Mysterious Seven Day Cycle
A few years ago I was intrigued and did a study on the seven day cycles in nature.
By surprise Science has discovered some amazing seven day cycles in the very building blocks of plants and animal life. They didnít expect this, they expected to find cycles that were influenced by external factors, such as the sun, the moon, etc., but the seven day cycle didnít seem to fit and it was a bit of a surprise to them. They took the challenge and they wanted to find out why.
I want to share some of that with you.
I want to start by answering three questions. First, does the formerly unknown automatic rhythm of sevens hold the secret to one of historyís perplexing enigmas, which is the origin of the seven day week? Have you ever thought about the seven day week or where it came from or why? Some will say, it came out of the Bible, but a lot of people donít read the Bible. Second, I want to answer the question: what could these innate autonomous rhythms mean for us? Lastly, what new knowledge might they provide about the Biblical Sabbath that we celebrate and are learning about as well as the Creator God Himself.
Societyís seven day calendar week is the only major rhythm of human activity that is totally oblivious to external nature. The so called social week, which is the seven day week, rests on mathematical regularity alone. We may casually assume that the week is a division of the moon cycle. The lunar cycle is not a twenty eight day cycle, but approximately twenty nine days, 12 hours, forty four minutes and three seconds, or put in the decimal, it is 29.5306 days between moons. Now how do you organize anything around that? It doesnít come out nice and even, does it?
A precise quarter of the lunar cycle or lunar month amounts to the uneven figure of 7.38625 days. So any week using that length would begin at different times of the day, every time the cycle started. There would be no way to neatly divide the lunar cycle into weekly blocks of complete days, it just doesnít work. Does the cycle of seven relate to our sun and the solar system? Again the answer is no. There is a cycle with the turn of the earth from sunset to sunset, but the seven day week is independent from the solar cycle of three hundred and sixty five and one quarter days. It doesnít fit there either. A year of fifty two weeks has just three hundred sixty four whole days, but it doesnít end in whole days. We have leftovers. Nor is the week in harmonic symphony with the star year. A star day varies from sun days by four minutes shorter than sun days.
There are no known external rhythms in nature that could explain the near universal existence of a seven day social week. Then how did it come about?
Society requires a universal week or chaos would occur. Weeks of varying length from three to nineteen days have existed in past cultures. In various countries in Africa they have had eight, five and four day weeks, often revolving around market days.
When Rome came to power, centuries before Christ, they tried to harmonize both the eight day week and seven day week of the Jews as they expanded their empire, but it proved unworkable and the popularity of the seven day rhythm won out and the eight day week disappeared forever.
Apart from the Biblical record historians have had difficulty placing the precise beginning of the seven day week, they just donít open up the Bible to the book of Genesis and say here it is. It is simply acknowledged as an ancient practice of very early origin in the origin of civilization. So this is a mystery!
Besides the Israelite seven day period, another tradition contributed to the modern seven day week. The Babylonians, early on, began to name heavenly bodies after the days of the week, the so called planets, they missed a few but they had seven planets and they named the days of the week after the seven planets, including the sun and the moon, and that became the planetary week.
It was the (Roman) Church that was primarily responsible for moving the practice of a seven day week to the rest of the civilized world as we know it. It was the Church that was responsible for integrating the Jewish and the astrological weeks together and promoting the seven day cycle and promoting it around the world. They had help. The Islamic faith helped. Both Christianity and Islam inherited the seven day week from Abraham.
Both established worship days separate from the Jews, Sunday for the Christians and Friday for the Muslims. Both of them touched the Saturday Sabbath, interestingly enough, but in order to differentiate themselves from the Sabbath, they both chose another day right next to it.
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi documents (in his book: From Sabbath to Sunday) from history why the Roman Church did with their strong anti-Jewish bias to totally separate out that influence of the early Church of Jewishness from their more plutonic Hellenistic view of things.
The Islamic faith developed by Mohamed, who was tutored by Jews, basically saw that the Jewish religion was growing because they had their own book and they had their own day and practices. Mohamed then put together a package, five hundred years after Christ, which was similar to the Jews. He had a book, and chose Friday as his day of worship.
So now the Jews, Christians and Moslems had a seven day week and they exported it around the world.
Two Major Threats
There have been two modern attempts to get rid of the seven day week. The first attempt happened in France where they tried to get rid of the seven day week and de-Christianize the people of France. This was done during the Humanistic French Revolution, in which they idolized human logic. They establish a ten day week in October of 1783. This ten decade as they called it was patterned after the decimal principle. It had ten days divided into ten hours of one hundred minutes with each minute divided into one hundred decimal seconds.
During the reign of terror the ten day week was imposed by force, but it only lasted for twelve years. Religion proved to resilient and the first Republic of France gave it up.
The Communists didnít learn from Franceís mistake and they tried the same radical experiment one hundred and forty years later. Joe Stalin tried to de-Christianize the people of Russia and the Soviet Union. He abolished the seven day week and he established a six day week in which there were five continuous work days and one day off with eighty percent of the people working every day and twenty percent resting and sharing a day off on a rotating basis. The idea was that not everybody had the same day off and that everyday eighty percent of the people were working and twenty percent were resting. There was no national day off. The advertised reason for doing this for the Soviet people was that it would increase production. It lasted from 1929 till 1940 when Stalin called it quits because production consistently declined every year, and irresponsibility on the job became epidemic and finally they returned to the seven day week, they had to because they were in a war.
These two attempts at trying to change the seven day week failed. The question is why seven? The seven day cycle is not a naturally occurring event in our external environment, culture alone cannot explain why a whole society, now over six billion people strong, beats to a seven day rhythm.
Tracking the development of the seven day week in human events is far easier than explaining how it originated in the first place. Basically there are two choices, first researchers say that the week is a construct of a cultural religious invention of unknown date which gradually took over the world. Explanation number two is to take the Biblical record at face value of the origin of the week going back to Genesis and that it was made by God at creation. These are the two models, one being the culture outgrowth model and the other is the Biblical model.
Letís look at a subject now, or a field of research, called chronobiology. Basically that is how the body uses time.
The worldís foremost authority on rhythms and the pioneer of the science of chronobiology is a Dr. Franz Halberg at the University of Minnesota. Franz Halberg proposes that "the body rhythms are about seven days, far from being passively driven by the social cycles of the calendar week are innate and autonomous and perhaps the reason why the calendar week arose in the first place". What he is saying is that it is doubtful that these practices came about for social reasons, but probably came about from biological reasons.
Letís talk about rhythms. We live in a world of rhythms. Water tides, days of light and darkness, monthly rhythms of the moon, seasonal rhythms, hot, cold, migration, floods and drought. We observe cycles in our body, our daily sleep rhythms, jet lag, daily temperature, blood pressure and mood fluctuations.
There are five major external rhythms that beat in our bodies to insure our health and happiness. What do you think would be the most dominate rhythm? One is the twenty four hour day. Most of us are on a daily rhythm. We have our food at a certain time, our daily constitutional at certain times and we get tired around a certain time. These rhythms in our body work in harmony like an orchestra. Some rhythms rise while others are falling.
Computer magnification and analysis now make visible internal clocks in our bodies and the most surprising of them all is the seven day cycle.
All rhythmic functions of the body probably possess an innate seven day frequency. When all of the rhythms and the cells perform a certain task, which is body wide, say an immune reaction, the reaction occurs on a weekly schedule, a seven day schedule.
A day and a night which is the dominate frequency needed in many body chores would not be long enough to complete the complicated array of chemical and other activities needed that are part of the immune defense reaction system.
The seven day cycle has been found in the fluctuations in blood pressure, acid content in the blood, red blood cells, heart beat, oral temperature, urine chemistry and volume.
It is easier to see the seven day cycle when the body is under stress, such as when the body is defending itself against a virus, bacterium or other harmful intruder. For example, cold symptoms which are signs of the body defending itself against a cold virus lasts about a week. Chicken pox symptoms with high fevers and small red spots appears almost exactly two weeks, on a weekly cycle, after exposure to an illness. Doctors have long observed that exposure to malaria infection and pneumonia peak at seven days. Organ transplants face similar crises as the bodyís immune system attack the foreign organ at the peak of seven days and doctors will give the patient an injection to forestall the rejection. The body continues to attack the organ every seven days on the second, third and fourth weeks.
It has been discovered that every cell has imbedded in its primal genetic material a rhythm, a clock, a beat, a frequency that resonates and helps it to get in sync and live and function as designed. Does that make sense to you? A car engine has a certain rhythm, if one cylinder is out of rhythm, there is a real problem.
We need a rhythm and now we discover that the beat of all life is tuned to seven.
God left His fingerprints on the creation that He made. He put a clock in all of us, like a signature. You can look deeply into everything that has been made, thatís alive, and you find a ticking clock beating to the number of seven. God was on it first because He is on a seven day cycle. God made Adam on the sixth day and Adam spent the first seventh day of the week, the Sabbath Day, with God. The purpose of the Sabbath Day is to introduce the Creator to His creation, so that they can come to know Him for who He is, that He is the loving maker of everything that is good and beautiful.
We need to get in harmony, in sync, spiritually with God, to know God, to get spiritually with His beat, to move to His clock, to His purpose. God made man in His image (Genesis 1:26) and that is the purpose of His creation and that is why He put the date stamp of seven within man. He wants us to be spiritually in His image and to be in harmony with Him.
This article is a summary of the message given at the Friends
of the Sabbath in Tacoma in August 1996.
You can request the audio tape of the complete message from:
Independent Church of God
P.O. Box 22
Portsmouth, Ohio 45662