When Does a Biblical Day Begin?

By Tom Stapleton and Judy Stapleton

(If you prefer to print or read this article as a PDF file instead of reading it online, click here: When Does a Day Begin)

“Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.”  It seems as we study the Bible more closely we find that many things that we have been taught have been lies, as the text in Jeremiah 16:19 declares. But when some people come to the realization that much of what we have been taught is false, they seem to be ready to make a wholesale exchange on everything they have been taught. Because the waters have become so muddy, some are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This seems to be what is happening with the teaching of when a day begins. Why is this important?  For a random weekday, it really doesn’t matter when the day starts. But it makes a huge difference when it comes to remembering and keeping God’s Sabbath days holy. God’s Sabbath is the cornerstone of His worship system (Exodus 31:13). We worship in vain when we keep our traditions ahead of God’s commands. Does it go any further? It is totally possible that the enemy of souls is doing what he’s always done – trying to receive some of God’s worship for himself. If he can deceive us as to the true start of the Sabbath day (called a moed in Leviticus 23), he will deceive us into worshipping only 50% of God’s appointed Sabbath hours, successfully usurping half of God’s throne.  Isaiah 14:13: “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation [H4150 moed/appointed times] On the farthest sides of the north.”

Could there be more to satan’s deception? With an evening-to-evening day start, God’s people are awake and alert to welcome in the Sabbath, and to close out the Sabbath, but with a morning day start, God’s people sleep through the start and end of the Sabbath. You’ve heard the phrase “guard the edges of Sabbath”, but what is there to guard if it opens and closes while you sleep? The whole concept should remind us of some virgins who were asleep and missed the bridegroom. Aside from death or illness, the state of being asleep is not a positive condition for God’s people. Do we really think that God designed His worship time to start and end while we sleep?

This article will address the many points of Scripture that prove that God’s words “from even unto even shall you celebrate your sabbath” apply to all of His sacred days, and that His days, sacred or working, all begin at sundown. It’s not complicated. It is not hidden from our sight. It is so simple that a little child can understand.

The points covered in this article are:

Points That Confirm Evening-to-Evening

  1. What Timing Does the Creation Story Teach?
  2. Day of Atonement
  3. Feast of Unleavened Bread
  4. What Did Yeshua Do?
  5. What Did Yeshua Say?
  6. Crucifixion
  7. Resurrection
  8. Miscellaneous Supporting Texts

Counterpoints Often Made in Support of Morning-to-Morning

  1. Passover/death angel; “Between the Evenings”
  2. Day and Night/Night and Day
  3. Apparent supporting texts
  4. Only the Light Part of the Day is Holy

Point One: What Timing Does the Creation Story Teach?

Most dawn start studies begin with the question, “What was the first thing created?” They provide the answer: “Light”. This is a common understanding, but let’s see how well this holds up to the creation story.

Genesis 1:1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:4  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Relying solely on Scripture, let’s ask the question again, “What was the first thing created?” The answer is in verse one: the heaven and the earth. Does verse one say there was light when it was created? No. What came first, darkness or light?  We have the answer in verse two, “…and darkness was on the face of the deep…” Then what came last? The answer is in verse three: light. We must not throw out the first two verses in Scripture. They show the progression of creation, which began in darkness and moved to light, not the other way around. There was creation, there was dark, there was light, and the evening (dark) and the morning (light) were the first day. We are told plainly that evening preceded morning in the order of the 24-hour period of time. The order is clearly given six times throughout the creation story: evening, then morning=day one; evening, then morning = day two; evening, then morning = day three, etc.

When one starts to build a house, you cannot start with the framing until your foundation is sure. When any theory is based on ignoring the first verse, omitting the second verse, and mischaracterizing the third verse, anything that follows is not on a firm foundation because we would be assembling data to substantiate a faulty premise. But those teaching the day beginning at dawn make statements such as, “On the ‘first day’ God creates ‘light’; that is followed by evening, then through to morning, which ‘completes the first day’.” (Quoted from www.discoveryupdate.com, accessed 1/27/2018.)

If the light was the first thing that was created, we would have to do away with verses one and two, because God’s word teaches that the light was not the first thing that was created. The dawn theory, paired with Genesis 1:2, asks us to assume that the first day had two dark periods: the verse two dark period (which they omit), then the light, then apparently another dark period that lasted through to morning.

Let’s do some math. The Scripture says that we had creation in darkness (night) + light (morning) = evening and morning = one day that began in darkness (which equates to evening). But the study quoted above says that light (morning) + evening (night) + through to the next morning = one day. However, this is not what the Scriptures teach. The first day starts in darkness, so they are technically teaching that the first day had two dark periods (nights): one at the start which they omit, and another after light was created. This math just simply does not add up.

Did God Create Only During the Light?

Another argument put forth by those promoting the idea that day begins at dawn is that the order of each day was that God created only while it was light, and that He ceased from His work of creating from evening until morning, making a 24-hour period that started and ended in the morning. This reverses the order of the creation given in the Biblical creation account. Again, the creation began with the heavens and the earth, being in total darkness, so clearly the work of creation began in darkness. To say that God only creates in the light is purely a construct. It cannot be substantiated through the word and in fact it is contrary to the word. Both acts of creation on day one (heavens and earth; light) were done in darkness. There are many verses in Scripture that speak of God dwelling in darkness:

Exodus 20:21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

2 Samuel 22:12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.

To say that God does not create in darkness is limiting the Almighty. It is in human terms that we say that the creating has to be done in the daytime when it is light. When humans want to create something, we have to turn the lights on, but God began His creating in the dark. He created the heavens and earth, then He said, “Let there be light.”

In The Beginning

The beginning darkness is omitted from their calculation on what makes a day. They put forth the idea that “In the beginning” is an unknown period of time that precedes the first day and therefore they disregard its relevance to the creation story. We have to be careful when we put a timeframe between verse one and verse three that goes outside of a 24-hour period for two reasons: 1) there is simply no indication that there is a gap between the verses, 2) by adding a period of time where Scripture mentions none, we are adding to Scripture, which we are repeatedly warned not to do. When we speculate that there is a gap, why are we doing this? Is it so that our theology works? Scripture does not specify the timing between verse one and three, therefore, we need to be careful not to inject one into it.

Some people believe that God may have created the heavens and the earth millions, or even billions, of years ago which definitely is a possibility, but we really have no way of proving this. If this indeed happened, it does not change anything as to the order of the day or the order of the creation week. If the heavens and the earth were created eons ago, that would mean that this earth sat as a rock in space lifeless for those eons. This is really not a problem with what the Bible is teaching. All that we are told is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. What we have in the creation story is a semi-detailed account of the decoration of this planet. What we know for sure is before God said, “Let there be light”, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Question: How long was God’s Spirit hovering over the waters? Two minutes? Five minutes? One hour? Four hours? Twelve hours? Evening to morning, maybe? You see, when we start to speculate as to timing we can arrive wherever we want. All we know for sure is that God was hovering over the waters in the dark when He started decorating this planet. So the question needs to be asked: when did He start working on this planet? We know for sure in the creation account that God began His creation in darkness. That is clear.

Point Two: Day of Atonement

In the clearest words possible, Yehovah defines the holiest day of His calendar:

Leviticus 23:27  Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Leviticus 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.

Those who believe the day begins at dawn treat this explicit text as though it is an anomaly, something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. It would only seem to be an anomaly if one believes the day starts in the morning. However, this text is not an anomaly, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it differs in timing from any other day. Nor is this timing a stand-alone text. God gives us a second witness with two other moedim (appointed times), and the five days between them, in Exodus 12:18 (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which we will cover in detail in Point Three).

The passage in Leviticus 23:27-32 confirms specific starting and ending times for what is expressly identified as 1) a single day, 2) the tenth day, and 3) a 24-hour period – from even on the 9th until even on the 10th.  Some go so far as to suggest that the “day” of Atonement actually spans two calendar days: the last 12 hours of the 9th and the first 12 hours of the 10th.  Is God the author of confusion, so that He would have a “holy day” that is actually two halves of two days? The Bible does not say “for half of the ninth day and half of the tenth day shall be the time of atonement”.

God made it abundantly clear when the tenth day of the month started and ended, as this was by far the most important day on His calendar. In verse 27 it says, “On the tenth day of the seventh month shall be the day of atonement. It shall be a holy convocation unto you. You shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.” So that we understand exactly when the tenth day is, God, in verse 32, defines it. The evening of the