The Feast of Unleavened Bread
‘And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat...The Feast of Unleavened Bread
‘And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. Leviticus chapter 23:6
Deeply associated with the holiday of Passover is the feast of Unleavened Bread. Perhaps you have heard of unleavened bread today by its more common name - "Matzah." And although Passover and Unleavened Bread have 'merged' in the modern Jewish mindset as one holiday, biblically they are two distinct events. So let's take a look at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and its relationship to Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven-day event. It begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (usually corresponding to our calendar as late March or early April) and ends on the 21st day of Nisan. Its origins go back to that very first Passover night in Egypt. The night when the family had to place the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their home. Then, they were told to go inside, have a meal and include unleavened bread as part of that meal. Exodus 12:8 "‘Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it."
Here we have the first Passover Seder. Unleavened bread was one of the three main ingredients of that meal. (Lamb and bitter herbs being the other two.) Leaven (called 'chometz' in Hebrew) means 'sour.' Leaven is the ingredient that makes bread rise. Leaven was not allowed at the table nor anywhere in the home during Passover. As a matter of fact - the entire household had to be cleansed from any food that would contain even a trace of leaven.
Exodus 13:19 “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land.” From the night of their redemption from Egypt and for the next seven days, no leaven was to be found anywhere in the home. As the years went by, to make sure that there was no leaven in the homes during this feast, Jewish people would prepare for days and even weeks earlier. Leavened food was physically removed from the premises and utensils were brought into the kitchen that had never been used on leavened products before. As a matter of fact, a special search is made in the home during the last remaining hours before Passover to make sure that no leaven remains. Alfred Edersheim explains: "...on the evening commenced the 14th of Nisan, when a solemn search was made with lighted candle throughout each house for any leaven that might be hidden, or have fallen aside by accident." 1 He continues to explain when the physical ingestion of all leaven stopped: "... an hour before midday was fixed after which nothing leavened might be eaten. The more strict abstained from it even an hour earlier (at 10 o'clock), lest the eleventh hour might insensibly run into the forbidden midday." 2 So we can see that Jewish people took this feast very seriously. Even Jesus made preparations for His Passover dinner by having His disciples make sure the room where they would eat the Passover would be ready in time.
Mark 14:12-16 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. “Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’ “Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
One must eventually ask oneself the question of "Why"? Why is the removal of leaven so important? What significance does it play in Holy Scripture? Neil and Jamie Lash give a good summary of the role of leaven in biblical thought: "Leaven, in both Jewish and Christian tradition, is symbolic of sin. The Talmud says, "leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart" (Berachot 17a). We've already seen that chometz (leaven) literally means, "sour." That's what sin does to our lives. It makes them sour rather than sweet." 3 Moishe Rosen also explains the role of leaven: “Leaven in the Bible [with the exception of Matt 13:33] is almost always a symbol of sin. The putting away of all leaven is a picture of the sanctification of the child of God. In teaching His people this truth, God did not leave them to grapple with abstractions. The Bible speaks in terms of human experience. Leaven was something that every housewife, every cook, used in everyday life. The feel, the smell, the effects of leaven had an obvious meaning. The Hebrew word for leaven is chometz, meaning "bitter" or "sour." It is the nature of sin to make people bitter or sour.
Leaven causes the dough to become puffed up so that the end product is more in volume, but not more in weight. The sin of pride causes people to be puffed up, to think of themselves as far more than they really are. The ancient Hebrews used the sourdough method of leavening their bread. Before a housewife formed the dough into loaves ready for baking, she pulled off a chunk of the raw dough and set it aside in a cool, moist place. When it was time to bake another batch of bread, she brought out the reserve lump of dough. She then mixed the old lump into the fresh batch of flour and water to leaven the next loaves, again setting aside a small lump of the newly mixed dough. Each "new generation" of bread was organically linked by the common yeast spores to the previous loaves of bread. The human race bears this same kind of link to the sin nature of our first father, Adam.” 4 Today, Judaism denies the existence of what theologians call "original sin." They would ascribe to a theology similar to radio talk show host Dr. Laura - "just do the right thing." Judaism is a ‘works’ based system. If you just try hard enough, you can be a good person. In actuality, isn't that the basis of all world religions? But the Scriptures teach that mankind has been infected with a virus called sin. And I believe it is transmitted from father to son genetically. This makes every boy and girl born to earthly parents assured to have a sin nature. A ‘nature’ that will choose wrong (selfish choices) if left to itself. If you have kids do you have a problem like, "Come on kids, you're sharing again! You've always shared. Let me teach you how to be selfish." All parents can attest that what I am saying is true at some point in child rearing. We all need to teach our children right behavior. In other words, do you teach your kids how to be bad? Or how to be good? If you answer honestly you know that you have to teach them to be good.
If left to themselves, they would gravitate towards wrong behavior. Incidentally, the reality of this ‘sin nature’ is why I also believe in the virgin birth of the Messiah. If He had two ‘normal’ earthly parents, He most certainly would have inherited a sin nature. That is why His heavenly Father arranged it so that His genetics in the womb of Miriam (Mary) would contain no sin nature. A virgin birth did that. He was fully human, but without a propensity to gravitate towards self- gratification. But I digress, back to Passover and Unleavened Bread. Notice the order? Passover comes first, and then the family had seven (the number of completion) days of unleavened bread. When I was born again He came to my hearts’ door and placed His own blood there protecting me from death - eternal death. Then He entered into my life and began to remove the leaven. (And did I have lots of leaven!) My desire to gratify self outside of God’s will began to die. The leaven began to leave. I no longer wanted to sin. I no longer wanted to live a life of that was not fully serving him. I have traveled the world several times come in contact with many nationalities. Languages are the different but the desire to know God is the same. Some listen while others are deaf to the Holy Scriptures. We must show all that they need to get rid of the leavened bread (sin) in their lives.
Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) told the congregation (the church) at Corinth to stop praising sin. His admonition to them came straight out of this feast: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 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 Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Let us never forget that Jesus is the only one who never sinned. He had no leaven in His life. Even the most righteous of saints has at some point failed. We all need leaven continuously removed from our lives. Some leaven we can see. It's obvious to us and to those around us. Other times, it's something that we cannot see. Either way, a good prayer by David (and one that I personally pray) is found in Psalm 139: 23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my anxieties: And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Asking God to do the housecleaning is much better than trying to use those 'self-help' books the world depends on. God does a much better job. And in closing, let me mention one more thing about bread. It's interesting to discover that Jesus was born in a town called 'Bethlehem.' That's actually two words in Hebrew, "Beth" means "House" and "Lechem" means "bread." So isn't it fascinating that the one who is called the "Bread of Life" was born in a town called "House of Bread." Jesus said, in John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." Have you come to eat of Him and His unleavened nature? Show more
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