Evening and Morning

When we’re keeping the biblical feasts it’s helpful to understand God’s definition of a Day: when we move from one day to the next. As we get this right, we’re getting a little closer to aligning with God’s rhythm and calendar.

We experience days in a repeating 24-hour cycle of light and dark, so defining a day is deciding when one day ends and the next one begins within this recurring cycle.

There are a few obvious choices: midnight, as observed in the West; sunset or evening, as observed in Judaism; and sunrise or morning, as in some agricultural societies.

The traditions of Judaism are grounded in a biblical precedent for starting the day in the evening: God consistently identifies a day as the evening and the morning (Ge 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), suggesting evening is followed by morning within this daily cycle.

And since the very first day began in with darkness first, God creating the heaven (space), Earth and water before creating light (Ge 1:1-2), which all occurred all on the first day (Ex 20:11), Day 1 must have ended with a transition from light to darkness to begin Day 2, which must also then have begun with a dark period, followed by a period of light. This pattern of starting a day in darkness would then necessarily have continued every day since: starting each day in the evening around sunset, as light fades into darkness.

And thousands of years later, as Moses taught Israel to keep sabbath, even enforcing the death penalty upon those who willfully violated it (Nu 15:32, 35), and since God tells us to work the remaining six days (Ex 20:9), He certainly instructed His people as to when the sabbath day begins and ends, if there was ever any question about it, so they would all be sure to cease from work for the entire sabbath day and not put the nation in danger by breaking their covenant with God.

And still thousands of years later, as God walked the earth in the Person of His beloved Son, though He violated much Jewish tradition, man-made laws wrongly imposed on His people, He never did violate His own Sabbath command (1Pe 2:22), nor did He challenge their understanding of a Day, when it started or ended, which they had evidently been practicing ever since Torah was given at Sinai.

Challenging the Jewish understanding of a Day is essentially claiming it has been incorrect during the entire history of Israel as a nation, from the time of Moses right down through the lives of Christ and the apostles, and that no prophet of God ever called them out on this or corrected it. It implies they were all constantly violating sabbath, ignorantly breaking God’s law by working on sabbath, violating their covenant relationship with God every single week. It’s inconceivable, as careful as God encourages us to be in observing His laws (Ps 119:4), that Christ Himself would have made this basic kind of error Himself, not pointing it out and neglecting to instruct His people in how to observe sabbath correctly.

We may be certain that Jesus Christ, as well as all of His apostles, approved of and lived by the Jewish definition of a Day, and so should we.

This is why we begin to honor Sabbath at sunset, and why we start celebrating biblical feasts with an evening meal.

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3 thoughts on “Evening and Morning”

  1. Here’s a link to a presentation claiming to prove that the day starts in the morning. Notice (at about min 2:30) how the author fails to understand what all God created on Day 1, thinking Day 1 starts in verse 3, such that earth and water were created before the first day. His error is evidently supported by this oversight. At least the music is a bit mysterious.

  2. Hi Tim,
    I thought I might offer some thoughts/scripture that might indicate a different timeline.
    Messiah clearly defines that a day is 12 hours or close to that.
    Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
    In Genesis there are distinct divisions made, as in dry land and seas.
    14And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to distinguish between the day and the night, and let them be signs to mark the seasons and days and years. 15And let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so.

    16God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. And He made the stars as well.

    17God set these lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, 18to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
    The apparent wording in the Creation story seems to say evening and morning indicate a day, but after acknowledging Messiahs’ words and the Genesis account in 1:14-17, could cast a different understanding of its true meaning.
    Now, I don’t and will never place myself in the seat of a scoffer or scholar, but I am aware that all punctuation and word sequence and definitions are largely dependent on translators and commentaries( which almost always say the same thing every other commentary says) that are using Masoretic(Pharisee) translations.
    I think this text might do much in explaining why most sabbatarians today and for the past 2000 years have followed the traditional Roman calendar and sequence of days and evening-morning concept of a day.
    Jeremiah 8:8 How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us’? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.

  3. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I agree; in certain contexts, such as the one you mentioned (Jn 11:9), a day should be understood as a 12-hour period. However, I don’t see the connection between this and the Roman (or Gregorian) calendar, or how this provides a different definition of when a biblical 24-hour day begins, or how changing the punctuation in Ge 1 fits in.

    Can you elaborate?

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