(EDITOR NOTE: The following insightful entry was written for Dr. Thomas Horn and Defender Publishing years ago by our friend Mike Bennett)
Here are a few more of the many admonitions in the Bible regarding “famines” and “drought”: “If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, [or] if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness [there be]; What prayer and supplication soever be [made] by any man, [or] by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, [even] thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men)” (1 Kings 8:37-39).
This wonderful passage may be most relevant to events of pestilence or famine over history, particularly within Israel, whose origins of such events were due to sin. It reveals that sincere repentance may reduce or eliminate the impact of such afflictions. Since the last-days plagues are certain to occur (“it is written,” in effect), such events at that time may be unstoppable, but possibly the impact on believers could be lessened, or localized protection received, if one or more choose to follow this biblical admonition. In the meantime, we might experience many other such pestilences, droughts, famines, and plagues, large and small; therefore, this instruction may prove valuable many times before those days arrive!
“Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?” (Ezekiel 14:13,21).
The Lord further elaborates very clearly in this passage that He can be the source of famine or other calamities when His children have sinned: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
This well-known passage offers a myriad of wonderful promises to believers under duress, including those who are enduring famine. Succinctly, this passage promises that even under such tribulation, (a) we shall not be separated from the love of Christ; (b) our persecution, its meaning, and its ultimate purpose was understood long ago (and thus everything is well under control); and (c) we will be “more than conquerers” in the midst of all this suffering— not by removing it, but by prevailing in spite of it!
God offers more promises for His children in the midst of famine:
“Behold, the eye of the LORD [is] upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19).
“The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD [shall be] as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. For [such as be] blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and [they that be] cursed of him shall be cut off. The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth [him with] his hand. I have been young, and [now] am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:18-25).
This amazing passage not only shows that the Lord will preserve the “upright,” even in the “evil time,” and shall be “satisfied” in the days of “famine,” but that the “wicked” shall, by economic means or by more direct and personal methods, “borrow” when in need and not give back, whereas the “righteous” will be known by “showing mercy” and “giving.” Is that what you will do in the days of need? Will you store up provisions not only for you and your family, but so that you can give and show mercy to others? The Lord promises that the steps of a “good” man are “ordered” (implying being well under God’s control), and even when falling at times, he will not be cast down for good (note that we are not promised that we will not “fall” occasionally). The psalmist closes with his observation that, over his lifetime, he has not seen the righteous forsaken—this may be one of the best promises of all for this topic!
“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by [your] letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
In the early days, the church at Jerusalem experienced a severe famine. Paul and the other apostles set a precedent within the body of using our cumulative resources to take care of everyone within the fellowship, everywhere around the world, “as God has prospered him” (and believe me, those deemed “prosperous” in those days were much more austere in their living than those of us in the West today!). Are you setting aside some of your “prosperity” (even when it doesn’t “feel” like you are “prosperous,” and you are not even “keeping up with the Joneses”) to meet the needs of those in your church, your community, your country, and the world? In the days of famine, this network will be very important for ministering to those both within and outside the fellowship of Christ.
Some may have thought, when beginning to read (or considering to read) this chapter, that it would be chock-full of information and suggestions on where to buy food and supplies, go “off grid” and be independent, and even “hole up” away from the dangers and demands of the rest of civilization. To be honest, that type of information can become so quickly dated and somewhat obsolete (in terms of sources, and the best alternatives), that it is best to focus on general suggestions, to initiate a more detailed, personal search by the reader. I should note that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, electrician, safety inspector, professional, state-certified engineer (although I have a Ph.D. in engineering, my expertise is more in line with blowing things up, as opposed to constructing them!), and as such, I should not be considered an expert resource to advise in these areas, at least in detail. However, the Internet (a blessing in our age, if used appropriately) is a good initial source for such expertise, if suitable caution and discretion is used.
First of all, regarding food, I would distinguish between “short-term” and “long-term” food needs. Our own government (the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] and other agencies) recommends stockpiling up to three to six months of food and water supplies for possible outbreaks of avian bird flu and other emergencies. This recommendation was reiterated by Dr. Melissa Riley, a local county FEMA specialist, on my radio show; for example, she says that bird flu outbreaks may require citizens to stay in their own homes, away from the rest of the public, for up to three to six months until it runs it course (with a high degree of fatalities expected). She also stated that even if you “chance it” and make a run to the grocery store, food shipments into the “infected areas” are expected to be curtailed, and food at the grocery stores will run out within days. If you have a spouse (or parents, in-laws, kids, friends, neighbors, church folk, etc.) who is very reluctant to stockpile food and water supplies, and is concerned you are becoming a “conspiracy theorist” or the next “Unabomber,” the government recommendations posted online might give you the credible reference you can cite to them to justify proceeding. These governmental guidelines should be an authoritative source of information for you, and any advice herein should be verified there, or by other credible resources. For example, before the “Y2K” scare a few years ago, various sites recommended making do-it-yourself storable water supplies using clean two-liter bottles, and some sites even recommended using one or two drops of bleach in the water to prevent growth of bacteria. (Health-related information like this should particularly be verified with reputable resources.) In any case, these supplies should be placed in a dry place, secured against vermin infiltration as well as moisture, dampness, and mildew or mold. If supplies can be placed in sealed bags—better yet, in plastic tubs with good, sealable lids—that might protect and preserve them better. Be sure to store them in a place where they can be periodically inspected. Pay particular attention to the shelf life date of food, and be aware that those dates are usually only valid under ideal storage conditions.
Regarding short-term food needs (for three to six months), make sure you:
(a) plan for a sufficient caloric intake for every member of your family;
(b) provide some variety of food—for psychological reasons if no other;
(c) can safely store and use the food both before the crisis and during the length of the event; and
(d) you can prepare the food (if needed) using available sources of heating or other means of preparation.
In our family, we plan to have access to a significant stockpile of containers of a powdered, Ensure-type drink mix (designed to be mixed with water—not a dieting variety) as part of our supplies, because it is designed to provide a high-caloric source that is nutritionally rich; it can be stored compactly and easily; it uses water already stored and on hand; it has a long shelf life; and it requires no special heating or preparation. Other sources (including my radio show co-host, “Tom Bionic”) recommend storing large quantities of rice and beans, because they have many of the same advantages and are low cost (plus they offer the luxury of chewing!). Further suggestions include adding a little oil (like olive oil) due to its calories, fat, and palatability. Other sources of food are military MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), C-Rations and K-Rations, many of which can be procured from military surplus stores, or other online sources.
Always keep in mind the storage and preparation needs of any particular food. Remember that in days of crisis (both natural and man-made), electricity might be in short supply, so freezing or refrigerating food might be a short-term luxury. If you have these types of foods on hand when a crisis hits, be sure to consume them first, and only as long as you are confident that they are safe to eat. Only keep any food stockpiled as long as you have good evidence to believe that it safe for the food type and storage method used.
As far as cooking options, many campers use a simple Coleman or similar camping stove, at least until their gas runs out (unless they have stockpiled it safely—see the bottle suppliers for recommendations). Similarly, food can be cooked on gas grills (particularly quickly, which can help speed up the preparation and subsequent consumption of the refrigerated and frozen food if electricity is unavailable) until the fuel is gone, but a simple charcoal grill might be more practical, with the ease of storage of charcoal briquettes. In our household, we like a “newspaper grill”—a simple collapsible, metal tube with a handled grill on top, which is designed to burn wadded-up newspapers and similar material. It is a marvel of invention. The grease drippings from any meat used (or vegetables coated with vegetable oil) keep the fire going, allowing us to cook hamburgers within four or so minutes with a just few sheets of newspaper. This device doesn’t need lighter fluid or other starter means, and is handy at home, camping, or tailgating in the meantime. You would be surprised how long an old telephone book, junk mail (finally, a good use for that), newspapers, and other scrap papers last for fuel. (Just don’t use “slick” papers, such as some ads, because of the chemicals in them). These devices, all the rage in the seventies, are listed under names such as “Kwik-Grill,” “Safari,” and “Arctic Portable Table Top Newspaper Grill.”
Water supply is a subject that should dictate consultation with specialists in this field (and information may be available online or at government resources). One decision you’ll need to make is whether to store your water in multiple small containers or large reservoirs. In either case, you should be concerned about bacteria contamination and growth as well as chemical, dirt, or foreign matter contamination. Techniques that address one hazard often do not address the other. Water decontamination filter devices, which use manual hand pumping or other means, are very effective and available from a number of suppliers. Some manufacturers even report that they can make drinking water from sewage water (although I don’t recommend trying that!). Remember the old adage—man can go without air for three minutes, water for three days, and food for three weeks. Therefore, don’t scrimp on the amount of water you keep on hand! In days of crisis, water shortages may well become a bigger threat than food shortages (certainly on a world geopolitical level). Remember that you should also keep enough water for cooking, bathing, cleaning, and taking care of other sanitary needs. If you suspect that supplies may be imminently shut off (even due to natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, or earthquakes), fill any safe containers you have with water until the tap runs dry; you can also fill bathtubs and sinks with water for other uses.
Some energy and heating supplies have already been mentioned, such as kerosene, propane, wood, and even paper debris. The generation of carbon monoxide from these sources is a significant cause of home deaths in wintertime. Be sure to have a carbon dioxide detector in your home, with a battery backup that is tested regularly. Noncombustible sources of heat are best in homes or shelters under the most austere conditions (it’s hard to beat body heat from one or more people under a pile of blankets— it worked wonders for the Willy Wonka family!). If you can generate electricity by some means, even by placing a gas-powered electricity generator outside (secured against theft and weather damage), and run electric heaters indoors, that may be a safer solution (if, of course, you follow the safety precautions provided by manufacturers). A well-designed, installed, and maintained wood-burning (or even corn-burning) stove is also obviously a good choice. Any means of generating electricity, such as geothermal, photocells (solar), or wind are excellent options that can save money for you now, and that can save your “neck” later. We might eventually go back to the days of heating stones or “bed warmers” in an outdoor fire and using them to heat our beds. Some of those techniques might be quite nice!
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Regarding long-term food supplies (for periods greater than six months), more significant (or draconian) efforts are needed. The obvious solution is to start your own garden if you don’t already have one. If you have land, use as much of it as you can, including your front yard, when times get really bad! If you are an apartment dweller or one of many who now have “McMansions” on postage stamp-sized lots, then you may need to resort to community gardens (a proposed approach is in the next section). This might also be good even for those with their own, ample lots. In these emergencies, choose plants not based on taste or other factors, but on (a) nutritional value, (b) output per given plot of land, (c) resistance to drought, weather, and pests, and (d) ability to grow for multiple seasons without abusing the soil. This supply will be useful if wars, calamities, or other causes curtail the distribution network, but if it stops raining, then drought-resistant foods should be a priority (it is probably a good idea to practice growing such foods now). One should not tarry in at least getting seeds for later use, because widespread proliferation of questionable “genetically modified” food strains and their seeds are tainting our current food supply, and the supply of natural, healthy seeds might even disappear. In addition, the spread of currently manufactured “terminator” seeds, which will not regenerate (and thus require repurchasing seeds from the supplier each year , at their terms), would result in the same predicament as the Egyptian people in Genesis found themselves. Lastly, the use of community gardens, or swapping food with neighbors and friends, permits everyone to share more of a variety of food, possibly grown on plots more conducive to certain types of food. This helps take advantage of the “green thumbs” of the occupants, and is a neighborly, healthy, and wholesome way to enrich each other’s lives. (Working the garden will also give many of us some much-needed exercise, as well!)
Regarding long-term water sources, the choices are few: using water from a well, or from natural water streams, rivers, or lakes. In both cases, a considerable issue is the safe use of such water. Numerous resources are available to provide guidance on how to safely use such supplies. If rainfall is still present, captured rainwater (secured by placing and then draining sheets on the roof or the ground) is an option, but the same issues regarding safe usage still apply. New technology is now available to capture water from the humidity in air (at least in small quantities); however, there’s still research to be done as far as amount of water it can be reasonably expected to produce, and the possible need for electricity to power the devices.
Long-term energy supplies are most likely to come from solar cells, geothermal devices, or wind. This technology is now available, and government tax credits are often also available to defray some costs. I recommend beginning to tinker with some of these options now, and expand as you gain experience and skill in using them effectively. That way, you can learn what works for you and what doesn’t, as new, more efficient, and user-friendly technologies become available. Then, when the crisis really hits, you will have at least some rudimentary capability (which will probably be at least better than your neighbors!), and your level of expertise will grow in the meantime.
Regardless of your food, water, or energy supplies, be aware that if your neighbors or others see you with these provisions, in desperate times you may become a target—even by people you would have otherwise trusted. You may already intend to share your provisions where possible (in fact, as we have seen, the Lord desires that you do), but if you are not careful in how you handle your provisions, your “sharing” might not be on your terms—and your family might suffer as a result. Therefore, I recommend that if the Lord lays on your heart to share your provisions with particular people at that time, do it in a discreet manner, and in a way that does not belie the resources you have wisely prepared in advance—all the while being as generous as the Lord would have you to be. If the Lord prompts you to do something bolder, then be aware of the consequences and trust that He will protect you and provide for you as you obey.
A good website for securing such supplies is the SkyWatch TV Store http://www.skywatchtvstore.com/ Operated by Christians. The company offers food supplies, energy, shelter, communications resources, and anything else you might need. A number of companies that specialize in storable foods, communications, and energy supplies typically advertise on independent radio shows and networks (including web-based)—particularly those with an interest in Bible prophecy. As you shop, just be sure use discernment and ask around for product reviews and feedback from independent sources before you buy. Another excellent source for food, fuel, and even cooking supplies are military surplus stores (for MREs, emergency shelters, and cooking supplies), or camping or outdoors stores.
For all of the discussion in the preceding pages about negative subjects such as crises, tribulation, and suffering, these events can also pose opportunities for the Lord’s body to shine and reflect God’s glory and love. It has always struck me that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” is the combination of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” In days of crisis, as we have discussed, we will have people’s attention if we can minister to their basic needs while sharing with them the message God has given us to pronounce.
For example, I don’t see why churches of any notable size don’t attempt to design and install modern wind turbines, solar panels, or other similar energy generators for their property and facilities. Using such technologies makes sense for a number of reasons:
—Churches of even modest budgets can potentially fund reasonable equipment installation projects, with a return on investment of a few years. (This could be enhanced with special deals on equipment—including purchasing older generations of technology—and installation labor from the suppliers, and even by having such assets donated in whole or in part from companies.)
—The power is only usually needed intermittently for days and hours of worship and daily office use, and could be stored in battery banks or by other means.
—Some of the design, and particularly routine maintenance, could be provided by a team of people at the church who might actually enjoy working with and getting familiar with the technology. (They might even learn enough about it to try out their own systems at home.)
—Churches typically have ample property on their grounds or on their roofs for wind turbines or solar cells.
—Not only could the church defray or eliminate ever-increasing energy costs, it could sell back excess energy to the power company to further assist their budget.
—The church could have emergency power available for parishioners or other community citizens on their grounds in emergency shelter situations.
—This approach would send a message to those outside the church that Christians want to be good caretakers of the earth, and responsible citizens. In fact, publicizing these initiatives in local media, and even offering services such as electric plug stations for hybrid vehicles in church parking areas could cast a positive spotlight on the church. It might help persuade environmentally conscious citizens in the community to overcome any bias or misconceptions they may have about the church and its members and create new ministry opportunities for the church.
This might also open opportunities for Christian entrepreneurs to develop sophisticated design services for churches, a somewhat organized body worldwide. I have learned that secular activists outside the church envy our resources and latent, untapped ability to organize; this would give Christians a chance to take a leadership role in implementing renewable energy technologies.
In a similar vein, churches could use their typically ample grounds to develop congregation and/or community gardens. Such gardens could provide:
—Food for needy families in the church and community anytime
—Food for the entire church family
—A place for youth, those receiving assistance, or others to serve the body in tending the gardens (even those in poor health could shell beans, can or package food, etc.)
—A healthy reason for church members to spend time outdoors, and to help each other
—Access to healthy food
—A testimony of the caring and custodial nature of the local church (and Christ himself) in the community.
Even food co-ops could be established between church members and between churches themselves. They could not only exchange food items, but they could also take the opportunity to mass process food, where prudent. This process could be expanded to other “mini-economies” developed between churches, including the exchange of skilled labor and other assets. Furthermore, Christian investors could invest and manage such projects in a biblical, honorable way, without being muddied by the materialism and low morality of Wall Street and the financial world.
These possibilities get us back to developing an internal support structure within the body and communities that could circumvent the state (where possible) and the Babylon financial system— coming back full circle to the focus of our discussion. Much of this capability is in our hands, if we choose to grasp it. It will create a long-lost freedom and a dependence on God that we have lost as a society over the last few generations. (We are the weaker and less spiritual because of it). To make the point that the Lord intended us to be free, let’s look at just a few of the biblical passages that discuss our freedom:
“[Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).
“Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name: But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth” (Jeremiah 34:12-17).
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:18,20,22).
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
“Art thou called [being] a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use [it] rather. For he that is called in the Lord, [being] a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, [being] free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Corinthians 7:21-23).
“For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galations 5:1).
“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (1 Peter 2:15,16).
This study has shown the current, real-world developments now underway that will create dire shortages in food, water, and energy now, and even more so in the near future. The historical causes and outcomes of such famines and shortages, including major shifts in society and world demographics, were discussed. The impact that famines and shortages had in historical Bible times was explored, including the very important example in Egypt with Joseph in some detail, and how it set the precedent for the enslaving effects of food and other critical resource shortages, for millennia to come. The potential prophetic implications of such developments, in facilitating an imminent end-times scenario as expressed in the Bible, was discussed in depth, including an examination of detailed passages regarding the nature of the exploitation of the world’s resources by evil powers and their earthly institutions, as well as their eventual destruction, with lessons learned from these narratives. A number of various admonitions from Scripture regarding famines, God’s economy in using them, and the proper response of God’s people, were briefly examined. Practical provisions concerning food, water, and energy sources, for both short-term and long-term needs, and the issues at play in making proper preparations were briefly investigated, as well as positive opportunities for such crises to enable God’s people to be a blessing to others. All of these aspects point to our need to prepare, but ultimately to rely upon our Heavenly Father and live as free men, dependent only upon His matchless care.
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