Institute, the source of trends data for major media such as CNN and The Wall Street Journal (and who successfully predicted events such as the 1987 stock market crash, the 1997 Asian currency crisis, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the subprime mortgage collapse), told Fox News during the week of November 13, 2008, that by 2012 America will be an undeveloped nation, and that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts, and job marches.[xiv] Internal memos from Citigroup bank obtained by The London Telegraph newspaper also suggest a similar fate due to dire government actions to mitigate the current financial crises, which may result in “depression, civil disorder, and possibly wars.”[xv] Similarly, a recent report by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Institute, entitled Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development, acknowledges that the United States may soon experience massive civil unrest in the wake of a series of crises it termed “strategic shock,” requiring the military to intervene to maintain order. The reasons for such unrest included “unforeseen economic collapse,” “pervasive public health emergencies,” and “catastrophic…human disasters,” and claims that such events could occur early in the Obama administration.[xvi]
Much more could be said in this discussion concerning this crisis (even if further destabilizing, accelerating forces are not considered), and the unique (and possibly more daunting) perils due to the rapidly disappearing supplies of fresh water available to growing populations worldwide has not even been addressed. However, the information cited herein is sufficient to grasp the reality of the inevitable (and imminent) dawn of days of worldwide want and struggle to compete for resources, often under violent and devastating circumstances, with no long-term answers in sight. Fortunately, the Bible addresses this ever-present threat to the people of the world, anticipates the rise of its impact at its acme at the end of days, and offers hope for those whose fate leads them to experience it.
What the Bible Reveals about Famine
A large measure of the history of the world has been defined by the ramifications of particular famines and similar shortages, with the resultant wars, mass migrations, and societal changes that have accompanied them. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the greatest piece of literature in world history, the Holy Bible, has a good bit to say about such famines and shortages—describing the actual historical events and their outcomes, their significance in societal living and spiritual implications (even indirect blessings in some cases), their causes and cures, and the lessons and realities that can be learned through observing them and experiencing them.
In considering just a few such historical examples recorded in the Bible, let’s investigate the first such incident discussed in depth in God’s Word—the Middle East famine at the time of Joseph, the patriarch. Now, the first time that such a famine is mentioned earlier in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 12, shortly after Abraham’s party entered the land of Canaan, where the “grievious famine” there led them to proceed further to Egypt. This began a cycle of God’s children fleeing to Egypt to escape hard times in their own country (as a symbol of leaving God’s direct will and purpose while under trial), resulting in troubles for the local leadership in Egypt (because Israel’s God was prone to let them know they did not belong there), and their eventual departure (sometimes by force, and often loaded with Pharaoh’s goods). Abraham’s son Isaac experienced a second famine in the land, and did not retreat to Egypt due to a direct warning from God, but did interact with a Philistine king at Gerar. Ironically, both Abraham and his son passed off their wives as sisters to the Philistine king there at different times (as Abram did with Pharaoh as well); soon thereafter, Isaac had more serious water disputes with these peoples. Thus, these early famines resulted in hard decisions being made relative to societal displacement, association, and often deceit, setting a pattern to come. However, we see further detail in a later famine in the region involving Jacob and his family, in which his son Joseph plays a key role. Joseph has been previously carried off to slavery in Egypt, yet in time is placed second in command only to Pharoah after interpreting a dream related to impending famine and proposing a prudent response, and then later impacting his entire people. All these events are noted in the following passages in Genesis chapter 41, starting with Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream:
“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it [shall be] very grievous” (Genesis 41:29-31).
“Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do [this], and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine” (Genesis 41: 33-36).
“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, [there is] none so discreet and wise as thou [art]: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou” (Genesis 41:39-40).
“And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended… And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy [corn]; because that the famine was [so] sore in all lands” (Genesis 41: 53,56-57).
In this biblical narrative, God foretells the famine through Joseph so that these foreigners, and eventually even Hebrews, can be spared if they make prudent plans. (In fact, verse 32 of the narrative even states that God himself sends the famine.) We see here the lesson that a godly man (Joseph) who listens to a warning from God, believes it, and faithfully delivers the warning to others has an opportunity to be a blessing to the pagan king and his people—as well as eventually to his own people. The blessing also requires that the people take action to store up provisions during times of plenty, acting in faith even when the dark days are nowhere in sight; obviously, waiting for proof of the impending famine would have been much too late. God created special opportunities for His man, in a foreign land, to fulfill a unique and special mission. It is interesting to note that the New American Standard Bible translation of Genesis 41:35 notes that Joseph suggests that Pharaoh place guards over this strategic reserve, much like the British in Ireland and other countries in recent years.
In time, due to the prudence of Egypt under Joseph’s guidance to store up blessings during times of plenty, not only Egyptian citizens, but peoples from the surrounding countries, begin to arrive to buy grain at a price of Egypt’s asking (a point of “maximum leverage,” in today’s vernacular). In microcosm, God used this to guide Jacob (with God’s blessing)—and before that, the rest of Joseph’s family and the entire Hebrew people—to be provided for by God through Joseph, again using the wealth God gave Egypt. However, due to the leverage wielded by the party who has prepared, the Scripture shows that Joseph is able to manipulate whomever he wishes in his family, detaining them or dismissing them at his leisure, since the Hebrews and other starving peoples simply had no other choices. Thankfully, his motives were virtuous and redemptive in nature, albeit nerve-wracking to experience. This is largely because of Joseph’s character, and the fact that he recognizes God’s hand in placing him in a position of redemption—a position where we may occasionally find ourselves during the days ahead, if we seek it: “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now [it was] not you [that] sent me hither, but God” (Genesis 45:7-8).
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However, a later passage reveals that other significant, unfortunate developments occur as by-products of this event, which have had long-term ramifications as a template for similar future events:
And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread [in exchange] for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide [it] from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give [us] seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he removed them to cities from [one] end of the borders of Egypt even to the [other] end thereof. Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion [assigned them] of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, [here is] seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth [part] unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, [that] Pharaoh should have the fifth [part]; except the land of the priests only, [which] became not Pharaoh’s (Genesis 47:14-26).
In this amazing passage, we see a chain of events that many such historical resource shortage crises have emulated, and that will be repeated in the days ahead. First, we see that through Joseph’s actions, the government had a corner on the one asset with any value under those extreme conditions. They were then able to name their price in terms of money or coin in exchange for the essential asset. In the process, they accumulate the bulk of the nation’s coinage, and thus the ability to purchase the other now-devalued assets still owned by the populace. The verse says then that the money “failed” in the economy (some alternative translations say that all the money was spent)—presumably a collapse of the currency of some form (as we anticipate soon in our world economy today), not only in Egypt, but in Canaan as well. Therefore, the people came again to their government for solutions, in essence a “bailout” of free food and necessities in a welfare-type program, since they felt that the only alternative was to simply perish, and doing that “in the presence” of the government served no one’s purpose since the government needed them as well. However, the government officials themselves determined that there were indeed assets that were of value to the government (at least that they could secure to exchange for assets of value to the government later, even if they couldn’t use them now.) Those assets were their cattle, which also included their flocks, horses, and burden animals such as asses, in exchange for one year’s supply of bread.
We can see a vicious cycle further developing in which the people were now giving up the equivalent of their future “seed corn” by “hocking” the very tools they would use to generate income and produce further food, and by sacrificing their sources of meat, milk, and “horsepower” to pull plows, tread grain, and transport crops to the market. Inevitably, the people would return needy again the second year. It is ironic that the government supplied them only a single year’s food, even though their data suggested the famine would be far longer. This is an ancient practice of governments hiding or ignoring important information and setting up a welfare cycle whereby the citizens must repeatedly bow for mercy before their governments to “get a fish”, as opposed to “learning how to fish” by getting resources that would inevitably lead to their independence. Remember that in Genesis chapter 41, Joseph took a fifth of the bumper crop produced during the bounty years on behalf of Pharaoh, as he earlier recommended; the passage does not clarify if this was mere confiscation or if the government made some compensation for its imminent domain over it. However, since current market value would have been greatly reduced at the time due to the ample supply, the government would have procured it at token prices, if any. So, as a practical matter, the difference is trivial. However, the resource-depleted people must then sacrifice their very land and their own freedom as a last attempt to obtain one more year’s worth of food. (Note that a citizen’s forfeiture of private property is in essence the equivalent of indentured servitude anyway). It is cruelly ironic that the government then supplied seed for planting—the very asset that could have preserved the citizens’ long-term security and independence earlier—but this time, to be used on recently government-confiscated land, using government-confiscated tools and work animals, to be produced by government-owned people! Presumably, the famine must have stabilized to a point that the proper seed, land, and tools could produce new crops, but the real damage to the citizens had already been done.
The government then flexed its totalitarian muscles by forcibly relocating people to the teeming, overcrowded cities, where they could be better controlled, and presumably placed in austere communal housing with a minimal real estate “footprint.” Thus, the government minimized the resource usage per person, as did Joseph Stalin with the sea of utilitarian high-rise apartments to which he relocated the masses from the rural communities, to more efficiently dominate and control. The most tragic portion of the Genesis narrative is the response of the government, via Joseph, which acknowledged and announced its role as savior of the people, while “generously” letting the people keep eighty percent of the product of their hard work, although the government acknowledged their right to one hundred percent of “their” assets. In turn, the broken, disillusioned, and brainwashed citizenry thanked the benevolent government for “saving their lives” and letting them keep any portion of their labors, even though such governmental rights were obtained by exploiting and manipulating their own people under the guise of protecting them. This transfer of wealth and property to the state, and the precedents of heavy taxation, lasted for generations—long after the crisis had subsided. It is amusing to note that God has the “last laugh” on worldly kingdoms eventually when they flaunt their powers: Many years later, much of this wealth must have been purloined and pillaged by Hebrews as they left Egypt in the days of Moses, as one of many examples in biblical history where God takes the resources of the proud to lift up the humble.
It should be noted that the pattern of crisis-based, state usurpation of power, authority, and property has happened again and again in subsequent resource shortages and famines around the world, when the people have been, regularly over time, relinquishing the assets that are essential to life. These assets retain or increase in value in times of crisis and bare necessity, and the people do not store up sufficient supplies to ride out extended times of want to prevent the destructive cycle of “selling the farm.” In fact, this scenario is largely being played out at the time of this writing as trillions of dollars in financial instruments and risky credit-based investments are being made worthless overnight. Not only individual investors, but insurance companies and even large investment banks have had their assets and very worth erased, or have immediate debt obligations that cannot be met with readily available credit. As a result, the government has decided which institutions, including large investment banks, are dissolved overnight, and which receive government bailouts and credit to remain in business for limited additional time. However, such arrangements often have come with significant strings attached: The institutions have sacrificed their own independence of operations, and often direct control and ownership of their companies, as the U.S. government has taken on the unique role of managing and owning such entities (or at least a controlling interest) on behalf of the public. Due to these ownership arrangements or debt obligations now provided directly by the federal government, the tenuous status of these companies in a sustained period of economic downturn will likely result in most of these companies being ultimately owned in full by the government as they fall into receivership. The range of massive corporate entities now—or soon to be—owned to some degree by the government includes the largest insurance company (AIG), investment banks, and even auto makers, the backbone of American industry. (However, it should be noted that many of these assets will become virtually worthless, or even liabilities, in exchange for valuable taxpayer money, which will have to be paid back to the government by the taxpayer, with interest, at a later date).
This usurpation of assets by the government is also being extended to the private property of individual citizens, as the government now backs a large portion of mortgages and the banks that issue them, and will also come to possess many of these homes later. The government may choose to rent these properties to citizens later (to produce cash flow, mitigate maintenance costs, and reduce vandalism), but the citizens who rent those homes will reside in homes their government owns, much as the Egyptians millennia earlier. It should be reiterated that the destructive collapses of these entities, both large and small, resulted from victims retaining their assets in commodities that can quickly become near worthless in times of crisis, such as paper money and financial instruments that depend upon a stable and mutually trustworthy economic environment, rather than crisis-proof commodities of timeless and robust value such as gold, and even more so, food, water, and fuel. These latter commodities should be particularly stored in sufficient levels to support families for extended periods when normal trade conditions are disrupted—and possibly additional amounts should be stored for later trading and ministering to others.
A final but key component of this historical narrative in Scripture is that one group in society was shown to actually prosper during this time of crisis: the priest class. The priests’ prosperity was evidently due to the fact that their earlier “contract” with Pharaoh contained a clause that they were to be paid in an asset found to retain its value—the very food that later was in short supply. The increase in the cost of food later was irrelevant, since payment was in the denomination of the appreciating asset and it met basic needs without any further trading needed, even if the land they were uniquely able to retain sat temporarily idle during the famine. This startling insight should inspire us to seriously consider the various turns of events that could occur in resource shortages, the drastic change in fortunes that could subsequently occur in different portions of the citizenry, and the wisdom of planning all asset exchange, accumulation, and preservation for our families with an eye toward a range of possible long-term scenarios that could threaten its value and utility—to thus develop a strategic asset preservation plan to best protect the family during days of extreme need.
The Scriptures are replete with further examples of historical famine events, the reasons they occurred, and the ramifications and legacy they left behind. For brevity’s sake, we’ll mention just two other examples in Scripture that reveal lessons to be learned from these events. First, 2 Samuel 21 reports that a famine resided in Israel for three years; when King David sought the Lord for answers, the Lord responded that the famine was due to Saul’s killing of the Gibeonites in breach of an earlier oath that had been taken by the Israelites. While the famine in Egypt discussed previously was said to have been sent by God himself as a vehicle to reunite Jacob and his family, and provide a prosperous place for them to dwell (and even a source of funds and a place of remembrance for the Hebrews after their centuries of suffering), in this case it is clearly a judgment. The famine was lifted when David took painful steps to provide justice to the offended Gibeonites.
Another such famine reported in 2 Kings 6 occurred because of a military siege of the land, a common cause of such shortages:
And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was [sold] for fourscore [pieces] of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five [pieces] of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barn floor, or out of the winepress? And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, [he had] sackcloth within upon his flesh (2 Kings 6:25-30).
In this shocking passage, we see the levels of depravity that occur when resources run out under war-time siege conditions. In this instance, the King of Syria surrounded Samaria and the kingdom of Israel, cutting off all external supplies until the inhabitants were no longer supportable, in a grinding waiting game of suffering and agony. We see how delectable treats like an ass’ head becomes a valuable commodity (and money, even coinage, becomes ever more worthless, like Thurston Howell’s stock certificates offered to the head hunters on “Gilligan’s Island”). It should be noted the “dove’s dung” may in fact be a very modest form of vegetables, such as with similar herbs known in the Arab world today as “sparrow’s dung” (according to Strong’s entry H02755), although it is feasible that it actually was the “real McCoy,” and there is historical precedent for its consumption as well under crisis conditions. We see later in the story the horrific tale of familial cannibalism, a state that is hard to accept, but it not uncommon under the most severe famine and siege conditions. Most disturbing is the broken emotional state of the mother, who is no longer shocked by this taboo act, but laments the broken vow of the other mother to share in the ghoulish sacrifice. These types of desperate acts are commonly reported in history during the longest and most severe siege incidents, even in modern history. Similar acts were reported in Stalingrad during its multi-year siege by the German Army in World War II (they were also experienced in similar siege events in Judah, such as just before the Babylonian Exile, and during the Roman sacking of Jerusalem). The initial forecasts of food shortages earlier in this chapter did not include the multiplicative effects of war and its disruption of food and supply distribution, confiscation, and destruction, as well as seaport and city blockades that can starve out entrenched populations and lead to violent, depraved living conditions as the supplies start to dwindle. If the days we face soon are to be filled with widespread warfare and unrest, particularly if these days will turn out to be the last days, then the accelerating effects of intentional shortages created by conflict must be accounted for and planned for in the days ahead.
UP NEXT: Expected Future Deprivations and Shortages Revealed from the Biblical Prophetic Record
[i] Dale Allen Pfeiffer, “Eating Fossil Fuels,” Energy Bulletin, From The Wilderness Publications (October 2, 2003) www.energybulletin.net/node/281.
[iii] Matthieu Bonkoungou, “Burkina general strike starts over cost of living,” Reuters (April 8, 2008).
[iv] “Riots prompt Ivory Coast tax cuts,” BBC.co.uk (April 2, 2008).
[v] “Egyptians hit by rising food prices,” BBC.co.uk, (March 11, 2008).
[vi] “Soaring Food Prices Spark Unrest,” The Philadelphia Trumpet (April 11, 2008).
[vii] “Pakistan heading for yet another wheat crisis,” The Independent (April 1, 2008).
[viii] “Anger grows over rising prices in Sri Lanka,” World Socialist website (April 11, 2008).
[ix] “SA must grow food on all arable land, says Manuel,” The Times (April 11, 2008).
[x] Julhas Alam, “Bangladesh in critical shape as people desperate for food—30 million poor could go hungry, estimates show,” The Associated Press (April 13, 2008).
[xi] Stefan Steinberg, “Financial speculators reap profits from global hunger,” www.globalresearch.ca (April 24, 2008).
[xii]“Cyclone fuels rice price increase,” BBC News (May 7, 2008).
[xiv] Interview from Fox News, www.infowars.com (November 13, 2008).
[xv] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “Citigroup says gold could rise above $2,000 next year as world unravels,” The Daily Telegraph (November 27, 2008).
[xvi] Steve and Paul Watson, “Army ‘Strategic Shock’ Report Says Troops May Be Needed To Quall U.S. Civil Unrest,” www.prisonplanet.com (December 16, 2008).