The significance of the seven days of unleavened bread
Some leavening is classified as fungus, an ever-present single celled organism with characteristics resembling both animal and vegetable. Some fungi are beneficial and some are destructive. Their cellular structure is so small it can only be seen through a microscope. They grow best in darkness, but lacking chlorophyll cannot produce their own food. They must get their nourishment from their host, and under suitable conditions can quickly take over their host. As fungi feeds, it expels carbon dioxide gas, which forms bubbles and causes the host to swell to many times its original size, but it’s mostly gas. The destructive types cause decay; corruption, spoilage and can completely change and even destroy their host. What an apt description of sin!
A perfect illustration of how sin can and will destroy our lives
A tiny insignificant little sin can quickly grow and become a controlling influence in one’s life. It works best in darkness unnoticed; it must have a host to be effective. One must constantly be on the alert to detect sin in his life and usually it must be revealed to him. As it feeds on the mind, it swells a person up with pride and fools him into thinking that he is far better than he is. It corrupts the mind and will completely change a person’s personality and thought process to the extent that he will not be able to distinguish right from wrong or truth from error, eventually destroying him.
FIRST PHYSICAL – THEN SPIRITUAL!
Abraham’s physical obedience proved his faith
When Abraham was told to sacrifice his son he proceeded to perform the physical act of sacrifice. Stopped barely before the act was completed, only then did God say, “for now I know you will obey me” (Gen. 22:12).
Israel’s faith proven by obedience
On that terrible night of the 10th plague in Egypt would Israel’s first-born have been saved had they not physically obeyed the instructions as given? Belief must be accompanied by action.
The walls of Jericho
Israel had to physically march around Jericho as instructed before the walls fell. Action produced the desired results.
Christ had to obey physically
Christ pleaded with the Father to find some other way to save the world, but there was no other way. He had to suffer through the physical act of obedience in order to save you and me (Luke 22:42).
The apostles obeyed
The apostles were physically observing the Day of Pentecost in the right place at the right time when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Again, belief is proven by obedience, but obedience has been so maligned that it is now called legalism from many pulpits?
So what if I say, “Lord, I believe you; I rejoice in your Holy Spirit. I am saved by your grace and not by my works. Therefore, I consider your commandments, to be nailed to the cross (a misunderstanding of Colossians 2:14) and have no need to obey them, for then I would be denying the power of the blood of your salvation. However, I will obey you in spirit and in truth. I will keep the spirit of your Sabbath days, but surely you can’t expect me to abandon my business or to do no work on the Sabbath. Why, that would be – ‘lee-gaa-liss-tic’.”
But it’s by grace, why do works?
Grace is the most bandied about word in Christian speak, yet the least understood. Certainly we can’t earn it; we can’t buy it, and we sure don’t deserve it. How, then, do we obtain it? If we don’t obey the basic requirements of belief, repentance, and where possible, baptisms (Heb. 6:1-2) are we really saved? Listen to the words of Christ: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). Wasn’t He giving us a preview of the fulfillment of the Passover and a description of the last supper? (1 Cor. 1120) A physical act of obedience!
But didn’t Christ keep the Commandments for us?
“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)? If one has been given the invitation and opportunity to accept Christ in baptism but, simply repeats the “magic words” and takes no further action, is he really under grace? I think not. Even Jesus chose to be baptized and isn’t He our example? So we must conclude that there is something required for grace. It’s called action, i.e. “obedience”.
The passive Christian
A plague called passivity has run rampant throughout Christianity. But then why not, aren’t you told right from many pulpits, that, if you are once saved, you’re always saved, that at any moment you will be raptured away to heaven and that it’s grace plus nothing that saves. Therefore, don’t be overly concerned, just pray and pay, believe what your Priest or Minister tells you and everything will be okay. But by all means, don’t fall into that legalism trap of keeping the Sabbath or Holy Days. As we are told in Jude 4 certain men have crept in unawares, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness. One of their twists is the misapplication of the word “legalism,” causing grace to be turned into a kind of sloppy agape or a greasy grace, thus, rendering it worthless. They speak against God’s laws and say that keeping those “Jewish” days is legalism, and equivalent to depending on works for salvation. See what Isaiah 8:20 says about those who trample on God’s law, there is no light in them.
Turning a blessing into to a burden
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. The Jews had transformed the blessing of God’s Sabbath into a burden instead of the joy He had intended it to be. God’s laws are given to man as a blessing that if followed will lead to a long, healthy, happy life. Listen to what John says about God’s law: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).
But can’t we just keep those days in spirit?
If I say, “I will keep the spirit of your Feast of Unleavened Bread, Lord” but then I don’t follow through with the physical act to remove both physical and spiritual leaven from my life who am I fooling? Where is the truth that proves my spirit, the action that proves my faith? It’s called “Obedience”! Could that be the missing element in many Christians lives? Study Matthew 7:15-24.
Making it personal
What would your spouse think if you said, “I am keeping the spirit of our marriage vows dear,” while you caroused around town? What did He say about those who say they know Him but do not physically and spiritually keep His commandments (I John 2-4)? He calls them liars. How can you worship Him in spirit and truth while you are physically lying? The physical and the spiritual go together. Grace is not a substitute for obedience. Much of Christianity has turned grace into lasciviousness just as prophesied in Jude 4.
The benefit of doing
By using leavening as a symbol of sin, the seven-day period of striving to live an unleavened life in this world of sin and temptation is a great teaching tool. It is a shadow of our striving to live a sinless life after being cleansed of all sin by Christ’s sacrifice for us. It teaches us, by example, how easy it is, even after being cleansed, to fall back into sin. It reminds us that we’re not there yet and that Satan as a roaring lion is still seeking those he might destroy (I Pet. 5:8).
You may be surprised that, try as you may, you will find that you have not been able to eliminate all leavening from yourself or your household. But that’s the point. It teaches you, by example, how sin hides in your life and how easily it slips back into your life without you realizing it. Remember the words of Jesus, “… he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). The Feast of Unleavened Bread was designed to help us endure. It is a sign in our hand (performance) and a memorial between our eyes (understanding) (Ex. 13:9).
How we learn
We are reminded of His plan of salvation by the yearly repetition of His annual commanded assemblies. We learn by doing! The annual repetition of partaking of the bread and wine on the anniversary of the night He was betrayed (I Cor. 11:20) keeps us from forgetting that He and He alone paid the price for our salvation whereby we obtain our perfection. The annual repetition of feasting on unleavened bread helps us to keep in mind that we must continually, throughout our life, feast on the unleavened bread of God’s pure word of truth. That is also why we observe His New Testament Passover exactly as He instructed, on the anniversary of the night He was betrayed; not by sacrificing a lamb (since He was the fulfillment of that) but with the wine, the unleavened bread and the foot washing.
Unleavened Bread practiced by a Gentile church
About 34 years after Pentecost, we find a gentile church keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread. Paul angrily takes them to task, but not for keeping those days, rather for not keeping them properly. He admits they are physically unleavened, having removed all leavening from their homes. He then admonishes them for being spiritually leavened, because they are condoning sin in their midst by not putting the guilty party out of their congregation immediately. Read the whole story in I Corinthians 5.
In spirit and in truth
From this we learn that there is both a spiritual aspect and a physical aspect of obedience to God, both important in observing God’s appointed times. We are told to worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24). One can say, I have faith, but where is the fruit? Truth is in the doing. Study James 2. Belief can only be proven by active obedience, as when God tested Abraham.
The leavening of this world
The literal leaven is a shadow of the spiritual leaven we are to beware of, i.e. the leaven of Herod, deception, slyness and worldliness (Mk. 6:14-28; 8:15); the Sadducees, rejection of the spiritual and supernatural, modernism (Mt. 16:6-12); the Pharisees, hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1); Corinth, pride, wickedness, malice, sensuality (I Cor. 4:18-19; 5:1-13); Galatians, legalism (Gal. 5:9).
Let us be diligent in observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread as instructed in Leviticus 23:6-8, not like the Corinthians, but by both, spiritually and physically feasting on the unleavened bread of God’s word. Let’s use this time as a pattern for our life here on earth, of worshiping God in spirit and in truth. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”. Said Paul, “…and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” (I Cor. 11:1-2).
Christ kept them, Paul kept them, and the early church kept them. Should not we follow their example?
OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS NOT LEGALISM!