A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow
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The best interpretation of Genesis 1 . . .
The Clock reveals a timekeeping tool for the church of tomorrow based on the literary structure of the priestly account of Creation in Genesis 1—a tool that the church of today does not presently have in her spiritual conscience. The Clock provides the church with a much needed theology of time, as well as a compass-like sense of spiritual orientation. Part I of The Clock focuses on the difference between humanity’s 24-hour clock and the colorful day clock embedded in the text of Genesis 1.
Through a series of visual illustrations, eight separate day clocks are unveiled. The whole of biblical history is then applied to the colorful timekeeping perspective. Part II of The Clock discusses a simplistic overview of humanity’s spiritual journey through the past 15,000 years as revealed through a two-clock perspective of time. The spiritual nature of timekeeping presented in this book, coincides with anthropological timelines on display in museums of natural history around the world. The discussion of time concludes by considering the time-related symbolism strewn throughout the scriptural tapestry.
After a full discussion on the subject of time, the reader is invited to adopt a two-clock perspective of time as the human spirit moves into the church of tomorrow. The Clock is the perfect tool to help people of faith develop a healthy theology of time. Does God really make known the end from the beginning, as Isaiah 46:10 suggests? If so . . . the end of what? The timekeeping adventure begins in Genesis 1.
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THE CLOCK: Contents Page SEE EXCERPTS BELOW
Excerpts from “The Clock – A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow”
This book is about the gift of time and the curse of time. It’s about measured time as well as time before measured time. It addresses past times, present times, and future times, as well as the personification of time. This is a book of beginnings, middles, and endings. It speaks of conceptual hours, conceptual seasons, and time, times, and half-a-time. The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow begins with a general discussion about time and the reasons why a theology of time might be helpful. As the book advances, the literary structure and balance of Genesis 1 is examined. Once balance is determined, The Clock emerges. When the timekeeping tool is in full view, the distant past is discussed, followed by the knowable present, and the projected future, according to the words of Scripture. The book ends with a scriptural study of twelve biblical references to the midnight hour, as well as several perspectives of time, times, and half-a-time. At its deepest level, the book explores the human journey through time, based on biblical beginnings in Genesis and endings Revelation. The book examines the subject of time through the lens of the priestly source in ancient Israel, the visions of John of Patmos in first century CE, as well as our present knowledge gained through the work of archeologists and anthropologists. The exploration of time focuses specifically on humanity’s physical and spiritual pilgrimage over the past 15,000 years of knowable time. Additionally, this book is about the gift of light—divine and natural. The Clock, illuminated within these pages, comes to life with the infamous phrase, “Let there be light,” in Genesis 1:3. The timekeeping tool could not exist without our awareness of physical light, color, and the images of Creation. Therefore, The Clock is a gift of time, as well as a gift of light. Because the timekeeping tool emerges from the text of Genesis 1, this book discusses the observable Creation from which our sense of time is perceived and experienced. It also reveals the way in which the words of Scripture merge with The Clock and vice versa. The Clock’s colorful image will undoubtedly encourage people to see Genesis 1 from a fresh perspective. Moreover, The Clock will facilitate human conversation regarding a much-needed theology of past, present, and future times.
Prologue: The Changing Times
In her book, The Great Emergence, author Phyllis Tickle suggests that the church experiences a major shift every 500 years or so. Her discernment points to the idea that change is somewhat ordered. In comparison with Tickle’s insights, The Clock provides a slightly different perspective of time, but ordered nonetheless. The timekeeping tool in this book will help people understand why the church experiences these ordered shifts. While changes within the church are always significant, The Clock will reveal that the current shift experienced by many spiritually minded souls is quite extraordinary! This time around, the church may feel as though something is dying or ending. It’s true! Through the lens of light, color, and image, The Clock will indicate that a conceptual season of autumn is ending and a conceptual season of winter lies ahead of us. This change of season will require more than a minor adjustment in our thinking! We are in the midst of a major spiritual climate change. As time passes into the winter season, the church will slowly shed everything that has defined her exterior image in the world for the past 2,000 years. As the shedding occurs, the church may begin to appear barren. Some may assume that the church will never survive the change. However, like trees in the winter, the church’s root system will deepen and widen as she moves into the future. In widening our theological lens to include light, color and image, the following concepts seem important to mention: 1.) Genesis 1 has more to teach us, 2.) The covenant of the rainbow may provide a deeper spiritual foundation than we’ve realized, 3.) The personification of time must be revealed.
Genesis 1 Has More to Teach Us According to what is commonly known as the documentary hypothesis, the sacred faith stories in the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were obtained from four primary sources. Bible scholars call these sources J, E, P, and D. The letter, J, represents the name, Jahwe, in German. The letter, E, represents the name, El or Elohim in Hebrew. The letter, P, represents the priestly writer, or writers within the Jerusalem priesthood. The letter, D, represents the main source for the book of Deuteronomy. The only source that directly impacts The Clock is the P source. However, the J source indirectly impacts The Clock. Scholars believe that J is one of the oldest sources of biblical text. As such, J’s writings preceded the work of P. This is important to note because the J source is responsible for the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, the Flood narrative, the Tower of Babel, etc. Hence, the J account of Creation, in Genesis 2, was written before the priestly source wrote the account of Creation in Genesis 1. It is evident through scholarship, that the Jerusalem priesthood inherited a collection of writings from J and E that did not quite satisfy them. J’s picturesque description of a lush garden in Genesis 2 causes the reader to thirst for forward momentum which simply isn’t there. Genesis 2 has produced millions of still-life images of Creation, but the text does not provide any spiritual movement that would propel Israel forward in time. If the Jerusalem priests wanted Israel to embrace a past, present, and future relationship with Elohim, the lack of momentum in Genesis 2 would have been problematic. The missing ingredient in J’s account of Creation was a genesis of time. However, in order for the Jerusalem priests to create a beginning of time, they would have been forced to develop their own theology of time. Such a theology would need to widen Israel’s lens from the 3,000-year history that had been established through the writings of J and E, to an infinite perspective of past time and a covenantal perspective of future time. To address the importance of an infinite past and a covenantal future, one must recall the cultural issues and the spiritual environment that was in play long before P wrote Genesis 1.
1: Let There Be Insight
The account of Creation in Genesis 1 is a beloved text. It serves as a foundation of faith for the Judeo-Christian perspective of life on earth. Moreover, it is also embraced as a foundation of thought within Islamic tradition. During the past century, however, the account of Creation has been at the center of an unnecessary debate that unnecessarily pits science against religion. We simply must dig deeper and reach higher in order to understand the true spiritual purpose of Genesis 1. To begin this opening chapter, I call attention to the work of Nahum Sarna, a Jewish scholar and author, who offered his perspective of literary structure and balance in Genesis 1. The viewpoint has been so widely accepted that it can be found in the footnotes of some of the world’s most popular study bibles. Sarna’s insight has also been relied upon in many subsequent books, as recent as The Priestly Vision of Genesis One, by Mark S. Smith in 2010. Sarna focuses on six days of creative activity. Literary balance is said to be achieved by dividing the account of Creation into two groups of three days each, as shown in the accompanying graphic. He discusses the complementary relationships that exist between twelve of the created entities mentioned in Genesis 1. Sarna suggests that the entity of light, created on the first day, balances the two great lights and the stars created on the fourth day. This same rationale continues with day two and day five, as well as day three and day six. On the surface, this perspective looks balanced and seems logical. However, it offers a literary view of Genesis 1 that is incomplete and unbalanced. When thinking critically about Sarna’s perspective, it is possible to find the following four problems:
2: Traveling Through the Light
Now that a different perspective of literary structure and balance in Genesis 1 has been established, our attention can shift to inserting color and image into the circular structure. This chapter will require adult readers to think like children—an idea that is under emphasized in favor of employing intellect when reading sacred text. However, it is imperative that the information is absorbed as a child would view the Creation. The Clock features simple images that depict the fourteen entities of Creation. It is impossible to know how ancient artists may have drawn their images of Creation while passing their faith story from generation to generation. It is quite possible that many ancient depictions would have resembled simplistic hieroglyphic symbols. Regardless, of its ancient appearance, the fourteen icons placed around the rim of the color wheel in this chapter and the next, represent a generic understanding of the Creation.
“Let There Be Light” The first day of Creation begins with light. The icon selected to represent this initial form of light is a simple flame. Scholars have long thought that the light of the first day is not light which was created or made, but rather light that was revealed. As such, the light on the first day of Creation is often referred to as divine light…
Let There be Color With the entire spectrum now visible, it is important to talk about the colors and their respective names. The ancient Hebrew words that represented the colors of the rainbow may have been different than the words that represented dyes extracted from plants, roots, leaves, shellfish, mussels, insects, etc. This truth has resulted in much debate which, in turn, encouraged many commentaries to be written about the colors in the Bible. Most researchers conclude that it is impossible to determine the exact shade of blue, violet, purple, crimson, scarlet, or red dyes used to achieve specific colors in ancient cultures. For instance, the Bible contains no mention of violet light, or violet used as a dye. Violet was apparently thought to be a deep shade of blue (kah-khol) in the present-day Hebrew language. However, the Bible does mention a shade of blue (tek-ay’-leth) as the color name given to one of three threads used in the covering over the tabernacle. The exact shade or hue of this color is also unknown…
3: The Sixth Day
The sixth day is the apex of the priestly story of Creation. It is the day on which humankind is elected to become caretakers of all that God created. Much has been written about this day, but no other commentary offers the unique perspective gained through the images of Creation on a wheel of light. The events of the sixth day involve five complementary relationships on the color wheel. As previously stated, it is important to come as children when developing the 6th Day Clock. We cannot rely on words alone because words, by themselves, will fail us—as they have for more than 2,000 years. We must gain insight through pictures as we go through the details of this important day.
“Let the Land Produce Living Creatures . . .” Genesis 1:24 The color red (aw-dam’) is the designated color for the sixth day. This color indicates a major flow of red lifeblood into Creation. However, our understanding begins by noting that the dry land of the third day complements the making of an animal kingdom on the sixth day. The circular structure of the color wheel makes it possible to quickly discern the relationship between the dry land and the living creatures that lie on the opposite side of the color wheel. Notice that the animal kingdom includes the flesh of the human creation. The greatest confusion, regarding the third day and the sixth day, centers on a perceived contradiction over exactly when Adam was created—the third day or the sixth day? Does a contradiction actually exist between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? No! The creative activity on the sixth day of Creation causes many people to think a contradiction exists, but no incongruity is present.
4: The Seventh Day
Genesis 1 begins with a literary prelude and ends with a literary postlude. The prelude reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. ‘Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters,’” Genesis 1:1-2. The postlude reads, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. ‘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 2:1-3. The prelude and postlude flank the Creation narrative like two bookends that hold six days of creative activity between them. However, the postlude was cut off from Genesis 1 whenever the words of sacred text were divided into chapters and verses. Surely the seventh day was an integral part of P’s timekeeping theology but, for reasons unknown, this literary postlude was placed at the beginning of Genesis 2, rather than the end of Genesis 1. Perhaps the textual position of the seventh day was intentional. Placing the seventh day at the beginning of Genesis 2 prevents this day from ending the priestly account of Creation. Instead, we are forced to see the seventh day as the beginning of something . . . but the beginning of what? This is the question that must be asked and answered as we seek to understand the spiritual importance of God’s Sabbath Day of rest. The seventh day illuminates a seventh wheel of light which further develops P’s colorful theology of time, as shown in Figure 20. Additionally, the postlude, written by the priestly writer, merges God’s holy day of rest with J’s narrative of a crafty serpent. In other words, as Elohim rests from the work of creating, Adam and his wife begin life together in Eden’s garden—a wonderful interlacing of two ancient stories that fuse together into one singular account with the opening words of Genesis 3.
5: The Eighth Day
The text of Genesis 3 suggests that acquiescing to a lesser spiritual government in the early garden could not be undone. If the human mind submitted to the government of temporal time, then separation from an eternal realm of existence was inevitable. Knowledge gained is not returnable in exchange for previous naivety. As the alleged separation between eternity and temporality slowly occurred, Adam and Eve found themselves at the end of the Sabbath Day of rest. A conversation took place in the cool of the garden. Consequences were made known, flaming swords were set up, and a new day dawned. The eighth day brought with it the work of recreating. This time around the color wheel, God must not only sustain the Creation, but also recreate the entities that had been dismantled during the seventh day. The recreation would include repairing and restoring the image and likeness of God in the human creation. The dawn of an eighth day developed the priestly theology of time to its fullest extent. The eighth day brought the Jerusalem priesthood face to face with the measurement of time in their own spiritual garden. It brought about the desire to develop their own 3,000 year-long history in and out of the land of Canaan. After all, the people of Israel belonged to Elohim—Israel’s great God of light. Israel did not belong to the Babylonian sun god, Shamash, or any of the other lesser gods worshiped by surrounding cultures. Thus, we’ve come to a full circle understanding of why Genesis 1 had to precede the older story of Genesis 2. As the age-old stories were collected, refined, and preserved, the priestly rejection of polytheism, the priestly concerns over the measurement of time, and the priestly desire to record Israel’s history—each provided spiritually fertile soil for a priestly theology of time. From the perspective of the priestly writer, an eternal connection with God’s divine light and breath had to be established prior to the Sabbath Day of rest. Additionally, the human creature had to be created in the image and likeness of God prior to the Sabbath Day. Once the image and likeness of God was established within the human mind and heart, spiritual deception could then occur.
6: The Two-Clock Perspective
Part I of this book presented a theology of time believed to be established by the priestly writer of Genesis 1. Part II will further develop the theology by factoring in humanity’s present lens of hindsight. Hence, we will quickly move from ancient thoughts to present- day reflections within this chapter. As mentioned before, time on the color wheel has no relationship with the rotation of the earth or the position of celestial bodies. The passage of time is a conceptual journey around the color wheel without measuring time in 24-hour increments. Thus, the priestly theology of time adds a second clock to our timekeeping perspective.
Time on Two-Clocks The passage of time on the 8th Day Clock brings a spiritual component to humanity’s measurement of temporal time. Timelines have been around for centuries. Nearly every Bible contains one. If timelines provide us with important information, then perhaps viewing time on a color wheel may provide insight as well. Biblical timelines usually begin around 4,000 BCE and end around 70 CE—providing us with a little more than 4,000 years of insight. In contrast, the priestly theology of time will provide 14,700 years of past spiritual history, and 2,100 years of future time. Therefore, the timekeeping method introduced through the priestly lens widens our spiritual perspective by offering an understanding of biblical history that typical timelines cannot provide. In order to further develop the theology of time, we need to consider the work of anthropologists, historicists, geologists, bible scholars, and archaeologists. It is only by standing on the shoulders of many people that we are able to piece together an enlightened view of our spiritual past and a biblical view of the future.
7: Coverings, Soils, and a Fig Tree
Now that a big-picture perspective of time has been developed on the 7th and 8th Day Clocks, we can begin to examine additional aspects of Scripture through a timekeeping lens. This chapter focuses on the four coverings over the ancient tabernacle as recorded in Exodus 26, the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:1, Mark 4:1, Luke 8:1, and the parable of the fig tree, Luke 13:6. The 8th Day Clock offers exciting new insights into these age-old texts. Did the ancient writers wish to convey God’s spiritual protection of an eighth day of time? Did Jesus teach parables that reveal God’s awareness of the human journey through an eighth day of time? If the answer to these questions is yes, then we must assume that two different dimensions of time exist—one that we experience on a daily basis and another dimension that has not been part of our awareness.
Four Coverings over Time The making of the tabernacle represented a sacred place on earth where God’s spirit could symbolically dwell—a holy place. Some people might suggest that the tabernacle symbolically represents the earth. Others may prefer to think of the tabernacle as an ancient idea that no longer has any spiritual relevance. Regardless of how we interpret this sacred image in biblical text, we can deduce that the four coverings represent four unique symbols of spiritual protection for the Israelites. When describing the details of the tabernacle in Exodus, the priestly writer recorded precise instructions. The four coverings were made of a variety of materials and colors. Three coverings were derived from the animal kingdom and one covering from the plant kingdom. Scholars have differing thoughts regarding the factual history of such coverings. But, a literal existence of the coverings is not important to this discussion of time. It is the spiritual purpose of the coverings that matter.
8: Seven Churches, Seven Times
The human experience of time is limited to a past, present, and future perspective. Yet, a different dimension of time may exist—one that is governed by an eternal force that guides, steers, and autocorrects as needed. I am reminded of a common expression, “God’s time is not our time.” If God’s time is not our time, then a different realm of time must exist—a spiritual realm that we cannot control, manipulate, or manage. Is this plausible? Most people of faith believe that the words of Scripture transcend time in order to communicate to the human spirit—an overarching quality that points to a different dimension of time. In other words, the Bible is not just another history book. It should not be read as a history book. Its words must not be confined to human history. This chapter is devoted to the transcendent nature of time as revealed through the letters to the angels of the seven churches of Revelation. We know that seven churches actually existed in Asia Minor 2,000 years ago. We have maps that pinpoint their geographic location. We know that the churches are named after the ancient cities in which they existed: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. No one doubts the literal existence of these early churches. However, John of Patmos’ revelatory testimony in the book of Revelation is the subject of much debate. The debate centers on the issue of time. Scholars are divided between four different interpretations of Revelation. Three views involve the measurement of temporal time on the human clock. Yet, one view dismisses the clock altogether.
9: Midnight Hour Messages
At this point in the book, I’d like to call attention to the present transfiguration of the church on earth. She will undergo immense spiritual change as people of faith pass through the conceptual midnight hour on the 8th Day Clock. To understand the nature of the changes that the church must accept, all we need to do is look to the words of Scripture. The Bible contains twelve references to the midnight hour. Six of the references are found within the Hebrew Bible and six are found within the Greek New Testament. When considering the twelve midnight hour references, a sacred thread of teaching emerges. It transports the reader on a journey from the first Passover, in the book of Exodus, to the shipwreck off the coast of Malta, in the book of Acts. The seemingly unrelated events provide many powerful messages for the church at the midnight hour on the 8th Day Clock. Thus, this chapter will begin with a discussion of the first six midnight hour teachings in the Hebrew Bible and conclude with the six midnight hour references in the New Testament. Extrapolating the midnight hour references to examine them as a theme does not suggest that the references are taken out of their original context. Each reference will be appreciated in its original context before applying the spiritual lessons to the present hour of midnight on the 8th Day Clock. At first glance, it may be difficult to perceive a sacred thread of teaching. On the surface the references do not appear to have anything in common with each other. Yet, they have much in common. The relationships between the references are discovered at a deeper level of thought. The two questions to keep in mind while reviewing the twelve references are as follows: 1.) What is happening at the precise hour of midnight? 2.) What can we learn from the twelve midnight-hour activities?
10: Time, Times, and Half a Time
The priestly perspective of time offers a healthy view of humanity’s spiritual beginnings . . . but what about end times? Do we need to develop a healthy theology of humanity’s spiritual future? In particular, can the Day Clock help provide any insight into the phrase time, times, and half-a-time? Elaborate ideas spring up from deep within the human imagination when people try to interpret this phrase. Even before the time of Daniel, 605–530 BCE, other prophets shared their inspired knowledge about the future—often in the form of seemingly far-fetched visions! Daniel desperately wanted to understand his people’s spiritual destiny. After receiving incredible insight, Daniel still wanted to know, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” A man clothed in linen replied, “It will be for a time, times and half-a-time, Daniel 12:6-7.
Unpacking the Phrase Today, we know as much as Daniel knew 2,600 years ago. It is difficult to understand the meaning of the time, times, and half-a-time phrase beyond the mathematical reality of its own claim. Time, times, and half-a-time equals 3 and 1/2 times—but what does that mean? Exactly! When no quantifiable value is given to the word time, it is impossible to discern anything beyond 3 and 1/2 times. Time is relative to what time is measured against. Therefore, we need a measurement of time to equal something as demonstrated below.
- If time is measured as 1 season, then time, times, and half-a-time equals 3 and ½ seasons, or 1 + [1 + 1] + ½ = 3 and ½ seasons.
- If time is measured as 2,100 years, then time, times, and half-a-time equals 7,350 years, or 2,100 + [2,100 + 2,100] + 1,050 = 7,350 years.
- If time is measured as 1,200 months, then time, times, and half-a-time equals 4,200 months, or 1,200 + [1,200 +1,200] + 600 = 4,200 months.
- If time is measured as 600 days, then time, times, and half-a-time equals 2,100 days, or 600 + [600 + 600] + 300 = 2,100 days
Epilogue: Tolling Into the Church of Tomorrow
Peace on earth. Is it attainable? I believe it is. But first, humanity must identify and overthrow the lesser spiritual government at play in the garden of life. We must reject the government that produces destructive ideologies which cause mental, emotional, and psychological distress. We must put an end to the spiritual government that requires a continuance of injustice by rewarding first place positions of power in the world’s hierarchical systems. We must dethrone the spiritual government that lives a well-hidden, undetected life behind the face of the human clock. A healthy theology of time begins by addressing the truth about the age-old subject of bondage to sin. We must confront the powerful spiritual government lives behind every clock and calendar. We must acknowledge that this government silently converses with the human mind without disclosing the sheer immensity of its power. We must educate ourselves regarding the spiritual power behind our own timekeeping invention. Is the measurement of time sinful or evil? No! Is the human clock evil? No! However, the measurement of time and the invention of the clock introduced the human mind to a living, growing realm of spiritual power that gradually pulls us toward spiritual darkness instead of pushing us toward spiritual light. This is true of one’s personal journey through temporal time as well as the collective journey of the human spirit. This slow tug or pull toward darkness is the craftiness of time’s deceptive nature. When poisoning occurs in small doses, its negative affect on the human soul is almost never realized.
 Tickle, Phyllis The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House, 2008
 Friedman, Richard Elliott. The Bible with Sources Revealed, Pg. 3, 4, 5. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2003
 Sarna, Nahum N. The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis. Philadelphia; The Jewish Publication Society, 1989
 Smith, Mark S. The Priestly Vision of Genesis One, Page 89. Minneapolis, MN; Fortress Press, 2010