Bible Study N.A.D.
THE BIBLE ECHO
THE DAY LINE.—No. 1
By N. A. D.
This world is, as everybody knows an oblate spheroid, that is, a globe slightly flattened at each pole. Around these poles the earth revolves once every twenty-four hours; and as the surface of the globe is divided by geographers into 360 sections by lines from pole to pole, each of which is called a degree, it follows that fifteen of these degrees (the 24th part of 360) passes a given point every hour.
The phenomena of day and night are caused by the fact that the earth is constantly turning, from west to east, while the sun is stationary, and consequently appears to move the opposite way—from east to west; and as the part of the earth we live on turns to the sun in the morning, and away from it in the evening, so the sun seems to come up and go down—to rise and to set. These appearances serve to mark off our days.
The legal and common method of marking the beginning and ending of our days is to count from midnight to midnight, so that the first half of every night belongs to the preceding day, and the last half to the next one.
This is a very modern arrangement, and is obviously quite artificial and unnatural. At one time-the ancient Romans counted their days from sunrise to sunrise. But the most ancient method is that prescribed in the Bible by the express direction of the Creator, from sunset to sunset— the night preceding the day to which it belongs. See Gen. 1 : 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 ; Lev. 23 : 32 ; Mark 1 : 32.
As the day is marked by the disappearance and reappearance of the sun, it will be readily understood that the day is carried with the sun around the earth, so that if there were a definite place from which the sun started, there, on the east side of it, each day would start, and there, on the west side of it, each day would end, and from it the day would be carried forward. And it would follow that, as the day would come first to the farther eastern countries, and last to the western, so the eastern countries would be as many hours ahead in their count of the day as they were, divisions of fifteen degrees nearer the starting point of the sun's course.
For the same reason (as it takes twenty-four full hours for the earth to revolve), when Wednesday was fully past, and Thursday begun at the starting point, Wednesday would just be beginning the other side of that point, and the people living there would be a whole day behind in their count of the days. And still further, if one could step across from the ending point, just as Wednesday was beginning there, to the starting point, he would find Thursday just commencing at the other end, and so have to drop Wednesday out of his count, and have a week without a Wednesday in it, or in more exact terms, a Wednesday of but a few minutes duration. If he reversed, his steps, and at the end of Wednesday, at the starting point of Thursday, went over to the opposite side of the dividing line, he would there find Wednesday just coming round to him, and, meeting it again, have Wednesday twice in one week ; or, to be more precise, have a Wednesday forty-eight hours long. A similar experience would be observed on any day, and relatively at any time of the day on which such a move was made.
This may seem somewhat puzzling at first, but a little careful thought will make the fact and the reason for it very plain. The question that arises from this is, Has the earth any end? Is there any such beginning and ending point to the day ? We propose to answer this question next week in a continuation of this article. ;
THE BIBLE ECHO
THE DAY LINE.—No. 2,
The earth being a globe, it is evident that it cannot have any ends where the existence of its surface could cease, such a term when applied to the north and south poles being quite incorrect. This expression when it occurs in our Bible does not therefore refer to the poles, indeed it would not be probable that it should, since their existence was unknown to its writers, and though a book written for all people and times, terms were always used that conveyed a definite meaning to the people then living. There is no word used in either Hebrew or Greek that conveys the exact sense of the idea we often give the words "earth" and "world"—the proper names of a planet. When the words so translated occur they sometimes mean the people living on the globe, but more frequently the "habitable land." This latter is, in fact, the specific and literal significance of several of these Hebrew words themselves, and was vulgarly applied to the continent upon which men then lived, and where the book was written. The "ends" of this "habitable land" are referred to in the following Scriptures :
A moment's thought will make it clear to everybody that now when travelers are continually passing round the globe there must be such a place known, otherwise all our days and all our dates would soon be in utter confusion. For if we travel far enough towards the sunrise we must at last reach the place where each day begins its course, and if we go the other way we must come to the place where it ends; and if we cross thence; we must either call the day by a different name to that which the people there call it, or change our own reckoning to get it right as explained before. If this place were not known and no such change made, then every time the globe were circumnavigated the travelers would find their reckoning of days and dates at variance with the rest of the world.
Fig. 1. Day-line at end of " habitable land."
God made the earth, and as He is not the author of confusion we may reasonably expect that He has made ample provision for this contingency.
And it will be seen by reference to the Scriptures last quoted that He, as a matter of fact, has done so. He has not defined or surveyed any line from north to south and called it "degree number this or that." God does not work that way. In commanding the Sabbath He leaves many details as to what may or may not be done on that day open questions to be settled by the individual conscience. This is indeed true of every precept. God states the principle. The reasoning power, which He has bestowed upon each person, must supply the rest.
Nevertheless the location of the day-line has been quite explicitly stated. As He told Job, God, and not man, has commanded the morning and caused the day-spring, or beginning, to know its place that it might take hold of, or be at the ends of the earth (Hebrew "habitable land"). In passing it is worthy of remark that the punctuation of the English Bible is not found in the original. The correct punctuation here would probably place the interrogation point after "earth." The last clause of this verse obviously belongs to the next. Job 38 : 12-13.
In the 65th Psalm a precise statement is made concerning this matter.
In the 8th verse we learn that the people living at this place are afraid at God's tokens. There God makes the outgoings, or beginnings, of morning and evening to rejoice. Now let us take a globe or a map and apply this Scripture. Here in Palestine is where David lived. Let us go towards the dayspring or sunrising, or east to find the uttermost part of the habitable land. At last we reach the ocean. We follow the indentations of the coast-line back and forth until we have reached its most eastern point. Here it is, in the extremity of Asia, the tip of Siberia. There the day begins.
For convenience sake, scientists have, without any reference to God's Book, put the day-line very near to this point; in fact, within about half an hour, or more correctly, seven -degrees of it. In practice the peoples living along these meridians, however, and all navigators reckon their time not as scientists would have it, but in accordance with the Book, as nearly as though it had been purposely agreed to do so. There we may safely leave it.
Among the many fanatical delusions of these latter days some have arisen who would run the day-line right through the densely populated areas of Russia, Armenia and Arabia, because they think that the Garden of Eden was somewhere about that degree, the 43rd east of Greenwich, and that God must have rested on the first part of the world's "first seventh day where it started. To this it is quite, sufficient to reply that it is immaterial whether Adam's rest or the Lord's was in Siberia or Spain. It was on the first seventh day as it came to Adam, and that is enough to establish the sanctity of the day for Adam's race.
Fig. 2. The 43rd meridian. Goes through Arabia, Armenia, Kussia. Unsuitable for day-line.
God Himself has settled the locality of the dayline, not as in Eden or in the centre of habitable land where it could only produce confusion, but in harmony with His wise and holy character, at the end of the habitable land, at the uttermost part of the brink or edge of the continent David lived on, by the ocean, whence the sunrise and the dayspring come.
From that point proceed eternally, first the six working days, and then " the Sabbath of the Lord thy God " fraught with blessings for mankind and hallowed with the memory of the Creator's rest and rejoicing when He looked upon the sinless earth and pronounced it " very good."
Note: The "edge of the earth" according to this study is at the tip of Siberia which would be at the 170 W. longitude, not the 180th.