Why an Evening Service? (Part 1)
When I first began attending a Presbyterian church, I thought that the evening service was for people who couldn’t make the morning service. Eventually I learned that the evening service was not an alternative to the morning service, but rather an important part of the Lord’s Day. Here are 5 reasons for an evening service.
The first reason is the pattern of evening and morning established at creation. It is clear that a day consists of an evening and a morning (Genesis 1:5, 13, 19, 23, 31). It is also clear that the interval of morning and evening, which God marked by the creation of the greater and lesser lights, is intended to be a natural pattern for keeping time, especially sacred time. That’s why God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). The natural pattern of morning and evening continues today.
A second reason is the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:11). The Lord created the world in 6 days, and rested on the 7th day. Therefore, we remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Further, God called the Sabbath day a “holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:3), meaning that it is a day on which God gathers His people together for worship. Because it was a day set-apart by Him and to Him, the Lord referred to it as His “holy day” (Isaiah 58:13). After Christ’s resurrection, the Christian Sabbath, which is observed on the first day of the week, is called the “Lord’s Day” (1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 20:7 Revelation 1:10). It is important to note that the 4th Commandment refers to a day (an evening and a morning), and not merely a morning. Having both a morning and an evening service helps us to better keep the 4th Commandment according to God’s intention.
A third reason is the pattern of worship that the Lord instituted in the Tabernacle and Temple. He required daily offerings in the morning and evening, which were doubled on the Sabbath day (Numbers 28:1-8). Israel’s religious calendar corresponded to God’s creation ordinance, including the rhythm of morning and evening. We no longer sacrifice lambs. We are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19; John 1:29). But we can offer sacrifices of praise through Him (Hebrews 13:15). As Christians, it seems that we have no less reason than Israel had to offer those sacrifices both morning and evening.
A fourth reason is the virtue of thanking and praising God expressed in Psalm 92, which is titled “A Song for the Sabbath”, we are told that it is good to declare God’s lovingkindness in the morning, and His faithfulness in the night (Psalm 92:1-2). Because this Psalm was intended for the Sabbath, and because the Sabbath consists of a morning and an evening, and because Israel’s Sabbath worship included morning and evening worship; it is reasonable to conclude that the Psalmist was extoling the virtue of morning and evening worship on the Sabbath.
A fifth reason is that after His resurrection Jesus met with His disciples to teach the Scriptures, break bread, and pray during the evening on the first day of the week (Luke 24). The details of Jesus’ encounter with the disciples from Emmaus against the background of the Old Testament pattern lead us to believe that Luke recorded for us the very first Sunday evening service of the Christian era. Because Christ’s example is later repeated by the apostle Paul (Acts 20:7-8), we believe that it was a practice observed by the apostolic church.
See next week’s Grapevine for Why an Evening Service? (Part 2): 5 more reasons for an evening service.