Month 12:10, Week 2:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year 5935:326 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 2 March 2012
I. Sunset, Midnight or Sunrise?
This devotional is dedicated to Budd Rice whose persistence
and love for emet (truth) forced me to look into this issue, get
right with Yahweh and away from another error of Judaism
'Now that you are abandoning pagan Roman Christian traditions and becoming a Torah-observant Messianic you must imitate the Jews who have faithfully preserved the original Torah practices for two millennia. This means you must stop reckoning days from midnight to mindnight and start counting them from one sunset to the next.'
And for 13 years I believed this and like a dutiful son anxious to honour the elders of Israel as the faithful guardians of the ancient traditions, I not only switched sabbaths from Sunday to Saturday but started observing them from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset too. As a talmid (disciple), I had already exposed and abandoned a whole stack of Roman Catholic-manufactured practices built on paganism such as Christmas and Easter, but when I embarked on a scriptural-historical study of the Torah I would discover that Judaism had mutilated the Torah too and was as guilty as prostituting the Tanakh (Old Testament) as the Catholics were of doing the same to the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament)!
Indeed, it seems that whatever man lays his hands on, going beyond the plain and simple emet (truth) of the Bible, he not only corrupts but he corrupts badly.
Last year I discovered that Judaism had completely changed the calendar and that the Sabbath day wasn't on Saturday either and once again I found I had to make a huge change adjusting to the biblical Creation Calendar and the original soli-lunar sabbath.
I really thought I had finally found pure Torah-observance until an old friend and very persistent brother asked me to clarify whether the biblical day actually starts at sunset as both non-Messianic and Messianic Jews claim. It didn't take me long, in reviewing the evidence, to conclude that they were wrong in this too. As I hope to show in this brief introductory study, both the Romans and the Jews have departed from the emet (truth). The day begins at sunrise.
For this ministry, this means about 500 articles on our website have to be revised so I ask you to have patience with me as we straighten this matter out once and for all.
Introducing the Sunrise Sabbath and Day
From the beginning of time with the creation of the cosmos and this earth, Satan has sought to direct all worship away from the Creator, Yahweh-Elohim, and toward himself. In this, he has been thorough, demanding not only our minds and levim (hearts) but also the set-apart times or appointments (moedim) for assembly and worship. Satan desires to be Elohim (God) and wants mankind to treat him as such by either compulsion or fraud...or both. And because the Creator's Sabbath Day is so central to true worship, being named as one of the Ten Commandments, themselves a summary of what it means to love Yahweh, this day in particular has been the centre of the Enemy's greatest attacks. He has largely achieved this by destroying the correct basis for biblical time-keeping.
Like myself, you were probably brought up to believe that the 24-hour day begins at midnight and that New Years's Day begins at midnight too on 1 January. If you were raised as a Jew, Messianic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Armstrongite (Worldwide Church of God and break-offs), Seventh-Day Baptist or other Sabbatarian, you were probably brought up to believe that the true Sabbath begins at sunset every Friday evening and ends at sunset the following Saturday evening. But like myself I can pretty much guarantee you were never taught the Scriptural teaching on the subject and had no idea that the day begins at neither midnight nor sunset.
The Creation Week began when Yahweh-Elohim declared, "Let there be light!" (Gen.1:3). Therefore the first day of the first week began with the creation of light.
What is important to realise here - and this does require that we think like a Hebrew and not a Westerner - is that a yom or day is defined as including the two transition times, erev (evening = the night portion of each Yom/Day) and boker (morning = daylight portion of each Yom/Day). If a yom (day) began at midnight or at sunset, Yahweh would not have told Moses that the erev (evening) and the boker (morning) were part of the yom (day).
"Elohim (God) divided the ohr (light) from the choshech (darkness). Elohim (God) called the light Yom (Day), and the choshech (darkness) He called Lailah (Night). So the erev (evening) and the boker (morning) were the Yom Echad (first day) [or Yom Rishon]" (Gen.1:4-5, NKJV; cp. Mark 16:2).
When I became a Messianic in 1999, I was shown the 'proof text' for a sunset-to-sunset sabbath in Torah:
For me that was the clincher, the irrefutable evidence, that the sabbath day began at sunset and ended at sunset, and it never crossed my mind to question that interpretation.
"From evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath" (Lev.23:32, NKJV).
Unfortunately, this text is not about the regular seventh-day sabbath or about how days are to be measured in general but about one particular and unique sabbath known as Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. And because of that, this particular five sabbaths and not the regular four, with the Yom Kippur Sabbath behaving differently to the others:
Please note that Yom Kippur spans TWO DAYS, the ninth day and the tenth day and yet it is only the equivalent of a single day's observance, that is, one 24 hour period. If every day began at sunset (in the evening), Yahweh would not have needed to tell the Israelites to begin their observance of Yom Kippur the evening before.
"And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: 'Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath" (Lev.23:26-32, NKJV).
Yom Kippur, then, is one day in length but spans two calendar days, the 9th and 10th days of the Seventh Month.
If the day began at evening, then Moses would have simply been told that Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement was on the 10th day. But he wasn't. He was told to start it the evening before on the 9th day. In other words, the evening part of Yom Kippur belonged to one day (the 9th) and the morning part belonged to another day (10th), breaking the usual tavnith (pattern) for the Sabbath Day and for all the other ordinary and festival days of the year. Therefore, were we to be making our own amplified version of this 'key' text for Saturday sabbatarians we would write:
Not every sabbath, but just the Yom Kippur one, as the context plainly reveals. Yom Kippur was the exception that broke the rule of all other sabbaths. We will examine the spiritual meaning of this presently.
"From evening to evening, you shall celebrate your [special Yom Kippur High] Sabbath" (Lev.23:32, NKJV).
Each Yom (Day) begins with the coming of ohr or light and is demonstrated by the fact that the evening of the 9th month follows the daylight period of the 9th.
The sun was given to rule over the day, with day commencing with the coming of light. Daytime is over when there is no longer enough light for the sun to be ruling. Centuries later, Yah'shua (Jesus) asked: "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" (John 11:9, NKJV) and no one disputed with Him because everyone knew that the day began with the coming of light. The hours of the day were divided evenly into twelve parts as shown on sundials from every age. Biblical hours, unlike our own, were longer in the summer and shorter in the winter but each day had only 12 hours nonetheless!
The length of an hour therefore depended on the season, and a biblical hour is not necessarily the same as a modern 'hour'. The ancients operated on a totally different rhythm to us that was directly linked to the cosmos which we have to connect to if we are to observe Yahweh's moedim (appointments) in the correct way. That is not to say that we cannot additionally measure time in other ways but it is to say that to worship Yahweh in the correct way we must follow biblical time. To say that time is 'what clocks measure' is obviously inadequate because it depends on the design and settings of the clock.
There is therefore Biblical Time and what we call Newtonian Time. In Yahweh's dimension there is no time as time is a created entity. This 'created time', which is part of a space-time continuuum, is a little different from moedim-time - the time we use to work out the moedim or appointments (festivals, sabbaths, new moons) with Yahweh. When we speak of 'Newtonian time' we are speaking of that time which is part of the fundamental structure of the physical universe. This is a big subject, beyond the scope of this essay, so we will confine ourselves to moedim-time and modern 'clock-time' only. We can't obviously do without the latter any more than we can escape using the Gregorian Calendar in our everyday affairs which means we must become acquianted with, and use, both systems.
As far as moedim-time is concerned, which was designed principally (we must presume) for life in the Holy Land, we have to make halachic rules for those of us who live in extreme latitudes, which matter has to be left to personal conscience until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns . Thus for those of us living in the extreme north where at some parts of the year daylight can be 18 clock-hours long and night a mere 4 clock-hours around midsummer, this would mean very long daylight moedim-hours and very short nighttime moedim-hours.
The New Testament Evidence
Our second major line of evidence for the biblical day starting at dawn comes from the description in the Gospels of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Yah'shua (Jesus):
Here we see that the first day of the week (Yom Rishon or Yom Echad) did not begin until light began to grow in the eastern sky. Similarly, the evening after the crucifixion, the Sabbath did not begin at sunset. The biblical text makes it clear that the Pharisees and other religious authorities did not want the bodies of Yah'shua (Jesus) and the two thieves either side of Him to remain on their crosses over the Sabbath had begun:
"Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb" (Matt.28:1, NKJV).
As it took several days for a crucified victim to die, their deaths were accelerated by breaking their bones to ensure that they were neither alive nor remaining on the crosses on the Sabbath, so as not to defile the Sabbath. This had to be done, therefore, by the following dawn, giving the authorities the evening and night to make sure everything was finished and cleared away.
"Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Judeans asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Yah'shua (Jesus) and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs" (John 19:31-33, NKJV).
This was not something that could be done in a few minutes. It took many hours - all night, in fact. This the sequence of events which had to take place were:
"Now when evening had come (i.e. after sunset), there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a talmid (disciple) of Yah'shua (Jesus). This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Yah'shua (Jesus). Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed" (Matt.27:57-60, NKJV).
This lengthy process would have taken the entire night to finish. The Sabbath did not begin in the "evening" because that was the very time that Joseph of Arimathea first went to Pilate to ask for the body to start the whole body-reclamation, embalming and burial process off!
- 1. Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate to ask for the body (Mt.28:58) but Pilate did not believe Yah'shua (Jesus) could have died so soon from an execution technique that typically took several days, so he sent the centurion to confirm the death (Mk.15:44-45);
- 2. Joseph went and got burial linens, returned to Calvary, and removed the body (Mk.15:46);
- 3. Nicodemus arrived bringing 100 pounds of myrhh and aloes for the embalming proceedure (Jn.19:39);
- 4. The body would have been washed before being painstakingly bound in "strips of linen with the spices" (Jn.19:40);
- 5. The body was then laid to rest in Joseph's own tomb which was nearby (Mt.27:59-60).
The work of preparing the body of Yah'shua (Jesus) for burial finished just as the Sabbath began to dawn:
"Now when evening had come (i.e. after sunset), because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of Elohim (God), coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Yah'shua (Jesus)" (Mark 15:42-43, NKJV).
The Greek word epiphosko, which the NKJV renders "drew near" (or "drew on" in the KJV) literally means 'to begin to grow light', 'begin to dawn', being a form of epiphauo (Strongs #2017) meaning 'to illuminate' or 'give light' .
"Then [Joseph of Arimathea] took [the body of Yah'shua/Jesus] down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near (epiphosko)" (Luke 23:52-54, NKJV).
The End-Time Restoration of Emet (Truth)
"Because they waited until evening to even begin the process of seeking permission to take the body, remove it from the cross, clean and wrap it, and so on, it took them the night hours to do their work. They did not finish until the Sabbath began as it started to grow light" .
The first thing Yahweh did after creating light was to divide light from darkness. Then He named the two different parts that He had separated, calling the light part 'day' and the dark part 'night'. This division is purposeful and we should neither attempt to reverse it symbolically by breaking divine tavnith (pattern) anymore than we should attempt to separate what Elohim (God) has joined together in marriage or anything else (Mk.10:9). By claiming that the day begins at midnight or at sunset artificially joins together segments of time that Yahweh has ordered separated (with the exception of the sunset-to-sunset Yom Kippur).
The remnant of Yahweh's people, if they are to both survive and be prosperous, must be obedient to all the mitzvot (commandments). But to do that, there has to be a complete restoration of all essential emet (truth) so that the lifestyle of the talmidim (disciples) can be pleasing to Yahweh.
Our task is to both restore what has been lost and reform what has been corrupted. With the Sabbath prominently named in the Ten Commandments, even before the other moedim, and designated as a memorial of Creation and a sign of true worship and obedience, it follows that it must first be correctly identified in the Creation Calendar and its precise duration known.
The Evil Boast
Lucifer boasted that he would "change times and laws" (Dan.7:25) and that is exactly what he has done, and he has done so to the point that almost no-one - including believers (Christians and Messianics) - know how to properly reackon divine time anymore. By changing the day of worship, the calendar used to find that day, and even when the day begins, he has disrupted divine tavnith (pattern) and stolen worship that rightfully belongs to the Creator.
We are in the time prophesied in Scripture when there shall be a "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21, NKJV) and it is plain to see who are moving in this direction of restoration and who are not.
In modern times (19th century), only the Mormons, Campellite Churches of Christ and Seventh-Day Adventists have claimed to be latter-day restorations and have also claimed ownership of the fulfilment of this prophecy when in truth they have restored precious little and (in the case of the Mormons) have added all manner of heresy - they are still Sunday- or Saturday-worshippers, still celebrate pagan festivals, still follow the Roman Calendar, still start the day at midnight or sunset, still ignore Yahweh's festivals and still adhere to Babylonian-derived traditions about the Elohimhead (Godhead) and much else besides.
Messianics are the latest pretenders to the title of 'Restorers' but the truth is most still adhere to Catholic or Jewish traditions and are loathe to break away from them. But there can never be any restoration without first a stepping away from error and false tradition.
I shall have more to say about the sunrise sabbath and day in the period leading up to Pesach. In the meantime, I encourage you to research this matter and come to the liberty of the sons of Elohim (God) who are walking in the emet (truth). Amen.
"Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is set-apart (holy) to you" (Ex.31:13-14, NKJV).
Continued in Part 2
 In Scandinavia, for instance, where the author lives, we have long followed a fixed time for the beginning and ending of Sabbath. Under the old Jewish sunset-to-sunset error that we once followed, this was fixed from 6 pm to 6 pm; under the correct sunrise-to-sunrise, I have recently made a ruling for my own family to 'officially' observe Sabbath from 6 am to 6 am in the extreme winter months.
 Sadly, some Messianic versions deliberately mutilate this text in order to force-fit this in with Jewish sunset traditions: "And it was nearly Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Evening), Shabbos was drawing near" (Lk.23:54, OJB) but others stick rigidly to the original, as this Aramaic-based version does: "And it was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was dawning" (HRV). Others, trying to do the acrobatics required of trying to harmonise Scriptures written in the context of the Roman calendar mutilite the text by adding words that aren't there: "And it was the Preparation Day, and a Shabbat was dawning" (MRC), adding the footnote: "Or Sabbath - This is the High Sabbath of the Passover, not the weekly Sabbath" - however, in the Creation Calendar the Weekly Sabbath and the first day of Chag haMatzah are one and the same. Nevertheless, this still doesn't explain why this moed sabbath starts at dawn! The ISRV is uncontroversial in its rendition (based as its NT is on Greek MSS) by simply saying: "And it was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was aproaching" (ISRV).
 Elaine Vornholt & L.Vornholt-Jones, The Great calendar Controversy, p.40).
Acknowledgements & Resources
 World's Last Chance, a semi-messianic 'fundamentalist' Seventh-Day Adventist website that follows the correct luni-solar and sunrise sabbath with excellent video resources.
 An Undiscovered Secret About the Sabbath, a messianic ministry still following the semi-pagan errors of Judaism in respect of the Divine Calendar but has got it right as far as the sunrise sabbath is concerned.
 Samuel Thompson, Does a Day Begin at Sunrise? or Sunset?, an Australian affiliate of Your Arms to Israel (YATI), a messianic ministry that has the luni-solar calendar and sunrise sabbath correct but still bound to other aspects of Judaism (like Zionism) and promulgating some very strange and dangerous doctrines, so tread with care.
 Samuel Thompson, Does a Day Begin at Sunrise? or Sunset? Addendum
 Samuel Thompson, If a Day Starts at Sunrise, Then What About the Moon?
 Samuel Thompson, If a Day Starts at Sundown Check This Out
 Samuel Thompson, Day and Night Same? Or Different?
 Samuel Thompson, If the Day Starts at Sunrise, Then What About Yom haKippurim?
 Troy Miller, When Does the Scripture Say a Day Begins?
 World's Last Chance Ministries, When Does a Day Begin? (movie)