Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Week of Unleavened Bread
- THE WEEK OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the first appointment in the year designated by Yahweh our God to meet with Him in a holy convocation. The festival in itself extends over seven days with the first and the last days being high Sabbaths in which no work is done and it is commenced by the Passover memorial. The instruction to observe this feast was given in relation to Passover and is linked to it and is a continuation of it. "These are the feasts of Yahweh, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is Yahweh's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation, you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it" (Leviticus 23: 4-8) See also Exodus 13: 4-10; Numbers 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16: 2-4, 8.
The setting of these dates are according to the sacred calendar which Yahweh Himself established for His people. The first month is Nisan which is determined by the first conjunction of the moon after the vernal equinox. The sacred calendar is thus aligned with the seasons and the harvests of the crops necessary for the various feasts. Barley was the first crop to be reaped in the lands of the Bible and the first month was reconciled with the barley at the stage of it being "green in the ear", ready to be reaped for the offering of Firstfruits which occurred after the Sabbath in this festive week. Traditionally, unleavened bread made from barley was eaten during this week. Passover then, is on the fourteenth day from the commencement of the new year and is eaten after twilight on that day, which is then the start of the fifteenth day and the first High Sabbath of the week of Unleavened Bread.
Just as with the weekly Sabbath, the day before any "High Sabbath" is a "preparation day." This means that the 13th, is also the "preparation day" for the Passover on the 14th, which is a Sabbath, so that no work is done on that day. Seven days of special observance are kept in this festival period, the spiritual preparation of which starts at the New Year.
"This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to Yahweh--a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat--that is all you may do. " Exodus 12:14-16 Part of the preparation for the first day (14th) is to remove the leaven from your dwelling place for the week ahead as well as preparing food for the Passover and the High Sabbath day. All final purchases and business which could not be done previously, should be completed on this day. Leaven is removed traditionally at the beginning of the 14th day (i.e. twilight), but must be removed before 3pm. in that day for the memorial of the Passover sacrifice.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FEAST
The feast of Unleavened Bread celebrates the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness, when following Passover and the Exodus, they ate unleavened bread for thirty days which then was substituted by the manna (spiritual food) which Yahweh Himself provided for them for the rest of their journey to the promised land of Israel. The fact that it was unleavened symbolised that they were not taking with them any of the contaminating influence of Egypt, which represented the culture of the world, only the pure bread of life. Scripturally, Bread has always represented the Word of God, the Torah. So eating bread which was not leavened is a type of eating the pure Word of Yahweh God, unadulterated by the philosophies and doctrines of man. All erroneous doctrine and wrong mind-sets have their origin in the philosophies of this world which is governed by the ruler of this world who first began to impregnate man's thinking in the garden of Eden. Leaven, used in this context, is that which has its origin in the deception of the enemy and is contrary to the truth of the Word which has its outworking in all unrighteousness which is sin (1 John 5:17).
Because of the Passover Lamb, which is celebrated first; instead of sinning by falling short of Yahweh's standard, we can now walk according to the truth of His Word. Doing it for seven days (seven is the number of spiritual perfection) represents us individually and corporately coming to ultimate perfection and walking completely free of any shortcomings - i.e. the end-time perfection of the saints. The seventh day Sabbath when they were delivered from their enemies in the Red Sea crossing, represents our final deliverance from the enemy of our souls which was initiated when we went under the waters of immersion. At that time we were translated out of his kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Our complete deliverance from him will be when we have 'eaten' the Word to the fullness and come to the full knowledge of Messiah, who is the Word of God (John 6:53-58; Ephesians 4:11-13).
Each time we keep this appointment with Yahweh and celebrate the feast, it becomes a memorial - a reminder, to do an inventory and purge out the leaven from our lives in a rehearsal for the main event to come, and it is part of the process which He endorses, of attaining unto His image and likeness and deliverance from the god of this world.
THE NEW COVENANT OBSERVANCE OF THE FEAST
In the new covenant the cleansing of leaven from our houses has a spiritual application. Not only do we go through the cleansing of our literal houses of actual leaven (yeast products), but we also do a spiritual housecleaning. The principle always is that in going through the physical motions of purging leaven from our houses, the spiritual principle is impressed upon our minds in the doing of it, as Yahweh said, "It shall be a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh brought you out of Egypt. (Exodus 13: 9-10) What we do with our hands and see with our eyes stays with us, we keep it in mind. So keeping this feast is something we do so that it may be kept before our eyes as a reminder, a sign of what it symbolises. May we always keep before our eyes, the sacrifice made for us by Y'shua so we can be free from sin.
Egypt is a symbol of the world ruled by Pharaoh, a type of Satan. With a strong hand He had brought them out of servitude and bondage. That deliverance has been effected for us spiritually and we are to 'eat unleavened bread' as a result of that deliverance. That is we are to 'eat' the pure Word of God. Matthew 4: 4 & John 6:30-35
Paul referred to purging sin from our lives in the context of properly keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, saying, "Your glorying is not good. Do 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 Messiah, 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." (1 Corinthians 5: 6-8).
We must purge out the leaven from our spiritual lives as part of “being conformed to the image of God". We need to renew our minds from all 'wrong thinking'. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles (the world) walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;" Ephesians 4:18, 19
"But you have not so learned Messiah, .. .. .. that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24
- The Symbolism of Leaven
"The leaven of Herod" - a spirit of worldliness Mark 8:15; 6:14-28 "The leaven of the Pharisees" - hypocrisy - saying and not doing Matthew 16: 6-12; Luke 12: 1 "The leaven of the Sadducees" - natural-mindedness Matthew 16: 6-12 Leaven in Corinth - sensuality, carnality 1 Corinthians 5: 1-13 Leaven of Galatia - legalism Galatians 5:9
Leaven, strictly speaking, is an influence which can also represent the permeating of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 13:22-21) But in this feast it indicates the adulteration of the Word of God, the souring of it from its original state of purity. "Leaven" is known as "chametz" in Hebrew and it means "sour." In this context, anything which deviates from the truth of the Word, is leaven. We must put out of our lives all that corrupts and mars the image of Messiah in us.
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 7: 1) This needs to be done prior to the feast. (Note that those who did not keep the feast were separated from His people ( Ex.12:19 -20). Failure to keep the feast in its spiritual application will also result in separation for us and disqualification from the kingdom of God -- 2 Cor. 6:17; Matt.18:15-17; Titus 3:10; 1 Tim. 6: 5; 2 John 10)
For the Exodus, they were to be packed, having their loins girded and be ready to leave the dominion of Pharaoh for the promised land. They had the promise of a good land to which they were going for which they had to leave everything of the old behind. They went on their pilgrim journey with only the Spirit to lead them, living in tents as sojourners until they reached their destination. During that whole journey they ate no leavened bread, but were fed with the pure manna from heaven until they came to the promised land.
We also must have the loins of our mind girded with truth (1 Peter 1:13) leaving everything of the world behind us. We are called to be sojourners and pilgrims in this world with no permanent resting place to get settled in the things of this world. So in prohibiting leavened bread for seven days out of the year, Yahweh is reminding us that we need to set our priorities. We need to be packed and ready for our trip to the world to come. As they prepared for the ordinance, they had a yearly 'spring clean' which we can apply as a yearly check-point, a time of soul-searching, allowing the light of the Spirit to search our 'house' and remove the old leaven of Egypt.
The feasts of Israel are said to be a "shadow" of the good things to come in Messiah (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1). They provide an "outline" of Him. And though they are but shadows, still, shadows are cast by their reality and are not separated from their substance. And, while the work of Messiah's resurrection is complete, the glorious promise of our full resurrection is not. So let us 'rehearse', prepare for, and remember this time by restoring the ancient paths of the pure unfermented grain of His Word in our lives.
Y'shua said, "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. .. .. .. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. .. .. .. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from Heaven." John 6:48-49, 57
This is one of the feasts which will be continued in the Millennium (Ezekiel 45:21-24) - it is declared to be a memorial forever - Exodus 12:17.
THE FESTIVAL WEEK
The first day and last days are designated as "holy convocations" and are complete Sabbaths on which no work is done. The word convocation in Hebrew is miqra and means a "calling together", a "rehearsal".
They are to be times of gathering together to praise Yahweh for His great redemptive plan and to celebrate our deliverance from the bondage of this world. As we go through the rehearsal of the past in His wondrous mercy and grace toward us in all He has done for us, we keep alive the memory of it and the anticipation of the future promises and the glory which is yet to come. In effect, it becomes a rehearsal in preparation for the final act.
Yahweh Himself is the host of the festival and these convocations are times of meeting with Him as well as meeting with one another. He is present in power by His Spirit to effect the spiritual significance of the feast into our lives. It is traditional at these gatherings to have a festive communal meal with the "kiddush" of bread and wine. The specified sacrifices are not applicable without a temple, but will be re-instituted in the Millennium.
The intervening days are kept as holy days centred around the observance of the festival but with the liberty to perform necessary tasks. They are special days of rejoicing celebrated with festive meals.
The day after the weekly Sabbath which is in this week, is the day of the Firstfruits offering. It is a day of special rejoicing as it commemorates the resurrection of our Saviour Y'shua the Messiah. He was the Firstfruit from the earth to be presented to the Father as a perfect man, the first of the Earth's harvest.
Traditionally in temple times, the firstfruit portion of barley was cut at the going down of the sun on the weekly Sabbath and presented at 9.00 am the next morning in the temple. This ordinance of the feast was fulfilled in Y'shua's resurrection from death on the Saturday night and His ascension to the Father the next morning to sprinkle His blood upon the mercy seat in heaven, after having fulfilled the type of the Passover Lamb, and having lain three days and nights in the grave according to the prophetic word.
Unleavened bread is eaten each day to keep before us the significance of the feast (not just an abstinence from leavened bread). We perform in the natural, literally, that which we do in the spiritual - the feasting on the pure Word, Y'shua.
NOTE There are many tasty flat breads available at retail outlets which are unleavened apart from matsa. Barley was the grain harvested at this time of year and used in the unleavened bread.