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Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

As we near the annual time of Passover and reorient our minds from the physical abundance of the Kingdom of God pictured in the Fall Feast Days back to the spiritual preparations for the first of the Spring Holy Days, it is important to review the requirements, as well as the symbolism, of what we are to perform. God is not fickle or whimsical in his intent for his servants. He is full of purpose and meaning. Today, we will seek to discover more of the depth of meaning inherent in our Passover duties by looking beyond just the physical observances.

One of the most common things in the world today is bread. Except in times of famine, it is generally abundant and available to all at moderate prices. That abundance is, in large part, attributable to the main grain producing regions of the world. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Wheat grain, containing an abundance of the elastic protein gluten, is the only cereal capable of producing a satisfactory light bread (article Poales, page 585, 15th edition)."

While it is true that the grain called rye is used in northern Europe and Russia to make a type of bread, its course structure and lower amount of gluten result in a denser, flatter loaf known as "black bread." Therefore, rye flour is often mixed with wheat flour to make a more appealing loaf of bread. Barley flour can also be used to make bread but since barley contains no gluten at all, the barley loaves are flat and very dense.

The Grains of Israel

The two grains most often used to make bread in both the Old Testament and the New Testament were barley and wheat. Though barley and wheat were planted at the same time, barley matured first and was harvested before the wheat crop. Let's look at the agricultural year in the land of Israel. A proper understanding of the planting, growing, and harvesting cycles is essential to grasping many of the spiritual intents of God. In Deuteronomy 8:7, notice how Moses used abundant wheat and barley harvests to describe the Promised Land to the Israelites who were about to cross over the Jordan in the early Spring.

(Deu 8:7-9 NASB) "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; {8} a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; {9} a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

Not only did the abundant harvests of figs, pomegranates and olive oil spell prosperity for the Israelites, so also both wheat and barley were held out by Moses as a measure of the prosperous new land.

Whether the location is north or south of the equator, springtime is signaled by the lengthening daylight which heralds the time for planting and growth. Grain crops such as spring wheat and corn are planted in the spring and harvested in the late summer or early fall. That, however, was not the situation in Israel where the winter climate is less harsh than in European or North American countries. According to Harpers Bible Dictionary, "there are only two seasons in Palestine — the dry (April—September, in most sections); and the rainy (October—March)... Barley was sown as soon as the October rains had set in (article, 'season', page 658, and article 'barley', page 61)." According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Barley offers varieties adaptable to a greater range of climate than any other cereal, with types suited to temperate, sub-Arctic, or subtropical areas. Although it does best in growing seasons of at least 90 days, it is able to grow and ripen in a shorter time than any other cereal (article 'barley', Vol I, page 821)." While both barley seeds and wheat seeds were sown at the same time in late October at the time of the "former rains," because of the shorter maturing time for barley, it was the first to ripen in the spring.

Let's look at a scriptural example that shows the difference in maturing times for barley and wheat. One of the plagues God brought upon Pharaoh and Egypt in order to show them his strength and supremacy is found in Exodus 9:31. It is the incident of the plague of the thunder, lightening and hail.

(Exo 9:29-32 NASB) And Moses said to him, "As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the LORD'S. {30} "But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God." {31} (Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. {32} But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they ripen late.)

The hail had devastated the barley and flax crops because they ripen earlier but the wheat and spelt plants, though probably also damaged, were younger plants and not as far advanced in their growth. Therefore, they had time to recover from the hailstorms before they ripened. While the weather might have been warmer in Egypt than in Israel, the growth and harvesting patterns of crops were the same.

The Marking of Time

When was the time of year when the barley was almost mature such that it could not recover from the beating from the hail? We know it was God who instructed Moses in the proper setting of the year. In Exodus 12:1, God told Moses that it was in the first month of the year.

(Exo 12:1-2 NASB) Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, {2} "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.

Exodus 13:3 shows us that the first month had a name. It was either called just "the first month" or it was called "Abib." Much later after the exiles returned from the Babylonian captivity, the name of the first month was also recognized by a Babylonian name, Nisan.

(Exo 13:3-4 NASB) And Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. {4} "On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth.

According to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, abib is Strong's number 24. It means fresh, young green ears. In Israel, the ears that were fresh and young at the beginning of the first month of the year were the ears of the grain known as barley, which became ready for harvest in the second half of the first month. This is not a small matter. The first month is one of the keys to the spring holy days. The first month, along with every other month of the year is marked by the new moon. The new moon occurs when the sun, the moon, and the earth are all in a straight line such that, when view from the earth, there is no visible moon, since the moon is hidden in the light of the sun. So, when the sun sets, the moon sets at the same time and is not visible all night long. That point is well known throughout the world and is called the point of conjunction.

Some might ask, "if the sun, the moon, and the earth are in a straight line, why isn't there an eclipse every month?" That's a very important question because it shows that you understand the concept of the point of conjunction. While it is true that all three bodies are in a straight line and that the shadow cast by the moon should cover the earth in an eclipse, most of the time it doesn't, for one key reason. It is because of the moon's irregular orbit around the earth. At most of the monthly points of conjunction when the sun, the moon, and the earth are all in a straight line, the moon is slightly above or slightly below the plane of the sun and the earth. The moon always casts a shadow on the day of the new moon but most of the time, the shadow cast by the moon is thrown slightly above or below the earth. Therefore, we do not see the moon's shadow when viewed from earth, but all three bodies are still in a straight line.

The Sacrificial Lamb

From Exodus 12:3, we know that nine days after the new moon of the first day, it was on the tenth day of the first month when each Israelite family was to separate a sheep from their flocks.

(Exo 12:3 NASB) "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household.

Down in verse six, we find on the fourteenth of that first month they were to kill the lamb and wipe some of its blood above and around the door posts of each Israelite house.

(Exo 12:6-7 NASB) 'And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. {7} 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

How were they to cook it and in what manner were they to eat it? Verse 8 tells us.

(Exo 12:8-11 NASB) 'And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. {9} 'Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. {10} 'And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. {11} 'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste-- it is the LORD'S Passover.

Notice it wasn't the Passover of Moses: it was God's Passover. The World English Bible puts it in language that is more understandable. Verse 12 tells us why it was God's Passover and not man's.

(Exodus 12:12 WEB) For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh.

So, the purpose of the Passover was for God to execute judgment over the various gods of Egypt. It was to show the Egyptians that the God of the Hebrews was supreme over all and that he was the Most High God. In the process, in order to show that God's chosen people were different and were protected by their God. The blood of the sacrificed lamb was to serve as a sign. Continue in verse 13.

(Exo 12:13) The blood will serve you as a sign marking the houses where you are; when I see the blood, I will pass over you — when I strike the land of Egypt, the death blow will not strike you.

The lamb was sacrificed at twilight and cooked and eaten by the Israelites but the blood was used as a sign over the house and as a protection for the people. In the New Testament, we can see that the blood of another sacrificial lamb is to be a sign and a covering of protection for all people who obey God. In John 1:29, notice what Christ was called by John the Baptist.

(John 1:29 NASB) The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

In Acts 8:26, we can read how the prophet Isaiah stated hundreds of years before that the Messiah was to be a lamb taken to the slaughter.

(Acts 8:26-35 NASB) But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road.) {27} And he arose and went; and behold, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. {28} And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. {29} And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." {30} And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" {31} And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. {32} Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: "HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. {33} "IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO SHALL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH." {34} And the eunuch answered Philip and said, "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?" {35} And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

Now what does that mean? At that time, there were no books of the Bible making up the New Testament. There were only the books of scripture we call the Old Testament today. It was from the scriptures and prophecies of the Old Testament that Philip preached and proved to the Ethiopian eunuch that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah. Philip quoted from the book of the prophet Isaiah that Jesus was the Lamb of God that was led as a sheep to the slaughter. The prophet also said that Christ was to be "as a lamb before its shearer is silent." Have you ever seen a sheep having its wool cut off by a shearer? I had never seen a sheep being sheared until I saw it being done several years ago in New Zealand. It's a strange sight. The sheep tries to get away until the man wrestles it into position but once it is held in the right position, when the clippers start cutting off the wool, the sheep is frozen and does not fight at all. Let's read the whole passage to which Philip referred. In Isaiah 53:2, the prophet told us it was to be that way with the Messiah and that's the way it was with Jesus.

(Isa 53:2-12 NRSV) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. {3} He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. {4} Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. {5} But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. {7} He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. {8} By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. {9} They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. {10} Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper. {11} Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. {12} Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

We just read how Philip started with Isaiah's writings to explain that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. So did the apostle Paul as we can see in Acts 17:2.

(Acts 17:2-3 NASB) And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, {3} explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."

Notice how Paul didn't preach to the people about his own opinion. He didn't say, "I think Jesus was the Messiah" or "Jesus was probably the Messiah." Paul "reasoned with them from the scriptures." He depended upon what was written in the Bible, even though there was no New Testament at the time. Just like Philip, Paul used the Old Testament scriptures to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

The apostle Peter also knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah and furthermore, in 1 Peter 1:18, Peter knew the spiritual significance of Jesus being the unblemished and spotless lamb that was sacrificed to cover our sins.

(1 Pet 1:18-19 NRSV) You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

Let's take a moment and look at the actual Passover that was celebrated by Jesus with his disciples. We can find it in Mark 14:22.

(Mark 14:22-25 NRSV) While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." {23} Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. {24} He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. {25} Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

There is one very important event that happened on that evening. Matthew, Mark, and Luke left that event out of their books. It is only recorded in the book of John. Specifically, it is in John13:3.

(John 13:3-17 NRSV) Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, {4} got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. {5} Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. {6} He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" {7} Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." {8} Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." {9} Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" {10} Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." {11} For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean." {12} After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? {13} You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. {14} So if I, your Lord [that means, Master] and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. {16} Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. {17} If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Stop and think for a moment. We all know about the symbols of the bread and the wine representing Christ's broken body and blood that was sacrificed for us. Most people, however, don't ever notice the direct command from our Messiah that we are to wash one another's feet at Passover. Jesus commanded that if we want to be his disciples, we are to follow the example he set for us. We are to do what he did. Why in the world would anybody want to wash somebody else's dirty feet? It is because foot washing is an act of humility and service to all our brothers and sisters.

We should always remember that our Father is a God of mercy who, in mercy, gives second chances to his people who earnestly seek to do his will. In that regard, God knew there might be rare but occasional reasons or circumstances for people to miss the Passover observance. In Numbers 9:10, for those rare occasions, God provided a second chance to obey him.

(Num 9:10-13 NASB) "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the LORD. {11} 'In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. {12} 'They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. {13} 'But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time. That man shall bear his sin.

Notice the observance of Passover is very important to God. It is the crux of the plan of salvation that God extends to us. The seriousness of salvation was also addressed in the second chapter of the book of Hebrews.

(Heb 2:1-3 NASB) For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. {2} For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, {3} how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

So, be aware always that we have been given a precious gift from God; a gift of knowledge of the way to salvation. We should diligently pursue that precious gift and not neglect the calling and mercy we have been shown by God.

God's Holy Days

God has days of the year that are special to him and they should be special to us, as well. Just how are we to know when those special days occur? God provided a way to mark the times that are special to him. We can notice in Genesis 1:14, how God marks time by the purposes for which he created the sun, the moon, and the stars to be signs for us.

(Gen 1:14 NASB) Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;

The word for seasons in Hebrew is moed. It really does'nt mean "seasons" as we think of spring, summer, fall, and winter today. The Hebrew word moed really means "an appointment or fixed time." As we said earlier, it is by the new moon that God shows us when the first of each month begins. If we know when the first of the month is, then we can very simply count off the number of days to determine when each of our "appointments" with God is to occur on his holy days.

Leviticus 23 uses the same word, moed, to tell us when we are to have "appointments" with God. It lists each of the times throughout the year when we are to assemble to worship God. The Sabbath is the first "appointment" we have with God every week.

(Lev 23:1-3 NASB) The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, {2} "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, 'The LORD'S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations-- My appointed times are these: {3} 'For six days work may be done; but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

Keep your place in Leviticus 23 because we'll be coming back here several times.

Regardless of when the new moon occurs, you can look at most, but not all, calendars and very easily see which is the seventh day. Sunday is the first day of the week; Monday is the second; Tuesday is the third; Wednesday is the fourth; Thursday is the fifth; Friday is the sixth; and Saturday is the seventh day of the week. Therefore, it's easy to see that we should assemble to worship God on Saturday, the Sabbath. Furthermore, we know from Luke 4:16 that Jesus kept the Sabbath with the Jews on the seventh day, as well.

(Luke 4:16 NASB) And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

It was Jesus' custom or habit. It was the thing he normally did on the weekly Sabbath day. So, the Sabbath is the first of our "appointments" with God. Let's go back to Leviticus 23 to see when our other "appointments" happen.

(Lev 23:4-5 NASB) 'These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. {5} 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

We know that the new moon marks the first day of the month. So, it is very easy to count thirteen more days to get to the fourteenth day of the first month. At twilight in the beginning of the fourteenth is when Israel observed the Passover. Leviticus 23:6 shows us, however, what God commanded Israel to do on the fifteenth day of the first month.

(Lev 23:6 NASB) 'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.

Notice that God gave the same command to his people in Exodus 12:17; but there he went into more detail.

(Exo 12:14-20 NASB) 'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. {15} 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. {16} 'And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.

That's important to note. God does allow food preparation on the Days of Unleavened Bread, unlike the Sabbath day on which there is no work at all.

Continue in verse seventeen.

(Exo 12:17-20 NASB) 'You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. {18} 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening [that's at the end of the day], you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. {19} 'Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. {20} 'You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.'"

What do you notice about verse 19? It says that for seven days there shall be no leaven found in your house. That means both no leavened bread and no leavening agents, such as yeast or baking powder or baking soda. Anything that leavens shall be put out of your house and nothing that leavens shall be found in your house for seven days. Not only shall there be no leaven found in your house, verse 20 says that for seven days you shall not eat anything leavened and you shall only eat unleavened bread. Now, that doesn't mean you can't eat anything besides unleavened bread for seven days. You can eat other food like vegetables and meat. It just means you can't eat anything with leavening or leavened products on it or in it for seven days. Furthermore, you must eat some unleavened bread (or some call it flatbread) for each of the seven days and be mindful of its significance when you eat it.

Let's go back to Leviticus 23 and read verse seven to find out what else we are to do during that week of Unleavened Bread.

(Lev 23:7-8 NASB) 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. {8} 'But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD [an "offering by fire" was an animal sacrifice]. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work [the term laborious work comes from the Hebrew word, abodah, which means work of labor or service].'"

What else is to happen on the first day of Unleavened Bread? Deuteronomy 16:16 shows that we are commanded to give an offering.

(Deu 16:16-17 NASB) "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. {17} "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

We may freely give offerings at other times of the year if we choose to but here is a direct command from God that we are to give offerings "as we are able" specifically on these three "appointed times" or Holy Days of God. Don't be fooled by other organizations or churches, which might tell you that God commands an offering to be given on other Holy Days. You've seen with your own eyes that God actually commands offerings to be given only on these three specific Holy Days.

The Historical Example of Israel's Sin

As we know, leaven can be symbolic of sin. In Numbers 33:3, notice what the children of Israel actually did on the fifteenth day of the first month in Egypt.

(Num 33:3-4 NASB) And they journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, {4} while the Egyptians were burying all their first-born whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods.

Egypt is also symbolic of sin. So, Israel actually came out of sin on the first day of Unleavened Bread. So, too, we are to picture putting sin out of our lives during the week of unleavened bread by physically putting leavening out of our homes and keeping it out of our homes for seven days.

Obviously because they left Egypt in such a hurry, the Israelites had no time to leaven their dough and took no leavening with them because they had just been commanded by God through Moses to clear all leaven from their homes. Exodus 12:33 makes it clear.

(Exo 12:33-34 NASB) And the Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, "We shall all be dead." {34} So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.

So, it was rather easy for them to keep God's command to eat unleavened bread for seven days because they didn't have any leavening.

As Israel proceeded out of the sin of Egypt into the isolated safety of God's protection in the wilderness on their way to the Promised land, they had the opportunity to keep sin out of their lives. That, however, was not the way they chose to behave. Even though they agreed to live by the terms of God's covenant at Mount Sinai, their subsequent deeds and actions told another story. Centuries later after numerous chastisements and corrections from God and after untold pleadings by God through his prophets, 2 Kings 17 records the doom that befell the northern Kingdom of Israel because of their rebellion against God.

(2 Ki 17:7-18 NASB) Now this came about, because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods {8} and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. {9} And the sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right, against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. {10} And they set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, {11} and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. {12} And they served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing." {13} Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets." {14} However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. {15} And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. {16} And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. {17} Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. {18} So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.

What was true with the northern Kingdom of Israel soon became evident in the southern Kingdom of Judah and a little more than a century later punishment came upon them in a similar fashion. It was not, however, before God gave them additional fervent pleadings for change uttered through the mouths of his prophets. Jeremiah made the final attempt before their banishment but God's assessment of their behavior was clear in Jeremiah 5.

(Jer 5:7-31 NASB) "Why should I pardon you? Your sons have forsaken Me And sworn by those who are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, They committed adultery And trooped to the harlot's house. {8} "They were well-fed lusty horses, Each one neighing after his neighbor's wife. {9} "Shall I not punish these people," declares the LORD, "And on a nation such as this Shall I not avenge Myself? {10} "Go up through her vine rows and destroy, But do not execute a complete destruction; Strip away her branches, For they are not the LORD'S. {11} "For the house of Israel and the house of Judah Have dealt very treacherously with Me," declares the LORD. {12} They have lied about the LORD And said, "Not He; Misfortune will not come on us; And we will not see sword or famine. {13} "And the prophets are as wind, And the word is not in them. Thus it will be done to them!" {14} Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, "Because you have spoken this word, Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire And this people wood, and it will consume them. {15} "Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel," declares the LORD. "It is an enduring nation, It is an ancient nation, A nation whose language you do not know, Nor can you understand what they say. {16} "Their quiver is like an open grave, All of them are mighty men. {17} "And they will devour your harvest and your food; They will devour your sons and your daughters; They will devour your flocks and your herds; They will devour your vines and your fig trees; They will demolish with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust. {18} "Yet even in those days," declares the LORD, "I will not make you a complete destruction. {19} "And it shall come about when they say, 'Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?' then you shall say to them, 'As you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.' {20} "Declare this in the house of Jacob And proclaim it in Judah, saying, {21} 'Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes, but see not; Who have ears, but hear not. {22} 'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. {23} 'But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed. {24} 'They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us The appointed weeks of the harvest." {25} 'Your iniquities have turned these away, And your sins have withheld good from you. {26} 'For wicked men are found among My people, They watch like fowlers lying in wait; They set a trap, They catch men. {27} 'Like a cage full of birds, So their houses are full of deceit; Therefore they have become great and rich. {28} 'They are fat, they are sleek, They also excel in deeds of wickedness; They do not plead the cause, The cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; And they do not defend the rights of the poor. {29} 'Shall I not punish these people?' declares the LORD, 'On a nation such as this Shall I not avenge Myself?' {30} "An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: {31} The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

Why was it that the people loved it so? Why did they seek to be told lies instead of listening to the truth? Why did they voluntarily choose rebellion over obedience to God? David knew the answers and said so in Psalms 94:8.

(Psa 94:8-11 NASB) Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones? {9} He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? {10} He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge? {11} The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.

The King James version renders verse eleven as: "The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." The Hebrew word for vanity is hebel and its meaning is vapor, breathe, emptiness, or vanity. So, God knows that the thoughts of man are emptiness and amount to little. That is why we need God's direction. We need God's thoughts to become our thoughts. Why? It is for our own good because, apart from God, we are empty, wandering about as lost and without direction.

Despite the doom and gloom that Jeremiah warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah would come on them because of their rebellion against God, the end of his story was good and that is what we must keep in mind. God promises us the reward of good in our lives when his ways become out ways.

(Jer 32:36-41 NASB) "Now therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence.' {37} "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. {38} "And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; {39} and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. {40} "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. {41} "And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.

The Spiritual Intent of the Feast of Unleavened Bread

What is the spiritual meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

In 1 Corinthians 13:4, Paul tells us that love is not a leavening agent. The Literal Version of the Bible by Jay P. Green, Sr. sheds more light on the relationship with leaven.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-6 LITV) Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love is not vain, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.

Did you catch that in verse four? Paul said that love "is not puffed up." Earlier in 1 Corinthians 8:1, Paul showed one of the sources of becomming "puffed up" or arrogant, again from the Literal Version.

(1 Corinthians 8:1 LITV) But concerning the sacrifices to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

In 2 Peter 2:18, the apostle Peter speaks of the arrogance of vanity, which entangles many people back into a life of sin.

(2 Pet 2:18-21 NASB) For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, {19} promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. {20} For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. {21} For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.

In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul shows us what leaven or sin does in our lives.

(1 Cor 5:6-8 NASB) Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? {7} Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. {8} Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

There is a lot of spiritual meat in that statement. Did you catch all of that? As we put the leaven out of our houses for seven days, verse seven says that we are to clean the old leaven [or sin] out of our lives and we are to lead unleavened lives of sincerity and truth because Christ is our Passover lamb who has been sacrificed for us.


You can study on your own the rest of the "appointed times" or Holy Days of God listed in Leviticus 23. All together, the Festivals of God reveal to us God's entire plan of salvation, both for us and, eventually, for the rest of humanity. Don't believe me, though, and don't believe just any other church. Study your Bible and see for yourself what truth God has in store for you. Don't be just "hearers of the Word" but be doers of the word of God.

Sermon by Philip Edwards
March 17, 2007
Copyright 2007, Philip Edwards

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