Thursday, May 8, 2008

Biofuel and Leaving the Promised Land

A couple of posts ago, I shared some serious doubts I have about the current rush to biofuel. The signs are coming thick and fast that the worldwide food shortage is due, in large part, to farmers' switching their focus from producing grain for food to producing grain for fuel. Or ... let's put it this way: the food shortage is not helped by the sudden rush to grow grain for biofuel ... and the two events are just too coincidental.

Indeed, it's amazing how fast those signs have manifested, because they were only faint shadows of doubt as recently as the time that the last draft of A Very Convenient Truth went to the printers, and now they've become a true monster. An article in the Regina Leader-Post describes how farm communities are being "revitalized" by this new source of income. It paints the picture of struggling farmers now able to pay the bills and keep the family business afloat, thanks to the market for feedstock for biofuels.

It's been sad to watch family farms go under in North America, especially watching them getting gobbled up by large conglomerates with an eye more on the profit margin than on the integral part farms play in the prairie economy. I won't go into my observations on that here, except to say that the impact of a farm's being taken over by one of these conglomerates has a lengthy ripple effect on communities and the psyche of the area. One would think that anything that could keep the farmers in business would be welcome and a blessing, and that biofuel is that blessing.

But is it? There are a couple of Biblical reasons why not: producing fuel is not what farmers are called to do, and if we step away from our calling, the end cannot be blessed.

Proverbs 20:21 comes to mind: An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

Scripture tells us that we run into serious problems when we step away from God's Promise for the sake of expediency. In Genesis, for example, we follow Abraham (Abram, as he was at first), who's first been told to pick up and leave his home and go to a different place -- the Promised Land. Then, when famine hits, Abraham heads into Egypt because he's heard things are better there. Finally, he leaves Egypt, bringing with him huge "substance" -- cattle and gold and menservants and maidservants and a load of other fine possessions. Guess who's among those maidservants? Hagar, his wife's personal assistant, with whom Abraham later has a son, Ishmael.

Ishmael has been referred to as the "child of impatience", and God foretold that his seed would be constantly at war with others: and that has been true of Ishmael's seed even today.

That condenses several chapters in order to get to the point. Abraham left the Promised Land -- stepped out of the place God had sent him -- because of the famine, but also because he stepped out of faith that the Lord would provide. (Interesting that it's Abraham who, when confronted with the possibility of sacrificing his own son, Isaac, states, "The Lord will provide".) He went after the short-cut, worldly solution, rather than stick it out in the famine and turn to God for the solution. He probably thought the chance to go to Egypt was God's solution.

But Abraham was blessed of God to begin with, and others around him knew it. Why would God call him into Egypt when He'd already told him this was the land He'd given him? Now look what Abraham got for his sojourn in Egypt: he came back with a load of baggage, which all seemed to be good and a blessing, but there was at least one "calf in the carload", namely Hagar, who turned out to represent grief for Abraham and succeeding generations.

In other words, when we step out of the will of God in the interests of short-term gain, we acquire "baggage" that appears to be truly good, but eventually comes back to bite us. Farmers have a calling of God on their lives: to produce food. Using food for any other purpose than food goes against the Will of God. Genesis 1:29 states, And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

It does not say that those "herbs" are to be used for fuel. Clearly, biofuel, when derived from food like canola, soy or anything else initially intended for food, is against the Will of God. It is not, nor cannot come to, good.

Farmers, don't do it! Stay within God's Will, and don't succumb to the fear-mongering and political and business opportunism associated with the rush to producing biofuel. If your bottom line is suffering right now, hold onto the Promise. God honors those who are "willing to be willing" and if you commit to hang in there, even with biofuel producers offering substantially higher prices for the biofuel market, that blessing will come sooner, rather than later.

Remember: God provides solutions; the devil provides shortcuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment