I remember that after the Asian Tsunami hit, scientists remarked about how the earthquake that caused it was so powerful that it caused the earth to wobble. Well, it appears that it has happened again:
Brian Baptie, of the British Geological Survey, explains how the Earth’s lack of rigidity is what allows changes to the planet’s rotation – and the length of a day.
"The earth is not rigid and movements of its constituent parts, including the atmosphere and oceans, occur. These effects introduce a wobble – a movement of the Earth’s axis – which is small but detectable," he says.
~ BBC News, (4 March 2010). How Chile’s quake could have shortened a day. Available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8547955.stm.
This “wobble” is estimated to have shortened the day on earthy by 6.8 microseconds. Not much, granted, but measurable.
Have you ever considered why the earth day is not exactly 24 hours? It appears that the calendar Noah used was of thirty day months, not an alternation between 29 and 30 that a lunar calendar would have (see http://www.abcog.org/calendar.htm).
There are some that would like to argue that a calendar exists within the pages of the Bible. But, does it? If so, it definitely is not a calculated calendar. Why? As advanced as the Egyptians were, surely they would have had a calculated calendar.
Consider these events, and then consider why God would not have commanded a very specific calendar in every detail:
1. The flood. Do you think perhaps that the breaking up of the fountains of the deep caused an earthquake that caused a wobble?
2. Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still, and it happened. Do you think that would have affected the length of a day? Do you think that might affect the rotation of the earth around the sun?
3. God gave Hezekiah a sign that he would live longer by moving back the sundial shadow 15 degrees. Same questions as number 2.
Now, I am not arguing against a calculated calendar, but rather showing why calendar instructions would be purposefully vague. In essence, a calendar is just a tool. It is an important tool, naturally, since it means there are certain days in which God wants to meet with us. There is no reason a calculated calendar cannot serve that function.
Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?
~ Am 3:3 (NASB)
The Romans were no slouches when it came to astrology, either, as many of the ancient worlds would have been. The astronomical knowledge gained from the practice would have meant a calculated calendar, although a lot of the emperors tinkered with it in order to give themselves status. Before them, the Babylonians were given to knowledge of science. The Jews had dealings with both, and so it seems silly that there wouldn’t have been a calculated calendar by the time Jesus came onto the scene.
At any rate, claims that God gave a calendar and how to calculate it in Scripture are suspect at best. Arguments against a calculated calendar are suspect as well, however. What is the alternative? To set your watch by the sun like they did in the old westerns? To sit once a month on a mountain and look for a crescent? While not completely far-fetched ideas, they make planning, making appointments, difficult at best. Furthermore, what really weakens the argument is that most calendars in use came about by observation. That is, they got their calculations based upon observing the sun and moon over time.
Perhaps there's a larger lesson in all this.
The fact that mega-quakes cause such a slight reduction in time should show how strong our God was, in putting the solar system together in the first place — and how strong He is to keep things that way.
@Richard: I sincerely hope I didn't give the impression that calendar vagueness was the only or even the most important lesson to be gleaned from this. I could come up with 2 more rather quickly, in fact.
For example, a corollary to calendar vagueness would be that God is testing us to see how well we get along with each other when things are not so concrete. Sadly, I think most of us are probably failing that test.
Have you heard David Johnson's sermon on "Why Does God Allow Blessings?" [broken link removed by admin] He makes a good point that sometimes we stop at the first lesson during trials, and we might miss other reasons for the trial. Then, he asks what can we learn from blessings.