Here's How... "The Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose"
Robert E Gentet
Today, deserts are expanding. But the time isn't far off when they will literally disappear. Scientists are just beginning to discover how it will happen.
How would you like to live in an area that receives less than one inch of rain a year? Add to this, intense heat by day and the bitter cold of desert nights. It would be pretty unbearable, wouldn't it? These are the conditions that exist in the interior of the Sahara, the world's greatest desert. The Sahara stretches across the entire 3,200-mile width of North Africa. It covers nearly one third of that entire continent, an area about the same size as all 50 states of the United States! The highest climatic temperature ever recorded on the earth was measured at Azizia in the Libyan sector — a staggering 136.4 degrees in the shade. Some large areas of this desert do not experience rainfall for 10 years at a time! Yet, as amazing as it may seem, over three million people toil to keep alive somewhere in the vast Sahara. Fortunately, only one tenth of the desert is covered by sand dunes.
Waste Areas of the Earth
Without question the Sahara's three and one-half million square miles constitute the world's largest desert. Yet the Sahara is by no means the world's only extensive arid region. Any area receiving less than an average of 10 inches of rain each year fits the category of being a desert. The "Sparse lands" of Australia cover 1,300,000 square miles — a shocking 44 percent of the entire continent! In plainer words, over two fifths of Australia is a desert — the second largest in the world. The average rainfall a year in its driest places is only five inches. One million square miles of the Arabian peninsula is also desert and an unusually high percent of this — one third — is covered by sand. Unlike other deserts, the Arabian (the world's third largest) has no sufficiently watered mountains to serve as river sources. There is a complete absence of permanent rivers. But these deserts are only the beginning. There are nine other major desert areas — making twelve in all! These major deserts are: 4) the Turkestan in Russia — 900,000 square miles 5) the North American — 500,000 square miles 6) the Gobi of Mongolia — 400,000 square miles 7) the Patagonian in Argentina — 260,000 square miles 8) the Thar or Indian in western India — 230,000 square miles 9) the Kalahari in southern Africa — 220,000 square miles 10) the Takla Makan in western China — 200,000 square miles 11) the Iranian — 150,000 square miles 12) the Atacama-Peruvian in Chile and Peru — 140,000 square miles Check the accompanying map for the location of these desolate areas. Today fourteen percent of the earth's 56 million square miles of land surface is desert. This is one seventh of the earth's surface! Semi-desert regions account for an additional fourteen percent. They receive only 10 to 20 inches of rain per year. Together, these arid and semiarid regions comprise nearly three tenths of the earth's land surface! This would be equal to an area about four and one-half times the size of all 50 states of the United States. Think of it! Vast areas of the earth lying in bleak conditions — unable even to yield a ground cover for lack of sufficient rainfall.
Needed: More Producing Areas
The world's population explosion continues. Deserts and other generally uninhabited or sparsely inhabited areas will be sought out more and more. Regions taken for granted as waste lands a few years ago are even now beginning to be developed. Artesian wells, lakes, reservoirs and even ocean-side salt-removal plants are providing a little water for the thirsty land. However, this way of irrigation is full of pitfalls. Reservoirs may fill up with silt. Unless properly drained, salts carried in solution by desert irrigation waters can ruin soil. Three fourths of Iraq's formerly irrigated land is now ruined for that very reason. Modern irrigation is not making appreciable gains. Deserts are growing much faster than modern technology can reclaim them. But, the fact remains, if the earth is ever to provide more living room for expected billions of people, wastelands will have to be reclaimed. Most people do not realize that the arid soils are rich in vital nutrients plants need. In fact, newly reclaimed desert soils produce better foods than most other soils, which have generally been depleted for one reason or another. Western owners of race horses and fine breeding herds, for instance, seek top quality hay that is raised in central Nevada's desert fields irrigated from the Humboldt River. Given enough water, and properly handled, the population explosion could be adequately handled by the food that could be produced by now-arid soils. This will happen but not in the way most people imagine!
No Deserts Originally
The earth has not always been cursed by having almost one third of its land parched and dry most of the year. Scientists admit that the deserts we see on the various continents today have been there for only a short time. These deserts are newcomers to the face of the earth. Take, for example, the largest desert — the Sahara. A recent article appearing in the Scientific American admits: "Once the Sahara was a tropical region with heavy rainfall, substantial rivers and abundant vegetation. Tools made in Neolithic and Paleolithic times" — that's archaeological parlance for the pre-Flood and early post-Flood world — "have been found in many places, giving evidence of widespread occupation by men. The famous rock carvings of the Tassili Mountains in the Algerian desert display a variety of animals, together with scenes of people dancing, fishing and hunting" (May, 1966, pages 21-22). The same is true of Australia, North America and other areas with arid regions. Vast lakes and a multitude of game were available for the human population as recent as 4,000 years ago! God did not create the earth with vast waste regions and then put man on it. Everything God designed and created for man's environment was very good (Gen. 1:31). When God originally made the earth, and also when He refashioned it for man later, He did not create it a waste, or "in vain" (Isa. 45:18). The word translated "vain" in Isaiah 45:18 is from the Hebrew word tohu. Tohu means confusion, emptiness, or waste. In other words, a desert or some kind of unusable area. God did not create the earth with vast waste regions when He placed man on it. Geology confirms that in the time of man — which the Bible plainly shows is within the past 6,000 years — areas that are now deserts thrived with all types of game and vegetation. The entire earth was once a liveable area. But then something happened. Areas that were once able to support large numbers of human beings became drier and drier. Lakes and rivers decreased or totally dried up. What caused this immense change? The Bible tells us what and why.
Adam sinned. So did his son Cain. Cain was the first son recorded born to Adam and Eve. He was a farmer (Gen. 4:2). He was, says Josephus the Jewish historian, abusing the soil. He was rebellious. He was also guilty of the cold-blooded murder of his brother Abel. God severely reprimanded him: "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth" (Gen. 4:11-12). Notice! Cain and his descendants would no longer be able to profitably farm the land. Why? The answer is obvious. Cain was cursed. How? By being sent to a region that henceforth began to lack sufficient rain to yield crops. God saw to it that Cain should not be able to continuously abuse the soil by wrong farming practices. Like desert dwellers today, Cain and his descendants roamed from place to place seeking what food they could find by hunting, and eating what grew naturally on the land. Life in any local area was impossible except for a short time. God withheld the rains from falling in their proper season. The land was under a curse because of sin. Deserts began to form. But Cain and his descendants took no heed. Men continued going the way that seemed right to them. They would not heed the warning God sent, in love, to stop their grasping, getting, greedy ways. Evil and violence filled the world "that then was," referring to the pre-Flood world (Gen. 6:5-6, 12-13; II Peter 3:6).
History Repeats Itself
The world today has gone the way of Cain. Strife, competition, violence and death fill the earth — nation against nation, race against race, neighbor against neighbor. We live in what even the movies must confess is the "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." And, as God did shortly before He flooded the earth with water during the days of Noah, He is once again warning this world that it is treading the same ways as did the wicked men before the Flood. God has promised never again to bring a flood on all the earth. But He has promised that our sins merit catastrophic, earth — shaking upheavals that will literally rip open the earth. While bringing man to his senses, God will also provide a blessing for those who remain and live on into the soon-coming, peaceful world tomorrow. God has man's welfare in mind. Even His punishments become a blessing — if we would only wake up and realize it! This great worldwide upheaval which will put an end to 6,000 years of human civilization will break open long-stored underground reserves of water. These will burst forth in abundance to form life-giving springs and streams in today's deserts. Read it in your Bible. "For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come:..." (Haggai 2:6-7). Then what happens? "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose... for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons [a better translation is jackals], where each lay, shall be grass with reeds aid rushes" (Isa. 35:1, 6-7). "Behold, I will do a new thing: now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons [jackals] and the owls [or, ostriches]: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen" (Isa. 43:19-20). "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isa. 51:3). Once more the desert regions will yield abundant, nourishing food to feed a rapidly increasing population in the world tomorrow. The prophesied "times of refreshing" or "times of restitution" of all things are about here (Acts 3:19).
Water Under the Deserts!
Scientists are just now beginning to discover water sources God long ago hid beneath now arid regions. These sources will soon water the deserts and make them bloom and produce. Notice a most amazing discovery — just recently made — about the rock layers under the Sahara. It was reported in the May, 1966, issue of the Scientific American: "Below the desert sands [of the Sahara) in water-bearing rock formations are HUGE QUANTITIES OF WATER to sustain human settlement, pasturage for livestock and, in many places now barren, productive agriculture. "Oases supplied by artesian wells that have been flowing copiously since ancient times have testified to the existence of this resource. Still, men have only recently become aware of the VAST DIMENSIONS of the subterranean reservoir below the Sahara.... Good soils are also available; recent investigations have shown that extensive tracts of desert land have arable (and once cultivated) soils overlain by a thin cover of sand" (p. 21). The article discloses how the two basic water-saturated rock formations under the Sahara are each 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) thick! The seven major underground basins of the Sahara are estimated to have a capacity of some 15,000,000,000,000 cubic meters of groundwater! All these years God has kept this veritable "ocean" hidden from man — waiting to be utilized in the world tomorrow when man learns the way to peace. That's good news! What a world that will be like! With the right farming methods being taught in the world tomorrow, the deserts will literally "blossom as the rose"! Look forward to that time. It's just about here!