How strange it is on this the first day of winter; to be pondering something that happens in the spring time; but that is where our scripture passage is leading us to go.
It really isn’t so strange though.
A lot of things that are productive to life lie dormant in the winter cold as we await the coming of spring’s warmth when new life comes around again.
We are in one of those waiting patterns right now, in this dark gray of winter; and we have long hours of time in which to ponder things that are to come in the future.
SPELLING OUT THE COVENANT TO MOSES
In our Exodus study today, God is still spelling out the covenant to Moses on the mountain. He is sending His conditions for this agreement through Moses to the people of Israel.
Over and over God emphasizes there should be no idols and no pagan worship among His people.
We have covered that extensively as we discussed how God commanded the smashing of sacred stones and the destruction of pagan altars and the cutting down of Asherah poles.
No idols were to be worshiped.
No pagan practices were to be used by God’s people.
God covers even more extensive commandments about this in the following scripture passage:
Exodus 34:14-17: 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. 15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. 17 “Do not make any idols.
It seems the people are to separate themselves from the pagan practices of the world; they are not to marry and mix and mingle with the pagans. They are not to make treaties and agreements with them.
HOW TO LIVE IN THE LAND WITH GOD
Now that God has covered the way the people should NOT live in the land; He is about to cover some of the ways the people SHOULD live in the land.
The very first thing God mentions as He commands His people to live in their land is the keeping of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
As you read and study these scriptures, notice the use of the word “celebration.”
Our God loves a good celebration; and His people certainly have so much to celebrate!
This is the scripture passage referencing the keeping of Unleavened Bread:
Exodus 34:18: 18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
Welcome to the ongoing, on-line, every Thursday, chronological bible study we have called COME AS A CHILD. If you missed last week’s lesson; you may find it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/cut-down-asherah-poles/
Today we will be discussing God’s desire for us to celebrate the festival of Unleavened Bread, which occurs every year during Passover week.
GOD DESIRES WE CELEBRATE THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
I love how God tells us to celebrate the festival called “Unleavened Bread.”
This festival was celebrated annually by the ancients; but it is sad to note that today’s churches hardly even think of the concept anymore; much less conduct the annual celebration during the Passover week.
This is a rich time that is so full of meaning.
The 7 days of Unleavened Bread start on the first day of the Passover and last for seven days. This is a special, sacred time that God has set apart from other times. In these days we remember that we are merely humans who have a tendency to sin, and we also ponder the fact that God does not like sin, and that we must put sin out of our lives in order to grow closer to God.
Every year as we approach Unleavened Bread, I notice that some of my Catholic friends are observing the time of Lent. There are similarities between these two observances; though they are not the same thing. Some years though, the Hebraic calendar for Passover comes later or earlier than Lent. I choose to take the path that Jesus took and observe Passover and Unleavened Bread according to the Hebraic calendar. After all; they have been keeping these days since God instituted them right in the passage of scripture that we are studying today.
ONLY ONE WAS SINLESS
Christ was the only One who ever lived a sinless life.
The scriptures emphasize over and over that mankind is not capable of doing so; the only way for us to achieve a clean, sinless life is with the help of Christ living within our hearts. His blood covers our sins and God’s Holy Spirit leads us to TRY to live righteously. Jesus set the example.
To follow Christ is to TRY to live without sin.
We must use God’s help and make the effort to love more like Jesus. This at least shows our desire to be like Him. When we DO fall; He is the One who picks us up and helps us to start over again.
God looks on the desires of our hearts.
UNLEAVENED BREAD MEANS FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE
When the Israelites escaped Egyptian bondage they were in a hurry and they took their bread dough along before it had time to rise. When it was baked the next day it was flat, unleavened bread. The bread was course and when they ate it they thought of the freedom that leaving all the leaven behind had given them.
At first the unleavened bread would have seemed to be not as luxurious as the bread that had risen from leaven; but when they pondered their new circumstances they became joyful and realized it was the most wonderful bread they had ever tasted.
Unleavened bread is the bread of a heart that is free.
This is similar to when we come to Christ and leave the leaven of the sin from our past behind and put on a brand new coat called The Blood of Christ.
PUTTING OFF THE OLD AND PUTTING ON THE NEW
For a little while we just notice that things are “different” and they might feel a bit “unfamiliar.”
Everything taste different than before.
Our appetite for the old things may yet remain with us.
Eventually, in time, we come to appreciate the fact that when we fell in love with Jesus, we left sin behind. The taste of the new things of God will bring us much more pleasure and joy.
The old things from our past life do not even compare to how wonderful these new things now become to us.
GOD WANTS US TO REMEMBER
To help us remember these facts; God gave us The Days of Unleavened Bread.
The exercise of physically removing leaven from our homes and our diets during these days in the early spring helps us to remember to keep the proper perspective on what we really need in life.
We now realize what we must put behind us in order to move on in God’s Kingdom.
Yes, putting sin behind us is something that we should be doing all through the year; not just during the time of Unleavened Bread.
Keeping these seven days annually helps us to be better focused on that fact.
It helps us to think in different ways than we would normally think. It gives us stronger focus.
REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE
God speaks to us during these holy days and reminds us who we are, and where He is going to lead us next.
He reminds us of what we need to be putting into our daily lives and what we need to be taking out of our daily lives.
We begin this celebration by remembering and celebrating the atoning blood of The Lamb at Passover and recalling this is a shadow of the atoning blood of Christ which God gave to cover all the sin that we humans cannot rid from ourselves.
It takes the blood of Christ to wash us clean.
That is the first step to living an “unleavened” life.
That is just the beginning of an ongoing sanctification process in the life of any follower of Christ. Once we are clean (because He covers us) it is good to focus on staying that way for as long as possible. So each year we go through these ritual reminders of how we are cleansed by God and how He wishes us to try to stay clean.
GROWING WITHIN THE WOMB OF GOD’S LOVE
Each year we should be growing and developing in God’s love and grace and holiness. This is one reason why we always want to consider the symbolism involved in the process of Unleavened Bread and continue to constantly apply the principle to our own lives.
Abstaining from the eating of the leaven is a picture of how God’s people must be called to holiness and separate themselves from sin to become a holy people by constantly walking before their God in righteousness.
Walking in righteousness often involves the confession of sin. This is putting the leaven out of our lives.
The symbolism is beautiful when you understand it.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE MATZAH
The unleavened bread is called matzah.
There is much symbolism involved in the making of the matzah.
To show our agreement with God about what is good for us; on the first day through the seventh day of Unleavened Bread we do not eat anything with leaven in it. This is a physical enactment of a spiritual commitment. The physical participation helps us remember the spiritual meaning.
We completely remove all leaven from our homes before the first day of this festival.
As we remove it we remember that the leaven is symbolic of sin.
This is one way we say to God that we want to put all sin away from us, and we will try very had to do this with God’s help.
In a sense, the physical removal of the leaven is like a prayer to God for help to do better.
By physically observing the spiritual principals here, we have a way of saying we will not just be giving lip-service with our worship; but we will physically afflict our souls (by fasting from all things with leaven) as a gesture to show that we are willing to do what is necessary to follow God.
KEEPING THE HIGH SABBATHS
This feast during Passover is considered a High Sabbath. No work is to be done on the first day and the seventh day except for preparing the food without leaven.
So we keep this sacred time of God’s Holy calendar. We remember the seven days that God has set apart to help us to remember that He desires for us not to sin.
A LASTING ORDINANCE FOR THE GENERATIONS TO COME
In Exodus 12:17 this festival was declared to be a festival to be remembered forever. This means that it was never done away with after Christ made all things new. God wanted us to remember what all was involved in sending His Son to us. He wanted us to always remember the importance of removing sin from our hearts.
We need to always remember that Jesus became our Passover. The festival of Unleavened Bread is our constant reminder each year.
Exodus 12:17; “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
God wants us to remember; for the sake of all the generations.
Everyone should know about the festival of Unleavened Bread; and all of God’s people should understand and keep it every year. It helps us remember the shadow of the Israelites coming out of Egypt. It allows us to understand the importance of God’s people coming out of sin. In both cases; God leads us to freedom. In both cases Christ is honored as The Bread of Life; the One who helps us to overcome all sin.
AN ANNUAL PRACTICE BEFORE GOD
So off we go every year during the days right before Passover to clean our homes and sweep out all leaven.
People who don’t understand this concept think us strange. Many feel we are wasting our time.
God knows the intents of our hearts.
God commanded this to be a lasting ordinance to be observed forever; and we are now a part of His family and His people because Christ died to save us. We celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread with humble hearts and open eyes.
HUMBLE HEARTS AND OPEN EYES
It is an interesting exercise to see how much leaven has become hidden in the cracks and crevices of our homes.
This all relates to an eye-opening parallel to show us the sins we have buried and forgotten that lie down inside the deepest, darkest parts of our hearts.
We try to pull these things out and remove all that we had not noticed in the time that we were not totally focused on ridding ourselves of sin. We have just overlooked so much!
This time of self-examination is the time to be rid of hidden sins.
It is an important time of spiritual housekeeping.
It is an important time of remembering.
This is really more of a spiritual cleansing than a physical one.
Noticing the physical things helps us to address the spiritual things.
Our eyes are opened to the things that we overlook and the things that are hidden.
TEACHING THE CHILDREN ABOUT THE WAY OF GOD
Once the leaven is all cleaned out of our houses, many have a special little ceremony with their children in which they search for any leaven that might have been missed in the cleaning.
When found, this overlooked leaven is quickly swept up with a feather into a paper bag and burned.
The children see that this is like asking God to forgive your sins.
Their eyes are opened to the fact that sometimes there are sins we don’t even see.
We ask God to help us to find those sins and to help us to put them away forever.
THE INNOCENT HEART OF A CHILD IS WHAT GOD DESIRES FROM US
It is amazing how the innocent little hearts of children will absorbe these truths so much faster than adults.
Our children teach us to love God with tender hearts.
We must be sure to teach them all they need to know about God’s holy feast days.
We must be careful to keep the symbols and fables of Spring with the bunnies and the eggs and baskets of goodies in their proper place – as just pretty little spring things to play with, and games that we do for fun, (like hide and seek,) and not a part of the gospel story at all.
There is nothing wrong with these silly little things until we put pagan tags or practices on them, or try to make them appear to be Christian when they are not.
Children learn fast.
If you do not tell them the truth; they will eventually discover it for themselves.
Wisdom is much better when it is coming down from the older, wiser generation so that the young ones have people to look up to and trust for honest and correct truth.
These customs observed during the days of Unleavened Bread teach children true spiritual symbolism. They must know the sacred things first, and treasure them the most. It is up to us to teach them how to sort it all out.
The children are counting on us to show them the way through to God’s Kingdom.
We will be blessed and they will be blessed by the teachings of truth and the ways of God.
This is a double blessing on a godly household!
GOD SPELLS OUT WHAT WE NEED IN THE SCRIPTURES
Of course, none of us are perfect. We always miss something. That is why God sent Jesus, and that is why God spelled out His Holy Days. Christ atones for all sins that we commit, but our observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread expresses our desire to be more like Him and our desire to learn to overcome sins.
Self control is a great virtue and a very godly trait.
This actual practice says in actions instead of words that we do not take the precious blood of Jesus for granted.
We do not want to have sin in our lives that we can prevent. God always looks at the desires of our hearts and gives us grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus. When we come with obedient hearts; He hears us and forgives us.
WHAT YOU PUT IN IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT YOU TAKE OUT
This is why it is just as important to take unleavened bread into your body during this time as it is to leave out the leaven.
Because the bread clearly represents Jesus, Our Messiah.
If we are filling ourselves up with Jesus; there is no room left for sin to enter!
The bread is without leaven, or without sin. We know Jesus led a sinless life.
THE UNLEAVENED BREAD TELLS THE STORY
Pick up a kosher sheet of unleavened bread and examine it closely. It is striped, pierced and bruised.
The Messiah was wounded and bruised and it is by His stripes that we are able to be healed.
He was beaten for our sake.
He endured great pain for the sacrifice for our sins.
The unleavened bread is a picture of these things.
We bring all of this out within the Passover service as we speak of the bread that we take and say a blessing over it.
There is a point in each Seder meal when we hide the beautifully decorated bag that is made of three layers of cloth. Inside hides a piece of matzah.
Our children are told to go and find it. Whoever finds the bag with the matzah inside receives a special prize. This is to encourage the little ones to keep looking for Jesus until they find Him.
A SANCTIFICATION PROCESS
The feast during unleavened bread speaks often of the sanctification process that each follower of Christ must go through.
The Messiah was set apart.
He was unleavened (sinless.)
He reminds us in his words to us that a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9.)
This is another way of saying to us and reminding us that a small sin in our lives can spread and grow, causing us to puff up with pride and arrogance. In the end it will defeat us. It is totally unhealthy and bad for us. It starts off small and gets larger and larger until it is totally out of control.
If you don’t believe this, put a large amount of leavening into a lump of dough and let it sit in your refrigerator for awhile. You will be amazed at how it takes over the whole shelf when it rises!
A FUNNY REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE
We have a funny family story that we always remember at our house during Unleavened Bread.
Our daughter Erin bought boxes full of yeast rolls to use at her sister’s bridal tea. Unknown to her, the refrigerator where she stored them went bad while she was away at work. All of that dough got warm and rose more and more throughout the day. It looked like the bread monster had taken over the house when she got home!
Bread dough was coming out the door of the refrigerator. That appliance became totally beyond repair!
It was actually a hilarious thing to gaze upon if you were not expecting to see it!
A room full of perfectly risen and ruined dough that was also a perfect picture of how the leaven of sin can get out of control too. It can take over your whole life and ruin it if you do not purge it from your life.
In contrast to all of this pride and arrogance of the leaven, we see the sinless body of Christ.
He is the bread of life!
He is the matzah!
He chose to be broken and offered up for you and I.
CHRIST WAS BROKEN FOR US
When we break the matzah; we think of His broken body.
We realize He is the true Bread of Heaven, like the matzah that reigned down to feed the people in the wilderness.
If we take Him into our selves, we will always be nourished, always be satisfied, always be filled!
He is the health that we are seeking.
We must always be taking in more of the Bread of Heaven!
COMING INTO A WHOLE NEW AWARENESS
So we do not mind carrying out this ritual every year, because it reminds us to always be putting off our sin nature and replacing it with the Body of Christ. The children who always imitate the adults learn so much from this time. Adults are also stretched in their learning.
During unleavened bread we become very aware of the sins that affect the body. By not putting leaven into our bodies we realize how much we sometimes crave things that are not good for us, and how we must overcome the craving for sin by replacing sin with the goodness of God.
This fast of leaving out the leaven and putting in the matzoh teaches us not to be prideful, and helps us to realize that humility is the best way to live and be, both before God and with our fellowman.
SHARING OUR FREEDOM AND NEW LIFE
A lot of us have developed the habit of inviting each other over to share the meals of unleavened bread together at the tables of our homes and to share daily readings that speak of the practice of unleavened bread.
It is not required, it is simply something that we do willingly as an act of fellowship and our love for one another.
This observance makes us more aware of how God’s children should be living all the time.
It is a good way for us to encourage one another to stay on track with God’s will in our daily lives.
It is a great yearly reminder that always helps us to persevere and reminds us that we should continue to try to keep overcoming the world.
So, let us continue to break unleavened bread together forever and celebrate the Body of Christ!