Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
When I read the book of Revelation I am frequently confused because there’s a lot of crazy stuff in there I don’t understand. Like take Revelation 12:3 for example, “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his head.” What am I supposed to do with all of that? Why does the dragon (who is probably the devil) have seven crowns on his head? Oh, wait; I got it now; cute. Seven, like the number of days in a week; maybe that reflects the devil’s authority over earth. After all, the creation week was seven days long; as it is written, “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 20:11). While thinking on this the Holy Spirit whispered, “Hey, isn’t it weird that a seven day weeks seems to be universally accepted?”
It is weird. I hadn’t ever thought about it but, yeah, that’s kind of strange. So I did a quick internet search and found that secular sources seem to have no definitive idea where the seven day week got started. Some think that it comes from Babylon, around the time of Israel’s captivity. Then, magically at the same time it showed up in Persia. Also it was somehow exported to China; who somehow imposed it on their neighbors (including their perennial enemy, Japan). Then later on, Christians (following the post-exile Jewish calendar) converted all of Euro and bam everyone’s got seven days.
…But wait, that theory doesn’t account for Europe’s longstanding tradition of the seven day being named after their pagan deities. Another search revealed that their seven day week supposedly comes from astronomy/astrology and relates to their gods that way. The theory also doesn’t acknowledge that the seven day week existed for Jews before the time of captivity in Babylon. The Law had a crap-ton of commands based around the days of the week. The most well-known one is of course the Sabbath day; of which the Law states:
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do (Deuteronomy 5:12-14).
There’s also the Sabbath year, of which is written,
These are the laws you are to set before them:
If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything (Exodus 21:1-2).
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 sabbath of 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 (Leviticus 25:3-5).
And a notch of from that is the year of Jubilee, the Sabbath year of Sabbath years. Scripture teaches,
Count off seven sabbaths of years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere in 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 one of you is to return to his family property and each to his 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 25:8-12).
Even the timing of Jewish festivals has sevens aplenty. Take for example the feast of Tabernacles:
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly, do no regular work (Leviticus 23:33-36).
And guess how long the period is for ceremonial cleansing? Of course, it’s seven days. Be it men with odd discharges, “When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count of seven days for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bath himself with fresh water, and he will be clean” (Leviticus 15:13); or women being cleansed from their periods, seven days is the time allotted by the Lord: “When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean” (Leviticus 15:28). So to try to say that the seven day week was invented during Israel’s time in captivity is sort of silly, since they had been practicing it and things related to it for generations before that.
All of this tracks back to the creation week. It’s covered in the first chapter (and a little of the second) of Genesis. I won’t type all that here, but let’s grab a few days so you can get a feel for it. Day one:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day (Genesis 1:3-5).
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23).
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And 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).
Now here, even in modern times, we all 100% acknowledge the week as described in the Bible (that is to say, seven days); just like almost all cultures have throughout history. Considering that most cultures named their days after their deities or heavenly bodies suggest that the supernatural has something to do with the seven day week origin…just like the Bible outlines. Therefore, I think it is stupid to say that there is no God at all; after all, something we all acknowledge was apparently universally accepted and often with religious roots. The Bible has the most preserved (and oldest) documentation relating to the week; therefore it is likely that the “God of Abraham” is the one true God. If this is the case then we should take note, because the Bible also documents that his son, Jesus Christ, is the only means to salvation. The Bible records,
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is
‘‘’The stone you builders rejected,
Which has become the capstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).
If the Bible is to be trusted as our source for the seven-day week, then we should stop fighting God (and wasting time) and accept his Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior. Remember that dragon from the introduction? Well after being defeated he went off and did his own thing: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). By denying God you deny the obvious (due to what we’ve found about the week) and side with the very dragon whose own heads testify to the God of Creation and therefore proves himself to be a liar; you’re better than that. Enjoy your week, reader!