The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows the Passover. In it we see how hard it is to overcome and rid our lives of sin.
We keep Unleavened Bread because of what God did to bring us out of sin (typified by Egypt). While God compels us to make choices, He is with us all the way.
The fundamental reason that God gives for the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to remember His deliverance. He delivered Israel physically, but us spiritually.
David Grabbe reminds us that the Days of Unleavened Bread signify far more than the avoidance of leavened bread or putting out leaven, a symbol of malice or hypocrisy, and that our focus needs to be on God's management of the process. Israel did not come out of Egypt on their own power, but was delivered only by God's intervention. We have a part in the process to consume unleavened bread, symbolically living a life of sincerity and truth. As we were released from bondage, we attained a new master and a new lease on life. We have an obligation to feast on this unleavened bread throughout our entire life, ingesting the word and instruction of God, which constitutes our spiritual food. Unless we eat the Bread of Life continually, and unless God's Spirit resides in us, we will die. Unless we are metaphorically attached to the vine, we cannot bear fruit. The spiritual strength we receive is the result of eating the bread of life. Unless we have God's Spirit, we will never completely control our human spirit. God gives us the power to bear spiritual fruits such as patience and self-control.
If we overlook God's deliverance or neglect the eating of unleavened bread, we will be unable to perform the putting away of sin that God requires.
The spiritual strength required to overcome is a result of eating the Bread of Life continually, and that Bread is available only to those whom He has delivered from spiritual Egypt. But to approach overcoming without that is to imply that we can overcome on our own—thus that we have no need of a Savior after our forgiveness. ...
Keeping the leaven out is very important in its own right. However, our primary focus should not be on the leavened bread but on the unleavened bread.
Egypt is not directly a symbol of sin, but instead the world. The Days of Unleavened Bread symbolize what God did for us, not what we did by our own power.
John Ritenbaugh cautions that we may have had a somewhat incomplete understanding of the symbolism of eating unleavened bread, exaggerating the importance of our part in the sanctification process. Egypt is not so much a symbol of sin as it is of the world or the location of our bondage. Leavening represents those elements of the world we are to leave behind- symbolic of every weight which encumbers our spiritual progress. Symbolically we eat unleavened bread because of what God has done- not what we have done. Eating unleavened bread symbolizes following God, displacing sin by doing acts of righteousness. God's total involvement in the whole sanctification process makes it impossible for any flesh to glory in His presence.
In this sermon on the meaning of Unleavened Bread, John Ritenbaugh warns that emphasizing our initiative at putting out sin is wrong. Unleavened bread serves as a memorial of God's initiative of delivering us from the bondage of sin. Like our forebears, we have to realize that our part of the salvation process is to follow God's lead, cooperating with His will. When we metaphorically leave Egypt (a type of the world), we leave the location of our sin, leaving behind anything that will hinder us from reaching the Promised Land. Eating unleavened bread symbolizes following God's lead, doing righteousness, and imitating the righteousness of God.
Christian freedom has nothing to do with location or circumstance but how we think. By imbibing on God's Word, we will incrementally displace our carnality.
In this Unleavened Bread sermon, Richard Ritenbaugh asserts that learning God's way (and unlearning Satan's way) takes a lifetime- spiritually speaking, perhaps the most difficult and arduous task on the entire earth. Over a lifetime, with our cooperation, God fashions us into vessels of honor. The commands to eat unleavened bread outnumber the commands to refrain from eating leavened bread three to one, indicating that the most efficient way of eliminating sin is to do righteousness (eating God's word and applying its principles in our lives) If we do good, we won't have the time to do bad. The epistle of James applies to the Christian after the justification process has begun, indicating that after receiving forgiveness, after receiving God's implanted word, we are obligated to fulfill God's purpose in our lives, yielding to trials, bringing forth the fruits of character by doing (not just hearing) God's word. Paul and James steadfastly agree that faith without works is stone dead.
Richard Ritenbaugh reiterates that the command to eat unleavened Bread outnumbers the command to refrain from eating leavened bread three to one, indicating that if we actively engaged ourselves in studying God's word and doing righteousness, we wouldn't have time or place to participate in unrighteousness. Ingesting God's word and actively applying its principles gives us life-sustaining energy to fulfill our personal commission.The book of James had to be written as a counterbalance to antinomian elements that had crept into the church around 60AD, twisting Paul's writings, teaching that grace nullifies the need for works — a condition which has an eerie parallel today. James emphasizes the works required for sanctification after the justification process has been completed. Doing good, like eating unleavened bread, is proactive, displacing sin by righteousness.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Jesus Christ's prayer for unity in John 17, insists that unity with our brethren is impossible without unity with God first. Adam and Eve severed this unity by yielding to Satan's influence, stimulating their minds with a novel diversion. Sin automatically separates us from God. The key to overcoming rests exclusively in our relationship with God. We are placed in the Body of Christ at His discretion, and are obligated to subject ourselves to His workmanship, keeping Him continually in our thoughts, night and day. We do not produce any fruit unless we are attached to the vine. As members of Christ's body, we must function for the good of the whole body, not competing with other organs or limbs. We must continually see God and function as a son of God. As with our Elder Brother, if we do those things that please our Heavenly Father, He will be there for us. Not responding to God and treating our brethren shabbily, brings harsh judgment upon us. Unity in the Body is brought about by yielding to and using the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, enabling us to love our brother as God has loved us. The more we have in common, the greater will be unity and peace.
The word 'selfsame' refers to a specific commemorative date. The selfsame day is a signal that God is faithfully in control of time over multiple centuries.
God has imputed righteousness to us as His Children because we are in Christ. Our state before God is unleavened provided we maintain this relationship.
The wavesheaf offering is reckoned from the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. It had specific requirements that were not met in Joshua 5.
Richard Ritenbaugh reflects on the second law of thermodynamics which, emphasizes that, as energy is transformed to other forms, it degenerates into a more disordered state, wearing down into entropy, chaos and disorder—exactly the opposite of the Spiritual creation which transforms us into a more perfect state. As God transforms our mind with the change-agent of His Holy Spirit, it becomes completely renewed and reprogrammed into something everlasting, something God-like, learning to think as God thinks. The Feast of Unleavened Bread provides a formula as to how this process works, putting sin (typified as leaven) out and ingesting righteousness and purity (typified as unleavened bread) in its place. We are to demonstrate righteous behavior in our hands by our deeds and behavior and in our foreheads by our thoughts. Jesus Christ is the Living Bread that we must ingest daily by reading His word and imitating His behavior. As we ingest the Living Bread, we shun worldly behavior and conform to Christ's character. Only when we are conformed to the image of Christ, loving righteousness and hating lawlessness, are we acceptable to our Heavenly Father. As we are progressing through the sanctification process, our carnal natures must become completely displaced by God's Holy Spirit, motivating us to refrain from causing offense, but freely forgiving others as God has forgiven us.
If we do not keep God's holy days, we will deprive ourselves of the knowledge of God's purpose. Jesus and the first century church observed and upheld these days.
We tend to put matters behind us once we are finished with them, but we cannot afford to do this with the lessons we learn from the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Galatians 4:9-10 is a favorite crutch of those who claim Christians no longer need to observe God's holy days. However, Paul's meaning is quite different.
Richard Ritenbaugh reiterates that Pentecost is the only festival that requires calculating or counting- instead of being fixed upon a specific date. The number fifty seems to symbolize the years of accountability (or period of conversion or sanctification) between the age of 20 and the age of 70 (designated by Moses in Psalm 90 as a typical life span.)Compared to the eternity of God, our physical life is relatively brief. During this comparatively short time span we are to become sanctified, growing into the stature of Christ. We are admonished to allow God to show us how to carefully number our days (calculate or compute each step) in order that we may gain a heart of wisdom and develop a godly perspective upon our remaining time. Because our days are pre-assigned by God to develop wisdom, we must energetically and systematically dedicate ourselves toward this God —appointed goal.
In Deuteronomy 16:1, the word 'Passover' is out of context. It applies to the whole season, including the Night to be Much Observed and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
When God says that His feasts are special, they really are! Mark Schindler explains that we are vicarious participants in the events the feasts memorialize.
God equates belittling His signs with rejecting Him. The signs of the weekly and annual Sabbaths are emphasized by God, but commonly cast aside by men.
The context of Deuteronomy 16:1-3 indicates the focus of these verses is on the Night to be Observed and the Days of Unleavened Bread rather than the Passover.
At the time of Christ, because of historical deviation, some kept Passover at home at the start of the 14th and others kept it at the Temple at the end of the 14th.
Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, a bestselling book and television miniseries in the 1980s, contains the story of a cowboy who fails to perceive the line between right and wrong, and for his lack of moral sense, he pays with his life. Mike Ford considers I Corinthians 6:12 and the subject of "gray areas," showing that learning the spirit of the law will aid us greatly in "seeing the line."
The biblical proof that God's people should keep the Passover (the Lord's Supper), explaining that it occurs annually on the evening of Nisan 14.
David Grabbe, reflecting on the specific hardwiring of our gustatory glands (or taste buds), affirms that leavened bread beats unleavened bread. Throughout the Scriptures, bread serves as a metonym for food in general, or what we need to live—the staff of life. In the Middle East, bread symbolizes life itself (or that which sustains life). Bread, because of its rich source of B vitamins, helps to produce serotonin, regulating our moods, making our hearts glad. Similarly, our spiritual taste buds have been hardwired to crave spiritual contact with God Almighty. Some scientists have referred to this universal craving as the God gene, a built-in desire to believe in something. The only way this spiritual hunger can be satisfied is by the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51). If we try to satisfy this craving through any other means, such as false religion, idolatry, food, sports, entertainment, technology, fashion, money, travel, etc., we will be left unsatisfied and disillusioned. The more we taste the heavenly Bread, the more aware we will become of our spiritual hunger, and the more we will try to satisfy this craving with legitimate spiritual manna—Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, our craving will be satisfied.
Here are the foundational principles to keep in mind in observing the Feasts of God throughout the year.
The temple Passover commanded by Hezekiah was a very unusual circumstance in which the king centralized worship to keep Baalism from defiling the Passover.
The Night Much to be Observed is a memorial of the covenant with Abraham, and God's watchfulness in delivering ancient Israel as well as spiritual Israel.
The keeping of the law is a practical response to God, providing us with principles for our lives, establishing our character and implanting God's values.
Why must we put leaven out, yet we do not have to circumcise our boys? Earl Henn explains this apparent contradiction.
John Ritenbaugh insists that we must be aware of our awesome status as a unique, called-out, chosen, royal priesthood—teachers of a way of life and builders of bridges between people and God. Because God owns us, we differ from the rest of the people of this earth. We need to seriously think of what we are now (His chosen people) and also what we have been (children of Satan). As former bond-slaves of satanic human nature, we effortlessly have given ourselves over to excesses and unrestraint. The Old Testament examples were given to show us what God had to do (the tremendous cost in life) to pave the way for our calling, sanctification, and ultimate glorification. Reflecting on the awesome cost of our calling, we must resolve not to go back into the slavery of sin.
John Ritenbaugh shows that the Days of Unleavened Bread have both a negative and positive aspect. It is not enough to get rid of something negative (get rid of the leavening of sin); if we don't do something positive (eat unleavened bread or do righteousness), we leave ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position (Luke 11:24-28). Nature absolutely abhors a vacuum. We cannot make Christianity work by emphasizing what we can't do. We can't stand still. The best way to avoid or conquer evil is to do righteousness or bear fruit (John 15:16; James 4:17), serving God and mankind. Sins of omission are every bit as devastating as sins of commission. God's emphasis is always on action. The accent is on doing rather than not doing, taking our ordinary day-to-day responsibilities and making them a sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).
Even though keeping the law does not justify us, it does point out to us what sin is. The law is a guide keeping us within moral and ethical boundaries.
After we accept Christ's sacrifice, we desperately need to come out of sin, walking in light rather than darkness, having continuous fellowship with God.
Richard Ritenbaugh, indicating that there are many flashpoints between the greater Church of God and nominal Christianity, suggests that perhaps one of the most significant differences concerns the place and purpose of God's Law. The carnal mind hates and despises God's Law. The Protestant doctrine of grace has an antinomian core, thinking that justification is a synonym for sanctification and salvation, ruling out any need for works. The Law was not nailed to the cross; the handwriting of ordinances (the record of our sins) was nailed to the cross. The Law shows us the boundary markers, serving as a protective hedge. Sadly, morality and 'moralism' are looked upon in many sectors of Protestantism as pejorative terms, juxtaposed in a false dichotomy with the gospel. We do not keep the Law to save ourselves, but keeping the Law is a major part of the Gospel, our guide to show us how to live our lives, helping us to stay in unity with the King. Nominal Christianity has rejected God's Law, the Sabbath, and God's Holy Days, all of which provide guidelines for our spiritual journey toward the Kingdom of God, following Jesus Christ with the help of God's Holy Spirit. Eating unleavened bread symbolizes taking in what is good and pure, purging out the old leaven and becoming a new lump—the new man. We have a part to play in forging the new man. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that God did the vast majority of the work, that God intends that His Law be in our mouths (not done away), and that these days are to be kept annually and in perpetuity. God's Word is available to us, enabling us to ingest it daily, making it part of our hearts and minds, enabling us to edify others and modeling it in our lives. God supplies the Word and the Spirit to put us on the same wavelength as He is on, working from the same playbook. We are being groomed to be the Bride of Christ.
Christ warns that we must do everything possible to annihilate sin - surgically going right to the heart or mind: the level of thought and imagination.
Richard Ritenbaugh, continuing his exposition of Book One of the Psalms, focusing on themes pertinent to the spring holy days, demonstrates that God orchestrated all of the events of the Exodus, making Pharaoh's pitiful plans irrelevant. God led Israel to the spot they felt they were trapped in order to demonstrate His absolute sovereignty, His ability to save, and His ability to totally annihilate all opposition. The Song of Moses, recorded in Exodus 15, indicates that ancient Israel finally got the point—at least momentarily. Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 amplify the themes of the Song of Moses, with the first Psalm concentrating on the Torah, or instruction itself, but the second focusing on the Son; we must come to know both His instruction and Him personally. The Son will have the final say; only a fool would attempt to test His sovereignty. The first stanza of Psalm 1 expresses astonishment that anyone would try to plot against God. Because God controls the whole universe, He laughs in mockery and derision at anyone who would even contemplate rebellion. Because Jesus Christ is God's begotten Son, we can avoid the rod of His anger by paying respect with worshipful fear and awe.
Amos 8:11 speaks of "a famine . . . of hearing the words of the LORD." Such a spiritual famine is occurring today: The words of God are readily available, but few are hearing them. David Grabbe explains this prophecy and its connection to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Richard Ritenbaugh asserts that the seven days of Unleavened Bread depicts the protracted time it takes us to get rid of the influences of the world or the clutches of sin. We spend our entire lives fleeing from Egypt- a hard trudge every step of the way, accomplished only by a miracle from God. Nothing happens (including repentance) in our lives until God initiates it. After God reveals to us the enormity of our sin, we feel a great deal of wrenching pain leading to a positive turn, about face, or change. Repentance involves a great deal of thought or thorough reflection about the consequences or effects of wrong behavior. A change of mind or a change of heart, made possible by God's Holy Spirit, results in a total change of direction.
John Ritenbaugh declares that the holy days are reliable, effective, multifaceted teaching tools, emphasizing spaced repetition to reinforce our faulty memories and drive the lesson deep into our thinking. The most effective learning involves drills or exercises, inscribing the lessons on our mind (Deuteronomy 16:3). Memory is enhanced as we continually rehearse a concept until it becomes deeply burned into our character, giving us self-mastery, integrity, and godliness. Like physical leavening, sin has the tendency to puff up and spread, taking effect immediately and irreversibly. We can only be free if we put out sin - false doctrine (I Corinthians 5:6-8) - and eat unleavened bread - or ingest wholesome undefiled teaching and practice righteousness (Titus 2:14).
As God's priesthood, we must draw near to God, keep His commandments, and witness to the world that God is God. God is shaping and fashioning His new creation.
Prior to the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are told to examine ourselves. How can we do that? Here are a few pointers on doing a thorough, honest once over.
Richard Ritenbaugh, characterizing the term corporate as an entity, separating the liability of the established entity from those of its constituents, usually for the purpose of establishing a profit, suggests that a corporation (a created body) does things by individuals as a collective body. Americans, as descendants of Jacob and Joseph, seem to have a propensity for making money. Americans also have the tendency to think individually, ignoring the corporate actions or patterns, as well as corporate sins, of their culture. We are not immune to corporate sin. We are obligated to purge our thoughts, deeds, and words, cleaning out individual and corporate sin (influenced by the way, or course, of the world governed by Satan) and replacing it with sincerity, truth, and holiness. The corporate sins of the nations have corrupted the culture (including the religion and morality) of our forbears and have also contaminated our own culture as well as our ethnic, family, and spousal loyalties. We do not have to fall victim to corporate sin, compromising with the corporate culture around us. Instead, we must strive to enter the narrow gate, often at variance with the desires of the crowd.
David Grabbe continues his exposition of Dominion Theology, a doctrine derived in part from a misapplication of two parables in Matthew 13:32-33, both of which assume that the phenomenal growth of 1.) the mustard plant into a grotesque tree housing birds and 2.) the leavening which puffs up the dough, indicates that the Kingdom of God was to spread through the dramatic growth of church membership. The point of the mustard plant was that it had become a habitation for demons, while the meaning of the growth of leavened dough was that the Kingdom of God had grown corrupt by becoming leavened with Halakhic traditions, including bald-faced pagan traditions, Gnostic varieties of Judaism, and shameless hypocritical behavior exhibited by the Jewish leadership of Christ's time. Dominion theology is one of the dangerous false doctrines threatening to leaven God's Church. Certainly, God is not finished with physical Israel, but the Israel of God has the unique opportunity to "do it right" by consuming the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
We assess costs and values all the time in our daily lives. We should employ the same process to God's love for us in giving His Son as the sacrifice for sin.
Grace places limits on our freedom, training us for the Kingdom of God. Our behavior must be clearly distinguishable from the non-believers in society.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that physically emancipating people from slavery does not automatically unshackle their hearts or minds or preparing them for productive responsibility in a free society. Likewise, our emancipation from sin does not automatically remove our acquired spiritual shackles. We must gradually grow out of the slave mentality into liberty and freedom by committing our lives to the truth (John 8:30; Romans 8:6), replacing acquired insecurity and fear with faith and the love of God (I John 4:18). Like our forefather Abraham, we have to gradually or incrementally grow into a model of faithfulness. God's Spirit provides us the mechanism for transforming our enslaved, fearful, carnal minds to liberty (II Corinthians 3:17).
We need to be sobered at the awesomeness of the cost to set us free from sin—what the Creator endured. We have been purchased, and are obliged to our Purchaser.
Richard Ritenbaugh, challenging the Protestant assumption that "getting our lives straight" (morality) distracts from the Gospel message of grace, suggests that this emphasis on "hyper-grace" is wrong-headed, denying any need for repentance and overcoming, and totally at odds with the teachings of Christ. The Gospel of the Kingdom emphasizes the plan of God, requiring that we become cleansed from our past sins, living a life of righteousness, preparing for the Kingdom of God—the endgame of God's plan, which is the creation of sons and daughters formed in His image and character. As our character is changed through the sanctification process, we can be turned into Spirit beings. Protestants have an extremely truncated concept of the gospel, denying the sanctification process of salvation and the resurrection. In order to destroy sin, it is necessary to get rid of all sin. God the Father and Jesus Christ want to get rid of all sin—a major part of God's plan. Repenting requires glomming onto God's Law and relinquishing our carnal control over to God's Holy Spirit. God has never finished His Work. In our Christian life, we have lots of rough edges which have to be smoothed before we can rule and reign. The hyper-grace gospel denies any responsibility for our behavior, revealing it to be a throwback to antinomian Gnosticism. Like He did for our forebears, God performed acts of grace to free us, but we have to walk away from sin, repenting of our sin and overcoming our vile human nature in the sanctification process, growing spiritually. The whole Bible is about putting on morality. God's people are to be involved in their sanctification— from consecration, separation, and the rigorous purification process, removing the dross, a process which takes place over a lifetime. The only proper response to grace is obedience to God, walking in
Jesus Christ's and Paul's example in Sabbath observance (including the annual Sabbaths) provide a model as to how we keep the Sabbath and the holy days.
It is unusual for lunar eclipses to occur on God's holy days. Understanding those days helps us to find the right significance to the blood moons.
The Bible records no example of keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread with services each day, unlike the Feast of Tabernacles, which has a daily convocation.
Valuable lessons may be learned when we observe the feasts God's way, but they would get lost if we tried to apply to them what we believe are good ideas.
The Shekinah, the pillar of cloud and fire, depicts God's visible presence and protection. Yet His glory is manifested in many other ways as well.