The [Non-scientific] Focus of the Creation Week (LeFebvre)

 I’ve been enjoying Michael LeFebvre’s book, The Liturgy of Creation.  It’s a study of the festivals, feasts, and calendar dates of OT Israel and how those things can help us read and understand the creation week in Genesis 1-3.  I’m not quite finished with it, but so far it has been thought-provoking and insightful.

One part that stuck out to me was LeFebvre’s note that often when people approach the creation week with spectacles of science they miss a main emphasis: the seventh day.  It is rather ironic: in trying to squeeze scientific data from the text (which wasn’t written from a scientific worldview) the person misses one of the main points of the text: the Sabbath rest of God.

The true beauty of the creation week is its invitation to sabbath rest.  This message of rest is both the demonstratable emphasis of the text and the one major theme of the passage on which the church’s voice has been unified through history.  From centuries past, there have been many different views on the nature of the creation days.  Some church fathers regarded them as metaphorical days and some as actual creation events.  The church has long allowed for a variety of opinions regarding the nature of the events described in the creation week.  But the focus of the text that has been consistently upheld by the church throughout her history is its message about the sabbath day.  Unfortunately, modern fascination to find science in the creation week tends to distract readers from its emphasis on the sabbath day.  The allure of worship rather than science ought to be our focus in the study of the creation week.

Robert Godfrey writes, ‘It is surely ironic that many people today who most insistently claim that it is obvious that the days of Genesis 1 are ordinary twenty-four-hour days miss the most important point about the days, namely, that one day in seven is holy to the Lord.’  There is actually a good reason why apologetic ministries tend to overlook the sabbath day focus of the creation week.  By nature, the agenda of an apologetic ministry is defined by the crisis it exists to address. Today the threat that ‘secular science’ poses to Genesis is aimed only at God’s creative work in the six days when ‘stuff happened.’  Thus, the major creation apologists – from all perspectives – generally focus on the six days and give little or no attention to the seventh.  This is understandable, but it dangerously skews the church’s attention away from the text’s internal emphasis, which is to labor in anticipation of the weekly sabbath.

Michael LeFebvre, The Liturgy of Creation, p. 132-133.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

7 thoughts on “The [Non-scientific] Focus of the Creation Week (LeFebvre)”

  1. Thanks for this review…the book does sound insightful on many counts. The Sabbath rest and worship is surely a focus of Gen. 1-3. That said, for me as a fairly convinced “six day, relatively young earth, creation-science/Biblical creationist” guy, I don’t so much “find science (by science do you mean knowledge, the method, the secular worldview?) in the creation week” as much as history. The early chapters of Genesis provide an accurate and historically reliable account of origins from which good science about past, non-repeatable events can be conducted. So, for example, would a fifth grader reading Genesis 1-11 get billions/millions of years out of this text?


    1. Thanks for the comment, Shaun. I guess it’s a problem when people go to Genesis 1-3 and try to harmonize it with the language, worldview, and terms of modern science. The text is an ancient text – historical and true! – but it was written from the perspective of an ancient Israelite. So another question would be: how would a 10-year-old Isrelite boy in David’s day understand the text (assuming he had read it)?


      1. You’re welcome; and I wholly agree! When people go to Genesis 1-3 and try to harmonize this historical narrative (exalted prose no doubt!) with the language, worldview, and terms of modern “secular” science, then they will have a HUGE problem. They forget/willfully ignore that men like James Hutton and Charles Lyell purposely wanted to overturn the Mosaic history with another history – a deep-time geological history which says, “the present is the key to the past.” They could then bypass the global flood, for example, in spite of the overwhelming fossil evidence for its reality. In doing this they are then forced to fall back to a compromise position – whether theistic evolution, an overly simplistic framework view/analogical days view, progressive-creation, gap-theory etc. etc. But if this Divine history is the fundamental framework and presupposition for current scientific models about past events, then we are on MUCH better footing to understand how the present world is the way it is and to understand its processes. Amen, the text is historical and true, written initially for the ancient Israelite (as all of the OT was), but also for us as God’s enlarged people of God today by the God Himself. In other words, there is truth and application for us today in a more modern, scientific-technological world. A sensus plenior/fuller meaning beyond merely being for the Israelite people on the plains of Moab about to enter into the promised land. So, to your question (and you never answered mine as yet :-)): I think a 10 year old Israelite boy would have understood the text to at least teach that the God Who created the mature world out of nothing but the word of His power, is well able to lead us into victory as we enter this land full of “giants” and big-walled cities. He would have no reason at all to believe God created the heavens and the earth billions of years ago in a galaxy far away – this was real history that He cold trace his ancestors to through the chrono-genealogies given in Genesis 5, 11 and elsewhere. .


  2. Thanks, Shaun! To your question about a fifth-grader read the Genesis creation story/history, I don’t think the length of time would be so much on his radar like it is on our [scientific] radar. I don’t think they cared so much about the age of the earth like we do; and when they did think about it they thought about it in ANE terms, not modern or post-modern terms. Hope that helps!


    1. Thank you Rev. Lems! I am a fellow brother and Rev. in the PCA serving with Mission to the World by the way. What you have said is surely helpful – remembering their ANE perspective does justice to their basic framework. That said, this does NOT mean that the early chapters of Genesis don’t provide an accurate history for our worldview. In our present world, since deep-time (billions or millions) of years is REQUIRED by cosmic, geological, and biological evolution (to give it any sense of feasibility at all; which it doesn’t because time is actually the enemy of order), the “age of the earth” (and what it implies about Adam and the fall/death as a consequence of his sin) needs to be something we address. Allowing philosophical materialism/unbelief to hide behind “just so” stories which cannot be falsified by the scientific method as if it is GOOD science is no kind of healthy apologetic. Here is a summary of a more Biblical approach IMHO :-) –


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