By: Nelson Walters
Author: Are We Ready For Jesus? (May 2015)
Today at lunch time I heard, “I’m starving” “Me too, I’m famished.” These co-workers had just had a meal less than 5 hours earlier, but our American lifestyle is conditioned to not do without. A time is coming, however, when all that will change. What will it be like when Jesus breaks the third seal on the scroll and the Black horse of Revelation rides?
The Bible is clear that there is a coming famine; one of world-wide proportions. Revelation pictures this coming famine as a Black horse.
I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.” (Rev. 6: 6-7 NASB)
We are building a thesis on this site that one seal is broken during each of the 7 years of the 70th Week of Daniel. If that thesis is correct, this famine occurs in the third year after the war that takes peace from the earth (in year two.)
As we have seen with the previous two horses, the color of the horse is symbolic of the event occurring. In this case it’s economic turmoil and subsequent famine.
So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened (blackened); and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt. (Exod. 10: 13-15 NASB, clarification mine)
The picture here is of so many locusts that the land of Egypt became blackened. After the locusts invaded, the famine began. Another famine is coming upon the earth. Jesus prophesied it will occur after the war in the second year of the Tribulation Period begins:
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matt. 24: 7-8 NASB)
Notice how Jesus places the famines during the “beginning of the birth pangs period.” (The first 3 1/2 years of the 70th Week of Daniel.)
What The Locusts Have Eaten
The prophet Joel prophesied about a famine and locusts as well. There are many commentators that think that the Book of Joel is written both about an ancient famine caused by locusts and about the Tribulation Period. Most commentators say that Joel chapter 1 is about the past and Joel chapter 2 is about the future. We can know with certainty this is not true. Just as we have seen in Revelation, Joel uses a direct quoted reference to link the two passages. “Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders.” This passage occurs in Joel 1:14 and Joel 2:15-16. This exact quotation tells us the two passages are discussing the same event. Since nearly all commentators believe chapter 2 discusses the 70th Week of Daniel, chapter 1 does as well.
In Joel 1:15 and Joel 2:1, the prophet also tells us that the Day of the Lord (God’s Wrath) is near. These are not references to a long past famine. This is the coming famine Jesus prophesied about. These references to the Day of the Lord also indicate that the events portrayed happen before the seventh year of the 70th Week of Daniel when God’s Wrath is poured out.
Finally in Joel 2:30-31 we see the Celestial/Earthly Disturbance event that happens when the sixth seal is broke. We will learn later in another post that immediately after this event, the day of the Lord begins.
For all these reasons, we can see that the famine detailed in Joel is the coming famine foretold in Revelation and the Olivet Discourse.
What causes the famine? In the Septuagint translation of Joel chapter 1 we see three types of insects descend on the crop (caterpillars, locusts and grasshoppers). Blight, drought and fire (possibly from warfare) also affect the crops. In Joel chapter 2 we are told about what appear to be the antichrist soldiers, “A fire consumes before them and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them but a desolate wilderness behind them” (Joel 2:3 NASB). So apparently warfare has an effect as well.
In Revelation 6, a voice from among the living creatures states, “do not damage the oil and the wine.” Some food products seem to survive untouched.
Scales in His Hand
The rider of the Black horse (the Antichrist) is seen holding a pair of merchant’s scales in his hand. The voice from amongst the living creatures (is this the voice of Antichrist?) calls out a price for grain, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” It appears the Antichrist is using the famine to his advantage and selling food. A denarius was a coin common in the Roman world of John’s day. It was equivalent to a worker’s wages for one day, but the amount of grain purchased by this wage is hardly sufficient to sustain a single person let alone a family.
Is it during this famine that the False Prophet begins to require the Mark of the Beast? We know from Revelation 13 that he will institute an economic program where the inhabitants of the earth are not able to buy or sell without this mark.
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Rev. 13: 16, 17 NASB)
A world that is in the midst of the worst famine in history would be an easy target for the Antichrist. Is it his offer of food to a hungry world what finally leads him to wide-spread power?
There was a famine in Joseph’s day as well. During that famine, Joseph advised Pharaoh to take some economic steps to leverage the value of the food Joseph had stored up during the seven years of plenty.
Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.” Then Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. (Gen. 47: 13-17 NASB)
First, Joseph sold the food for cash. When the Egyptians’ money was gone, he traded the food for their means of business. Next he bought their land:
So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. (Gen. 47:20 NASB)
Finally, with no worldly possessions, the people traded themselves as slaves to Pharaoh.
So they said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” (Gen. 47:25 NASB)
This is only conjecture but I fully expect the same pattern to occur as the Antichrist assumes global power.
What Should We Then Do?
Understanding what is coming so we can prepare emotionally and physically is one of the main purposes of prophecy. My upcoming book, Are We Ready For Jesus? How to Prepare for His Return (Seraphina Press 2015), details how God desires we prepare for the famine that is coming. Unfortunately, many in the Church miss this key teaching we will discuss in my upcoming book:
Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time (KAIROS meaning “appointed time”)? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. (Matt. 24: 45-47 NASB, emphasis mine)
The first part of the passage is a riddle. Jesus asks “who is the faithful slave?” There are three clues to the riddle:
- He is a faithful and wise slave
- His master put him in charge of his household
- He provides food for his household at the “appointed time.”
Have you guessed yet? It’s Joseph. Jesus wants his leaders to be like Joseph during Daniel’s 70th Week; he wants us to provide food for his household. Now it isn’t for “our” household, it’s his household he wants us to prepare for. This is the Church and the Jews in your community. Both are our brothers. So is Jesus telling us to be “preppers?” Yes, shockingly he is, but not for ourselves, it’s for our neighbors and community.
What Will God Do?
Should we also be prepared for the worst? God has told us not to take the Mark of the Beast; it is equivalent to eternal damnation. It’s not an option. All Christians must be mentally prepared to refuse even if that means starvation. We know this will happen to some.
However, in Jesus’ letter to the Church of Pergamum, he tells us of his provision for that church:
To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna. (Rev. 2:17 NASB, emphasis mine)
In Revelation we read of his provision for Israel:
Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Rev. 12:6 NASB)
God has promised to take care of his remnant. Some may be cared for by those who are prepared; the “Josephs” among us. God will also provide miraculously for others.