The World’s Water Crisis

ON MARCH 14, 1977, a twelve-day Water Conference sponsored by the United Nations opened in the Mar Del Plata in Argentina. Participants were expected to number 2,000 from 140 countries, with more than 200 papers scheduled for delivery. The objective of the conference was to stress the need for international cooperation in the world’s water crisis. Disastrous water shortages are expected by the end of the century, when the world’s population is expected to reach six to seven billion people.

The problems facing the conference are as formidable as those considered in similar world conferences in the recent past dealing with the environment, food, population, and human settlement. Although the conference will cover such topics as flood control, water transportation, and hydro-electric power, the major emphasis will be on the need for more irrigation water, more safe drinking water, and broad-scale planning and policies needed to develop new usable sources of water.

It is hard to believe that in this twentieth century 80% of the world’s people have no access to tap water; yet this is the case. Many people depend on streams and wells that are often contaminated with human wastes. About 35% of the world’s population has only unsafe water, and as a consequence five million people die every year because of water-borne diseases. Hence the most serious problems facing the conference concern those instances where the water shortage causes and aggravates human misery. This involves public drinking water supplies and food production.

The use of irrigation water in food production is becoming increasingly important. Although only 15% of the world’s cropland is irrigated, it produces from 30 to 40 percent of the world’s food. It is not surprising, therefore, that 80 to 90 percent of all the water used by humanity (not counting rain) is for agriculture. Industry also is very dependent on water and in the past has consumed large quantities. Because industries have traditionally dumped the waste water back into lakes or rivers without cleaning it, many of the natural waterways used by industry are no longer able to meet the need for clean water. Hence, industries are being forced by governments to clean their wastes or to find other ways to handle them.

Of course, the basic problem that the conference will face is that of human selfishness. Most of the 140 nations will be seeking to promote their own interests. It won’t be a simple matter to induce one nation to help another. Charles Warren, who heads the United States delegation, said that the Carter Administration had no major proposal to offer, but he indicated that the United States would cooperate to promote healthy water supplies in the developing countries. The poor third-world countries (so called) need capital and technology to help solve problems of irrigation, rural water service, and hydroelectric power. How much assistance the richer countries are able (or willing) to give in the way of capital and manpower remains to be seen. From the viewpoint of the third-world countries, the other nations have an opportunity (some say it is an obligation) to help them. Meanwhile, the richer, industrial nations’ concerns are more likely to center on pollution of rivers and lakes by industrial wastes. And no one is expected to suggest means of alleviating the drought conditions that are currently afflicting the western United States and the Caribbean Islands and which in the past have afflicted Western Europe and other parts of the world.

Water Distribution on Planet Earth

The supply of water available for mankind’s subsistence is a fascinating subject. A committee of the United Nations compiled data on sources of water on earth and published the following information: Most of the water (97.3%) is in the oceans. Frozen water around the icecaps comprises 2.05%. Fresh water in all forms on land is less than 1% (or 0.65%) of the total water on the planet earth. Additionally, almost 49% of this fresh water is ground water that is more than one-half mile deep within the recesses of the earth. Another 49% is ground water within one-half mile deep. Only 1.5% of this fresh water is in lakes and streams (or only 0.01% of the planet’s total water.) Yet this is a tremendous quantity of water in itself, totaling 40 quadrillion gallons, or 40 billion, million gallons. This amounts to 10 million gallons for every man, woman, and child in the world. Furthermore, this water is dynamic, even as Solomon described it in Ecclesiastes 1:7, “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” What Solomon described is the process set in motion by the great Creator of the Universe, our Heavenly Father. It is like a perpetual motion machine. The sun evaporates water from the oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water. As water vapor, it is blown by winds inland, cooled, and condenses as snow or rain falling on the earth. In one year’s time, the water in lakes and rivers is replaced at least five times, on the average, by the rain that falls on land, so that in theory everyone on earth could have 50 million gallons of water every year.

Abundant Rain

The Lord has been making available fresh, distilled water in ample quantity through the energy of the sun. But man has not been able to utilize it properly. Also, the rain doesn’t fall evenly upon the land area. About one-third of the land on earth receives too much rain (over 60 inches in a year). About another third does not get enough rain (less than 20 inches in a year’s time). And the remaining land gets a moderate rainfall of 20 to 60 inches. Also, the rain is not evenly distributed throughout the year, and many times the average rainfall figures are distorted, so that in spite of a high rainfall for a single year, a severe drought may occur. Much rain falls into the ocean as well, where its immediate use is lost from the standpoint of not being available to water the land.

Although God could control earth’s affairs during this present evil world for the benefit of those trying to do good, he elects at this time to permit many events to occur at random. God’s blessings (especially in the form of the provisions he has made for the sustenance of life) are received by the evil and the good, the just and the unjust. Jesus made this point in the sermon on the mount. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”—Matthew 5:43-45

As the world’s population increases with the restoration of mankind from the dead, the need for water in the form of rain will be more critical than today or the future as anticipated by the United Nations in their conference. The elements that make our weather can be controlled by God and will be, to make the desert blossom and the earth to yield its increase. (Isa. 35:1,2) Controlling the elements was no great task for Jesus when he was on earth, but it produced utter amazement on the part of his disciples when they observed it. The incident wherein Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea is recorded in Mark 4:35-41: “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Weather Patterns

As we know, winds are a factor in forming weather patterns. Because of the sophisticated equipment man has devised, it has become possible to learn much more about weather than ever before. This past winter the United States had the severest weather of the century. This was caused by high altitude jet streams deviating from their usual west-to-east pattern. These winds took a northerly direction as they blew from the oceans, going up the west coast of California deep into the arctic before turning and going east. This caused deep, high-pressure zones to form with north winds, carrying cold weather all the way to the southern tip of Florida, where Miami had the first recorded snow in its history. This cold caused a loss of 85% of the vegetable crop and 30% of the citrus crop in Florida. A natural gas shortage became very critical for people in the midwest and east. Meanwhile, this weather pattern caused a severe drought for the western states because of the hot, dry winds.

In the kingdom, control of the winds will be a prominent factor in governing the weather patterns. We’ve noted how Jesus demonstrated this power. Furthermore, rain was mentioned to ancient Israel as one of the blessings they would receive for walking in God’s statutes and obeying his commandments during that time when he was dealing with them as his chosen people. This is recorded in the admonition of God to Israel in Leviticus 26:1-13: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. 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. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.”

On the other hand, if Israel did not then keep God’s commandments, among the punishments she would suffer would be: “Your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” (Lev. 26:20) “And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.” (Lev. 26:32) Among the reasons for this occurring could be lack of rain. Jesus told about events that would occur in the span of time intervening between his first and second advents. In addition to telling of wars, he mentioned the usual weather-associated troubles which would continue to affect mankind. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.—Matthew 24:7

Examples From Israel’s History

A withholding of rain occurred in Israel’s history during the time of Elijah the prophet. The event is briefly described by the Apostle James in James 5:17,18: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” The actual incident is recorded in I Kings 17:1-7: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.” We learn that the drought was the direct result of King Ahab’s wickedness and his wife Jezebel’s success in drawing Israel away to worship Baal.—I Kings 16:29-34

When the brook dried up, Elijah was sent to a widow’s home in Zarephath in Zidon, where he received sustenance as recorded: “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” (I Kings 17:14) Not until God was ready, did rain come upon Israel again. “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew theyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”—I Kings 18:1

Prophecies of Millennial Kingdom

The fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful prophecy, telling of the Millennial kingdom and how the Christ (with the church) will be used to dispense blessings. Isaiah 55:1 and Revelation 22:17 can be compared side by side. In that prophecy, rain (water) is used as an illustration of God’s Word. This is recorded in Isaiah 55:10,11, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

This is a most forceful illustration. As all mankind is dependent so very much on rain for their natural life, how much more they are dependent upon God for eternal life. Such blessings and everlasting life have been promised in his Word, and God’s Word will accomplish that which he pleases. Hence the real problem facing mankind is not merely the elimination of polluted water, but to know God and his laws. This is described in Amos as the thirsting for the Word of God. (Amos 8:11) Not only will God provide clean water for all to drink in abundance, but he will also satisfy the thirsting of all for righteousness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”—Matthew 5:6

Thus as the 2,000 representatives from 140 nations assemble to discuss the world’s water crisis, little do they know that God intends to solve their problems in a most simple and amazing way, namely, by providing rain over the lands in the kingdom. God’s kingdom will solve not only the water problems but will solve all other problems as well for every nation on the face of the earth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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