Feast of Unleavened Bread
Before there was the saying “there is an app for that.” In which you want to be able to do something you can just look on your phone and someone somewhere has made an app that can help you for that exact thing you want to do. There was the answer that you can just get what you need or what from the store. We live in a day and age when you need something you can get it in an instant. You want bread then you go to the store, and you can find the type of bread you want or need. You want a cake you can buy it, if you want to make a cake by yourself you can do that too and it will come in a box with all the ingredients you just need to add water and some egg. According to Food Genius, close to 80% of people do not know what they are having for dinner that night by 4:00 PM. We are quite disconnected to many other cultures, particularly cultures that have gone before us. We have everything at our fingertips, literally. I mentioned last time that baking bread is one of time and process. The Israelites were about to be free people and they were to eat the Passover ready to be sent out of the land of Egypt. Today’s passage speaks of a festival that the people of God were to celebrate annually to remember this very night when the blood of a lamb was shed that saved them from death and freed them from Slavery. Today’s passage we see “In exploring the significance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and its connection to the Christian life, we discover a profound call to remember God’s redemptive acts, to purge the leaven of sin from our lives, and to celebrate with sincerity and truth, echoing the timeless message that Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed for our freedom.”
Forgetful and Festival
Verse 14 tells us two things about this feast of Unleavened bread. The first is that the particular day was to be a day of remembrance or memorial day. Now before we see what we are to remember we need to understand one principle that is repeated throughout the whole Bible is that people are forgetful and need to be reminded. The Bible knows the extent of human nature the depths and depravity of our sin but also even our memory. Now most of us understand this very well, that we forget where we put our keys or phone. We forget people’s names, events, and a whole list of things that we cannot even remember what we forget. Yet the Lord knows our nature and knows what we need. We need to be reminded, reminded mainly of what he has done for us. Reminded where we have come from and were we are going. We need this, even the person with the best memory will forget. The world we live in is filled with things to make us forget, make us long to go back. Make us think things were not as bad, and we don’t have it quite as good. The world will lie and twist what it was like to make us slip back. You see this throughout the Bible that stones were piled up on top of one another so that children would ask, why are these here. The parents would say this is Ebenezer, the Lord is our help.
Wisdom is being able to remember, Ecclesiastes says, “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!” (Eccl. 2:16). The Israelites were to be reminded through this annual feast of their freedom and feast that had in the wilderness, this feast of unleavened bread. Christians also have times that we are to be reminded and remember. We do this every week when we gather as God’s people and celebrate and remember all that God has done for his people. We need it weekly because we forget even more than that. But a day God has set apart for us to put aside the worldly employments and remember our sin, remember our savior, remember His spirit he sent us to help us, and remember his second coming. Now, why do we come to church every week, because we forget. When we see church as a benefit and blessing not a burden we understand why God has set apart a day for us. God knew we are forgetful, and he made a day for us to remember. Isaiah teaches us that once we understand the Sabbath we will take delight in the Lord (Is 58:14). Jesus says that The Sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. I have seen this over and over again, it is not people walk away from the church, but people drift away, mainly as you drift you forget. Over time you don’t come as frequently it has an effect. Now again, it is not that this means we never miss, there are works of necessity and mercy that would be done on this day. But we should always be longing to return when possible. We also remember when we celebrate the Lord’s supper as Jesus told his disciples do this in remembrance of me.
They have this feast to remember but they also do it for the Lord. That this festival was to be held to the Lord as well. That when we think about Worship, we receive benefits from worship. We offer Prayers to God, but it is a means in which we receive his grace. In Exodus 23:15 the Lord tells the people of Israel, “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed.” Every feast came with sacrifices, some through blood of bulls and goats while others came with offerings of grain. Once we remember what God has done and who he is then our hearts should be driven to be able to worship him for his attributes and his grace and mercy that he shows to us. The feast of unleavened bread should be the time the people remember the lamb sacrificed to save the firstborn and how God with an outstretched arm redeemed his people from the hand of Pharaoh.
Removing the Leaven
Often when I am baking you mix the initial ingredients together but then need to wait for a period. We can shorten this process with the use of active yeast (another thing you can get from the store). However, in Egypt at the time of Exodus chapter 12 they did not have a Food City, Food Country, Kroger’s just down the street. They lived in an Agrarian time, when you grew the food, you ate. One staple of these times was grain-based food. You can grow it on a large scale, crush it and it lasts throughout the whole year and more. Bread simply is grain, water, and salt. Now we need to know this because when we come to a passage like this speaking of unleavened bread, we have an image of flat bread, but it is important for us to understand what we are talking about. Yeast is something you would buy in a packet or jar but was something they caught and used. How do you catch yeast? Very easily, yeast is an organism that belong to the Fungi kingdom. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from the organic material in which they live. Fungi do not have stomachs. We do this today with sour dough starters. In our house we feed the starter, with water and flour. It is a fascinating organism. Every year the people were to get rid of their starter. They would keep a little portion of the previous weeks batch of dough that had fermented. If kept for a long time it could carry a slight risk of infection.
The Israelites were to get ready for a feast. Moses had told Pharaoh that the people of God were to be let go so that they can go into the wilderness and hold a feast for him (Ex 5:11). The feast was to be prepared for in one night. The bread they were to have been to be unleavened because they did not have time to make it. They were as Exodus 12:39 says, “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.” Every year they were to celebrate this feast it was to remind them that God saved them in an instant. Deuteronomy 16:3-4 speak of the feast of unleavened bread and speaks of the unleavened bread as the bread of affliction. “You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning.” (Deut 16:3–4).
Connecting to Christ
Now many people have a hard time understanding how you are to read these aspects of the Old Testament. So what? Why does this matter to me? Some people read this and what they say is it doesn’t matter. Paul says in Colossians 2:16, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” There conclusion is that it doesn’t matter, used for a time in the Old Testament that is irrelevant to us today. But that is not what Paul is saying at all, he continues in Colossians saying, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:17). Paul explains they are shadows that point to Christ. Therefore, they are not useless but pointers and reminders for us. More on this later. But the other option that I see more and more is that many people start reading the Bible and they see these as commands that need to be continued into the New Testament. They practice these feasts and festivals. They celebrate seven feasts and festivals such as Passover, and the feast of the Unleavened bread, as New Testament Christians. But that’s not what Paul is saying in the epistle to the church in Colossae. They see the sign the thing it points to, but not the substance. Christ is the substance; the feast is the shadow. The shadow is secondary, the substance is what you want. You would take a $100 note not the shadow of one. This is the point the author of Hebrews makes over and over. Why would you want the shadow when you have what is better. The better prophet than Moses, the better high priest, the better sacrifice, etc.
So how do we know when something is a shadow or a type or has someone just made a connection. There is a great difference between allegory and typology. Allegory is used to be able see something as symbolic. So, any time you see the color red you connect it to Christ’s blood. Typology is about organic connections through correct interpretation of Scripture. What does that mean. Allegory is like a springboard; you use the springboard to get to where you want to go. However, Typology is like a root system, it is organically connected, intended by the Spirit to show Christ. You can disagree with what aspects of scripture are typology but there is one category that is for certain and that is when a Biblical author makes the connection for you. We saw this last week; we can say the Passover lamb is a type of Christ. Why can we say that because the apostle Paul said that 1 Corinthians 5:7, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But we can also connect the feast unleavened bread to New Testament believers, why, because the apostle Paul made that connection. Actually, in the same passage that he speak of the Passover lamb he explains, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:6–8).
What is Paul talking about? The Feast of Unleavened bread was one like a spring clean, out with the old leaven. Now Leaven was used throughout the Bible to speak of sin, as Paul does in Corinthians, malice and evil. He echoes a passage found in Judges 20:13, where the people of God are instructed to purge out the evil of sexual immorality found within the tribe of Benjamin. Paul applies the same logic here, get rid of the sinner within the church. In exodus the language is to cut off the person if they eat what is leavened (Ex 12:15, 19). The church in Corinth was boasting about how gracious they were and accepting of this one man’s sin. Paul however says, their boasting is not good that even the smallest bit of leaven feeds on anything. Over time the leaven gains more of an appetite and consumes the whole lump. Now an important thing for us to understand, the feast of Unleavened bread does not begin until after Passover. The Lamb is sacrificed first and then the people or God are to purge the leaven within them. Leaven is the affliction and slavery sin. Christ died, we are saved through the blood of the sacrifice. We now purge the leaven in our lives; sin, evil and malice. We are to celebrate a new festival, not with the old leaven but with the new unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Very practically how do we practice this as a church? Now some people apply this to the Lord’s supper and say we should only use unleavened bread. Now it is true the Passover would have had unleavened bread. However, there are similarities between Passover and the Lord’s supper but they are not the same. We turn to the Bible and there are two common words in the New Testament for bread, one is commonly called unleavened bread (azymos) and bread (artos). The first is limited to speak of unleavened bread and the second can be a broad term of bread that has leaven (Matt 16:11-12) or does not have leaven (Heb 9:2). Now the bread during Jesus days would not have been white sandwich bread. Bread most likely grew over the course of a year, and finally was discarded at the feast of unleavened bread.
The second way that we practice this as a church is that we practice church discipline. If you are a member of this church and a brother or a sister sees, you sinning and you continue to walk in that sin. The elders would speak with you, we would read the bible, pray with you, and exhort you to repent and seek forgiveness. Now if this continues, we would eventually, over a large period of time be in the similar position that Paul was in the letter to the Corinthians. The person when confronted boasts in their sin. Eventually, we would remove your name from the church roll. Why? Not because we love conflict and the process but that is what we are taught in the word. Sin is serious, and when you see the seriousness of sin in your life and the life of the church you need to take drastic measures. Now the great part is that 2 Corinthians Paul says, welcome this man back as a brother, he has repented.
The final way is more personal for each individual. Sin is a hungry fungus that if left will continue to consume you. Sin if left will spread throughout your whole body. Sin will consume you and feed on your soul. So we need to remember. Remember what the Lord has done. That he has died for our sins, he has conquered death. John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Get rid of the evil and malice and celebrate the festival with sincerity and truth.