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Feast of Unleavened Bread
did ancient Israel observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
"... For seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction,
because you left Egypt in haste-so that all the days of your life
you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt" (Deuteronomy
"Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast
in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere
within your borders. On that day tell your son, 'I do this because
of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt'" (Exodus
What instruction did Paul give Christians in regard to this festival?
"Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with
the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread
of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Paul did not treat these festivals as outdated Jewish traditions.
He considered them essential observances for God's called and chosen
people in all ages and cultures. He understood their relationship
to Christ's role in God's master plan.
Paul commanded the Corinthian Christians-mostly gentiles (non-Israelites)-to
keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. His instructions show that Christians
from non-Jewish communities and cultures kept the Days of Unleavened
Bread. Setting an example for all Christians today, these Jews and
non-Jews observed these days in accordance with God's laws.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the second of God's annual festivals,
represents the second step in God's plan for our redemption. Its main
focus is on Christ as our Deliverer, our Savior. Therefore it is a
thoroughly Christian festival.
That is why Paul compares a Christian's deliverance from sin through
the sacrifice and assistance of Christ to Israel's deliverance from
the Egyptian army at the Red Sea (which probably occurred on the final
day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread). He writes: "Moreover,
brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers [ancient
Israel] were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were
baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same
spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank
of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ"
(1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
After we are justified by Christ's sacrifice at the time of baptism,
we must be led out of sin and into a righteous pattern of life just
as Israel was led out of its bondage during the same Days of Unleavened
Bread. This festival represents the work of the living, resurrected
Christ directly leading and assisting us in overcoming sin.
Paul explained: "Much more then, having now been justified by
His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 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"
Paul later expressed the same basic thought in different words: "I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians
4:13). He also explained: "... God has chosen to make known among
the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ
in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching
everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect
in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which
so powerfully works in me" (Colossians 1:27-29, NIV).
Did Paul explain the spiritual lesson behind our observance
of the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore
purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly
are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for
us" (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).
One purpose for the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to remind us that,
after we accept Christ's sacrifice at the time of baptism, we must
allow God's Spirit to help us grow up into Christ spiritually (Ephesians
4:15; compare Galatians 2:20). Leavened bread represents the wrong
motives (malice) and sin (wickedness) that may still reside in our
thinking. Unleavened bread represents having our hearts filled with
sincere motives-an eagerness to apply the pure truth revealed in God's
Jesus earlier made the same point to His disciples. He told them,
"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy"
(Luke 12:1). He also compared leaven to the false doctrines taught
by many of the religious leaders of the day (Matthew 16:6-12). They,
like many false teachers today, substituted their own ideas and traditions
for God's commandments (Matthew 15:3-9).
Those who accept Christ as their Passover-as the New Covenant Lamb
of God--have their sins covered by His sacrifice, providing they sincerely
repent of their wickedness and malicious motives so they can begin
conforming their lives to the truth as it is revealed in God's Word.
Therefore, just as God delivered ancient Israel from literal slavery,
God's second step in His plan of salvation is freeing repentant Christians
from spiritual slavery to wickedness (Romans 6:17-19).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates Christians being miraculously
delivered from this spiritual bondage of sin just as surely as God
delivered the ancient Israelites from their Egyptian bondage. It reminds
us that our deliverance from sin and our salvation are available only
through a personal relationship with Christ, the "Lamb of God"
who took on Himself the penalty for our sins (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10;
John 1:36). As our High Priest, He actively helps us, if we really
are His servants, to put the leaven of sin out of our lives so we
may become spiritually unleavened (Hebrews 3:1; 10:19-23; 1 Corinthians
The Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates Jesus' role in helping us
remove spiritual leaven including malice, wickedness and hypocrisy
from our character and in replacing those evil qualities with godly
obedience, love and truth.
Therefore, "seeing then that we have a great High Priest who
has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold
fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize
with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet
without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need"
(Hebrews 4:14-16). He leads and assists us in resisting even the temptations
Christ is actively perfecting God's own nature in His servants (Matthew
5:48; 2 Peter 1:4). That is why Paul told Christians, "Therefore
let us keep the feast [of Unleavened Bread] ..." (1 Corinthians
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