The Fight for Ukraine

The Fight for Ukraine

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Events in Ukraine highlight three important geopolitical realities, each of which is prophetically significant.

Every decent revolution produces an iconic scene. The 1989 Tiananmen protests had tank man; during Germany’s reunification it was a segment of the Berlin Wall swaying back and forth like a wiggly tooth before finally collapsing; in Baghdad in 2003, it was the slow-motion toppling of the giant statue of Saddam Hussein. On Sunday, the budding revolution in Ukraine got its iconic scene, when, amid protests of roughly 500,000 in Kiev’s Independence Square, angry marchers felled a Vladimir Lenin statue then slugged it to pieces with sledgehammers.

The protesters are upset with President Viktor Yanukovich, and specifically his November 29 decision to reject a free-trade deal with the EU. The decision was seen not only as a rejection of Europe, but an embrace of Russia. Many Ukrainians worry that Yanukovich, despite repeated denials, has struck a deal with Vladimir Putin to form a customs union with Russia.

It’s hard to forecast precisely what will come of Ukraine’s protests. The demonstrations seem to have reached a tipping point: Yanukovich is now in full-scale crisis mode; significant political change in Kiev is a real possibility. However, it’s far from certain this will bring down the government and orient Ukraine’s foreign policy toward Europe. Too few remember that Yanukovich has significant support not only from Russia, but also from roughly half of the population (east Ukraine) that believes Ukraine belongs in Russia’s orbit. (More than 30 percent of Ukrainians speak Russian.)

Whatever the outcome, events in Ukraine highlight three important geopolitical realities, each of which is also prophetically significant.

First, Ukraine reveals the regional supremacy of Vladimir Putin. Russia’s president, more than anyone else, is responsible for Yanukovich’s refusal to sign the trade pact with the EU. Prior to Ukraine’s November summit with the EU, Putin made it clear to Yanukovich that there would be ruinous consequences—tariffs on Ukrainian exports to Russia and its allies, steeper energy prices—if Kiev reached out to Europe. Putin schmoozed Yanukovich too, promising Ukraine lower energy prices, debt forgiveness and lower tariffs if it rejected Europe and joined Russia’s customs union.

Yanukovich was in an unenviable position. When it comes to Russia’s periphery, Vladimir Putin doesn’t mess around. Just ask Georgia, the Chechens, and Ukraine’s former pro-EU opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko. Imagine you were Yanukovich and Putin was pressuring you like this. What would you do? For Yanukovich, and in some ways for Ukraine, rejecting the free-trade agreement with the EU was the safest, most logical move.

But it seems millions of Ukrainians disagree. Today, in spite of the brutally cold weather, Ukraine’s pro-Europe demonstrators don’t appear to be ready to give up. Opposition leaders continue to demand major concessions, including Ukraine’s reorientation toward Europe. Unless President Yanukovich clears the protesters, either by agreeing to their demands or cracking down hard (which would likely get violent), his government could soon be in serious jeopardy. If Ukraine isn’t experiencing a revolution, it’s on the cusp of one.

The man to watch right now is Vladimir Putin. What’s his next move? It is hard to overstate how central Ukraine is to Putin and his supreme goal of restoring the Soviet empire. Geographically and strategically, Ukraine was the core of the former ussr, and as far as Putin is concerned, the nation isn’t up for discussion or negotiation. To Putin, as Richard Palmer explained last week, Ukraine isn’t a sovereign nation; it’s part of Russia. Putin will do whatever it takes to ensure Ukraine belongs to him.

The best-case scenario for Putin is that the protests blow over and that the Yanukovich government survives. But the longer this goes, the unlikelier this is. Putin has options should he decide on intervention. He could provide military support to Yanukovich, raise energy prices, levy Ukrainian exports into Russia, or impose any number of economic measures designed to send a shot across the bow of the pro-West protesters. But getting tough with Ukraine right now is risky as it would only inflame anti-Russian sentiment. Putin could also try to schmooze unhappy Ukrainians by offering them cheaper gas, debt forgiveness and even greater trade and commerce. But he’s tried this already, and it wasn’t effective. Whatever happens, the longer the protests continue and the shakier the Yanukovich government becomes, the more anxious Putin will grow.

And an anxious Putin is a dangerous Putin!

Second, events in Ukraine expose Europe’s crisis of leadership. It is shocking how ill prepared Brussels was for Yanukovich rejecting the EU trade agreement. Its response to the rejection and the subsequent crisis has been abysmal. It’s no secret that Ukraine is a vital strategic interest to Putin, and that he would vehemently oppose Kiev flirting with Brussels. Why didn’t the EU anticipate Russia’s response and create a strategy to counter the Kremlin and win Ukraine? Instead, the EU seems to have been caught off guard. From the outset, the EU has been behind the eight ball, cobbling statements, hatching plans on the run, and in general, reacting to events.

(Other than horrible leadership, the only other explanation for Brussels’s impotent response to the failed trade pact is that it had already made the decision to concede Ukraine to Russia. But if this was the case, why would the EU even attempt to enter a trade pact with Kiev?)

This trade agreement with Ukraine presented Europe with a historic opportunity: the opportunity to pry Kiev from Moscow, effectively gutting Russia of its most strategically important ally, and creating a new, advantageous geopolitical order both regionally and globally. Without Ukraine, Putin’s power base would suffer enormously, hampering his ability to project power globally, including in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. What a victory this would be for Europe and America!

Going after Ukraine wouldn’t be easy or inexpensive—after all, losing Kiev is Putin’s worst nightmare, and there is little he wouldn’t do to hold on to Kiev. But if Europe could muster €10-15 billion, a strong moral and political consensus, and a united and tough diplomatic stance toward Russia, it would stand a chance of stealing Ukraine from Putin. It all comes down to leadership: If Europe had the right leadership—and subsequently, a strong, coherent, united foreign policy—it could at least go toe to toe with Putin in Ukraine. Instead, the EU bobbles and blunders.

For Europe, events in Ukraine once again expose the Continent’s crisis of leadership and the need for this to change—and soon!

The leadership Europe needs is going to have to come from Germany. There are already hints that Berlin might be beginning to exert itself in Ukraine and push back at Russia. Early on in the crisis, Germany’s foreign minister visited Kiev, where he met with opposition leaders and pledged support of the pro-West demonstrators. On Monday, Spiegel Online reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is ready to lead European leaders in an effort to cement Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxer and popular opposition figure, as the primary rival of president Viktor Yanukovich.

Third, events in Ukraine are the product of America’s introverted foreign policy. “The anti-government demonstrations are an important moment for the future of Europe,” wrote the Wall Street Journal this week, “though you wouldn’t know it from America’s indifference.Charles Krauthammer made a similar point last Friday: “As with Iran’s ruthlessly crushed Green Revolution of 2009, the hundreds of thousands of protesters who’ve turned out to reverse this betrayal of Ukrainian independence have found no voice in Washington” (emphasis added).

In the past, the U.S. would have worked with Europe to lend support, both symbolically and practically, to any large-scale democratic venture by Ukraine to reach out to the West. After all, it’s in our strategic interest. But not today. U.S. foreign policy in Eastern Europe under the Obama administration consists of two overarching principles: avoid conflict with Russia, and withdraw both strategically and diplomatically. Both principles were evident in 2009, when President Obama abandoned America’s promise to install a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. They were present a little while later when Obama ignored an official letter from regional leaders expressing alarm at Russia’s return to imperialism. And both principles are evident in Ukraine today.

On Monday, Victoria Nuland, America’s assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, during meetings with Russian ministers, “expressed U.S. deep concern about the situation in Ukraine, and urged Russia to use its influence to press for peace, human dignity and a political solution.” Does the U.S. government really believe the solution to Ukraine will come from the Kremlin?

Beyond the geopolitical import of these three realities, each is also of enormous prophetic significance.

Take Vladimir Putin. Did you know the Bible prophesies of a powerful leader emerging from Russia in the end time? The prophecy is in Ezekiel 38. It discusses the “prince of Rosh and Meshech and Tubal” emerging to lead a gigantic Asian bloc of nations. Rosh, Meshech and Tubal are the biblical names of Russia, Moscow and Tobolsk (the Asian capital of Russia). If you haven’t watched it already, you need to see Gerald Flurry’s recent Key of David program “Russia in Prophecy.” He explains the prophetic significance of Vladimir Putin and his goal of rebuilding the Soviet empire in detail.

Europe’s leadership crisis is also prophetically significant. Bible prophecy says that a strong man, a decisive, authoritative leader, is going to be invited to lead Europe (see Daniel 8). Watching Europe’s handling of the Ukraine crisis, at least so far, it’s not hard to see the desperate need for leadership and how the people might invite someone new, someone bold and fresh, someone strong and commanding, to fix things, unite the Continent and stand up to Russia. In October 2008, following Russia’s invasion of Georgia, Mr. Flurry warned specifically that a crisis in Ukraine could give rise to a strong leader who would unite Europe. “Will a crisis occur over Ukraine?he asked. “That area is the breadbasket of Russia, and surely it is willing to wage war over that as well.” Is this the crisis over Ukraine Mr. Flurry forecast?

Then there’s America’s introverted foreign policy, which is evident in Ukraine and virtually every other corner of the planet. This too is prophetically significant. God says in Leviticus 26 that He would break the pride of our power. In fact, the theme of our January issue of the Trumpet, our free, full-color print magazine, is about what a post-American world will look like. It explores the alarming ramifications of America’s conscious decision to leave regions like Eastern Europe. Without the presence of the U.S. in Eastern Europe, frightening men like Vladimir Putin will have free rein.

Keep an eye on Ukraine and these three geopolitical realities.

Where Terrorists Learn to Be Terrorists

Where Terrorists Learn to Be Terrorists

AFP/Getty Images

Syria has become the terrorist training ground in the Middle East.

While most nations lament the ongoing conflict in Syria, some see the war as an opportunity. Where else can an aspiring terrorist go to learn the art of urban warfare and tactics? This is an opportunity that the terrorist group Hezbollah is not passing up.

The death toll in Syria is approaching 126,000, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The bloody, street-to-street, house-to-house fighting—pitting the numerous rebel groups forces against Syrian President Bashar Assad, bolstered by fighters from Hezbollah—has continued for well over two years. Continual fighting—uninhibited by negotiations and fueled by outside forces such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran—has taken a high death toll on both sides. For some, however, the death toll is a worthwhile sacrifice for the training received.

Hezbollah, the radical Islamic terrorist group based in southern Lebanon and funded in large part by Iran, joined the fight in Syria after leader Hassan Nasrallah gave what amounted to a declaration of war on May 25.

Since that time, Hezbollah’s casualties have reached 232, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Regardless of these losses, Hezbollah sees immense benefit in participating in the Syrian civil war.

For every Hezbollah soldier killed—even if it was a veteran from the wars with Israel—many more are receiving combat training. Hezbollah has a force ranging from 20,000 to 50,000. The numbers vary so dramatically because many of its members are reservists. Most work a regular job, but take up arms in times of war.

Now that Hezbollah is involved in Syria, it is operating differently. It sends fighters into Syria for a month of fighting and training, then brings them home for rest and recuperation. This cycle gives members training and preparation for a larger conflict of Hezbollah’s own, most likely against its age-old enemy to the south, Israel.

Hezbollah has been at relative peace with Israel for six years. Many Hezbollah members had no combat training before the Syrian civil war began. In the past, inexperienced soldiers squared off against highly trained, well-armed Israeli forces. But the Syrian civil war presents the unique opportunity to train for a future conflict with Israel.

For the first time, Hezbollah is intimately involved in a war where the opposition is not Israel. Instead, the enemy is the Syrian opposition—a far weaker opponent. The fighting gives Hezbollah an opportunity to practice offensive warfare in an urban environment.

This is just what Hezbollah needs if it is to be ready for a future attack against Israel. Since the 2006 war in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has been building up its defenses. Southern Lebanon is a maze of tunnels, bunkers and rocket launch sites. These help to curb the influence of Israel’s air superiority.

Hezbollah has also spent its time building up its weapons cache. In 2010, then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “Syria and Iran are providing Hezbollah with so many rockets that they are at a point where they have more missiles than most governments in the world.”

Top brass in the Israeli Defense Force say that Hezbollah now has almost 65,000 rockets and missiles—10 times the number it had in 2006. Some of the missiles have a range of over 400 miles, putting the entirety of Israel well within range.

Now that its members are being combat trained in Syria, Hezbollah has the skilled soldiers to man its extensive fortifications and wield its armaments. There is no denying that Hezbollah has benefited from the ongoing conflict to its east. While many may not see the ramifications today, the tensions are undoubtedly building in Israel.

Hezbollah is a danger that Israel must face. The problem for Israel is only going to intensify as the proliferation of weapons continues and as Hezbollah troops gain more experience. Israel will not face the same enemies it did six years ago. The Middle East is changing rapidly, and not in Israel’s favor. The Arab Spring has left the region more volatile than ever, and Israel’s old ally, the United States, is pushing for Israel to make dangerous peace deals with the Palestinians. More devastating still, the U.S. is cozying up to Iran, the very nation that sponsors Hezbollah and threatens to wipe Israel off the map!

The Middle East is spiraling out of control, and the ones benefiting most are radical Islamic regimes. If you are concerned about where the region is headed and how it will affect you, it’s time to delve into the specific prophecies that surround this volatile region. Request our free booklets History and Prophecy of the Middle East, The King of the South and Jerusalem in Prophecy. These booklets give great insight into the conditions that are about to envelop the nations in the Mideast.

It certainly isn’t a pleasant picture in the short run, but as you will read, God promises to cut short this time of violence and chaos so He can bless the region as never before! As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in The King of the South, “Jesus Christ will be here in the very near future. And He will bring peace to the entire world! That is one big reason there is so much violence over Jerusalem in this end time. Satan knows that God is going to rule the world, and even the universe, from Jerusalem.”

That is the hope you will read in these booklets. That is the promise God is set to fulfill in the very near future.

The Paradox in Education

World evils are increasing as fast as knowledge.

Geneva Won’t Stop Iran From Exploiting Loopholes

Geneva Won’t Stop Iran From Exploiting Loopholes

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Iran ignores its promises and forges ahead with its nuclear aspirations.

The Arak heavy water facility in Western Iran was a major obstacle at the recent Geneva nuclear talks. When fully operational, the facility is capable of producing plutonium. Both plutonium and uranium can be used in the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. While Iran insists that the facility will only produce medical isotopes when it is completed next year, the P5+1 nations were insistent that work on the facility cease. They clearly perceive the facility to be Iran’s second path to nuclear arms.

That is why the deal to relieve sanctions on Iran had to be met by the complete cessation of activity at the Arak facility. In the write-up of the deal, Iran promised to not make “any further advances of its activities” at the Arak facility.

Unfortunately, there are two significant loopholes in this statement.

Firstly, the deal has not been signed yet. While Western nations were shaking hands and patting one another on the back, Rouhani was flying home to Iran where nuclear work continues today—business as usual. Until a start date for the six-month agreement is finalized, Iran can keep doing as it pleases.

Secondly, even when the deal is implemented, Iran still has the opportunity to continue work on the facility. In the agreement, Iran promised to halt work, but it doesn’t want to waste six months’ worth of progress. Its solution: Construct the parts off site and then, at the end of the six months, bring them in and install them. That ensures Iran is still pushing ahead with its nuclear ambitions even when there is no construction going on at the facility itself.

Of course, Iran is playing the West for fools. The West is so desperate for reconciliation and a nuclear deal that logic is taken off the negotiating table. At what point did the West—particularly the United States—think Iran would keep its word? Apparently the Americans still believe it, even after comments made by Iran in recent days. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, for example, told Iranian parliament on December 4: “Capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there.”

The statement was condemned by the P5+1 nations, but when have words slowed Iran?

Iran has conned the world into believing that it is now an honest, moderate, reformed nation. Meanwhile, it inches closer to the bomb.

World powers are behaving as though they are blind to the obvious dangers posed by Iran. It seems inevitable that Iran will get its hands on nuclear weapons, and that the world is headed toward a new era of nuclear proliferation.

In fact, nuclear warfare is even prophesied in your Bible! Matthew 24:21-22 show that man is capable of annihilating himself. This has only become possible today with the development of weapons of mass destruction.

But notice what else Christ promised in those same scriptures: “[B]ut for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Ultimately, this prophecy is about the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth. Nothing is more promising and filled with hope!

It is crucial to understand that even though the world is descending into violence around us, it will inevitably lead to the return of Jesus Christ. Nuclear weapons one day soon will become a thing of the past. Christ will change this world as no man ever could. If you want to see just how amazing that world will be, request a copy of The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

Why the Massive Popularity of Bitcoin?

Why the Massive Popularity of Bitcoin?

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Could distrust in the dollar have anything to do with it?

Bitcoin, in case you haven’t heard, is the New Big Thing. It’s been advancing throughout the news media this past year, only to explode into the headlines in the last few weeks of November.

Bitcoin is either the currency of the future or the next big bubble, depending on who you talk to (and usually, how old they are). It is a virtual currency, beyond the control of central banks—or any banks—but can be used to buy real things.

And it’s not just used for online trading. Traditional brick-and-mortar shops are starting to accept them. Tesla will sell you a car with bitcoin. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus will sell you an education. The first bitcoin atms are even under construction.

Six months ago, a list of businesses accepting bitcoin contained only 200 entries. Now it’s close to a thousand.

To the converted, bitcoin is doing for currency what the Internet did for information. Transactions are instant. Fees are minimal. Borders are nonexistent. It’s hard—but not impossible—to trace the transactions. You don’t need a credit card, or even a bank account. It is, insist some, the money of tomorrow.

But the skeptics also make a pretty compelling case.

At the start of this year, one bitcoin was worth $13.56. A month later, it was $21.30. By the start of March it had hit $33.51. In early April it peaked at nearly $240, before plummeting down to $83. Currently it trades at $880. That’s up from about $725 on Sunday, and down from it’s all-time peak of $1,200 on November 30.

So how much is a bitcoin really worth? $14? $1,000? Nothing?

That’s the million-bitcoin question. Of itself, a bitcoin has no value. It’s not backed by anything. Neither is the dollar, but at least it has the government to lend it legitimacy.

A bitcoin is worth whatever other people are willing to swap for a bitcoin—hence its extreme volatility.

And what is a bitcoin? How does it work? The explanation is sufficiently complicated to bore most of our readers. Its workings revolve around solving one simple question. If you create a digital currency—where each coin is basically a set of numbers—how do you stop someone spending the same coin twice? If I hand over a coin in exchange for a potato, for example, I’m giving something up. If all I have to do is say a number, I could turn around and give someone the same number in exchange for something else.

Bitcoin’s answer is to broadcast every transaction to the world—but in such a way that it’s very hard to tell who the buyer or seller are. And the system ensures that the records of which bitcoins went where is very hard to forge. That way, all bitcoin users can view the records and verify that no individual spends the same coin twice.

But do most bitcoin users even know that much about the currency they’re using? Probably not—especially not all the new users that have jumped on after the hype in the media.

Who invented bitcoin? No one knows. The original paper outlining how it works was published under what is believed to be pseudonym.

So the next big thing is a currency that most of its users don’t understand, created by someone whose identity is unknown, has no intrinsic value and a price that rockets up and down from day to day. This is the next big currency? Even with the advantages mentioned earlier, why would anyone even use it?

One answer: to break the law. Bitcoin is the currency of choice for buying drugs, hit men or anything else online. But that answer doesn’t hold water anymore. The U.S. government shut down the Internet’s biggest illegal online marketplace in October—seizing 0.22 percent of all bitcoin in circulation in the process. Since then the online illegal drugs market has been in turmoil. Yet at the time of the government’s raid, one bitcoin was worth about $140. It took a slight hit as a result of the raid, before soaring in value. Bitcoin may be used to break the law, but there’s no evidence that that is its main purpose—or even a significant one.

Again, then, why use bitcoin?

One major factor has to be the desire to get rich quickly. People hear stories about guys who bought a handful of bitcoin shortly after they came out in 2009 and were worth almost nothing. Those early investors got rich and now there’s a huge pull to jump on the bandwagon in hopes of getting rich too.

But here’s another factor—and it’s definitely a major one: People don’t trust the dollar. They don’t trust the U.S. Treasury. They don’t trust the federal reserve to maintain the value of the dollar. They don’t trust the U.S. government not to spy on them. They don’t trust the nsa to keep its nose out of their credit records. They fear that someday the American government will impose limits on what people can do with their money—how much they can take out of the country at one time, for example.

It’s no coincidence that the university accepting bitcoin is in Cyprus—where the government recently confiscated savings to pay for a bailout. With bitcoin, that’s impossible.

Many of those using bitcoin want a currency that the government can’t mess with.

The dollar is backed only by people’s trust in America and its government. And that trust is so low that some people would rather trust a relatively unknown currency created by an unknown guy with an unknown value.

Several weeks ago, we wrote about how although the world deeply mistrusts the dollar, it uses it because there are no alternatives. The popularity of bitcoin shows that this unhappiness with the dollar applies not just to nations, but to individuals too.

Bitcoin, no matter how successful, won’t threaten the supremacy of the dollar—it’s too much of a niche product for that. But the Trumpet has said for years that in order to fix the eurocrisis, Europe will have to come up with a reliable and improved currency—supported by a common eurozone government. It could do that by fixing the euro. The EU could launch a new currency—perhaps backed by gold.

The whole world is crying out for such a currency. Even risk-averse savers who wouldn’t touch a bitcoin with a digital barge pole would flock to anything solid and reliable—a currency that a government won’t inflate away with money printing or quantitative easing.

Watch for the emergence of this new currency. When it arrives, the dollar is dead.

Scientists: Agriculture Is Killing Our Soil

Scientists: Agriculture Is Killing Our Soil

eutrophication&hypoxia

Current use of fertilizer could lead to a global famine and civilization’s collapse, according to academics.

Man’s use of fertilizer has radically changed the soil he farms, according to a study of the American prairie conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado. The soil’s fertility could collapse because of the damage done to the range of microbes that play a vital, but little studied, role in the soil.

“The soils currently found throughout the region bear little resemblance to their pre-agricultural state,” concluded the study, conducted under associate professor of microbial ecology Noah Fierer.

“We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet, but we do know that soil microbes play a key role and we can’t just keep adding fertilizers,” said Fierer.

The study showed that uncultivated soils contain bacteria that put nutrients back into the soil. These bacteria are not present where fertilizers have been used—which means that this kind of fertilized soils has no way of replacing lost nutrients except through the use of more fertilizer.

The study, published in the November 1 edition of Science magazine, was accompanied by another piece warning of the threat a collapse in soil fertility poses to civilization.

“In the past, great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded,” begins the article by Mary Scholes, of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Robert Scholes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, also in South Africa. “The modern world could suffer the same fate at a global scale.”

“The inherent productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity and nutrient depletion,” the article continues. “Although improved technology—including the unsustainably high use of fertilizers, irrigation and ploughing—provides a false sense of security, about 1 percent of global land area is degraded every year.”

Citing Fierer’s study, the authors warn that “We have forgotten the lesson of the Dust Bowl: Even in advanced economies, human wellbeing depends on looking after the soil.”

They discuss how man’s perception of soil as merely a kind of container for nutrients led to “an unprecedented increase in food production”—but also a huge amount of pollution and environmental destruction.

Scholes and Scholes dismiss a “dogmatically ‘organic’” approach as impractical, but conclude that “feeding the world and keeping it habitable” will require some major changes in agriculture.

Robert Scholes warns that governments eventually reach a point where they destroy the long-term health of their agriculture to feed people today.

“We’re running out of new agricultural frontiers and we don’t have the freedom to make errors any more,” he said. “We are using up our nutrient capital and face a looming food crisis over the next 30 to 40 years. There is a risk that we are going to paint ourselves into a corner. Famine is a very real possibility.”

The Telegraph’s international business editor, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, says the Scholes “fear that we are repeating the mistakes of past civilizations, overexploiting the land until it goes beyond the point of no return and leads to a vicious circle of famine, and then social disintegration.”

“Cautionary stories abound,” he writes. “The East side of Madagascar has been destroyed by slash and burn deforestation, perhaps irreversibly in any human time horizon. Iceland’s Norse settlers turned their green and partly forested island into a Nordic desert in the 10th century. They have yet to restore the fragile soil a thousand years later, despite careful husbandry.” He concludes with the following warning:

We are becoming complacent again. The blunt truth is that the world cannot afford to lose one hectare of land a year, let alone 12 million hectares. The added discovery that we’re doing even more damage than feared to the soil microbia should bring us to our senses. We argue too much about global warming, which may or may not be caused by man’s actions, and may or may catch us this century.The global land crisis is almost entirely our own doing. It is closing in on us right now. It can be reversed if world leaders choose to reverse it.

One of the laws in the Old Testament of the Bible frequently ridiculed by critics is the land sabbath. God commanded that every seven years, the land be allowed to rest—there was no pruning or planting (for commercial harvesting), and nothing was to be harvested except what people picked for their own personal consumption (Leviticus 25:2-7, 18-22). To many, this law seems obsolete. Man had gotten around it with fertilizers, they thought.

Scientists are now just beginning to learn that there is no getting around this law. The use of fertilizers to avoid letting the land rest is a shortcut that damages the land even more in the long run.

The Scholes’ paper dismisses a return to this kind of farming as impractical. They are correct in saying that it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, keeping the land sabbath God’s way would require a complete re-ordering of society. It would require a society that trusts in God to provide a bumper crop of food in the sixth year of harvest. It may require most families to have a fairly substantial garden of their own. It may mean that some of the world’s deserts have to be reclaimed for use as agricultural land—something which, as Evans-Pritchard points out, is possible, but is ignored because of the expense.

But as all these experts acknowledge, our current way of farming is not working. If we keep trying to do it this way—and we will—it will bring famine. The land sabbath, as well as God’s other laws, are the changes we need in order to fix this.

Scientists are now ready to admit, “We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet.” The problem is that they’re not yet ready to admit that the God of the Bible knows all about these soils—and a lot more besides. It will take the complete failure of man’s civilization before that day comes.

But once it comes, man will finally be able to reap the blessings of living God’s way of life. For more on what these blessings and this society will look like, read our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.