So the story goes that a youthful salesman stopped by a farm one day to peddle his wares. Looking out over the field, he saw the farmer hoisting a pig up into the air so he could reach one of the ripened apples on the tree. Somewhat stumped by the event, he continued to watch; amazed, he saw the farmer do this a half dozen times – lift the pig up, let him down to eat a choice apple, lift the pig up – and repeat the cycle. Being somewhat aware of time management, the salesman could not manage his curiosity. He made his way out to the farmer, introduced himself, and began the conversation by saying, “Wouldn't it save a lot of time if you just shook the tree and let the pig eat the apples off the ground?” To this query, the farmer replied, “Well Sonny, I guess you are right about that, but what's time to a pig?”
This time of year, we all become time conscious. I say we all become time conscious, but what I actually mean is all of us who celebrate the beginning of a New Year on January 1 become time conscious. There are vast multitudes of people in the world who do not use the Gregorian calendar, the one most prominent in Western civilizations. By some estimates, there are about forty different calendars in current world usage. Most prominent in this number would be the Gregorian, Hebrew, Indian, Islamic, and Chinese calendars. Although not everyone counts time as we do, almost everyone counts time. Time means different things to different people – just ask the farmer who hoisted the pig!
Exodus 12 contains the first biblical reference to the beginning of a New Year. However, this new beginning was more than just a year; it was the beginning of a new calendar by which the Hebrew nation would mark ceremonial time. The first month of the new year would begin with the preparation and celebration of the Passover. In addition, other annual feasts and celebrations revolved around the calendar that God established for the emerging nation. A new nation, a new calendar, and new beginnings swirled about Israel as they left Egypt and commenced their existence as a nation under the theocratic form of government that God would later establish on Sinai, Moses being His mediator.
Besides the joke with the punchline, “What's time to a pig,” history has played some interesting tricks with the calendar. In the sixteenth century, the Gregorian calendar was established primarily due to the changing lunar time frame in which Easter was being celebrated. For that reason the Catholic world saw October the 4th of 1582 followed by October the 15th, thus eliminating the lack of lunar synchronization that was sought for Easter and instituting a new calendar for much of the world. This was not the only herky-jerky movement of the calendar; there have been many. Most notable perhaps to those of us who live in the States was the leap that occurred in 1752 when the Julian calendar was exchanged for the Gregorian calendar, bringing us into sync with others who were using the same method for organizing time. This time eleven days were whacked off the calendar.
Time marches on! We can play with it, adjust the way we count it, even pretend that it doesn't exist. However, the old adage that tide and time wait for no man is an absolute truth in our current existence. Whether we turn the pages of the calendar and carefully mark each day, or even if we have no calendar, the net effect is the same; time marches relentlessly onward. I recall many years ago how incredibly slow time was. I absolutely thought my sixteenth birthday (the one where I became eligible to obtain my driver's license) would never arrive. This phenomenon gave rise to such statements as, “You are slower than Christmas.” However, now time moves much faster than before and the years between sixteen and sixty seem almost a blur. Time demands accountability. Our challenge: meet that accountability!
1. According to the Bible, when did time begin? Who wound up the ticking clock of our universe?
2. According to the Bible, will time end? If yes, who will determine that end?
3. Time flies. Time stands still. Are these statement both true? Explain.
4. How can we escape the accountability that is levied upon us by time? Or, is it inescapable? Doesn't time itself demand certain should's and ought's? Explain.
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