Australia the Blessed … Australia the Cursed

From the June 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Australians and Americans were brothers in arms long before the recent combat in Iraq. They have fought together in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and many other conflicts. They share the same heritage as the British peoples around the world, being descended from the patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel). (To prove this, request a free copy of The United States and Britain In Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

The island-continent of Australia is about the same size as the U.S. It is rich in sheep, cattle, cotton, sugar, minerals, ores, oil and wine, and is the envy of Asia. Much of the interior is desert, but the coastal areas are very fertile. Australia’s great need is water and rain in due season.

Receiving God’s Blessings

The Bible refers to Australia as “the land of Sinim,” in Isaiah 49:12. The Vulgate renders it “Australi.” Australia is one nation of the “company of nations,” the commonwealth, referred to in Genesis 35:11.

God promised special blessings of national wealth and power to Israel because of Abraham’s obedience. These blessings were to be withheld for 2,520 years from their captivity by the ancient Assyrians in 721-718 b.c., so modern Israel’s wealth started to flourish from about a.d. 1800 onward. God kept His unconditional promise to Abraham through the line of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. No one could dispute that the American and British peoples have been blessed beyond any other countries in history.

However, Joseph’s descendants’ retention of these blessings was conditional upon obedience.If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Lev. 26:3-4).

But because of the people’s sin, God is progressively replacing these blessings with curses—as experienced in the recent extreme drought and bushfires in Australia.

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy [cattle], and the flocks of thy sheep” (Deut. 28:15-18).

Australia has been experiencing the worst droughts and bushfires on record. Unfortunately, these are a fore-taste of greater disasters to come, if the nation does not repent.

Cursed by Drought

The drought appears to have subsided for many farmers, as some areas have had recent rain relief. Meteorologists now predict the waning of El Niño, identified as a cause of this extreme weather condition. But 99 percent of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, is still affected, and thousands of farmers are receiving government financial assistance. For much of the country it is very risky sowing crops because of lack of moisture in the subsoil.

The Courier Mail on February 19 reported that Australia’s winter grain production is estimated at 15.4 million metric tons, down by 61 percent from the record 39.6 million metric ton crop last season. Wheat production is expected to fall 62 percent to 9.4 million tons, barley by 61 percent to 3.3 million tons.

Subsequent to drought came the spate of massive bushfires which ravaged every state and territory in Australia in January.

I visited Canberra, the capital, where the fires reached the city suburbs and destroyed over 400 homes and took people’s lives. It looked like pictures of Hiroshima in 1945: The extreme heat melted reinforcing steel to where one brick was not left on another.

To add to the drought and bushfires around Australia, wheat farmers are concerned with the outbreak of an exotic wheat virus.

This was reported in the Advertiser, April 24: “Wheat streak mosaic virus, said to be a potential au$300 million [us$192 million] threat to Australia’s wheat crop—or 3 percent of an estimated 10 million [metric] ton national harvest this year—was found and destroyed at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization laboratories in Canberra this month.

“Had the virus, which in severe cases can kill an entire crop of wheat, spread to the farming community, the disease would have been almost impossible to eradicate—leaving us with an environmental disaster, say scientists. The threat was even worse for South Australia because of wheat’s status as the state’s most valuable grain crop—worth [us$830 billion] this year—closely followed by barley, worth [us$391 million], which is believed to also be susceptible to the virus.”

Rural Australians are very sensitive to drought, pests and bushfires because their income, debt and lifestyle are hit first when these plagues strike. By comparison, many city dwellers hope they won’t be affected too much, although they may pay more for their food.

But the reality is that these curses do flow on to impact the cities. Eventually everyone is affected. The wealth of all nations comes out of the ground, in one form or another. If the ground doesn’t yield, then the people feel the pain. Whether food, wine, oil or minerals, they all come out of the ground and affect the whole nation.

Australia has been blessed with enormous natural wealth, exporting much of the world’s sheep meat, wool and wheat. But things are changing. This once-richly blessed nation is becoming accursed. “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city …” (Amos 4:6-7). Australia can expect more extremes in weather, crop failures, disease, bushfires, terrorism and war.

A Hopeful Future

However, in the longer term, an even brighter future than the very best experienced in Australia’s short 200-year history as a civilized nation awaits. Bible prophecy tells us of a good ending for Australia and the rest of modern Israel after their finally repenting of sin: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee” (Isa. 54:7).

When Christ returns to Earth and teaches all peoples how to live right, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1).

Then, in this coming Millennium, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isa. 41:17-20).

Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, said we can’t drought-proof Australia. He is right. But God can if we let Him—and eventually He will. It will take a change in our attitudes first. God will make this vast country arable and productive, with crops so abundant that the ploughman will overtake the reaper (Amos 9:13). But only Christ’s return will bring this about, when He re-establishes God’s government on Earth.