All These Things - Part 3

Scripture: Luke 21:25-27
One of the signs of Christ's coming is famine in diverse places. The population growth of our earth is staggering. How do these things relate to the coming of Jesus?
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There are just about 5 billion people in the world, and we are adding eighty million more every year. In all the wars of the United States, that is the Revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the Mexican war, the Civil war, the Spanish-American war, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, we have had roughly 600,000 battle deaths. But do you realize, friends, that the population growth makes up that number every three days?

If current world population growth figures are projected, preposterous figures are reached almost instantaneously. If we continue growing at the rate we are growing now, there will be seven billion people in the year 2000. About 900 years from now there would be 1,000 people per square foot of the earth's surface! About a thousand years after that there would be a weight of people equivalent to the weight of the earth! And two thousand years later the entire universe would be solid people, and the ball of people would be expanding at the speed of light!

But we are already in grave trouble right here and now. The world population is doubling at the rate of once every 35 years. In the so-called underdeveloped countries (which could be much more honestly called the never-to-be-developed countries) the population doubling time ranges around 20 to 25 years.

Think for a minute what it means for a nation to double its population in twenty years as, for instance, Honduras is doing. If those people are going to even maintain their present quality of life, everything for the support of people in that country will have to be duplicated in twenty years. That means that where there are two dwellings today there will have to be four in twenty years. A road with a certain capacity today will have to have double the capacity in twenty years. It will be necessary to double farm production, double imports, double exports, and so on.

The job of doubling everything in twenty years would be a colossal one for a nation like the United States. The very thought of a country like Honduras doubling everything in twenty is preposterous.

As Professor Borgstrom of Michigan State University wrote, "The world is basically a world-wide network of slums with a few islands of affluence. Roughly only fifteen percent of the world's people have anything similar to the quality of life of the average American."

These sobering facts bring to light the reality that in the very near future the world faces a major food crisis.

Over three and one-half million of the world's population died in a recent year from starvation, and 66% of the world's population goes hungry every day, and 50% die without ever having known a full stomach. Is this condition just? Of course not. Will it worsen? Yes! Jesus, who knew that only His second coming could cure this state of affairs, notified us that a sign of His coming would be "famines in divers places." Think of the terrible starvation and famine in East Pakistan, famine which drives ten million of them over into an already starving India. Senator Edward Kennedy, visiting Pakistani refugee camps, referred to the situation as "the greatest human disaster of our time."

These facts are hard for us comfortable North Americans to grasp. There have been recent news items indicating that the birthrates in both the United States and Canada are now the lowest in history, and with modern means of farming, there is no end in sight as to the quantities of food surpluses which we seem capable of producing. It is currently estimated that with present farming methods, the world is capable of growing enough food to feed well 40 billion people. In short, ten times the population of today's world and with enough to spare. South America's agricultural lands alone could support nine billion.

Yet the tragic truth is that the world is on the verge of mass starvation. In Cuba, bread is the only food which is not stringently rationed. In the streets of Calcutta, a mother will chop the limbs off her infant as a means of soliciting sympathy and a few rupees from Westerners. By the year 2000 there will be seven billion people in our world.

A seemingly hopeless problem for political science is how to utilize the world's labor force to produce the needed food to offset famine. One report reveals that one out of four of the world's workers are usually unemployed. And the situation is getting worse rather than better.

The Stanford biologist, Paul Ehrlich, in headlining articles quoted throughout the world reckoned that "there is not the slightest hope of escaping a disastrous time of famine in the near future. It is shockingly apparent that the battle to feed man will end in a rout." A group of 172 eminent people from 19 countries, including 39 Nobel prize winners, have petitioned the United Nations to halt the population explosion by any and every means. Unless drastic steps are taken, "there is in prospect a dark age of human misery, famine and unrest, which could generate growing panic, exploding into war fought to appropriate the dwindling means of survival."

One expert has written that during the next half-dozen years food production would have to be tripled to meet the nutritional demands of the world. It will be fortunate if it can be increased by 65%. In fact, there was no increase in the combined output of the world's farms and fisheries, while the population increased 2.7%. Of the additional billion people who are expected in the earth's population over the next decade, three-quarters will be added to the very poor countries where annual incomes average one two-hundredth what they are in the United States and Canada.

But the United States is by no means exempt from the bleak picture; a government study revealed that we have only a forty day supply of processed food available in case of famine; nine days supply on housewives' shelves; fifteen days supply with retailers; and sixteen days supply with wholesalers and factories. Dr. Paul Ehrlich states bluntly: "Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death...Many will starve to death in spite of any crash programs we might embark on now. And we in the United States are not embarking on any crash program."

Columnist James Breslin asks: "Is it right to spend 30 billion dollars to get a man on the moon while children throughout the world have worms coming out of their mouths and while countless others have so little going in?" According to Scripture it is but another reason why our Lord must come again. Giving up the space probes won't solve the crisis, but Christ's return will.

One food production expert has predicted that one-half of all children alive today will starve to death before they reach adulthood. Already the figures are mushrooming. An estimated 100,000 are dying every day from starvation or malnutrition somewhere in the world. About one-eighth of India's population is reckoned to be in the "starving" category right now.

If the demographers are correct, and the world population continues to double itself every 35 years, then we are in real trouble. From the present 5 billion we would zoom to almost 7 billion by the year 2000, and to 14 billion just 35 years after that. With an estimated one-third of mankind now chronically hungry, what does the future hold?

According to many population experts the mass starvation pattern is irreversibly set; and within the NEXT DECADE millions upon millions will die REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE MAY TRY TO DO TO STOP IT! They contend that we have already waited too long, especially for the underdeveloped countries. All the war casualties of history will not equal the expected global death rate of this impending disaster.

With the collapse of physical securities, apprehension has grown into paralyzing fear for the great majority of earth's inhabitants. Jesus described that massive fear long ago in these words: "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." Luke 21:25-27. Even the leaders of nations, masters of political and social science, are helpless to plot a course that will restore the confidence of their followers.

Let's consider the progress of population. This is a fascinating question if you consider this land of ours from ocean to ocean and border to border. At one time it supported one million Indians. Now the Indians were a very primitive people. They didn't know how to pollute the streams, they were too unskilled to waste the top soil, they hadn't yet learned how to burn the forests. So they had unlimited resources. However, they did frequently starve between famines. Since we are more civilized, we have washed the top soil down the drain; we have burned the forests and we have polluted the streams. But we have two hundred million people living on this same land where Indians starved.

In this country we have almost ten thousand more people for breakfast every morning, or 295,000 new native-born citizens every month. We enjoy the highest standard of living in the world, and we are the only nation on earth that is plagued by surplus. It is a grim fact that two-thirds of the world goes to bed hungry every night, and in America we beat our kids to make them eat!

What is it that we have that these Indians didn't have? Certainly it isn't resources! It is a complex matter and yet a simple one. We have three interrelated factors: democracy, technology, and free enterprise. You can't argue which one is the more important.

Let's take a look at what this combination of democracy, technology, and free enterprise does. Automobiles were invented in Europe. They were a much better automobile and further advanced. They had them years before this country did, but there was no democratic climate in Europe that could have produced a Henry Ford with his absurd notion that the working man or the ordinary people should be entitled to automobiles. Neither were there any working men in Europe who thought they had a right to an automobile.

Now, let's take technology. This is the machine that multiplies a man's strength by a billion times. One anemic citizen pushes a button and does the work of a thousand coolies. This is technology. It gives us the accuracy to measure things to the thousandths of an inch.

The result of democracy, technology, and free enterprise is productivity. We have a fantastic standard of living for the simple reason that up until now the American working man has out-produced anybody else on earth. We have the highest paid coal miners in the world; also, we have the man that produces six times as much coal as anybody else. You can take it down the line in all kinds of things, but it is the productivity that created the wealth which gives us our standard of living, and which permits us to afford both democracy and culture with inside plumbing.

Already in your lifetime there has been more technological change than in the previous history of the world. In each succeeding year there will be still more progress. Every year of your life will see more technological progress than used to take place in a generation.

That little world in which you were born and educated isn't here anymore. Now, what do we know about this new kind of progress? Well, we don't know too much, but we do know that it is near the time that somebody stopped this platitude that you can learn from history. If there is anything that we ought to learn from history, it is that mankind has never learned anything from history, even when he could.

Do you know what I believe, friends? I think that no one today can escape the feeling that this world has almost hit rock bottom, and very little time remains. Conditions today are almost what they were during the Roman Empire. Immorality, perversion, drunkenness, gluttony, you name it. It is a soft, materialistic, licentious age when anything goes. And the forces which usually stand unyielding against the inroads of such vices are strangely weak and almost silent. Even the organized kind of religion is turning its head the other way as these evils proliferate. If ever there was a time to seek the Lord and prepare for His coming, that time is NOW.

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