It may seem absurd to discuss food scarcity in a nation with a serious obesity problem. However, unless we change our direction soon, our system of food production may collapse in the near future. Before we examine what the Bible tells us about food scarcity, let’s consider a few facts taken from recent headlines: Today, the average farmer in America is sixty years old and there are not enough young farmers to replace them. Our weather patterns are demonstrating unprecedented and unpredictable shifts: We are seeing a dramatic increase in droughts, floods, and extreme weather. Genetically modified (GMO) seeds are now the foundation of the global food supply, but these highly efficient seeds make our food supply more vulnerable to a blight which could lead to global food scarcity overnight.
Most of the experts who analyze our food supply are not even considering more dramatic events that could impact our food supply and distribution, such as wars, infrastructure problems, or economic instability. However, the most disturbing fact is even if we managed to have no wars, perfect weather, no blights, and an increase in production from new technologies, the world’s population could sill rise as much as 3 billion people in the next 30 years. At some point, we are going to have to deal with food scarcity. The good news is this may be the greatest ministry opportunity in history.
A Biblical View
The Bible makes it clear that food scarcity will be central to what happens at the end of the age. Jesus himself said famines would be one of the signs of the end of the age (See Matthew 24:7). Likewise, when John saw the black horseman holding a pair of scales, a voice from the throne announced:
“A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:7 NIV84)
In other words, the voice from the throne was announcing there would be hyper-inflated food prices and luxury food items would be highly valued. However, the Bible offers us much more than this terrifying warning. If we read its golden pages carefully, we can find patterns for turning the coming food scarcity into an unprecedented opportunity to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
When Joseph was shown a time of famine coming, he did not bury his head in the sand. He mobilized the nation to steward their resources more effectively so that Egypt could become a refuge and a blessing to all of the nations around it. As Christians, food distribution is one issue where we have the wind at our back. Many generations of believers have organized food pantries for the needy and given generously to missions work that distributes food overseas. Today, missionaries are digging new wells and working to turn deserts into farms in third-world countries.
Despite our past successes, our food distribution plans suffer from the same malady as our plans for evangelism and discipleship: Our vision is too small. We currently do not have an adequate structure in place to disciple the multitudes who are going to give their lives to Christ when the great harvest of souls begins in North America and Western Europe. Likewise, we do not have an adequate structure in place to feed the hungry when the global food supply collapses. We need to begin incorporating food production, storage, and distribution into our long-term plans.
The best way to for church leaders to show leadership on this issue is to identify and empower those who are called to lead in this specific area. The answers to food scarcity will probably not be preached from the pulpit on a Sunday morning. However, you may have someone in your congregation who has a desire to organize a farmer’s market, a seed exchange, or a long-term storage and distribution plan. You may even have a teenager in your youth group who is destined to work the land or develop new technologies that will solve food or water scarcity.
Adam was placed in the garden and told to tend it. This capacity for effective stewardship was the basis on which God entrusted him with dominion over the whole earth. However, food scarcity is a natural consequence of man’s failure to perform this mandate.
Intercession is the most important kind of stewardship that we can exercise. When Christ died on the cross, he did not redeem man alone. He also redeemed all of creation because creation was cursed along with man.The sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ is the basis on which creation will be restored. Therefore, our stewardship of the earth must always begin with our administration of Christ’s redemption as a priests under the New Covenant. Paul explained how creation longs for us to step into our ultimate purpose:
“The creation waits in eager expectation for sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:19-22 NIV84)
When we see drastic shifts in the weather, droughts, floods, or blights, we need to be confident in the authority that Christ has given us. He sprinkled his blood over “all things in heaven and earth” (See Colossians 1:15-20). Now, we are called to release that redemption over the earth itself through prophetic declaration and fervent intercession. We can apply the blood of Jesus Christ to stop a blight. We can prophesy to a storm and stop it in its tracks or call forth an unexpected rain-storm to break a drought. It is time for us to start practicing and using this authority so that we will be fully equipped when we have an even greater need to use it.
We also need to learn to love creation as much as the Creator does. It is much harder to prophesy to the weather if you never bother to look out the window or watch a sunset. We are most effective at praying for others when we have learned to love them as the Father does. Likewise, we will be more effective at stewarding creation and releasing Christ’s redemption over it when we learn to love its beauty and appreciate its complexity. If we develop this love, then we will develop the right kind of stewardship. We make thousands of decisions that impact creation everyday, ranging from what we buy and how we eat to what we are growing in our backyard. What would happen if every one of this decisions was guided by the Father’s love for His creation?
Distribution and Hospitality
In Acts chapter six, we see a meeting of all twelve of the apostles for the sole purpose of appointing a team of seven elders to organize food distribution. This is because food collection and distribution was an essential ministry for the early church. In the early church, there were some impromptu outbreaks of the Holy Spirit’s power in public venues, where thousands would commit their lives to being followers of Christ. However, the actual discipleship took place in believer’s homes, where they would gather to spend many hours eating, worshipping, teaching, prophesying, and taking the Lord’s supper together. Likewise, there will be millions streaming to the light of the Lord as the next move of God unfolds. They may choose Christ in large public meetings in stadiums, in churches, or on street corners. However, our homes are where they will actually be discipled to become a New Creation and do the works of the kingdom. Our churches and our religious infrastructure are simply not sufficient to contain or disciple the harvest that will come in. This is why it has been so long in coming.
For several decades, some church leaders have been strategizing how to best disciple the multitudes who will stream to the light of the Lord. Now, imagine how this time of harvest would be different if the grocery shelves were empty or if a loaf of bread costs a day’s wages. Some churches may be called to appoint teams of elders to oversee food production, storage, or distribution—just as the twelve did. However, most churches will not be able to meet his demand. The answer is in the simplicity of the New Testament model.
The Bible gives us simple instructions: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). I was raised in small churches that had weekly “potluck dinners” and fellowship. We frequently had friends and families over to share meals. We gave to food banks and held barbecues in impoverished communities. However, the role of food in the next move of God is about much more than nostalgia. God is calling us to a much higher level of faith because the need will much greater than we can anticipate or prepare for.
When Jesus feed the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, he asked the twelve apostles to distribute this food to the needy. As a result, there were exactly twelve baskets left over. This was first and foremost a sign that confirmed Christ was the promised Messiah. However, it also signified that those in apostolic ministry should be able to multiply and distribute resources effectively. This was also the pattern that we see in Joseph’s life and one that will become increasingly important as we enter seasons of greater shaking.
Note: If you're interested in beefing up your personal and community preparedness, follow the "homesteading" link at the top of this page.
Genetically-modified (GMO) seeds are only one of the challenges that is currently threatening the global food supply.
At some point, we are going to have to deal with food scarcity. The good news is this may be the greatest ministry opportunity in history.
Above: Crowds wait in line for food and water after the devastation caused by Hurrican Katrina in 2005.
Despite our past successes, our food distribution plans suffer from the same malady as our plans for evangelism and discipleship: Our vision is too small.