FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
MOST of modern Christianity teaches that there is nothing more for us to do but believe in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. No wonder He is portrayed as a dead Savior hanging on a cross! But He returned to life after three days and three nights and is very much alive today!
Christ’s death, pictured by the Passover, was necessary to pay the penalty for our breaking God’s commandments–to reconcile us to God the Father. But His death alone will not save us! Think, for a moment, if Jesus Christ had died but not been resurrected. Would His death alone give us the ability to live forever? Of course not! Accepting Christ’s sacrifice is only the first step in God’s plan for bringing us into the Family of God.
Shall We Continue to Break God’s Law?
What should we do once our past law breaking has been covered by Christ? “Shall we continue to break God’s law?” Asked the Apostle Paul. “Certainly not!” was his emphatic answer (Rom. 6:1-2, RAV). “Shall we break God’s law because we are not under [the penalty of the] law but under grace? Certainly not!” (verse 15). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly NOT! We establish the law” (Rom. 3:31, RAV).
Someone once asked Jesus: “… what good thing shall I do, that I may live forever?” Jesus answered: “… keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-17). God is now in the process of creating spiritual character in those who He has called into His Church. We now only a clay model, are to be created in the character-image of God. Since the Ten Commandments describe God’s nature and character, keeping His law is absolutely necessary for spiritual character growth. We must allow Him to build His character in us while we are still human.
We Must Obey God’s Law
Our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice in payment for the penalty of our law breaking is only the first step. Once we are truly sorry and have been forgiven He wants us to stop breaking his law’s which are based in God’s 10 commandments. See: ‘The Ten Commandments’ explained. This insight into real life situations will help every reader! Found on Page 3 of the America And Britains Future Fee Library.
God commands us to come out of this world’s ways (Rev. 18:4)– just as ancient Israel left Egypt, a symbol for law breaking(Heb. 11:25-26). That is OUR PART, in God’s plan. To keep us in the knowledge of the second step in God’s plan, Christ- the Lord of the Old Testament, instituted the second annual festival–the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The observance of this Feast impresses upon us that we must do our part to keep the law.
Leaven is also a symbol for breaking God’s law (I Cor. 5:8). God commanded the ancient Israelites to put all leaven out of their homes and off their property and eat unleavened bread during this seven-day festival. And so the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to remind us today that we are to strive to put law breaking completely out of our lives!
After repentance and baptism, God expects us to strive to keep His law -to spiritually “unleaven” our lives, just as we are to physically unleaven our homes before the Feast. The act of eating unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread teaches us the opposite of law breaking- obedience to God’s law! The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the keeping of God’s commandments.
To observe only the Passover, and then fail to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is comparable to accepting Christ’s sacrifice and then saying the law of God is done away–that because we are “under grace” we have permission to continue to break the law! The Bible shows Christ is not a “minister of sin”! (Gal. 2:17).
“Let Us Keep the Feast”!
In the simplest and clearest New Testament command to observe God’s annual festivals and Holy Days, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Gentile Christians at Corinth: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast” (I Cor. 5:7-8). The context makes it very clear that Paul was referring to the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
Christians today are not only to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice by observing the Passover, they are also to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These two annual festivals are inseparable, both historically and in spiritual meaning for us today. Let’s begin to understand the full meaning of this second annual festival picturing the next step in God’s plan. Let’s learn what the Bible tells us about our part in God’s Plan.
The First Feast of Unleavened Bread
God’s second annual festival begins with the events of the very first Feast of Unleavened Bread, instituted at the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. God, through a series of miraculous plagues, began to rescue them from their captivity.
In the evening of the 14th of Abib each Israelite family killed the lamb it had selected, and then smeared some of its blood on the doorposts of their houses. This protected their firstborn (Ex. 12:6-7, 12-13). Each lamb was symbolic of “Christ our Passover,” the “Lamb of God,” and its blood pictured Christ’s blood, which would be shed much later to pay the penalty of our spiritual sins-eternal death.
1. For how long were the Israelites to remain in their houses on the night of the 14th? Ex. 12:22, last part. What were they to do early in the morning? Verse 10.
COMMENT: The Israelites were protected as a result of applying lamb’s blood to the doorposts of their houses and remaining inside that night. Early in the morning they burned the leftovers of their roasted lambs. Then on “the morrow after the Passover,” they started “out of Egypt by night. “
3. Were the Israelites to especially remember their deliverance from Egypt? Ex. 13:3-4. In what way did God, through Moses, command the Israelites to commemorate their deliverance? Verses 3, last part, 6-7; Ex. 12:15-20.
COMMENT: Moses had told the people to put out all of their leaven according to God’s instructions. And in their escape from Egypt, their dough did not have enough time to naturally ferment and rise (Ex. 12:33-34, 39). Therefore the eating of unleavened bread was to be an appropriate yearly reminder–a memorial–of the haste with which they fled Egypt.
Much greater symbolic meaning is attached to leaven in the New Testament. We’ll come to understand the spiritual meaning of putting leaven out and eating unleavened bread during the annual Feast of Unleavened Bread.
COMMENT: It was on the sixth day of Unleavened Bread that the Egyptian army overtook the Israelites encamped near Pi-hahiroth. Mountains made escape impossible to the south and west. The Red Sea, to the east, was nearly eight miles across at that point, and Pharaoh’s army stood due north of the Israelites. They were trapped! Knowing that Pharaoh would pursue his ex-slaves (Ex. 14:3-4), God told the Israelites to leave the normally traveled road. He led them into a trap for their own good to prove to them, and to us today, that He alone offers protection –if we will trust Him.
5. When the people understood their predicament, what was their reaction? Ex. 14:10-12.
COMMENT: Elation turned into fear and anger when the Israelites realized it was humanly impossible to escape from Pharaoh.
6. How did God provide an escape route for the trapped Israelites? Verses 13-16, 19-22. What did He do to the Egyptian chariots when Pharaoh’s army tried to follow? Verses 23-25. What happened to the Egyptians? Verses 26-28.
COMMENT: The pillar of the cloud and fire, by which God led the Israelites (Ex. 13:21-22), moved behind them to protect them from the Egyptian army. Then God, altering the forces of nature, opened a pathway through the Red Sea to allow the people to walk across. God miraculously saved Israel from Pharaoh’s army.
Tradition has it that the miraculous opening of the Red Sea and the completion of the Israelites’ escape from slavery took place before dawn on the seventh and last day of the first Feast of Unleavened Bread. Then, on the daylight part of this annual Holy Sabbath, there was great celebration of their complete delivery from bondage in Egypt (Ex15:1-21).
The Feast in Ancient Israel
After the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they promised to obey God. But they failed except for the times God gave them Joshua, who succeeded Moses, the Israelites obeyed God (Judg. 2:7). But after his death and the death of the elders of that generation, the next generation did not. God punished the people for their disobedience, but when they cried out to Him for help, He sent a righteous ruler to deliver them. After he died, however, the people went into idolatry (verses 10-12, 18-19). This cycle was repeated many times during the period of the judges.
During the reign of King David, the Israelites prospered greatly as they did in Solomon’s reign. But all of the later kings of Israel and most in Judah disobeyed God. They were cursed and eventually taken into national captivity; Israel first and then Judah more than 100 years later.
1. Prior to Judah’s captivity, however, a king named Hezekiah did what was right in God’s sight (II Chron. 29:1-2). Did Hezekiah realize that Judah’s national troubles were the result of the nation having forsaken God?II Chron. 29:6-9.
COMMENT: During the reigns of the kings before Hezekiah, God’s Temple had been closed. The people had forgotten God’s laws and festivals, and were following the idolatrous practices of the foreign nations around them. But when Hezekiah became king, he restored the true worship of God, including the observance of His annual festivals.
However, the first Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread to be kept in many years were not observed in the month of Abib. The priesthood was not properly prepared in time, and the people had not yet gathered in Jerusalem to attend these festivals. Following the principle in Numbers 9:9-12 for observing the Passover one month later if necessary, they observed it and immediately afterward the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.
God prospered the nation for returning to Him under the righteous rule of Hezekiah. But after Hezekiah’s death, the Jews again forgot God and His festivals. They returned to idolatry under the wicked rule of kings Manasseh and Amon. Not until the reign of Josiah were God’s annual feasts again restored.
4. Was Josiah a righteous king? II Chron. 34:1-3. Had the Temple again fallen into disuse and disrepair before his reign began? Verses 8-11. After the repair work had begun, what did the high priest find in the Temple? Verse 14. What did Josiah publicly promise to do? Verse 31. Did he lead all the people to obey God? Verses 32-33.
5. What did Josiah command the people to do regarding the Passover? II Kings 23:21; II Chron. 35:1. Did he understand that God expected His people to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread also? II Chron. 35:17.
COMMENT: After Josiah died, most of the Jews again lost sight of God, ignored His weekly Sabbaths and rejected His annual festivals. To bring the people to repentance, God punished them by allowing the entire nation of Judah to be militarily defeated and taken captive by the Babylonians.
6. Seventy years later, God allowed as many Jews as wanted to return to Jerusalem to do so and rebuild the Temple. What did they do after the Temple had been built and dedicated? Ezra 6:19-22.
COMMENT: Notice that each time the worship of God was restored, the keeping of His Holy Days was also resumed and emphasized. God was pleased with this national repentance because He knows that when people have the right attitude toward His Holy Days, they will learn to have the right attitude toward all His commandments, for it is on God’s Holy Days that His people learn about His law.
Kept by the New Testament Church
1. Who instituted the seven annual festivals, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Lev. 23:1-2, 6. Therefore whose feasts are they? Verse 2, last part. Are God’s people to keep His feasts forever? Ex. 12:14, 17; 13:10.
COMMENT: God the Father is the supreme Lawgiver, but He gave His laws through His Spokesman, the One who later became Jesus Christ. As the Lord of the Old Testament, Christ delivered to ancient Israel the knowledge of God’s laws, including His Sabbaths and festivals. And He made sure this knowledge would be preserved for His New Testament Church (Acts 7:38). God’s early New Testament Church kept His annual festivals and Holy Days. Let’s examine the proof.
COMMENT: In Acts 20:6, Paul and his companions plainly had observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread at Philippi. This Feast was still being kept by God’s Church–it was not abolished at Christ’s death! God would not have inspired this reference to the “days of unleavened bread” if, in His sight, His festivals had ceased to exist.
Notice what Hastings’ Dictionary of the Apostolic Church says about these New Testament references to God’s annual festivals and Holy Days: “Nothing could show better than these scanty notes of time how deep-rooted the custom was, how the feast was observed as regularly as the year came round. Men spoke naturally of ‘the days of unleavened bread’ as a significant point in the calendar…. Ordinary dates dwindle into insignificance beside these fixed, outstanding seasons….
“The question arises, as in the matter of keeping [the] Sabbath on the seventh day, whether the early Christians continued to observe these festivals…. In all probability they went on for years observing the festivals” (article “Passover,” pp. 132-133).
4. Did Paul, inspired by God, say New Testament Christians should keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread? I Cor. 5:7-8. What did he say that clearly shows the Church of God at Corinth was, at the time he wrote, keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Verse 7. Notice the words “as you are unleavened.”
COMMENT: The Apostle Paul was telling the Corinthian church members to put out spiritual leaven, just as they had already put out all physical leaven in preparation for this festival. They were to keep the Feast not only with unleavened bread, but also with the spiritually “unleavened” attitude of sincerity and truth.
This is a direct command from God’s apostle to New Testament Christians to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread! Because “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” we must also keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which pictures our putting the leaven of breaking God’s law out of our lives. But what about Paul’s statements in verses 14 through 17 of Colossians 2? The verses most often quoted against keeping God’s festivals are, when properly understood, proof that they were being kept by the New Testament Church!
Let’s understand the context of Colossians 2 and see what Paul, who kept God’s Holy Days and clearly commanded the Corinthians to keep them, actually wrote to the Colossians.
6. Exactly what did Paul tell the Colossians about observing Holy Days and Sabbaths? Col. 2:13.
COMMENT: These Colossians were Gentile converts living in a Gentile city. They had previously known nothing of God and His Holy Days. Unless the ministers of the Church of God had taught them to observe these days, they would never have been “judged” by their pagan relatives and neighbors for doing so.
Paul did not say that Christians should not observe God’s Holy Days. He merely said that they should not let anyone judge them for observing these days! Nevertheless, some have connected this reference to God’s Holy Days and Sabbaths with a misinterpretation of verse 14, claiming that all of God’s laws, festivals, Holy Days and Sabbaths were “nailed to the cross.”
7. What actually was done away? Verse 14.
COMMENT: The “handwriting of ordinances.””Handwriting” is translated from the Greek cheirographon, which means a handwritten note of debt. A note of debt-guilt-that was incurred as a result of breaking God’s law by following human ordinances and traditions, including pagan holidays.
Verses 8 and 20-22 show which ordinances Paul was referring to: “the commandments and doctrines of men.” Those were the restrictive rules and traditions of Greek philosophy, which prohibited even the moderate use of many foods and drink. It was the false religious traditions of men, not God’s law, that Paul said were “contrary to us” (verse 14). The note of sinful guilt was “against us” until Christ lifted its penalty from us. His death allows us to be forgiven. He paid that debt for us!
What do these verses show us when we understand the context? The Church at Colosse were being criticized by their pagan relatives and neighbors for violating their customs, which included the observance of pagan holidays. The Christians ate meat the pagans prohibited, drank what they did not allow, and observed God’s weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days.
The new moons observation was then made necessary by the Jewish authorities over the calendar, determine the correct dates for God’s festivals. It is not necessary to observe new moons today because the Hebrew calendar has been authoritatively fixed worldwide and published in advance. Paul told the Colossians to ignore the criticisms, and to continue in their Christian conduct just as they had been taught by the Church (verse 7).
8. Who did Paul say has authority to “judge” Christians? Col. 2:17, last part.
COMMENT: This part of verse 17 is not translated clearly in most English versions. The verb “is” is in italics in the King James Version, meaning that IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE ORIGIONAL GREEK TEXT! The Greek simply reads: “…but the body of Christ.” The body of Christ, as we learned is the Church of God (Col. 1:18; 2:19).
Paul was saying that no unauthorized person is to judge a true Christian’s conduct. That is the responsibility of God’s Church-the “body of Christ.” The Church is to teach from the Bible the proper use of food and drink, the proper time and manner of observing God’s festivals and Sabbaths, and other doctrinally related matters.
Therefore the complete thought in Colossians 2:16-17 could be translated: “Let no man therefore judge you…but [rather let] the body of Christ [determine it].” Numerous Greek scholars recognize that the first expression “let no man” demands that there be a subsequent expression that tells who is to do the judging of the matter!
9. Why should we keep God’s annual Sabbaths? Col. 2:17, first part.
COMMENT: The most important reason to keep God’s Holy Days is simply because God has told us to do so. That is why the late Herbert Armstrong began keeping God’s annual Sabbaths. God gives understanding to those who show they are willing to obey Him (Ps. 111:10; Acts 5:32). After seven years of obedience, God revealed to Mr. Armstrong another reason to keep His Holy Days. They picture things to come,” as the phrase in Colossians 2:17 is better translated.
The seventh-day Sabbath pictures or foreshadows the seventh 1,000 years, during which mankind shall rest from his labors of breaking God’s laws. The annual festivals were instituted by God as reminders of events to take place in His plan. They were given to His Church in order to keep it in the knowledge of the seven major steps in His Master Plan for reproducing Himself through mankind.
Only one festival has been entirely fulfilled in type-the Passover. Yet Jesus said we are to celebrate it each year to remember His sacrifice for us. Let’s see exactly how the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the second vital step in God’s plan for mankind.
The Symbolic Meaning of Coming Out of Egypt
The annual festivals picture events of historic and future importance to ancient Israel, the world and the Church. When God revealed His weekly Sabbath to the Israelites, it was a sign and a memorial so they would remember that He is their God and that they were His people. God also gave them the annual festivals of the Passover and Unleavened Bread to remember the nation’s deliverance from Egypt-a picture for His Church today of the plan of God in eventually saving the entire world.
The spiritual lesson that their saving from slavery teaches is vital to our complete understanding of what God intends the Feast of Unleavened Bread to picture to us today. Simply stated, the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures obedience to God-keeping His commandments! Let’s understand as the picture unfolds for us in the Bible.
1. Is Egypt a symbol for law breaking? Heb. 11:24-27; Rev. 11:8. Are we the servants or slaves of breaking the law? John 8:34; Rom. 6:16. Does God want us to escape this slavery by obeying Him? Rom. 6:17-18, 22.
COMMENT: Breaking God’s law tends to increase in the one who indulges in it. It causes physical injury, sickness and disease. It produces anxiety, frustration and hopelessness. Man does not realize that only real repentance can free him from that penalty! (Gal. 5:1).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures, the fact that God wants us (spiritual Israelites) to come completely out of slavery! It is God’s goodness and mercy that leads us to this repentance (Rom. 2:4; John 6:65), just as He led His chosen people from Egypt to freedom. Living forever is clearly a gift from God (Rom. 6:23), but it is also clear that God wants us to be willing and actually working to obey Him. That is our part in His Master Plan.
2. Upon our repentance and baptism, we are forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ our Passover (Acts 2:38; Rom. 3:25; I Cor. 5:7). When Paul asked if we, after being forgiven, should continue breaking God’s law, what did he answer? Rom. 6:1-2, 6, 15. What was his command? Verses 11-13.
COMMENT: If we keep the Passover, yet fail to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, what we have done, symbolically, is accepted Christ’s sacrifice and then continued to break the law. But Paul said Christ is not a minister of sin (Gal. 2:17). Therefore we must begin to keep God’s law!
The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures our part in God’s plan –the keeping of God’s commandments. Anyone who ate leavened bread or had leaven, in his home during this festival was to be put out of the nation of Israel (Ex. 12:15, 19). Similarly, God will not allow this in His spiritual nation–the Kingdom of God! (I Cor. 6:9-10).
3. After the ancient Israelites had begun to leave Egypt, who pursued them? Ex. 14:5-8.
COMMENT:Those baptized are often pursued by Satan. He will set obstacles in their way in an attempt to cause them to stumble and discourage them from obeying God. He will do anything he can to keep us from receiving the ability to live forever. Satan will try to deceive us into thinking God’s way is too difficult in order to get us to stop trying to overcome.
As it was humanly impossible for the Israelites to escape from Pharaoh, so it is humanly impossible for us to overcome Satan’s influence. But with God’s Spirit, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). God, through giving us His Spirit, makes our growth possible. This is pictured by the third annual festival in God’s Master Plan.
A Warning Not to Look Back!
1. Did Christ foretell that our modern society would be much like the city of Sodom? Luke 17:28-30. What is His warning for us? Verse 31, last part. Who should we remember in connection with His warning? Verse 32.
COMMENT: Christ was referring to the destruction of sinful Sodom and Gomorrah, the escape of Lot and his two daughters from Sodom. Tradition says that these events happened during the season of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (although they occurred several centuries before this festival was commanded by God). Note that unleavened bread is mentioned in connection with the departure of Lot and his daughters from that sinful society (Gen. 19:3).
2. Did everyone who was warned heed the warning? Gen. 19:14. Were Lot, his wife and their two daughters warned not to look back? Verse 17. Who looked back, and as a result did not make it to safety? Verse 26.
COMMENT: Lot and his family were commanded to leave the city in which they lived. Only by leaving could they avoid being destroyed with its inhabitants. But Lot’s wife disobeyed. She looked back. She wanted to return to Sodom. Perhaps she had grown accustomed to Sodom’s sins, and didn’t think they were all that bad. God will not protect such a person!
Salt is symbolic of something that is enduring. God turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt as a perpetual symbol of one who was not willing to completely submit to Him. Her example is a WARNING for us to leave and not return to the temporary pleasures of this present evil society has to offer, or we may be destroyed with it!
COMMENT: We must live in this evil world, but we must not be overcome by its ways (John 17:14-15; Rom. 12:2). Just like Lot, God’s people must come out of this world to escape (Rev. 18:4). Those who heed the warning before it’s too late will be protected by God (Rev. 3:10; 12:14-17). God the Father wants those He has called to be growing in His character through obedience to Him. He wants them to be doing their part in His Master Plan!
How Leaven Is Symbolic
The departure of ancient Israel from Egypt is clearly a physical type of departure from sin. But why is this commemorated by seven days without leaven or leavened foods? We know that leaven itself is not harmful, for God allows it during the other 51 weeks of the year. God prohibits the presence and use of leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it, like Egypt, is a symbol Let’s understand how this is revealed in the New Testament.
COMMENT: Leaven is referred to in the Bible as a symbol of sin. For those who have been called by the Father, putting all leaven and leavened products out of their homes and off their property for the seven days of this festival pictures their putting sin out of their lives. And since seven is the number God uses to denote completeness and perfection, the seven days of the Feast remind us that God wants His people to stop breaking His law.
In writing to the Church of God at Corinth, the Apostle Paul explained the spiritual meaning and symbolism of the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Gentile converts there. Let’s notice what Paul teaches about leaven, and exactly why we need to become spiritually “unleavened.”
2. Were the Corinthian Christians permitting a person who was actively and openly breaking the law to fellowship with God’s Church? I Cor. 5:1.
3. Was this causing them to feel guilty, or was it rather causing them to become vain–to be “puffed up”? Verse 2.
COMMENT: This sin of fornication was known to everyone in the Church of God at Corinth, but no one had done anything about the problem. By their actions, they seemed to think they could be more forgiving and therefore more righteous than God by allowing this unrepentant fornicator to remain in their fellowship.
4. Knowing that this was causing certain members to swell with vanity, Paul gave the Church specific instructions. What were those instructions? Verses 3-5.
COMMENT: Paul explained that just a small amount of leaven–one sinful person, can cause the whole Church, to become saturated. Tolerance of this unrepented sin would eventually have caused other members to gradually let down, disqualifying them from being born into God’s Kingdom! (I Cor. 6:9-10).
The whole Church had become guilty of vanity! Paul, using his God-given authority as apostle, commanded the Corinthian church members to put out the sinful, spiritually “leavened” member so the Church would become spiritually “unleavened.” This action helped the person see the seriousness of his sin. He repented, and in Paul’s next letter to the Church at Corinth, he admonished the members there to readmit the repentant man to their fellowship (II Cor. 2:4-10).
Paul commanded the Corinthian to keep the Feast without spiritual “leaven”, just as they were already without the physical leaven of yeast (I Cor. 5:7). One is clearly a type of the other. They were to keep the Feast not only by eating unleavened bread, but also by having a spiritually “unleavened” attitude of sincerity and truth (verse 8), which is the result of obedience to God.
6. Does God want the leaven of breaking God’s law out of their lives? Heb. 12:1-4.
COMMENT: If we are to become members of God’s Family, we must prove that we will obey God here and now by with all our heart, mind and strength, together with God’s help, to get the spiritual leaven out of our lives and keep it out! This is our part in God’s Master Plan. It’s a full-time job that continues for the rest of our lives.
Every spring the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread specially reminds us of our continual need to keep God’s commandments. It is a time when we symbolically renew our resolve to live in harmony with God’s law-to rededicate our lives to continual spiritual growth and overcoming.
Keeping the Feast Today
COMMENT: The Feast begins on the evening of the 15th of Abib, the beginning of the day after the Passover. It continues for seven days, ending with the 21st of Abib. Both the 15th and the 21st are special Sabbaths -days of rest from regular work, though cooking is permitted (Ex. 12:16). Ordinary work may be done on the intervening days, except on any weekly Sabbath.
A “holy convocation” is a commanded religious assembly–commanded by God Himself. Today, members of God’s Church assemble on the annual Sabbaths much as they do on the weekly Sabbath (Lev. 23:3). Those who live too far away from other members to attend weekly Sabbath services are often able to meet on these annual Sabbaths. God’s ministers use these opportunities to explain more about the meaning of God’s festivals and His Master Plan.
2. What special observance did God institute on the evening of the first day of the Feast? Ex. 12:42.
COMMENT: Every year on the evening of the 15th of Abib, the evening after Passover, the Israelites were to have a special observance to remember their escape from Egypt. Today, true Christians (spiritual Israelites) also celebrate the “Night to Be Much Observed.”Gathering in small family groups for an evening meal. Then on the daylight part of the 15th, they assemble with the rest of their local church to be instructed by God’s ministers.
COMMENT: Leaven is any substance used to cause dough to rise by fermentation. Yeast, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), baking powder and sourdough are leavening agents. Leavened foods include most breads, crackers, cakes, cookies, biscuits, pastries and some pies and prepared cereals. A few candies and other foods are also leavened. If one is in doubt about any product, you should check the list of ingredients on its package. If still not sure about a particular food, it should not be eaten during the Feast (Rom. 14:23).
All leaven and leavened foods should be removed from one’s premises before the beginning of the first Holy Day. They should not be stored in another room. The morning after the New Testament Passover service, which is still the Passover day, is a convenient time to finish removing any leavening agents or leavened bread. It is wise to arrange purchases so that when Passover comes, there will be little leaven to discard. Removing these inexpensive products is one way God tests us to see how much we value obedience to Him.
If during the Feast some accidentally overlooked leaven is found in the home, it should be thrown away immediately. This is a good lesson for us as it is a type of the hidden sins we aren’t aware of at baptism. As we grow in spiritual knowledge and understanding, we become aware of more sins to overcome. We must immediately put the leaven out of our lives when it is discovered!
Unleavened bread can be made at home or bought in stores (it is often called “matzos,” which comes from the Hebrew word matstsah, which means unleavened), but one should check the label to make sure it is unleavened. We may also enjoy unleavened cereals and desserts, together with all the meats, drinks, fruits and vegetables we normally eat. Many unleavened products are delicious as well as nutritious and can be enjoyed year-round.
It should be noted that “brewer’s yeast” and “yeast extracts” are not active, and therefore are not leavening agents. Cream of tartar, by itself, is not a leavening agent either. Beaten egg white used in meringue on pies and other desserts is not a leavening agent, but when used as a substitute for leavening to puff up any flour or meal product, it violates the spirit of God’s command.
But what about beer or other fermented drinks? There is no restriction on the kind of beverages consumed during the Feast of Unleavened Bread–no mention in the Bible of this being the “Feast of Unleavened Beverages.” Naturally fermented wine was customarily consumed by the Israelites at all of God’s festivals, except, of course, the Day of Atonement. The Bible does not refer to leaven in connection with beverages. Reference is made only to the example set by Israel when they came out of Egypt without any leaven in their dough (Ex. 12:39).
Difficulties sometimes arise when family members disagree with the observance of God’s festivals. In this age in which God is calling only a few, one should never try to force his will on others! This festival is a matter between you and God. The family member who does want to keep God’s Feast of Unleavened Bread should avoid eating leavened products and do his or her best to remove leavening from those areas of the house he or she has authority over, which may be only a bedroom.
COMMENT: God’s people do not merely remove all leaven and leavened foods from their property during these seven days. That would symbolize only the putting away of sin. We are commanded to eat unleavened bread during this festival. That symbolizes active obedience to God!
Whenever bread and other flour products are eaten during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they must be unleavened. This requires alertness, and attention to detail, especially in restaurants, for the use of leaven is very common. Sin is also very common, and forgetfulness will lead to breaking God’s laws in our lives. God’s people should always keep firmly in mind the vital lesson taught by this annual festival: God wants us to keep His perfect spiritual law!
Saved by the LIVING Jesus Christ
The seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread following Passover picture the putting away of sin-the keeping of God’s law-after past sins are forgiven. Understanding this vital aspect of the Feast is crucial to our developing the character of God and being born into His Family at Christ’s Second Coming.
COMMENT: Jesus Christ’s death does not save us–it reconciles us to God. Those reconciled are no longer cut off from God. They have been restored to contact with God the Father–the One who can cause us to live forever. Passover pictures the dead Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead. Notice how this fact is also pictured in the symbolism of baptism.
COMMENT: If Christ had not been raised from the dead, we would still be in our sins (I Cor. 15:17). That could be symbolized by being immersed in water and never coming back up–symbolically drowning in our law breaking! But coming up out of the water is symbolic of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. We can live forever only by Christ’s life.
Part of God’s instructions to ancient Israel for observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread included the ceremony of the “first fruits wavesheaf offering” (Lev. 23:9-11, 14). God told the Israelites that the spring grain harvest could not begin until this offering was made. But God does not require this offering today. The Bible reveals that its symbolism was fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ (I Cor. 15:20). Jesus Christ was the first resurrected Son of God-the first product of God’s Master Plan. He became the “firstborn” Son of God (Col. 1:18)–the first human to be born into God’s Family.
3. Do we still sin occasionally after having accepted Christ’s sacrifice in payment for our past sins? I John 1:8. (Notice that John included himself by using the word “we.”)
COMMENT: We are still human beings. We can still be tempted. Satan can still broadcast his attitudes to our minds and influence us to break God’s commandments.
COMMENT: Christ, our High Priest, Advocate and Intercessor, acts as a “bridge” between imperfect humans and our Father in heaven. Our High Priest can sympathize with our weaknesses because He, as a human, was tempted just as we are, yet He overcame and promises to help us overcome, too (John 16:33; Phil. 4:13).
6. Does Christ, through God’s Spirit, live in us? Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:9-10; Col. 1:27; Phil. 2:5; I John 3:23-24. Must we not only have God’s Spirit, but also be led by it so our thoughts may become more like Christ’s and the Father’s? Rom. 8:14; II Cor. 10:5.
COMMENT: Our hope of attaining membership in God’s Family–is in Jesus Christ, the Author or Beginner of our ‘salvation’, but He is also its Finisher- (Heb. 12:2). Jesus Christ told His disciples He had to go to His Father in heaven to send God’s Spirit to them (John 16:7). They received God’s Spirit through the resurrected, living Jesus Christ. The Spirit of the Father is also the Spirit of Christ who does His ‘saving’ work from within us!
God’s Spirit also gives us His love, which enables us to fulfill His law (Rom. 5:5; 13:10). It’s not just us, through our own strength, trying to keep God’s commandments. It is Jesus Christ’s mind in us, keeping His Father’s commandments just as He did when He was human. Through that power we are being prepared for our spiritual harvest into the ruling Family of God!
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