Precisely when does the seventh-day Sabbath begin and end? According to modern timekeeping, each day begins and ends at midnight. Is that the time period we should observe as Sabbath? The Bible has a very clear answer.
For thousands of years the Jews have observed Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Seventh-day Adventists and other biblical Sabbath keepers do the same. Are we simply following the Jews’ example and assuming that they know what they are doing? Or do we get our guidance from the Bible? In order to answer this, we must go back to the beginning.
“So the evening and the morning were the first day” and “the evening and the morning were the second day” and so on (Genesis 1:5, 8). In the creation narrative, the first half of each day began at “evening” and the second half of the day began at “morning.” This means that God marked off each day from sunset to sunset. The seventh day, on which God rested, was no different.
“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3).
It was God who first kept the Sabbath from sunset to sunset. The Jewish people have always understood this. When God commanded the Israelites at Mount Sinai to “remember the Sabbath day,” He pointed to creation as its origin. This makes it clear that the day is to be honored from sunset to sunset (Exodus 20:8–11).
On the Friday afternoon that Christ died, referencing the approaching sunset, Luke tells us that “Sabbath drew near” (Luke 23:54) and that the women who prepared spices and oils to anoint Christ’s body “rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56). From creation to Sinai to Jesus the Sabbath began at sunset on the sixth day (Friday) and ended at sunset on the seventh day (Saturday). According to Scripture, it’s the same today and will be forever (Isaiah 66:23). Let us rejoice in this sacred time from now to eternity!