Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Sun, Apr 1, 2012
RIGHT after the Passover is another festival that shows to us the next step within God’s awesome plan of redemption—that is the leaving of sin behind—pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread is what shows that we have left behind our sins—ridden ourselves of those stains and impurities which corrupt us and keep us from God. We know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins—pictured by the Passover—and because of that sacrifice, we then have been granted the very awesome and most powerful opportunity to leave behind those sins which we have committed. We begin to take on a whole new way of living—a new way of life!
We find to us that the sins with which we have committed are pictured by the symbolism of bread made with leavening—thus, we have now come forth from this by ridding our lives of leavening and for seven days, we eat unleavened bread—remembering that leavening puffs up—thus, our sins are like leavening as the sins also puff up.
When God had taken Israel forth from bondage in Egypt, He had instructed that for “seven days you shall eat unleavened bread”—Exodus 12:15. In v.39, we read that “And they baked unleavened cakes of the doug which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.”
Leavening is an agent which puffs up (causes dough to rise) such as yeast, baking powder baking soda and so forth. Israel had no time at all to spare when they came out from Egypt, so therefore, they had baked and ate flat bread. What started out as a need continued on for a week. God thus appropriately named this week the Days of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) or also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
When Jesus had come to earth in human flesh, he kept this seven day festival—sometimes known as the Feast of Passover by the Jews since the days of Unleavened Bread was also immediately after the Passover, so that joining the two feasts could be one—and in fact, Passover themes do in a way carry over into the Days of Unleavened Bread. Jesus kept this festival as a child and as an adult (Luke 2:41; Matthew 26:17). The early Church of God, imitating Jesus in His religious practices, kept it as well.
The Earliest Instructions and the Teachings of Jesus
God has also given to us His instructions concerning this feast to the Israelites as they had prepared to leave behind Egypt—a symbol of sin! “For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do”—Exodus 12:14-16, NIV. So then, this time period of seven days, with the first and the last being annual Sabbaths or in other words, Holy Days, is sacred to God’s people!
Every year as the Israelites kept the feast, it had given to them a reminder of God’s intervention for them from Egypt and bringing them forth from their bondage. The Creator further also instructed for us to “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your division out of Egypt”—v. 17, NIV. The very Exodus from Egypt has remained as a foundational purpose of keeping this feast in our very day—for just as God has delivered ancient Israel, so also He has delivered true Christians from their sins and their difficulties.
Notice what Jesus taught concerning leavening, which expands the very meaning and purpose of the feast. During His ministry, Jesus performed two miracles in the which a few fish and a few loaves of bread had fed thousands of people. After one of these two occasions, when His disciples had went around the Sea of Galilee, they had forgotten to take with them bread. So Jesus told them to “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”—Matthew 16:5-6, NASB.
While they had thought that Jesus was getting onto them about forgetting to bring bread, He was using this as a time to teach them about leavening. Jesus asked them “How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they “understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees”—vs. 11-12, NASB.
Just as it is today, some of those of the religious communities around us will often appear to be righteous, even having what may very well be good teachings, but yet, what they practice in their behavior may well be different. Jesus had told the disciples to be cautious of these types of people because they are sinful in their deeds. They might appear to be righteous on the outside, but on the inside, they are sinful. Jesus also told them that “you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”—Matthew 23:28. The Pharisees and the Sadducees never liked hearing Jesus tell them this—this is one reason that they betrayed Jesus and killed Him.
The Days of Unleavened Bread is put in place to remind us that with God’s help, we are to remove and avoid all types of sin—symbolized by leaven—in all the various areas of our lives.
Continued Importance of the Feast
During the days of Unleavened Bread, the apostle Paul had taught the very same spiritual lessons that Jesus taught, invoking the comparison of sin to leavening. In the context of reprimanding the Corinthian congregation for its divisions, jealousies and tolerance of sexual misconduct, Paul had told them that “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”—1 Corinthians 5:6-8.
The Church in Corinth obviously kept and observed the Days of Unleavened Bread, to which Paul had repeatedly alluded. But, Paul also used the Corinthians’ faithful obedience in keeping the feast physically (removing leavening from their homes) as a reason to encourage them to also celebrate the feast with a proper understanding of spiritual intent as well as the letter of the law. Basically, Paul was not only speaking of the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law—telling them that they also need to remove from their lives all sin.
Today, we remove leavening from our homes for seven days which remind us that we also, through prayer and God’s help and real understanding, must take sin out of every area of our lives. The Days of Unleavened Bread is that time of the year in which we come to personally reflect upon our lives, looking to see what there is in our lives that are not appropriate. Thus, we need to meditate on our attitudes and conduct and ask always for God’s help for us to overcome our sins.
Paul also spoke of this self-reflection in 2 Corinthians 13:5 when he had said “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
Paul therefore had explained the significance of the phrase “Jesus Christ is in you” in this verse from Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”—KJV.
Thus, throughout the seven days of the feast, we are to always be examining ourselves, looking at us and seeing what we need to remove. For we need to remove from ourselves on a daily basis sin—sin which actually is what leavens (puffs) us up and makes us become very full of all manner of sin and pride.
A Spiritual Lesson Is To Be Applied!
When we do that which is required of us, we are able to learn. We learn spiritual reasons by doing physical things. Performing the task of taking leavening out of our homes is what will teach us to watch ourselves and remove sin from our lives. We will remember that God knows that, in spite of good intentions, we will sin and make mistakes.
Many years after his conversion, Paul had talked of the powerful human desire to sin: “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—[deliverance will come] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin”—Romans 7:21-25.
Paul had also known life itself is a real battle with sin. The Bible also speaks of “the sin which so easily ensnares us”—Hebrews 12:1. We therefore have our own role to play in overcoming sin and getting sin out of our own lives. As we work toward ridding our lives of sin, we will remember that we must be always be vigilant in this effort to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure”—Philippians 2:12-13, KJV.
Indeed, Paul did not end this about struggling with sin in Romans 7 on the seemingly hopeless note of remaining enslaved to sin. He also went on in chapter 8 to further show to us that we can also be freed of he way of sin and death—with the aid of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Our observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread will allow us to realize our need for Jesus’ help in getting past our sins and weaknesses and allow us to become the type of overcomers that Jesus wants to have as His fellow leaders in the coming Kingdom of God (Revelation 3:11-12) so that we can be true Christians as well in this present age. Remembering that Jesus was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins is a reality of the Passover and leaving our sins behind is a reality of the Days of Unleavened Bread—a real purpose for which we come to when we keep the Days of Unleavened Bread. Remember that Jesus continues to help us to put sin out of our lives by dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit—God’s true active force that leads in us regular repentance and empowers us to live in obedience to God’s way of life!
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