Lord’s Day Evening Worship – A Theological Case for Evening Worship
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day (Gen. 1:1-5).
From the very beginning, our concept of time has been marked by two halves to every day. There is day and there is evening. These two halves constitute the whole of what we mean when we say “day.” But this terminology was not without confusion. One half of the whole is referred to with the same term as the whole, that is, day (meaning the light part) and day (meaning the whole 24hr period). This was also true in the Hebrew text where yom is used for day (meaning the light part) and day (meaning the whole 24hr period).
Modern conceptions of time include this with the designations of a.m (ante meridiem, before mid-day) and p.m. (post meridiem, after mid-day). When we think about time and the day, we tend to think of it in these two parts. Thinking theologically, if there is something to this pattern, then we should expect to see it pop up in different ways throughout the Scriptures.
In Numbers 28:1-10 we read of the daily offerings (see also Exod 29:38, 39). Two lambs were to be offered, day by day. One lamb was offered in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Why was this the case? This act of worship was done in the morning and in the evening to represent the whole of the day. It was a sign of the need for atonement in the whole life of the person. This worship was amplified on the Sabbath day with additional sacrifices.
This daily offering was a ceremonial law. As such, it was sign that was pointing to the greater reality of sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of that law was found in Christ’s sacrifice on cross. No more sacrificial offering is to be made. So, we, living on this side of cross, do not offer two lambs each day, one in the morning and one at twilight. But while the substance of the sacrifice has been fulfilled in Christ, is there anything we should glean from the form of the sacrifice? Is there something that should inform our understanding of worship of God on this side of the cross? I think the pattern of morning and evening could be instructive for us.
Psalm 92:1-2 also conforms to this pattern of morning and evening. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.” Morning and night are devoted to the worship of God. Again, this pattern of the whole day, as constituted by the day and the night, is used in the worship of God.
There is record of Paul’s preaching in Acts 20 that seems to indicate an evening worship service. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). Paul was long-winded in his preaching, but it seems unlikely (though not impossible) that this service began in the morning. It seems likely that this was their evening service. This idea of a morning and evening service seems to fit better with the idea in the book of Acts that “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). This overall pattern seems to imply something more than just a morning worship service. It seems to imply the same thing that Numbers 28 and Psalm 92 implies, namely a morning and evening time of worship for the people of God.
As we have mentioned before, this cannot be pieced together to make an explicit command from Scripture for evening worship. There is an explicit command to worship on the Lord’s Day (Ex 20:8-11, Dt 5:12-15, Heb 10:25, among others). We are not trying to make the case that the Scriptures demand a morning and evening worship service. But we are attempting to make the case that the Scriptures point to a morning and evening worship service. And as the Scriptures seem to imply this, we believe this would make for the best practice in our church. It would be the best way for us to remember and observe the whole Lord’s Day.