Why are cycles of SEVEN in all life forms?
seen that the cultural and religious model doesn't sufficiently explain
why humans organize their activity around a seven day weekly cycle -- a
rhythm divorced from the environment. The biological model buttressed
by the recent discoveries of circaseptan rhythms in life forms
"millions" of years older than ancient Israel, clearly puts biology
before culture. The further uncovering of circaseptans in plants and
animals leaves the cultural model relevant only to humans, and then
after the fact.
But the biological model, while having the
evidence for the "very ancient origin" of circaseptans, still doesn't
have an answer for why. Why seven? And why seven in "primitive"
one-celled organisms, in bacteria? Why seven in all life forms?
this not compelling evidence for a common beginning, for common design,
for a common designer who could so powerfully program his creation to a
cycle he set in motion? To a rhythm tuned to his own activity of work
and rest? Let's see if yet another model can answer the remaining
questions and better fit the evidence of history, culture, religion and
For that model we will now draw evidence from one of
mankind's oldest books -- the Bible. This book, which claims inspiration
and direct revelation from an almighty God, begins with the story of
creation. This story is framed within seven daily cycles.
How is the number 7 linked to creation and the Creator?
the first six days of evenings and mornings the Creator established
orbits of sun, moon and earth for time, cycles and seasons; he prepared
the earth to receive living things; he formed fully developed plant,
marine and animal life; and on the sixth day made his creation zenith --
man, male and female.
"So God created man in his own
image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created
them. . . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And
there was evening, and there was morning -- the sixth day" (Genesis 1:27, 31).
work was now over, but the week wasn't. Nor was God finished with
creating. As Dr. Charles V. Dorothy has convincingly explained in his
Genesis Classes, there is no chapter division in the original Hebrew.
What our English Bibles call Genesis 2:1-4 should be the conclusion, the
apex of chapter one:
"Thus the heavens and the
earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day
God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day
from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day
and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God
had created and made.
"This is the history of the heavens
and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made
the earth and the heavens . . ." (Genesis 2:1-4, NKJV)
last act in the creation week was to rest and make holy the seventh day
as a memorial to his creation. He closed the cycle of creation at seven
days and set the clock of time moving forward to this day. In all life
resides that circaseptan beat echoing, like a rifle shot in a vast rock
canyon, backward in time to the first seven days of dynamic creation.
living thing made testifies of brilliant design, of divine
craftsmanship, of marvelous function, of intricate interactions with the
environment and other life forms, of mystery, of beauty. From roses to
redwoods, from salmon to sharks, from elephants to eagles, all life
cries to be inspected, admired and praised for its peculiar display of
divine handiwork. Even man marvels in awe when he beholds himself:
you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I
praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are
wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:13-14).
fingerprints of a divine creator cover his creation. To behold life on
earth in its billions of varieties and go forth claiming it to be the
result of blind, random, evolutionary accidents, takes a "faith" and a
"belief" that defies understanding or logic.
Not only did the
Designer and Creator leave his fingerprints on everything he made, he
left his calling card bonded to living cells telling us when he made
life: in a seven day creation week. That's when he wound up the clock of
life and set it ticking in each of its forms to a rhythm of sevens.
gave life the frequency of seven. It's the beat of creation, a harmonic
that points directly to the life-starter, life-giver himself!
The more I look at creation and especially the miracle of life, I am forced to conclude with the psalmist that only "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). In the New Testament the Apostle Paul stops short of calling unbelievers "fools," but makes this point:
since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his
eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
after exhibiting his divine power in six days of creation did God
choose to rest? Did he "need" to rest? What can we learn about his
divine nature in this different, yet creative act? What does God do to
time to make it "holy"? Why did he think this cycle of six work days and
a seventh of rest so important that he included it in the middle of the
Is there some information about the divine
nature contained in the creation week that mankind and even Christianity
has missed? Is there knowledge to discover in the seventh-day Sabbath
that can help humans to spiritually get in sync with their Creator? Is
there important data to discover that can put us in harmony with the
What did Christ have in mind when he said the seventh day Sabbath "was made for man," and when he further declared himself "Lord even of the Sabbath"? (Mark 2:27-28).
What are the rhythms of sevens?
modern science of chronobiology (the study of how living things handle
time) teamed with the resolving power of computers recently discovered
-- much to everyone's surprise -- innate seven day (circaseptan) cycles
in a wide variety of life forms, including us humans.
the seven day cycle is not a cultural or religious invention. Rather,
we can now say these four things about the rhythm of seven:
It is of "very ancient" biological origin;
It is independent from environmental cycles of sun, moon and stars;
It is imbedded in all living cells and in short,
It is the beat to which all life is tuned.
humans, we found the circaseptan rhythm to be the key coordinating
rhythm for a complex myriad of cycles, all harmonizing to make up our
body clock. The biological base of seven day cycles (also called heptads
or circaseptans) clearly gives this amazing building block priority in
time: it existed before culture or religion ever recognized a seven day
week in history. Such an intricate, indisputable base and such a
fundamental common design require us to reconsider this double question:
is there a common beginning, a common designer of all life?
have suggested that the recently uncovered, stunning evidence of
circaseptan rhythms should cause inquiring minds to look for answers in
one of mankind's most ancient books -- the Bible. This book, as commonly
known, claims to be an inspired and direct revelation from an almighty
God. But what does it tell us about the Creator's relation to time? Does
the Bible say anything regarding time cycles, especially one built on
seven [days]? And most importantly, does this revelation say anything
about the effect of life rhythms on the most neglected element in human
beings: our spirit? [Put another way, the Bible reveals God to be Spirit
(Genesis 1:3; John 4:24). Is it logical that the Creator would leave
his creatures with no spiritual avenue to reach him?]
Does time tell a story and a story tells time?
God created mankind he also created time -- or did he perhaps connect
man to a paced rhythm already a part of his being? Ultimately we cannot
know that answer, but we do know the following. As we learned in our
Genesis class (see add below), the early chapters of Genesis portray the
foundational relationships of our world. "In the beginning" the great
Elohim gave man relationship to himself as Maker, to his mate, to all
other living things. God also gave all humans, in their parents Adam and
Eve, a relationship to the movement of life and action-- time.
Stephen W. Hawking, acclaimed as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein, in his work A Brief History of Time remarked:
"The concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the
universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What
did God do before he created the universe? He didn't reply: He was
preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said
that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time
did not exist before the beginning of the universe"  [emphasis
Whenever time might have begun, it is inseparably
connected to human origins in the creation story. In fact, the story in
Genesis 1 is framed within seven daily cycles. The chronology of
creation builds each day in this pattern: "evening and morning, day
one;" "evening and morning, the second day"  [footnote: note the
switch from "one" to "second"]. This building pattern reaches its next
to last height with the making of man and woman on the sixth day (v
26-31). The crown and climax of the week, however, is the seventh day
when God rests and hallows it as a memorial of all his hands had wrought
(the account continues into 2:4, as commentators recognize). God who
made time now made holy the time of the seventh day:
"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."
when the Creator established Israel as a nation (Exodus 12-19), he gave
his newly redeemed people ten commandments to be the spiritual and
moral pillars upon which a national character could be built (Exodus
20). In the middle of that law he thundered from a mountain top was a
unique commandment, one which man would never have thought out for
himself. "Thou shall not murder" makes civilized sense, but "rest on the
seventh day" is another matter. Many who honor this great law code
themselves assume that its basis must be arbitrary. Let us look
carefully at the two versions (statements) of the Ten to see what
reasons are given.
"Remember the Sabbath day by
keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the
seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. . . .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 20:8-11).
Scripture gives a reason all right, but it is one grounded in the spiritual world: it pictures a divine act in creation itself.
Now Deuteronomy (the name means "second law" or repetition of the law ).
that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you
out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the
Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15).
time Scripture gives a quite different reason: the people who have the
revelation of the Sabbath were delivered--given rest from slavery.
Scripture presents two important motives behind the Sabbath. But no
one, to our knowledge, has ever demonstrated a physical/scientific
reason behind this law. Based on the brief summaries of a vast body of
research given in the previous installments, we can now add a third
reason to the two given in Scripture. In the ebb and flow of time, God
has engineered-in a cycle of pause points -- places to stop from the
mechanics of living to consider the purpose of life itself. The divine
design calls for this life-harmonizing pause to occur every seven days.
The Hebrew verb shabath means to cease/rest; hence our name (noun) for
the seventh day "Sabbath" also comes from Hebrew (shabbath).
the word Sabbath does not mean seven, it has become inextricably bound
up the concept of seven--a significant number in the Bible. It will
enrich our understanding of the importance of this numeric concept if we
quickly trace a few of its uses throughout the Bible.
What is the SPECIAL place the number 7 has with God?
number seven has special place among numbers used of God in Scripture.
Till now we have had our focus on the seven day (circaseptan) cycle in
living things, on the biblical creation account and on the significance
of the seventh-day Sabbath. But the number seven is associated with
things and times other than the week.
Seven's place is eminent
among "sacred" numbers in scripture. For example: the creation account,
and thus the Bible itself, begin with seven Hebrew words which contain a
total of 28 (4x7) letters in those seven words (Genesis 1:1). The New
Testament also opens with seven words introducing the genealogy of
Christ (Matthew 1:1). Beyond those beginnings, seven is typically
associated with acts of completion, fulfillment and perfection. We can
certainly see those meanings coming through from our study of creation.
rhythm of seven is a pattern for even greater blocks of time. We find a
sabbatical year cycle of letting the land rest every seven years ;
and there was a year of jubilee, which followed seven times seven years
(the fiftieth year)  . There were seven sacred days on the calendar
God gave Israel. The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring and the
Feast of Tabernacles in the fall each lasted seven days . The Feast
of Trumpets arrives on the first day of the seventh month -- which also
marks the beginning to the civil year and is believed to be the day of
the month when creation began  . A congregation of annual holy days
appears in the seventh month -- the Day of Atonement, Feast of
Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, each bringing clear pictures of the
coming Messianic age  .
Old Testament worship ritual often
came in sevens: the sprinkling of bullock's blood seven times and the
burnt offering of seven lambs; the cleansed leper was sprinkled seven
times  . Diseased General Naaman was told by Elisha to dip in the
Jordan river seven times to be cleansed of his leprosy  . The
priests encompassed Jericho seven times, Elijah's servant looked for
rain from God seven times  .
In the New Testament Jesus fed
the four thousand from seven loaves of bread and a few fishes, the seven
basketful collected afterward may teach us that Christ can satisfy our
hunger . He sent seventy disciples out to evangelize -- symbolically
all mankind which was viewed as being comprised of seventy nations
. Revelation, the great book of future events, if full of sevens.
There are seven churches; seven golden candlesticks; seven stars; seven
angels; seven lamps of fire; seven spirits of God; a book of seven
seals; a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes; seven angels with seven
trumpets; a dragon and a beast with seven heads; seven last plagues; and
seven golden bowls full of the final wrath of God.
The prophet Daniel was told the Messiah would arrive after "seventy sevens"  and in the first chapter of Matthew the genealogy of Jesus is organized into three groups of fourteen (2x7) generations.
highlights other "sacred numbers" each having special symbolic meaning,
but seven seems to rise above them all as the rhythmic action of a
living God in the affairs of man. From creation, to a call to pause and
worship, to the plan of God in prophecy we find a rhythm of seven as if a
fingerprint, a calling card of God.
What are the two things man needs to know the MOST?
Billy Graham once summed up the two things he believed mankind needed most to know:
The nature of the One who created and orders the universe; and,
The nature of man himself. He is correct, of course, and this needed knowledge is at the center of all truth.
the very center of the ten commandments, Yahweh ("the Lord") our God
placed a unique seventh day rest law, forever enshrining in time and
symbol the core truth that he is our personal Creator and
Savior/Redeemer. This is the "holiness" of the Sabbath -- a remembrance
and a personal reaction to the primal fact that we were made by God
"after his image" for a divine purpose.
And what is that divine
purpose? The Creator's purpose makes plain man's proneness to evil, his
lack of virtue, his mortality-- and a divine purpose providing a
graceful solution, a way of deliverance from evil and death, and, most
importantly, a divine purpose that leads to eternal life as sons and
daughters of God and brothers and sisters of Christ (Romans 8; Hebrews
Just as chronobiology has discovered the harmonizing power of
the seven day (circaseptan) cycle to keep our bodies in sync -
-homeostasis, or equilibrium -- the seventh-day Sabbath was given to
keep us spiritually and morally in sync with ourselves, our Maker and
his divine plan for us.
Desmond Ford in his book The Forgotten Day notes:
Sabbath, by putting all things in true perspective, meets that need of
the soul to worship and adore the highest good. The distinction between
Creator and creature is marked out by creation's memorial, and weekly
the reminder is afforded that none of the things made are adequate to
satisfy the human spirit, and therefore they should never receive first
place in the soul's adoration." 
The Sabbath serves as an oasis in time -- given to refresh and nourish us on our journey through life.
truth is supremely important; it is why God calls this time holy. Only
the Sabbath commandment begins with the word "remember." This most
critical knowledge under heaven is enshrined in the call to "remember"
-- remember that there is a living God; that we are made in his image
with great purpose; that he is a loving God who has given us a beautiful
earth to enjoy; and as a Father he gives us guidance in how to live
upon it. And remember that he has the power to deliver us from the
captivity of sin and death, to create in us a new heart, a new
character, and to give us life eternal in the never ending Kingdom of
Can we now grasp why God made the seventh day holy and
included in the great moral/ethical package he delivered from Mt. Sinai?
Seen from this perspective, is it any wonder that the Son of God would
say "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27)?
Ford offers a mini-sermon that God may have delivered to humanity's [the] first parents.
is as though God had said to Adam after his creation on the sixth day,
'Adam, behold this wonderful world -- full of objects animate and
inanimate which call for admiration; but beware -- none of them, nor all
of them, can satisfy you, not even Eve. You were made for me, your
heart can find rest only in me, its source; therefore let us spend your
first whole day together as a pattern for your life hereafter.'
that juncture God ushered in sacred time with the glory of the first
sunset Adam had ever seen. What a wonderful time that first whole day of
existence must have been for Adam and Eve! They walked and talked with
their Maker and found in him their fountain of joy and their source of
truth and strength. That first Sabbath was God's acted-out invitation to
all men to find their rest in him." 
invited his creation to pause with him every seventh day for a walk in
the cool of his garden. To commune with him and enjoy the nourishing
fruit and clear water of his special oasis. Refreshed and in harmony, we
then set forth for another six days of work, achievement and
How can man be in harmony with GOD?
key control to keep humankind in harmony with the created order and
with the Creator and Savior himself is the Sabbath institution. It
isn't, by any means, the sole path to discovering God and his plan, but
it has that as its prime purpose.
Here is how the biblical "circaseptan" [the Genesis heptad]
could operate to accomplish a harmonizing rhythm between man and God.
At the national societal level, a day of rest requires intellectual,
philosophical, legal and moral commitment to its institution. Commercial
and social affairs would be integrated into a six-day work, seventh-day
rest cycle. The Sabbath would be used by society for physical rest and
relaxation, for family and social bonding, for biblical teaching, for
meditation and spiritual renewal.
At the personal level, a Sabbath would provide an organizing principle for daily life. God's seven day cycle, [the biblical heptad]
would become our cycle and thus our schedules, plans, and affairs would
all be influenced by it. Rather than attempting to fit the things of
God into our too busy world, we would instead, with purpose, be engaged
in fitting our lives into the plan and rhythm of our Creator. Now that
we know of the biological base, the circaseptan of life, this would
truly be "getting into the flow" of power, in tune with the pulse of
Of course, mere outward adoption of a seventh-day
rest cycle for a nation or an individual without real intellectual and
heart involvement would yield only limited benefits. Without sincere
spiritual involvement, a Sabbath institution would become in time an
ossified relic of history, a cultural tradition. It would sink to a
symbol devoid of message and power -- a one dimensional day like any
other day of the week.
Witness how the Sabbath day impacts the
average Jew in modern Israel today. Except for a few radical legalists,
it is a secular day of nationalistic identity borrowed from the
religious roots of an ancient past. Witness also how little the Western
world is influenced by its substitute Sabbath -- Sunday  . It's good
to stamp our money "In God We Trust," but the power of the phrase is
unlocked only when an individual or nation truly trusts in the living
Symbols can only point to the power, to the knowledge, to the
message that stand behind them. In the case of the seventh day, we've
been given a symbol of time, a rhythmic sign of time in unstoppable
motion. We have in this day a symbol, which if examined, pondered and
tasted, would tell us of creation and of the nature of the Creator
himself. It would tell us of our salvation, of our future and of our
The seventh-day Sabbath also offers us a perfect picture
of the soon-coming Kingdom of God, his Millennium of rest and peace on
earth. Utopia follows the age of man that has ended in futile work, much
suffering and many, many wars. The millennial Sabbath is a welcome
relief coming as it does with the return of the Creator and Savior
himself, Jesus Christ. He ushers in a new Garden of Eden that envelops
the entire earth. He cleans the environment, and with his saints
rebuilds a beautiful world -- as it has always been his plan to do. And
once again, like Eden, God will walk with his people in the cool of the
day. He invites us to enter that rest with him.
since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful
that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. ...For somewhere
he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh
day God rested from all his work." ...There remains, then, a
Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest
also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:1-11).
if not pondered, if not entered, the Sabbath remains an unlocked symbol
-- its benefits limited, its great message unpublished.
Is it time to get in time with God?
labor to measure the rhythms, movements, orbits and energy of stars and
galaxies in the hope of seeing back in time to the very origins of the
universe -- to its creation, the "big bang." Astronomers look heavenward
with ever deepening penetration searching to find clues to when and how
the universe was created. Steven Hawking has this insight:
the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people
have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to
a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these
laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have
looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up
the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe
had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator." 
did "wind up the clockwork" leaving his fingerprints all over the
clock. The new science of chronobiology has had some of science's most
impressive successes in seeing back to creation with its discovery of
"primitive origins" to the seven day cycle found in human cells and
other life forms.
God somehow coded into the infinite complexities
of life a clock that ticks to the time of a seven day rhythm. We humans
have no control over these innate circaseptan rhythms and benefit best
by simply living in sympathetic harmony with them. More importantly, the
seven day cycle in physical nature points beyond temporal reality to a
far greater spiritual reality.
God, with masterful design, uses
time itself and a seventh day rest to call his creation to pause and
listen. He has a message which explains why we were created and for what
special purpose. His words are so majestic, so exciting, so
unbelievable, so beyond our mundane world that they could only be
comprehended as coming from God himself. His message dispels ignorance,
solves life's grand mysteries, and offers a future too beautiful to be
His personal message introduces himself as our creator, he
gives us dignity and a special relationship to himself by declaring we
have been made in his image, he then offers to save us into an eternity
with him -- if we but follow him. He invites us to join him on his
journey, to walk with him, to talk with him, to learn from him, to even
rule with him. How could we refuse such an invitation?
of the seven day cycle was never intended to be a mystery, but a call
from the Creator to get in harmony, in sync, with him. It is high time
we get in step with God.