United Church of God, ia
Portland and Hood River Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

When is the Sabbath to be Kept?

Our convention of starting a new day at midnight is an arbitrary, humanly devised practice. God, who created the heavenly bodies and set them in motion to mark the passage of time (Genesis 1:14), counts time differently—from evening to evening.

We see this indicated in the creation account in Genesis 1. After dividing day from night, God tells us that "the evening and the morning were the first day" (verse 5). "Evening" is mentioned first, followed by "morning." God describes each day’s creation in similar terms (verses 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

In the Bible, evening began when the sun went down (Joshua 8:29; 2 Chronicles 18:34; Nehemiah 13:19; Mark 1:32), and at that time a new day began. Regarding His Sabbaths, God commands that they be observed "from evening to evening" (Leviticus 23:32). This was the usual way at that time of calculating the beginning and ending of days (Exodus 12:18).

In New Testament times, days were calculated the same way. Mark 1:32 records that, after the sun had set, marking the end of one Sabbath, crowds brought many ailing people to Jesus to be healed, having waited until after the Sabbath to come to Him. The Gospel accounts also record that Joseph of Arimathea entombed Jesus' body before evening to keep from working on an approaching annual Sabbath (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54).

God, Creator of the Sabbath, determines when it begins and ends, and it was observed from sunset to sunset throughout the Bible. His Sabbath begins Friday evening at sunset and ends Saturday evening at sunset.

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