Many churches are doing away with evening worship services because they are seen as the leftovers of a bygone era. Sure, when there were fewer demands upon the time of a family, fewer distractions such as television and sporting events, what else was there to do but to go to church in the evening? Yet, this attitude towards evening worship assumes that there was no theological or biblical reason for creating an evening worship service to begin with. While many Christians institute practices because they are quaint ideas, or opportunities to gather the people of God together, the evening worship service has no such roots in vapid sentimentalism. On the contrary, man did not institute the evening worship service. Rather, God Himself instituted it.
We read in the creation account that God devoted an entire day of His creation week to rest from His labors (Gen. 2.1-2). This divine archetype was intended as a pattern for the people of God to follow. We see this spelled out, of course, in the fourth commandment: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exo. 20.8-10). The idea here is that God’s people are supposed to devote the entire day to the worship, in some fashion, of God. We see this idea illustrated, for example, when we read that not only were there morning sacrifices, but there were evening sacrifices as well: “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psa. 141.2), or “And they burn to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense” (2 Chr. 13.11a). Again, the idea is that the whole day was marked by the worship of God, delineated by morning and evening sacrifices.
In the era of the New Covenant, we as the people of God no longer perform sacrifices in the same manner that they were performed under the Old Covenant. All sacrifices have been superseded by the one all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ (see Heb. 10). While it is true that the New Covenant people of God no longer perform animal sacrifices, this does not mean that we come to the worship of God empty-handed. On the contrary, we still bring sacrifices to our God—the “sacrifice of praise to God that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13.15). Now, let us put all of the pieces of this puzzle together.
First, God commands His people to dedicate an entire day to worship. Second, we see this principle illustrated by the use of both morning and evening sacrifices. Third, though we no longer bring animal sacrifices to God, we should still bring the sacrifice of praise to Him. It therefore follows that if the people of God in the Old Testament marked their day of worship with morning and evening sacrifices, should not the New Testament people of God do the same? Should we just give God morning sacrifices, or a morning worship service, and not an evening sacrifice, an evening worship service, as well? Far from being a leftover from a bygone era, the evening worship service has been part and parcel of the worship of God since the very beginning of divinely ordered worship. So, then, what does this mean for us? Quite obviously, we too should be committed to both morning and evening worship!