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Friday Sermon: The Cycles of Time

By Babatunde Jose

Since the earliest times, Man has lifted his eyes unto the heavens. Daunted as well as enthralled, Man learned the ways of Heaven: the positions of the stars, the cycles of Moon and Sun and the turning of an inclined Earth. Heaven and Earth meet on the horizon. For millennia man have watched the stars of the night give way to the rays of the Sun at that meeting place, and chose as a point of reference the moment when daytime and nighttime are equal, the day of the Equinox. Man, aided by the calendar, has counted Earthly Time from that point on – Zecharia Sitchin, 1993

That ‘point’ has been conjectured by some observers as the moment of the ‘Big Bang’ which according to mainstream science was the time the Universe was created. However, some contend that for Earth and all upon it the “Big Bang” was not when the Universe or even the Solar System was created, but result of a cataclysmic cosmic event when two heavenly bodies collided resulting in the splitting of one to form the Earth and the remaining half becoming the Asteroid Belt which we call “heaven”. The Earth was shunted to its own new orbit and could start counting the years, the months, the days, the nights—to measure Time.

Man has always marveled at the cosmos and divided the starry heavens into twelve parts, the Zodiac. Later as the millennia rolled on, man found that the fixed stars were not fixed at all and that the Day of the Equinox, the day of the New Year, appeared to shift from one zodiacal house to another; this led to the addition of Celestial Time to the already conceived Earthly Time. The fourfold division of the solar year (two solstices, two equinoxes) was combined in antiquity with the lunar motions to create the first known formal calendar, the lunar-solar calendar of Nippur. It was used by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other nations after them, and remains in use to this very day as the Jewish calendar.

It was Augustine of Hippo, the Bishop of Carthage (A.D. 354-430), the greatest thinker of the Christian Church in its early centuries, when he was asked, “What is time?” His answer was, “If no one asks me, I know what it is; if I wish to explain what it is to him who asks me, I do not know.”

Time is essential to Earth and all that is upon it and to each one of us as individuals; for, as we know from our own experience and observations, what separates us from the moment we are born and the moment when we die is TIME. Though we know not what Time is, we have found ways to measure it. We count our lifetimes in years, which is another way of saying “orbits,” for that is what a “year” on Earth is: the time it takes Earth, to complete one orbit around the Sun: We count the years in Supereon, Eon, Era, Period, Epoch and Age.

We do not know what time is, but the way we measure it makes us wonder: would we live longer, would our life cycle be different, were we to live on another planet whose “year” is longer? Would we be “immortal” if we were to be upon a “Planet of millions of years”, as in fact, the Egyptian pharaohs believed that they would be, in an eternal Afterlife?

We are not in any doubt surprised that the Egyptian conception of the beginnings followed that of Sumeria which preceded their civilization. We read in the ‘Pyramid Texts’ the following description of the Beginning of Time: When heaven had not yet come into existence, When men had not yet come into existence, When gods had not yet been born, When death had not yet come into existence . . . This knowledge, universal in antiquity and stemming from the Sumerian cosmogony, was echoed in the very first verse of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of Tehom, and the wind of the Lord swept over its waters (Genesis 1:1)

Man is the only creature of God that number his days. Before now, it was thought that the days of man were very long as exemplified by the lives of prophets of old. Noah died 350 years after the flood, at the age of 950, the last of the extremely long-lived antediluvian Patriarchs. The maximum human lifespan, as depicted by the Bible, diminishes thereafter, from almost 1,000 years to the 120 years of Moses.

Guinness World Records says the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth is Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old Japanese woman. The oldest verified age was 122 years and 164 days: Jeanne Calment of France, who died in 1997.

In the Book of Genesis, we learnt that “Methuselah lived after the birth of Lamech seven hundred eighty-two years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty-nine years; and he died.” Genesis 5:26-27 According to the chronology of the Bible, Methuselah died during the year of the flood.

Adam our first ancestor is said to have lived 930 years. However, Ellen Bennet argued that the Septuagint  Genesis 5 numbers are in tenths of years,( the same applies to the numbers in the Masoretic version) which “will explain how it was that they read 930 years for the age of Adam instead of 93 years, and 969 years for Methuselah instead of 96 years, and 950 years for that of Noah instead of 95 years”…This is therefore understandable as the Psalmist said : The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

No doubt therefore; the life of man is very short, when compared to the age of the Earth and the Solar System; even the so-called the ‘extremely long-lived’ antediluvian Patriarchs lived short lives in comparison. For, what is a thousand years when talking of billion years?  But the wickedness of man and his iniquities stink to high heavens; and man seems oblivious of the end which is very near. No matter what we are, who we are and what station in life we are, we will soon leave this world without any of our treasured possessions. There is no ‘ojoro’ in death! We are nothing in the sight of God. Why then do we perpetuate wickedness and iniquity?

“And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” Ecclesiastes 3:16-17

That life is short is not in doubt. In the Book of Job we read: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days . . . . He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” Job 14:1-2

From the moment Noah stepped out of the ark, Mankind has lived with a lingering notion of cycles or Ages of Earth’s annihilation and revivification, and has looked to the heavens for celestial signs, omens of good or bad to come.

This omen of the ‘End Time’ is what our religions term Armageddon or the day of Qiyāmah: Day of Judgment. The Quran uses 19 different names to designate Judgment Day or the end of the world: the Day of Judgment, the Day of Gathering, the Day of Resurrection or the Day of Reckoning. … The Hour may well be near” as we read in Sura Al-Ahzab: Men ask thee concerning the Hour: Say, “The knowledge thereof is with Allah (alone)”: and what will make thee understand?- perchance the Hour is nigh! (Quran 33:63)

Those who have ears should listen now. It’s never too late to mend our ways.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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