January 1, 2015

Dear Liberty,

     Many cultures from the beginning of time have developed their own calendar systems.  Calculations were done in regard to moon cycles and planets to determine how many months would be in a year and how many days in a month, which scientists can replicate with countless mathematical equations.  However, when asked why we have 7 days in a week, most will claim that there really is no reason for it.  Could it be because of where the truth actually lies?

     In Genesis 1, God informs us how he created the universe and all in it, describing his work for each of the six 24-hour days.  Many try to argue it is unknown how long the “day” in Genesis really is, claiming possibly millions of years, allowing it to conform with an evolutionary world view.  However, the text clearly says “And there was evening, and there was morning” after each description of the day’s work, unmistakably meaning a 24-hour period.  Yom, Hebrew for "day" in Genesis, is also used in the Bible 357 times outside of Genesis.  In all those cases it means a 24-hour period.  It is highly unlikely it would mean something else in Genesis.

     God also explained that on the seventh day He rested.

     “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

     People from the time of Adam and Eve would have known this and followed God’s example of resting every seventh day, or the Sabbath Day.  It is also a day which should be spent in worship and study of God’s Word.  When God gave his Law to Moses, He commanded “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy,” clarifying that one should work six days and rest on the seventh.

     “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

     He instructed the Jewish people to also give the land a year of Sabbath.  During that year the land was not to be reaped, sown or harvested.  After seven cycles of seven years, or in the fiftieth year, properties were returned to original owners and debts were to be forgiven.  It was to be a year of rest, restoration and liberty for people and land.

     The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.  For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.  But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord.  Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.  Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines.  The land is to have a year of rest.  Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land.  Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

     “  ‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years.  Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.  The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.  For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.’ ” (Leviticus 25:1-12)

     Once Christ came, Christians chose Sunday as their Sabbath for several reasons.  Christ was not only resurrected on Sunday but the Holy Spirit came to the disciples on the Sunday celebrating Pentecost.  Since Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) and proclaimed, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5), the apostles understood this change would not be a sin in the eyes of the Lord.  It’s not surprising the Russian word for Sunday actually means Resurrection.

     All this along with the understanding that God uses seven throughout the Bible to denote completion and perfection, it's pretty easy to see where the seven day week originated.  It also explains why Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and Sunday (the Christian Sabbath) are designated the "weekend" with many businesses and schools being closed.

     So, Liberty, we know the moon and the stars (which God designed) determined the number of days and months in a year. We also know that God plainly instructed that man observe a seven day week. If that is true, then what event happened that centers our yearly count, giving dates either a BC (before) or AD (after) label?

     After the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar assumed power, he reformed the common Roman calendar in 46 BC.   This calendar became known as the Julian calendar and was based on the number of years after the founding of Rome. Other methods reflected the current ruler at the time and his year of reign.

     During this era, Christian churches throughout the civilized world were celebrating Easter on different days as they did not have a consistent chart to properly calculate the correct date for Christ’s death and resurrection.  The First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 unified the Easter Celebration, connecting it to the spring equinox by making the following Sunday the day of observation.  (see Yes, Liberty, There Is A Santa Claus)  Dionysius Exiguus, a sixth century Scythian monk, went even further, seeking to formulate a table that would allow all Christendom to worship Easter at the same time.  In AD 525, he developed a table to calculate the proper date for Easter for the next several decades as the previous table would be ending soon.

     The expiring Easter table had been designed in the Diocletian Era and named after the Roman Emperor Diocletian.  It followed a numbering system which began with his first year of reign.  During his emperorship, Diocletian organized the last major persecution against Christians.  Dionysius saw an opportunity to replace this period and erase Diocletian’s name from history by introducing a system that labeled the years “since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  His efforts resulted in the Anno Domini era, which was adopted by the Julian calendar.

     Using Christ’s birth as the epoch, or starting point, the years after this event were noted AD from the Latin Anno Domini meaning, “In the year of the Lord.”  More specifically Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi ("In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ") counts the years since the conception or birth of Jesus.  Those years before his birth are simply BC or “Before Christ”.

     This designation did not become widely used until after Venerable Bede, an eighth century monk, decided to gather all known calendar systems from the beginning to his time and synchronize them into one universal structure.  After completing his book Ecclesiastical History of the English People in AD 731, Western Europe embraced the new dating system and its usage became the common standard.  Bebe also determined that Christ’s birth was either 2 BC or 1 BC, which would make sense since there is no year 0.

     The Julian calendar was amazingly close to the accurate yearly calculation but over centuries of just being just a few minutes too long each year, the calendar had drifted a full 10 days off course by the end of the 16th century.  This resulted in the shifting of important religious days as well as times of year i.e. seasons.  Due to this movement, the spring equinox was shifting seasons causing Easter to move as well.

     Finally recognizing the problem, Pope Gregory XIII recalculated the length of the year finding the error. He modified the Julian calendar in 1582, accommodating for the 0.002% discrepancy in the 365.2425 day measurement.  It took years to convert to the new Gregorian calendar with some historical events now showing two dates to denote the 10-day difference during the conversion years.  The Gregorian calendar also continued the Anno Domini era.

     Liberty, I have copies of several wills from our ancestors in the late 1800's which include the words, “In the year of Our Lord....”  Over 1150 years after Dionysius established this dating method people still proudly recognized Christ’s birth as the epoch for our yearly labeling.

     As with everything, todays’ atheists are attacking with full force by now labeling years as BCE (Before Current Era) and CE (Current Era) to try to remove Christ from the picture.  This is an attempt to remove Christ from history as the monk Dionysius removed the Diocletian calendar from history.  By removing Christ from the calendar, they are attempting to wipe away his existence.  This, like other attempts, is a means to take people’s focus off of God.  However, God has written his plan on the stars and moon, on our days and nights, on our weeks and years, so that a sinful world will never forget a God who sacrificed himself for them.

     So, Liberty, welcome to “The Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ” 2015. May she be full of peace, happiness, love, and grace.

     That’s my 2 cents.