Matthew, Mark, and Luke each seem to put Passover on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but a closer look reveals the consistency of Scripture.
Jesus and His disciples are shown observing the Passover in a home at the beginning of Abib/Nisan 14. However, a few verses seem to indicate the next day.
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.
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 Feast of Unleavened Bread signifies far more than the avoidance of leavening. Our focus needs to be on God's management of the process of deliverance.
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.
It is self-glorifying to focus more on our own efforts in overcoming—which are necessary—than on by whose strength those efforts will succeed.
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.
We eat unleavened bread because of what God has done, not what we have done. Eating unleavened bread symbolizes following God and displacing sin.
Unleavened bread serves as a memorial of God's deliverance from the bondage of sin. We must realize that our part of the salvation process is to follow 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.
The book of James applies to us after the sanctification process has begun. The most effective way of eliminating sin is to do righteousness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 temple Passover commanded by Hezekiah was a very unusual circumstance in which the king centralized worship to keep Baalism from defiling the Passover.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reiterating that everyone has misconceptions about Jesus Christ and His message, maintains that these misconceptions have continued to this very day. Unfortunately, we have brought in false doctrines from the world. In order to experience eternal life, we have to shed these false conceptions and to begin to know God the Father and Jesus Christ, following their unique way of life. We need to follow the pattern set by our Archegos, Forerunner, and Trailblazer. The apostle Paul cautions us that glib and smooth talk may tempt us away from the simplicity of Christ (or the full devotion to Christ), putting our conversion and salvation at risk. Jesus Christ, as well as the apostle Paul, does not tolerate sin, having a very narrow mind toward toxic moral deviation. The truer our conception of Jesus Christ, the truer our discernment will be in dealing with spiritual problems or conflicts. Like Corinth, modern Israel has cuddled up to sin. The symbolism of unleavened bread suggests that we (relying on the help of Almighty God) are to be aggressive at struggling against and removing destructive and corrosive sin, symbolized by the oppressive culture of Egypt controlled by Satan the Devil and symbolized by Pharaoh. We need to hate sin as much as Jesus Christ does, purging it out as a physician aggressively purges a wound with saline solution. The outward motor behavior of sin derives from mental impulses, requiring a metaphoric spiritual saline solution to purge the impure deviant thoughts. If we fail to purge these wicked thoughts, we place ourselves on a collision course with the Annihilating Judge, who is not hesitant to point out and destroy sin.
Richard Ritenbaugh, after marveling that money spent upon education seems to be inversely proportional to its effectiveness and quality, concludes that re-education is a most difficult (nearly impossible) process. Nevertheless, God Almighty, through the Days of Unleavened Bread, mandates that we must totally unlearn old carnal processes (purging the leaven of sin or hypocrisy) and totally adapt to (or assimilate) new spiritual processes- eating unleavened bread of sincerity and truth - cultivating clear unadulterated discernment. Pure character develops incrementally through systematic re-education, displacing the culture of Egypt (sin and carnality emanating from the world) with God's truth and God's ways of doing things. Like our forebears on the Sinai, we have to be re-educated to trust in God's providence (for protection, food and water) patiently yielding to the tests He has designed for us.
Why must we put leaven out, yet we do not have to circumcise our boys? Earl Henn explains this apparent contradiction.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Because Jesus is God's Son, we can avoid the rod of His anger by paying respect with worshipful awe. We must know both His instruction and Him personally.
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.
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.
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).
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 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 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).
Richard Ritenbaugh, affirming that one word encapsulating the mission statement of America would be "liberty," warns that we are rapidly losing our original rights. The recently passed health care bill will make us wards of the state, subject to panels of oppressive bureaucrats with the power of life and death. There is no hope in the politics of man, especially when the politicians have totally forgotten God. Only a moral people, subscribing to Christian principles, have the capability of living under a constitutional republic. Jefferson realized that liberty was a gift from God and was conditional upon our obedience to God's laws. Unfortunately, the gullible American people, through their endorsement of secular progressive principles, have foolishly voted in their own enslavement and destruction. God brought our forbears freedom by leading them out of Egypt through the Red Sea, destroying the entire Egyptian army. Like our forebears, we were also alienated to God, marked for death, but God decided to change that by making a new covenant with us, giving His Son as a sacrifice and His Spirit to empower us to repent and overcome. We responded to His actions (grace) in our behalf. Though we were freed by God's intervention, we will fall into slavery (of sin) again if we do not maintain our vigilance. Our forbears never learned to live as free men and women; we need to learn from their example not to emulate their behavior. Jesus Christ, upon counseling the woman caught in adultery, recognized that forgiveness must be coupled with genuine repentance. We are obligated to follow the example of our Savior, walking perpetually in light, clinging to the truth, inherently exercising the freedom and liberty to make judgments and exercising the capability to please the Father.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing happens in our lives (including repentance) until God initiates it. A change of heart, by God's Holy Spirit, results in a total change of direction.
Martin Collins, reflecting upon the Congressional Medal of Honor, examines parallels in the way God awards honor. He rewards patient and continual perseverance in good works, reflecting an inner nobility and character. Keeping unleavened is tedious and arduous, reflecting the narrow and straight way traveled by a miniscule few. Sin (like soft, pliable, leavened bread) is easy, while overcoming human nature (like hard and brittle unleavened bread) is difficult, acquired only by humility and total submission to God. The pleasures of sin are temporary while the pleasures of righteousness endure. While sin, foolishness, and false teaching (like leavening) spread quickly, righteousness, wisdom, and truth accumulate slowly. Sin is deceitful, but righteousness is unpretentious. Sin is more common and widespread than righteousness. Sin produces a false image, while righteousness does not put on airs.
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.
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.
An emphasis on hyper-grace is wrong-headed, denying any need for repentance and overcoming, and totally at odds with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
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.