Have you ever considered how big a part time and our measurement of it plays in our lives? Most of us go to bed and wake up according to our clocks, eat, make appointments, and in general do most everything according to our measurement of time. How long has the pizza been in the oven? When is my dentist appointment? When is that report due? And of course, “How much longer will it take?” We celebrate the holidays, go on vacation, and even determine how long to take a vacation according to the measuring of time. Time rules our lives, but there was a “time” when it wasn’t like this (LOL—pun intended).
Until a couple hundred years ago, people had a lot of difficulty accurately measuring time. It really would have been hard to coordinate a time for meeting others or making appointments, especially when it wasn’t clear what the hour of the day it was. Instead of telling someone that you would meet them at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, I imagine the most specific thing many could do was agree to meet during a general time of the day, such as in the morning or afternoon. Even knowing the day of the week could be difficult, especially if you lived in an isolated area. Many people resorted to marking the time of the month according to the moon’s phases, because it was an observable objective event that happened on a regular monthly basis.
Consider if a nomadic leader wanted to coordinate the day and time to meet with another tribal leader. He would have had to send a message to the other person requesting a meeting like this. “Please meet me under the large tree of Hebron after the next new moon.” Then he would go to that location and wait, and possibly wait and wait some more until the man showed up—and hopefully he eventually would! Although reckoning time like this would pose some problems, in other ways it could be pretty freeing, especially when I consider how complicated and stressful our lives have become because of the constraints imposed on us by the of our specific marking of time.
The reality of our global coordination of time—the counting of the minute, hour, day, week, and even month of the year—like we do nowadays, with such specificity, is a very modern phenomenon. For instance, In Israel there were years with 12 months and then leap years of 13 months about every three years. There were many other nations who determined the yearly cycle based on the solar year, the position of the earth in relation to the sun. In Roman times there was the Julian calendar, the marking of time according to Julius Caesar, and then at one point Pope Gregory changed dating to what we know as the Gregorian calendar. And if this isn’t confusing enough, we also have the Eastern Chinese calendar, and the Islamic and Jewish dating systems.
Thankful God is going to end any confusion about time because He also has His own reckoning of time.
2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
His plans and purposes are being done according to His time clock. So maybe the next time someone asks me, “What time is it?” I’ll say, “God only knows,” and I will be more correct then they could imagine.