‘Time Zones Were Invented for the Railroad’: Two principles that give life eternal significance

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    Have you ever wondered who invented time zones and why? I had not. They make intuitive sense since the sun obviously comes up at different times for different people.

    Then I saw this headline: “Time Zones Were Invented for the Railroad.” I could not imagine how this could be true, so I had to read the article.

    It reminds us that before mechanical clocks were invented, people used sundials to tell the time. “Noon” was when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. As a result, each town had its own version of time even after mechanical timepieces were introduced.

    Then came the transcontinental railroad. As people left a city to travel by rail across the country, watches had to be reset frequently to accommodate the different times at each station.

    Enter Sir Sandford Fleming. A Canadian railroad engineer, Fleming suggested dividing the world into twenty-four longitudinally based time zones, each on an hourly variation. The US adopted this idea nationally, which created four different zones based on degrees of longitude.

    A year later, England, Scotland, and Wales joined us. Eventually, the rest of the world followed suit.

    Two observations follow.

    One: People we have never heard of can influence our lives in ways we cannot imagine.

    Before reading the article, I had no idea how or why Sir Sandford Fleming was relevant to my life. But every moment of every day I am in Dallas, I am in the Central Time Zone. Every time I communicate with colleagues and friends in the Eastern Time Zone, I must account for the difference.

    Two principles that give life eternal significance

    We find this principle throughout Scripture.

    Moses created the first governmental structure in Jewish history when he “chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and tens” (Exodus 18:25). This was because his father-in-law Jethro, a man forgotten by most, gave…

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