Three of the end times signs given by Jesus before He returns to rescue the saints and to pour out His wrath on an unrepentant world are:
- Wars and rumours of wars – Russia, China, North Korea
- Famines – The ECONOMIST report in this post
- Pestilences – Covid 19 is just the beginning
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Matthew 24:7-8
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8
The following report is from THE ECONOMIST on May 20th 2022.
By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will destroy the lives of people far from the battlefield — and on a scale, that even he may regret. The war is battering a global food system weakened by Covid-19, climate change, and an energy shock. Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. Together, the two countries supply 12 percent of traded calories. Wheat prices, up 53 per cent since the start of the year, jumped a further 6 six per cent on May 16th, after India said it would suspend exports because of an alarming heatwave.
The widely accepted idea of a cost-of-living crisis does not begin to capture the gravity of what may lie ahead. António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, warned on May 18th that the coming months threaten “the spectre of a global food shortage” that could last for years. The high cost of staple foods has already raised the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat by 440m, to 1.6bn. Nearly 250m are on the brink of famine. If, as is likely, the war drags on and supplies from Russia and Ukraine are limited, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty. Political unrest will spread, children will be stunted and people will starve.
Mr Putin must not use food as a weapon. Shortages are not the inevitable outcome of war. World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution
Russia and Ukraine supply 28 per cent of globally traded wheat, 29 per cent of barley, 15 per cent of maize, and 75 per cent of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt, the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odesa.
Even before the invasion, the World Food Programme had warned that 2022 would be a terrible year. China, the largest wheat producer, has said that, after rains delayed planting last year, this crop may be its worst ever. Now, in addition to the extreme temperatures in India, the world’s second-largest producer, a lack of rain threatens to sap yields in other breadbaskets, from America’s wheat belt to the Beauce region of France. The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by its worst drought in four decades. Welcome to the era of climate change.
All this will have a grievous effect on the poor. Households in emerging economies spend 25 per cent of their budgets on food — and in sub-Saharan Africa as much as 40 per cent. In Egypt bread provides 30 per cent of all calories. In many importing countries, governments cannot afford subsidies to increase the help to the poor, especially if they also import energy — another market in turmoil.
The crisis threatens to get worse. Ukraine had already shipped much of last summer’s crop before the war. Russia is still managing to sell its grain, despite added costs and risks for shippers. However, those Ukrainian silos that are undamaged by the fighting are full of corn and barley. Farmers have nowhere to store their next harvest, due to start in late June, which may therefore rot. And they lack the fuel and labour to plant the one after that. Russia, for its part, may lack some supplies of the seeds and pesticides it usually buys from the European Union.
In spite of soaring grain prices, farmers elsewhere in the world may not make up the shortfall. One reason is that prices are volatile. Worse, profit margins are shrinking, because of the surging prices of fertiliser and energy. These are farmers’ main costs and both markets are disrupted by sanctions and the scramble for natural gas. If farmers cut back on fertiliser, global yields will be lower at just the wrong time.
The response by worried politicians could make a bad situation worse. Since the war started, 23 countries from Kazakhstan to Kuwait have declared severe restrictions on food exports that cover 10 per cent of globally traded calories. More than one-fifth of all fertiliser exports are restricted. If trade stops, famine will ensue.
Jesus warns us that at the time of His second coming to earth the world will be like it was during the time Noah lived.
“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37-39
What was it like in Noah’s day? It was much like it is becoming today as God’s values and God’s Word are being trashed. It is leading up to the prophesied time when God will once again pour out His wrath upon the earth with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:11-13
In Revelation 6, when Jesus opens the sixth seal around the scroll containing the Trumpet and Bowl judgements He reveals He is about to release the wrath of God on the earth. It is at the trumpet blast when the seventh seal is opened that the Saints are raptured to meet Jesus in the sky and only then are the trumpet and bowl judgements released consecutively.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:12-17
We know that at the fifth seal the Saints have not been raised from the dead or raptured because John sees the souls of the martyred under the altar asking God how long will it be before He judges the wicked.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:9-10
Moreover, it is shortly after the seventh seal has been opened with a trumpet blast that John now sees resurrected and raptured saints clothed in white robes from every tribe and nation standing before the throne praising God the Father and the Son.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
The timing of the rapture is important: God allows the Saints to be tested when Satan is allowed to persecute the Saints during the time of tribulation but God does not pour out His wrath upon the Saints with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.