(Much of the following
information is general knowledge, and other commentary came from the books
God's Prophetic Calendar,
by Lehman Strauss. Published by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune NJ,
©Copyright 1987; and The
Gospel in the Feasts of Israel by Victor Buksbazen, Published by Friends of
Israel Gospel Ministry, Bellmawr NJ, ©Copyright 2004. Used with permission.
Feast overview chart is used with permission from Peter Wise of
“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:6).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Hag HaMatzot, began the day following Passover. The fifteenth day began immediately after sunset, so that there was actually no lapse between the first and second feasts. Sometimes confused with Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is directly linked to the Passover, yet it is actually a feast in itself.
In Biblical days the feast was observed from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan [March/April]. Israelis and Reform Jews today still keep the feast for seven days, while most Jewish people of the dispersion observe the feast for eight days.
During the days of the Temple, special burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sin offerings were presented to the Lord during the days of Unleavened Bread. [See Numbers 23:17-25] But since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., these offerings are no longer included in the feast.
The first and last days of the festival were considered holy days in which no work, except that which was necessary for daily sustenance, was to be performed (Exodus 12:16). Not working on these days pictures Israel entering into the reality of what Yahweh had freed them from–slavery. He has freed us from slavery to sin, and we are to walk in that freedom, trusting Him, for holiness, peace and life; allowing Him to make us to be conformed into the image of His only begotten Son, Yeshua. Truly God has provided everything necessary for our redemption. There is nothing we can do to earn it.
Leaven in the Scriptures represents sin and evil. Unleavened bread represents that which is without sin. Only Jesus the Messiah is described in the Bible as One who had no sin. He was the "righteous branch of David" who had done no wrong (Isaiah 53:9), and He alone could lay claim to the Messiahship. Even His enemies could not find any fault in Him (John 8:46). Because mankind was dead in trespasses and sins, only someone who was spiritually alive could die for those who were spiritually dead. That is why on Him, Jesus, was "laid the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Because of the sacrificial death of Jesus the Messiah, the sinless Lamb of God, we are freed from sin and death. Redemption’s work has been finished. [See John 19:30]. Because of the blood of the Lamb, we can be cleansed from all sin and become unleavened. We now have access into the Holy of Holies, that is, the very Throne of God, through Jesus the Messiah who is our High Priest. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:22-14).
Matzah is called the bread of affliction. Because of the heat of the racks on which it is baked, there are stripes burned on it, and the matzah is pierced. This reminds the Jewish people of their affliction in the “iron furnace” of Egypt. It reminds us that Jesus “was wounded [pierced] for our transgressions” and “with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). We too are to humble ourselves and submit ourselves to our Father in Heaven. In so doing, we become like the Lord Jesus the Messiah who was afflicted and learned obedience through His suffering. [See Hebrews 5:8]. Jesus is the living Bread of Life from Heaven who was afflicted for us, and this feast presents a picture of the character of the believer’s life after he has received Christ. The Israelite was not saved by putting away the leaven, but he put away the leaven because he was saved. The Israelites, as well as we who are redeemed have the responsibility to live like a people who have been redeemed by the Lamb of God. We must cultivate fellowship with God in our daily walk, and we can only do that by obediently putting away the leaven or sin out of our lives and becoming a new lump for the Lord. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” We will never experience the full joy of our salvation until we put away the leaven out of our lives. Our fellowship with God is based on practical holiness. Passover presents the doctrine of salvation and Unleavened Bread presents the doctrine of sanctification. These are two doctrines that are not to be separated. As God’s children we are called “Saints.” That means we are to be separated or set apart for God. As the old preacher said, “You are either a saint or an aint.” Dr. Lehman Strauss, in God’s Prophetic Calendar, points out how the Bible teaches us that there are three stages in the believer’s sanctification (pp.41-51):
1. Positional Sanctification. When a person repents and believes the gospel message and is truly saved, that person is at once set apart by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 6:11). Positional sanctification is the standing of every child of God. We have been set apart by God in order that we might live a holy life.
2. Practical Sanctification. This is the emphasis of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We should practice what we are positionally. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification...” “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7). It comes to us by means of a learning process. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and the Word of God is the instrument He uses. “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). “Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). As we obey the Scriptures in our practical living, we are becoming more like Christ and setting ourselves apart to the purpose for which God saved us.
3. Perfect Sanctification. Perfect in holiness is the ultimate in sanctification. In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord said to His disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). God only is perfectly holy. Perfection is our goal, and even though we will not attain it in this life, we must strive day by day to improve in practical holiness. There is coming a day when we “shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51), and “when He (Jesus) shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
As believers we must be aware of the leaven of deceit, hypocrisy, unholy living, moral corruption, and false doctrine. Just as the Israelites were saved by the blood of the lamb and then were to feast on the lamb, we who are saved by the blood of Jesus the Messiah must keep this feast, as Paul says in First Corinthians 5, by feasting on the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as food and drink sustain us physically, so Christ sustains us spiritually as we walk in close communion with Him. It means we feed on the Word of God which is both milk and meat (Hebrews 5:12-14). Jesus said: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The Word of God has the power to save the sinner, and it has the power to sustain, strengthen, and sanctify the saint. Jeremiah said: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). The Christian who neglects the regular reading and studying of the Bible is not going to grow well spiritually. We must daily feed upon the Word of God if we are going to make progress in our practical sanctification and be more conformed to the image of our Savior the Messiah.
It is also important that we learn those Scriptures which point out the severe penalty for finding leaven in the Israelite’s home. God had said: “Whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land” (Exodus 12:19). To be cut off could mean either death or severance from the fellowship of God and the people of God, or both.
Any form of sin will be forgiven if the sinning person confesses his sin to God. Abraham was a liar, but he was forgiven. Moses was a murderer, but he was forgiven. David was both a murderer and an adulterer, but he was forgiven. Peter denied the Lord, but he was forgiven. These all were saints who sinned but were forgiven.
However, there is a sin unto death for the believer who refuses to put evil out of his life (1 John 5:16). Though the true Christian will not lose his eternal life he received when he was born again, it is possible that he may be cut off in this life for living after the flesh (Romans 8:13), for failing to bear fruit (John 15:2), for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-6), for murmuring against God (Numbers 16:41-19), or for practicing moral evil (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
In light of these great truths, what kind of people ought we to be? We ought to be grateful to our God for all that He has done for us through the death of the Passover Lamb, His only begotten Son, our Passover who was "sacrificed for us." We ought to walk daily by His side and seek and strive to do His will. We can do that if we will feed on the Word of God and confess our sins so that we can be clean vessels fit for the Master’s use. May we purge out the old leaven and be “new lumps for the Lord.” Yes, our Savior has died as our Passover Lamb, but it wasn't over. The "morrow after the Sabbath" [Sunday] was coming. A great day of resurrection is about to take place as Yeshua the Messiah will fulfill the Feast of Firstfruits and come out of that tomb victorious over sin, death, and Hell. Glory to God! We will see in the next study of the Feast of Firstfruits, that His resurrection guarantees our own resurrection. Blessed be His name!
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