“When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.”“
Revelation 6:5-6 NLT
This time the third living being shouts out “Come!” And a black horse with a rider carrying a pair of scales appears. And he heads off into the world to introduce famine wherever he goes. His message is stark – people will have to work all day and will only be able to buy a small amount of food with their pay.
Here in the affluent West, famine is almost unheard of, though I know we have people struggling to make ends meet, as inflationary pressures reduce spending power and introduce difficult decisions that need to be made in low income households. And we are currently hearing doomsday messages of famine, particularly in third world countries, because of shortages of grain caused by the war in Ukraine. But the third horseman has a message of food shortages unheard of up until now. So this period of tribulation may be yet to come.
Pilgrims on earth today are God’s representatives. We carry on regardless doing what God has asked us to do, without deviating from our mission. We look out for those around us, but also for ourselves and our loved ones. We must tailor our approach to those in need, bearing in mind what James said in his epistle, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (James 2:14-17). Here in the UK we have “food banks”, where needy people are referred to when they have no money to buy food. And local authorities and charities are available to help those in need. But there are other ways in which we can help the less fortunate members of our societies.
One way is through our local churches and fellowships, where we can offer practical help to others, and particularly the widows and orphans there that James wrote about (James 1:27). We spent time with others, listening and counselling, using our faith-filled gifts and talents to help how and when we can. My parents were part of the “make do and mend” generation that employed their practical skills to help themselves and others extend the life of everyday items. My mother was a genius as needlework and I can remember she spent long hours darning socks or knitting squares, using recovered or recycled wool, to make blankets. We need to “think outside the box” for ways in which we can practically help those around us. And in that way we are extending the Gospel into people’s lives, people who would otherwise be resistant to words on their own.
The famine introduced by the third horseman of the Apocalypse may not yet have been unleashed, but it will be one day. We hope we won’t be around at such a time but who knows? Regardless, though, we need to leave a legacy so that subsequent generations will be able to carry the Gospel torch, ready to hand it on in the generational relay race, the finishing tape of which is eternity.
Dear Father God. We thank You for Your presence in our lives. Without You we would be a sad and lost people. Instead we have a spiritually rich and loving family, of which You are the Head. We’re so grateful. Amen.