The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second of God’s commanded feasts, and is little known to the Christian world. Again this is originally a Jewish holiday, but when examining the entirety of scripture it proves to be very significant to Christians as well. This Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of the 1st month and lasts for seven days. This would cover the 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 days of the first month. God’s instructions were simple:
God’s Instructions (Exodus 12)
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for 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. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.” ~ Exodus 12:14-2
Then again this Feast was confirmed in Leviticus 23:
“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. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” ~ Leviticus 23:6-8
To break down God’s commands for this feast:
- Celebrate from the 15-21st day of the first month
- The first day (15th) you are to get rid of any leaven (yeast) from your home
- Do not eat leavened bread during these seven days or you will be cut off from Israel
- The first day (15th) is to be a holy convocation to you. The seventh day also is a holy convocation. This seventh day reference has seen some controversy, in that some believe that this also signifies the 15th day, as the 7th day Sabbath according to the lunar calendar. Others believe this signifies the 21st day of the first month (the last day of the feast).
- Beginning on the 14th day of the month (The Passover) at evening until the 21st day of the month, eat nothing but unleavened bread. This indicates that the Passover is included in this unleavened bread ordinance, as the Passover ordinance says to only eat unleavened bread with the Passover lamb. This is interesting, in that on the Passover, you may still have leaven in your home yet you can’t eat it. The leaven is then cast out of your home the day after the Passover.
- On this or these holy convocations, the only work that can be done is the preparation of food to eat.
- Observe this as an ordinance FOREVER
Historically, this is a feast in remembrance of God bringing the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt with haste and power. The Israelites left so quickly that they didn’t have time to put leaven in their bread, rather took along with them unleavened bread. This time period of the beginning of the New Year, through the Feast of Unleavened Bread was used in biblical history as a time of cleansing. Looking to King Hezekiah, his kingdom was very corrupt and he decided to turn back to God. The purification and sactification of the kingdom began at the beginning of the year, and lasted through the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the Lord: so they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.” ~ 2 Chronicles 29:17
This was a sanctification during the time of the New Year, Feast of Passover, and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for a kingdom that decided to come back to God’s laws. King Josiah also recognized the importance of the Feasts:
“So all the service of the Lord was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord, according to the commandment of king Josiah. And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days. And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” ~ 2 Chronicles 35:16-18
Both of these kings honored God, and both of them recognized the importance of the sanctification of the kingdom in the first month to God’s laws and ways. As we learned earlier, leaven 22 times in the OT and 17 times in the NT represents in most cases sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Feast of sanctification, purging ourselves from our disobedience to God’s laws (sin). How does all of this relate to the Messiah?
- As we know, Jesus died on the Feast of the Passover, and his body was to be taken down from the cross before the high Sabbath, the 15th day of the first month, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- Jesus’ sacrifice for sin brought about two things, forgiveness of sin to those that repent, and our ability to receive the Holy Spirit of God which allows us to become sanctified and walk free from sin from the heart.
- Up until the day that Jesus was crucified, we carried sin and death upon our shoulders, just as the Jews would still carry leaven within their homes up until the Passover. After Jesus death, came the 15th day, the day to purge all leaven (sin) from our homes. This signifies our own purging of sin from our lives through repentance from the heart, made possible after the death of Christ for all that repent and turn to Him.
- Unleavened bread in appearance is bruised and pierced, just as the flesh of Christ was bruised and pierced upon his death.
- Special Note a little off subject: Jesus rose on the third day as prophecied. Gregorian calendar keepers have argued that Jesus had to be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights, yet the testimony of the bible indicates otherwise when examined line upon line. Jesus was prophecied of rising on the “third day” 14 different times (Hosea 6:2, Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7; 24:21; 24:46; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:4). You are probably wondering- why would there also be a reference to 3 days and 3 nights? This reference to days and nights was used interchangeably in scripture along with a reference to mere days. For example looking to Esther:
“Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” ~ Esther 4:16
“Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.” ~ Esther 5:1
You can see the reference to 3 days and nights, and the reference to the third day are one in the same in this example from Esther. The biblical testimony points to Jesus being crucified on the Passover (14th), In the grave on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (high Sabbath of the 15th), and rising on the third day which was the day after the Sabbath (16th) also know as the Day of Firstfruits. Some try using references to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday when speaking of these events, yet such a reckoning of days did not exist in Jesus’ time. The day that Jesus was first seen is noted in the book of John as the “first day of the week” (aka the day after the Sabbath). At the end of the first day of the week, Jesus appeared to all of the disciples with the exception of Thomas who wasn’t present. It wasn’t until eight days later that Jesus appeared again to the disciples and Thomas.
- When Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time, he breathed on them and said- “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”. This is the circumcision of heart of the New Covenant where God’s laws (commandments) were written into their hearts and they were able to walk according to God’s ways “in the spirit.” This involved sanctification of the heart, and a casting out of sin or “leaven.”
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” ~ John 20:19, 21-22
- Most Christians believe that the disciples didn’t receive the Holy Ghost until the day of Pentecost, yet here on the first day of the week, also known as “the third day” when Jesus arose from the dead, he gave them the Holy Ghost so that through the spirit they would receive God’s commandments. Through the Spirit, they purged themselves of sin to make room for God. You can see here that the Holy Ghost became Jesus’ method of communication with the Apostles after he ascended to heaven- and before the Pentecost when they would be “baptized” with the Spirit:
“Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen” ~ Acts 1:2
In summary, you can see that the Feast of Unleavened Bread foreshadowed the casting out of sin (disobedience of God’s law) from our hearts, and our sanctification after the death of Christ. This occurred with the original Apostles, and today we celebrate this feast in remembrance of God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt with power and might, and our sanctification to God by purging ourselves of sin through the death of our Savior and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is good to diligently look to this feast as a serious time of purging our lives from any sin that may have crept in over the prior year, and rededicating our life to obedience to God and his will, just as the Kings of the Old Testament sanctified the kingdom. Remember that the command of the feast was to last “forever” throughout our generations. We have not yet reached the end of forever. We can conclude with the words of Paul:
“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: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7-8