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How & Why Do We Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?



Sermon by Larry Walker



Summary

The emphasis of the Days of Unleavened Bread is eating unleavened bread, not just avoiding leavening. What are the spiritual lessons we should derive from this?


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How and Why Do We Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?

Introduction – The feast days provide a broad outline and a progression of major events in God’s plan of salvation for all the peoples of the world, past present and future.

SPS – Today we will examine the historic and spiritual meanings of the Days of Unleavened Bread and how to observe them in order to learn these important spiritual truths.
· We won’t be talking much about leavening and its spiritual meaning of sin, because that is not the main focus of the Days of Unleavened Bread—historically or spiritually, as evidenced by the name of this festival-- the Days of Unleavened Bread, not “the days of no leavened bread.”
· So what should we learn from eating unleavened bread?

The basic instructions for observing the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals and holy days are given in Leviticus 23.

Leviticus:23:1-2 ¶ And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.
· God first of all makes it clear that these feast days are “feasts of the LORD, which He identifies as “My feasts.”
· So even though these annual festivals were originally given to the nation of ancient Israel, they are not the feasts of Israel—they are God’s feasts.
· After God clearly tells us that these are His feasts, He gives instructions to be given to the Israelites regarding how the feasts were to be observed.

Leviticus:23:5-8 5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. 6 '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. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8....The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' "
· Although the commands to keep these days and instructions on how to observe them were addressed to Israel, the Bible shows that God’s Holy Days and Festivals continued to be observed by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the New Testament Church.
· Those instructions must first be understood in the historical context of the nation of Israel in order to determine how to observe them today in a very different culture in order to learn the important spiritual lessons regarding the plan of God that we can glean from these days.

What are we to learn from putting out and avoiding leavening and eating unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread?
· The answer begins in the book of Exodus and continues in the inspired teachings of the apostle Paul in the New Testament.
· The instructions God gave Moses for instituting the first Passover are recorded in Exodus:12:1-14.
· At this first Passover, God commanded the Israelites to slay lambs and smear their blood on their doorposts so the people would be “passed over” and spared from the plague of the death of the firstborn
· God delivered Israel from Egypt after they killed the Passover lamb, sprinkled the blood of lambs on the doorposts of their homes and they were to eat unleavened bread with the lamb
· (verse 8 – “they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs).
· God further instructed them that in the process of leaving Egypt they were to continue eating unleavened bread for seven days (Leviticus:23:6).

Exodus:12:15-20 15 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 'On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat -- that only may be prepared by you. 17 'So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 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. 20 'You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.' "

Deuteronomy:16:1-8 ¶ "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night…. 3 "You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. 4 "And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days…. 8 "Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work on it.
· There is a close connection between the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately follows the Passover.
· Eating unleavened bread was to be a reminder that God delivered them out of slavery in Egypt so swiftly that they had to eat unleavened bread because there wasn’t time to allow the dough to rise.

NLT Exodus:12:17 “Celebrate this Festival of Unleavened Bread, for it will remind you that I brought your forces out of the land of Egypt on this very day. This festival will be a permanent law for you; celebrate this day from generation to generation.

NLT Exodus:12:39 For bread they baked flat cakes from the dough without yeast they had brought from Egypt. It was made without yeast because the people were driven out of Egypt in such a hurry that they had no time to prepare the bread or other food.
· Notice that nothing is said about leavening being a type of sin, which is a valid albeit later understanding.
· The historic meaning was the swiftness of God’s delivering them from Egyptian bondage.
· Eating unleavened bread was emphasized by the fact that it this festival is known as “the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus12:17, Acts:12:3, 20:6) and because unleavened bread was to be eaten throughout this seven day period.

Meaning of Bread in Passover and Unleavened Bread in New Covenant

So, why do we eat unleavened bread under the New Covenant? The question becomes clear when we consider it in the context of a teaching that began with ancient Israel and is continued today with the Church of God under the terms of the New Covenant.
· During the Feast of Unleavened Bread the emphasis is on eating only that which is unleavened and avoiding all leavening.
· The Jews in NT times were familiar with the connection between bread and life from the OT information about manna.

Deuteronomy:8:3 “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”
· But Israel never fully understood the meaning of the symbols of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
· It is only through the clear teachings of Christ that we come to understand the deeper meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
· Jesus quoted this passage when resisting the devil’s temptations after His baptism (Matthew:4:4, Luke:4:4).
· Bread symbolizes how we live—not just by physical bread but by the word of God.

Jesus proclaimed that He is the true Bread sent from heaven (John:6:32-35, 53-58).
· In John 6, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Bread of Life,” in contrast to the manna that God provided to feed the Israelites on their journey to the promised land of Canaan.
· God provided manna for the Israelites every day (except on the Sabbath) to feed and sustain them during their journey out of Egypt.
· For the Church of God, Jesus Christ is our daily bread to nourish and sustain us spiritually in our daily lives.
· So the unleavened bread of the Passover symbolizes His broken body; and eating unleavened bread at the Passover and during the ensuing Days of Unleavened Bread represents our willingness to live by the Word of God as result of Christ living in us, as stated in our Passover service.
· “The bread is symbolic of Christ’s suffering in our place for our sins. It is symbolic of Christ living in us and our need to live by every word of God.”
· This is a fundamental aspect of putting sin out of our lives.
· The fact that the Days of Unleavened Bread follow directly on the heels of the Passover demonstrates the continuation and connection of the spiritual meaning of both Holy Days.
· So eating unleavened bread symbolizes “Christ living in us and our need to live by every word of God” as a fundamental meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread just as it does for Passover.
· Eating unleavened bread should be a central aspect of our observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not just putting out leavening and not eating leavened bread.
· We understand that leaven and leavened bread, which we are to avoid during this time, represent sin (1 Corinthians:5:1-8).
· Unleavened bread represents the opposite—an unleavened life made possible through the removal of our sins by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and Him living within us so that the life we now live is through Him (Galatians:2:20).

Galatians:2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Ephesians:3:14-19 I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
· Christ living in us and living by the word of God are the keys to overcoming sin in this life.
· Putting sin out of our lives is a visible, measurable process.
· Allowing Christ to live within us is not; it is a matter of faith and trust in Him as our living Savior, who strengthens and empowers us in our battle against sin.

Philippians:4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

NLT Philippians:2:13 God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

· Putting out leaven during this festival and putting in, or eating, unleavened bread, offers a powerful teaching analogy of this spiritual process by which we overcome sin through the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the life of Christ in us.
· The wine and unleavened bread are symbols we partake of each Passover in remembrance of His sacrifice, and eating unleavened bread serves as a reminder that through the spirit and words of the living Christ in us we can overcome sin.
· overcome = “win the victory over,” not that we can totally eliminate sin from or life.

NKJ 1 John:1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
· The apostle John wrote this late in life, many years after his conversion.

· Eating unleavened bread throughout this Feast is a reminder that He is our daily bread and through Him we are to remain spiritually unleavened.
· He taught us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” So eating unleavened bread during the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that Christ is living in us through the Holy Spirit, renewing the inner man daily and providing spiritual nourishment to empower us to live by the word of God and helping us focus on the full meaning of the Feast.
· During the Days of Unleavened Bread we eat unleavened bread as a reminder of Christ as the Bread of life.
· He not only nourishes and strengthens us in this life; He as the Bread of life is also the only way to attain to eternal life.

NLT Romans:6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through [“by means of” – dative of means] Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans:5:9-10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

John:11:25 Jesus said …, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in [into (Gr. eis)] Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John:6:57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.
· While it is true that the Days of Unleavened Bread are not specifically stated in the context of John 6, neither is Passover specifically stated (in fact Jesus had not yet established the NT Passover symbols, although they are clearly implied in His statements about eating His flesh and drinking His blood).
· However, the overriding meaning of this discourse is the need to maintain an ongoing relationship of belief in Christ in order to avoid death and be given eternal life that we are to be reminded of and proclaim by partaking of the Passover symbols and eating unleavened bread during the days of Unleavened Bread.
· This is the scriptural perspective from which we should approach the eating of unleavened bread.
· Eating unleavened bread for seven days provides a wonderful object lesson about the salvation process.
· It teaches the need to “put on the new man” (Colossians:3:10) as a part of our calling and conversion process.
· Just as wine and unleavened bread are symbols we take each Passover in remembrance of His sacrifice, so too eating unleavened bread is a symbolic reminder of His living in us daily and our commitment and determination to live a sin-free life.
· In this way the inward man is renewed daily (2 Corinthians:4:16).
· It also teaches we cannot do this ourselves; it is by the grace of God.
· “The Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates Christians being miraculously delivered from the spiritual bondage of sin and reminds us that our deliverance from sin and our salvation are available only through a personal relationship with Christ” (Bible Correspondence Course, lesson #12).

Summary of Meaning of Passover and Unleavened Bread in Old and New Covenants.

Conclusion – The meaning of Passover and Unleavened Bread for the Israelites under the covenant God made with them was, 1) They were to understand that Passover represented their nation being freed from Egyptian bondage, (Ex 12:27), and 2) The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to remind them that the Lord brought them out of Egypt, and that God’s deliverance was so swift that the Israelites didn’t even have time to allow their bread to rise (Exodus:12:17, 13:3-9). So eating unleavened bread during this festival was to serve as a reminder of God’s powerful deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

Under the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ, the Passover and all of the Feasts of the Lord are still observed, but with meanings that reflect God’s eternal purpose for all mankind. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread remind us of the great two-fold process that begins the process leading to salvation. 1) We must have our sins forgiven through the Passover sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and 2) We must come out of sin and live by the Word of God, empowered and renewed daily by Christ living in us. The seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes this vital process every follower of Christ must experience if they are to attain to salvation.
· With this background we can better understand the words of the apostle Paul concerning the New Covenant observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “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” (1Corinthians 5:7-8).