24/ 7/ 365
For some time, I have proposed that the modern 24/7/365 culture we live is damaging us. Our modern world has eliminated even the natural order of sleep time with our electric lights and electronic devices of entertainment and communication. Our consumer society wants 24-hour service and our businesses advertise their availability 24 hours a day – seven days a week, with the certainty that such service is a virtue. Is 24 hours a day – seven days a week service a virtue? Consider this instruction out of Deuteronomy.
“And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” Deuteronomy 4:19
What did the ancient worshipers of the sun, moon and the stars see when they worshiped all the host of heaven? What was it that intrigued them and made them think of the sun and the moon and the stars as “gods”? As this picture demonstrates, when the shutter of a camera is opened at night, the stars in their courses are always moving.
Knowing that the human body needs sleep could it be that the ancients thought of these celestial beings as “gods”, because they were always moving, never stopping? Did they think of these always moving “gods” as an ideal to be copied?
If so modern mankind has almost completely accomplished what the ancient pagans saw as the ideal. What is the result of this always moving society? What signs do we have that our 24/7 culture is harming us in some way? Consider these verses directly ahead of the instructions about worship of the sun and the moon and the stars.
“So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. Deuteronomy 4:15-18
Today, especially in the west no one takes seriously the idea of worshiping a graven image, just as no one takes seriously the idea of worshiping the sun, moon and the stars. However, consider that those who have embraced our 24/7/365 lifestyle are indeed completely focused on man-made things. Oh, we may not be bowing down to the sun, moon and the stars and we may not be chiseling out the likeness of heavy horned cattle to worship but is it not likely that when we embrace a 24 /7 lifestyle we are also worshiping the works of our hands instead of our Creator?
If this 24 /7 culture is causing damage, when is this damage most likely to make itself evident? I think the biblical record is telling us to look carefully at 50-year and 7-year increments. Consider Noah, his name means rest (Genesis 5:29) his flood came in his 600th year, (Genesis 7:6) a round number easily divisible by 50.
Also consider the 7-year segments of time narrated carefully in the second half of the book of Genesis. In these stories at the shifting point from one segment of seven years to the next, is significant, often surprising, at times damaging. What these stories are telling us is that the ancients saw end of the seventh year moments as inflection points, moments of change.
Obviously there where eleven 50-year Jubilees in Noah’s life in which no calamity happened, yet the writer is very careful to let us know not only that the flood happens in his 600th year but also that he came out of the ark in the 601st year. (Genesis 8:13)
It’s also clear that not each 7-year segment called out in the second half Genesis has calamity associated with it, but a careful reading shows a substantial shift in many of the transitions from one set of seven to the next.
If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:11-12 (NIV)