You know the phrase “What has been seen cannot be unseen”? I would add, “What has been learned cannot be unlearned.” I’m talking about those epiphanies that change your life. Two plus two equal four. Racism is real. McDonald’s uses pink slime. Epic “aha” moments that either help you along the road of life, or just plain shatter innocence.
Thiiiiiiis might be one of the later.
It began while I was reading the book of Leviticus (Bible folks are all like “Dude, were you bored?”). My study Bible has a chart (“Dude, were you REALLY bored?”) that shows all the old Jewish holidays: New Moon, Passover, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), etc. Then I saw that the Hanukkah took place on the 9th month. For us, it’s around the same time as Christmas, so the 12th month.
Then it hit me. The Jewish calendar has twelve months, too, so add three months after Hanukkah (9th month), and their year would end around March, right? I did some research and yes, yes it does. Their new year begins right around the Spring Equinox, when the winter is officially over and spring is starting. Their new year begins when new life is sprouting and nature is repeating its cycle once again.
THIS MAKES WAY MORE SENSE!! Our new year starts in January. Why January? What’s “new” about January? We’re in the dead of freaking winter. It’s not even the solstice! We start the new year in a random place. If you really want to know why we start the new year in January, read this article and cry. How much more punch would the new year have if we did it like the Hebrews did, who got their calendar from God, and started the new year when things were, you know, NEW?!
Unfortunately, it got worse when I read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (great book, but do NOT read if you like your perspectives the way they are). This book wasn’t about the calendar, but he made a brief aside about how the clock is nothing short of sacrilege. Why? Again, we must look to the Hebrews.
Hebrew time was based upon nature. When the sun was up, you did your work. When the sun was down and you couldn’t see, you relaxed and went to bed. The day began as sunrise.
When does the modern day begin? Midnight. Why? According to Wikepedia, because it’s halfway between sunset and sunrise. How does this make sense? Nothing happens at midnight to mark a new day. The only thing that says a new day has begun is the clock itself. The clock is self-feeding. “It’s a new day because I say so.”
Genesis 1:14 says that God put the sun in the sky “to divide the day from the night; and let [it] be for signs and seasons, for days and years.” The sun told the time. But the clock does not bow to the sun’s perspective. The clock makes it own schedule, and decides that when the sun rises, 5-7 hours of the day have already been wasted. Our clock says the sun is lazy.
Now, perhaps you say they only followed the sun because it was all they had. now, we have electric lights so we can do whatever we want. But do you see the problem there? We allowed artificiality to replace nature and completely rule our lives. Once we realized we COULD do more in a day, we decided we SHOULD. And how rested are we now?
Why all the changes? Societies. Various powers who changed the world changed the calendar time and time again until we have what we have now. Why did they keep changing? Because each society thought it had a better idea. Romans made a new calendar because even numbers were unlucky (source). In fact, Rome made a lot of changes to the calendar, even naming most of the months.
Speaking of which, you want to know why August has 31 days? Because July did. July was named after Julius Caesar, who was a big shot. August was named after Augustus Caesar, also a big shot. However, August only had 30 days, so it looked inferior to Julius’s month. Thus, the Romans mugged a day from February to make Augustus look more important. (source). It wasn’t because of any real time changes, it was for vanity.
Hours, days, months, year, they’re all out of whack and have no real importance. They march to their own beats, heedless of any real changes. Mr. Postman pointed out that God decided there was a set time for everything and put celestial bodies in the sky to govern them. But we wanted a timekeeper we could hold in our hands, and eventually on our wrists. Now, natures changes mean nothing at all. Companies open at all hours, holidays in December begin in October, months mark neither seasons nor lunar cycles, and don’t even get me started on Daylight Savings Time!
Now, am I saying that if you follow the clock, you’re living in sin? Not really. You don’t really have a choice, do you? If your boss wants to meet you at 9 in the morning, you’d better not show up 9 hours after sunrise. And God has worked with enough broken governments, people, and situations to prove that he’s willing to step into our twisted systems, rather than wait for us to straighten them out.
I’m simply pointing out mankind’s love-hate relationship with control. But for all we’ve strived, how much have we accomplished? The world still turns at the same pace; we have no more hours in a day than the Hebrews did. We’ve squeezed as much time as humanly possible into our hands, but we never seem to have enough of it. We put numbers on time in order to control it, but now those numbers run our lives. We don’t rest because we do not gauge our life by the shining sun, which rises and sets, but by the tick-tick-tick of the clock, which never ceases.
We tried to make time our slave, but it rules us worse than ever before.