UN Warns of Widespread Famine

Nobel winner says "famine of biblical proportions" is possible in 2021

In Dallas this weekend, near where I live, the North Texas Food Bank distributed 600,000 pounds of food to around 25,000 people. Thousands of cars lined up to benefit from the giveaway, and representatives said 40 percent of the people who showed up had never reached out to a food bank before.

People are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just last week, Texas became the first state in the U.S. to report 1 million cases of the virus. In my hometown of Amarillo, mobile morgue trucks have been arriving at overwhelmed hospitals.

It’s not just here in the United States, either. The lockdowns instituted all over the world beginning in March created enormous suffering in wealthy countries like ours. In developing countries—where people live in much deeper poverty—the devastation is becoming even worse.

With the potential for further lockdowns possible as cases surge, experts are warning that food could become scarce in other parts of the world.

A coming tragedy

The UN World Food Program won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020, and last week the head of that agency warned that, without billions of dollars in aid, “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”

David Beasley said COVID-19 is surging again, economies are continuing to deteriorate particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and there is another wave of lockdowns and shutdowns.

But he said the money that was available in 2020 isn't going to be available in 2021, so he has been using the Nobel to meet leaders virtually and in person, talk to parliaments, and give speeches to sensitize those with power to “this tragedy that we are facing — crises that really are going to be extraordinary over the next, who knows, 12 to 18 months.”

Beasley said as many as 36 countries are poised to enter famine conditions right now, from Afghanistan to Venezuela. The UN is raising money from governments and billionaires to carry out global programs for malnourished children and to prevent famine, starvation and the international destabilization caused by these events.

“We are very, very, very concerned,” he said. “2021’s going to be a very bad year.”

“Fearful sights and great signs”

If you pay attention to Bible prophecy, the word famine probably catches your attention. In speaking about the end times, Jesus mentioned famine as one of the “things that must come to pass” before His return:

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.—Luke 21:10-11

The prophet Ezekiel said God used famine as a punishment for idolatrous nations:

Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.—Ezekiel 14:13

Famine is regularly mentioned among the plagues facing humanity in the last days. When the fourth seal is opened in the Book of Revelation, famine brings extraordinary death upon the earth:

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” 8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.—Revelation 6:7-8

The verse right before that passage predicts that a day is coming when food becomes so expensive that it would take a day’s wages just to buy necessities:

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”—Revelation 6:6

Constant famine, extraordinary times

You might be thinking, “Don’t famines happen all the time?” Yes, they do. Here’s a look at famine in Africa over the past decade:

  • 285,000 people died in the Horn of Africa hunger crisis in East Africa in 2011-2012.

  • An El Niño climate cycle caused food insecurity for more than 50 million people throughout East and Southern Africa in 2015-2016.

  • More than 25 million people, including 15 million children, needed humanitarian assistance in East Africa in 2017.

  • Food security was already deteriorating and expected to worsen in many countries starting in October 2019—before the COVID-19 crisis.

Yes, parts of our world are in an almost-constant state of famine and food insecurity. While we see famine on a regular basis, that doesn’t make it any less of a humanitarian crisis—whether it occurs in Africa or here in the United States.

But Jesus said that, before He returns, a single generation will see all end times events fulfilled. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place” (Matthew 24:34). He wasn’t talking about His generation while He was here on earth. All those people died. He was talking about a season in the future— the times we are living in now.

Yes, every generation has had earthquakes and famines. But the final generation won’t have some signs; it will have every sign. So when famine occurs alongside a viral plague, earthquakes, “wars and rumors of wars,” political instability, rampant immorality and everything else Jesus warned about—including events in Israel—well, that gets my attention.

Please be in prayer. Pray for those nations that may experience famine in the coming months. If you can, donate to your local food bank or your favorite international relief organization. Take care of your family and take care of your neighbors as we go through a time of crisis.

And pay attention to what the Bible says. I believe the end times are upon us.