When Does a Day Begin?
How many ways are there to begin a day? According to the Roman calendar in use today, a
new day begins at the stroke of midnight. Some cultures begin them at sunset, some at dark, and a growing number
of late, at dawn, or sunrise, or daylight.
It has been believed for centuries that Biblical days begin in the evening with the dark part of the 24-hour period
coming first. That has been the practice of the Jews and most middle-easterners for at least the past several
But is this method of counting time really correct and Biblical? Did the Jews get this from the Bible, or from
Babylon, as some claim?
And, some might ask, what difference does it make? Whether we begin a day at evening or a few hours later at midnight,
or even at dawn, what is the big deal? How might it affect our salvation under Yahweh's plan? Please consider
According to the Bible, sin is defined as the breaking of Yahweh's Law. You seldom hear this from the pulpits
of nominal Christianity, but we are told several times that only those who have the "testimony of Yahshua
the Messiah AND keep the Commandments of Yahweh" will be saved (Rev. 12:17 and 14:12).
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Deu 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of Yahweh your El
that I give you.
Matt. 19:17 (Yahshua speaking) …if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
"The Commandments" and the "Law" referred to in the foregoing Scriptures are the Ten Commandments
and their respective applications. For instance, the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shall not commit adultery,"
covers all sexual sin; the Ninth, "Thou shall not bear false witness," covers all forms of deception.
In like manner, the Fourth Commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,.." encompasses a 24-hour
period of time, one-seventh of all time, coming to us each and every week. Therefore, it is imperative that we
know when a day begins, so that we will start "keeping" the Sabbath day at the right time.
If we don't keep it properly (which certainly includes keeping it at the right time), then we are sinning - we
are breaking, or violating, the law.
If we observe it from Friday evening to Saturday evening, when it should be from Saturday morning to Sunday morning,
then we have profaned about 12 hours of "holy time."
Conversely, if we wait until Saturday morning to begin observing, when it actually started the evening before,
and follow through until Sunday morning, we have broken the Commandment.
And some, strangely enough, go even a step farther. Some now teach that only the daylight part of a day, from
dawn to dusk, or sunrise to sunset, is to be considered a "day." Nights don't count at all. This would
mean that the Sabbath day, being on average 12 hours of daylight, would encompass only one-fourteenth of total
time, instead of one-seventh.
So, as you can see, knowing the correct time to begin the day is very important. In the remaining space, I want
to comment on each of these methods of reckoning. A "day" is used in at least three different ways:
1) An era, or period of time, i.e., "in Adam's day," "in my grandfather's day," "The Day
of the LORD (Yahweh)."
2) A 24-hour period of time, the time it takes the earth to make a complete revolution on its axis.
3) The daylight part of a 24-hour day; on average amounting to 12 hours.
An example of number 1 is what is referred to in Biblical prophecy as "the day of the LORD" (KJV), the
day of Yahweh, written in Scripture about forty times. It will certainly begin on a future 24-hour day, but is
prophesied to last for about 1,000 years. Another example is Israel's sojourn in the wilderness:
Heb 3:8-9 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your
fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Here we see that this particular "day" lasted for forty years.
But numbers 2 and 3 are the ones we are concerned with in this study. Yahshua knew how long a day is, and how
it is divided.
(John 11:9-10) Yahshua answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not
stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light."
My main thrust in this short article is to show that, Biblically, the day starts in the evening, and lasts until
the next evening. There are many, many Scriptures that support this belief, but only a few will be given here.
In Genesis 1:5, the first reference to day and night literally says, according to the Hebrew-Greek Interlinear
Bible, "…and was evening and was morning day one" (last part). This is repeated for days two through
six, in verses 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31. Some versions say, "and evening came and morning came, one day."
All are consistent that evening comes first.
Now notice in Leviticus 23, where all of Yahweh's annual feasts are enumerated. In verse 27, we are told,
Lev 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement:
Note well, on the tenth day. Now notice verse 32, still speaking of this day of Atonement:
Lev 23:32 It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month
at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.
So we see, v. 27, this annual Sabbath is to be observed on the 10th day of the seventh month, and, v. 32, it begins
as the ninth day ends, in the evening. It is kept for 24 hours, until the evening of the 10th day, when it comes
to an end, just as the 11th day begins.
Some say that, yes, Scripture does say this, but this day is different from all others; all the rest begin at sunrise
or daylight. I say this is nonsense. If this were so, then Yahweh would be inconsistent. This would be confusing,
and we are told that Yahweh is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
Some others say this day is so special, that Yahweh begins it 12 hours early. Also, some say, Night represents
sin and evil, while Day represents good, therefore Day has to come first. My answer to that is, our Savior, Yahshua
the Messiah was born at night, and there was no sin involved with Him.
Yahshua was constantly accused of Sabbath breaking. This was because the religious leaders of the day had built
"fences" around the law, adding things they thought necessary to prevent people from transgressing the
Law of Yahweh. One of these "fences" was the declaration that it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath day.
Mark 3:1-2 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And
they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
Most of the people did not know that He would heal on the Sabbath, and so we find:
Mat 8:16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with
a word and healed all the sick.
Mark 1:32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were
possessed with devils.
These verses plainly show that the people knew the Sabbath was past after the sun had set and evening had come.
See Luke 4 also.
For those of you who think the new day begins at dawn, daylight, or sunrise, consider this verse:
John 20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw
that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
This occurred Sunday morning after Yahshua had been impaled on the previous Wednesday. Note that it was already
the first day of the week, but it was not yet daylight. If the day-begins-at-dawn's-light theory were correct,
this would still have been the Sabbath. But it plainly says that it was both "still dark," and also
the "first day of the week."
One of the reasons Yahshua came was to restore what had been lost (Matthew 5:17; Luke 4:18). If the Jews had been
keeping the Sabbath at the wrong time for 400 years, then it is a certainty that Yahshua would have corrected them
on that point. Yet we find no mention of any such correction. Also, He would have inspired His disciples to teach
against such an error. Again, we find no mention.
Further, the Apostle Paul, personally taught by the Savior Himself, could later say that he was a Pharisee, and
"blameless concerning the law" (Philippians 3:5-6). Paul could not have said such a thing if he had
been keeping the Sabbath at the wrong time all his life.
These kinds of things show the danger of using human reasoning and one or two obscure Scriptures to support the
theory that days begin at dawn, and ignoring the preponderance of evidence showing an evening beginning. ~ FB