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The Feast Of Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:6-8



        When an engineer designs a suspension bridge, he has to keep in mind three important factors.  First, he must figure on the dead load, which is the weight of the structure itself.  Second, he must take into account the live load, or the amount of tonnage that the bridge will bear.  And third, he must allow for the wind load.  This is the stress that the superstructure can take from high wind velocities.

        God's marvelous salvation provides for three similar needs in our lives.  The "dead load" corresponds to the burden of sin which has been forgiven.  The "live load" is our need for daily cleansing which He provides in 1 John 1:7.  The "wind load" corresponds to those times when we have to endure unusual trials.  For these times we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:39).

        Today, I want to thank God for taking care of the "live load" in our lives, i.e. the need for daily cleansing.  And periodically removing from our lives anything that is defiling or corrupting, is very important to the concept of worship celebration.

        I am preaching a nine message series on the rudiments, skills, or principles of celebration.

  God has been showing me that humanity needs celebration.

  He has been showing me that celebration is a very important part of the Christian life!

  He has been showing me that celebration is of special significance and importance to African-American Christians.

        Life is a struggle for everybody, no matter what your color or nationality, but for African-American people life is even more of a struggle because of the residual effects of slavery.  We must face more than the average race in terms of subtle discrimination, economic reprisals, educational stereotyping, etc.  After we have been beat up and beat down all week; after we have struggled and striven to achieve life through material and earthly means, we need to take a break from the rat race and return to the human race by entering God's presence for a time of celebration.  The importance of celebration is illustrated in the Old Testament in Leviticus the 23rd chapter.

        Three messages ago, we began to deal with the eight feasts or festivals which God commanded Israel to celebrate.  These festivals were holy convocations, conventions, or celebrations which God invoked upon His people.  There is a major rudiment or skill which is taught in each festival, which will yield a principle that we can learn and apply to our own modern worship celebrations.

        In the first two messages, we covered the feast, or festival, of the Sabbath.  The major rudiment, skill, or principle of celebration that we covered was resting from our worldly labors.  In the last message, we studied the festival of the Passover.  The major rudiment of celebration that we covered was remembering what God had done.

(Let's move on to the next rudiment of celebration, which is found in verses Leviticus 23:6-8  Would you follow along silently, as I read out this out loud for us.  The next major rudiment of celebration is:)


The next festival of the Jews was the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  This festival was actually an extension of the Passover.  “The killing of the lamb was a single act, and the Passover was reckoned as a one-day feast, as was also the Feast of First-fruits, Pentecost, and the Atonement.  These one-day feasts all point to certain acts of Jehovah’s hand, certain definite transactions of His, perfect and complete in themselves, whereas those feasts which were of seven and eight-day continuance, point to the outcome of these acts, and their results in blessing to the people of God.

        Thus, while the Passover is the type of Christ’s death Godward, the seven-day feast of unleavened bread, points to the whole course and character of the believer’s life on earth, from the day of his conversion onward.  It speaks of communion with God based upon redemption, in holiness and truth.  The blood of Christ is the foundation of all true fellowship with God:  the Person of Christ,¾feeding on the Lamb slain¾the only means whereby such fellowship may be maintained; and holiness¾the putting away of (or removing of) the leaven¾the condition necessary for its enjoyment.”[1]

        Would you turn to Exodus 12:15-20.  Let me read this for us also.

(There are a number of features of this festival that teach about the celebratory rudiment of removing, i.e. removing sin.)

1.      "This day involved a great time of spring-cleaning.

No leaven was allowed within their dwellings.  It meant more than not eating leaven.  It was a matter of complete separation.  This, therefore, meant a great deal of activity for the woman.  Everything in the house had to be cleansed thoroughly.  The ceilings and walls were washed, floors and cupboards were scrubbed, corners were scoured, and every piece of furniture cleaned.  This included all the cooking utensils and ovens, things that had never been contaminated by leaven in the course of the year.  So thoroughly was this work done that the woman would have a pointed implement with which she would scrape out every crack or joint, impression or corner, any spot where during the year, a crumb of bread containing leaven might have settled.  The law was that no leaven should remain anywhere within their dwellings.  They carried out the law strictly to the letter.

        When the cleaning was complete, a member of the household would take pieces of leavened bread and tuck each piece in hiding places, somewhere around the house--a piece under a cushion, or on a ledge, or behind a vessel.  At the day's close, when the man of the house had returned from the fields and had partaken of his evening meal, and after the sun had set, there would take place in each home the ceremony known as the search for leaven.  Taking a lighted candle, a feather brush, and a wooden spoon, the father would search for the pieces of leavened bread which had been previously hidden.  The children, who had earlier taken note of where the bread had been placed, would help the father by telling him that he was getting hot and hotter, or cold and colder, as he advanced toward or retreated from the various pieces (a game with which many of us are acquainted).

        As he gathered each piece he would recite a prayer:

`Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and commanded us to remove the leaven.'

        He than wrapped the pieces in a cloth and said:

`All kinds of leaven that are in my possession which I have not observed nor removed, shall be null and counted as the dust of the earth.'

The next morning, with similar prayers, he burned the pieces.

        Having done all that was within their power to remove the leaven, they trusted God to annul or destroy anything they had accidentally missed.  They were now ready for the observance of the feast."[2]

        "The whole of this feast was to teach the people that they were to be disassociated from the old life.  They were keep themselves from the carnalities of the world around them.  They were a holy people separated to the Lord their God.  Leaven was a type of that world."[3]

        It is very interesting to track down the uses of leaven in the New Testament:

   In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, we find the leaven of malice and wickedness;

   In Luke 12:1, we find the leaven of hypocrisy;

   In Mark 8:15, we find the leaven of Herod, which was worldliness and compromise;

   In Matthew 16:6, we find the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees were legalists who lived to multiply the teachings of the law.  The Sadducees were modernists who didn't believe the Word of God;

   In Galatians 5:8-9, we find the leaven of false doctrine.

So, in general, leaven is a picture of sin and worldliness.  The power and pervasiveness of leaven is seen in

Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough."

This seems to have been a proverb which illustrated the pervasive impact of leaven.  It does not take a lot of leaven to leaven a whole loaf of bread, because a little leaven leavens the whole loaf.

        Sin, like leaven, is hidden and invisible to the eye, yet it permeates the entire loaf until the whole loaf has risen.  Sin, like leaven, will permeate and infect the whole person.  Therefore, if we hope to serve God or to participate in the New Testament worship celebrations which are held on Sundays, we must cleanse ourselves of ALL filthiness of the flesh.

        Perhaps, now, you can see why I entitled this rudiment removing?  All leaven, which is a picture of the world and sin, was to be removed from their dwellings.

        We are taught, very clearly in the New Testament, that unleavened bread pictures the Christian life:[4]

1 Corinthians 5:7ab, "Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened..."

        So, this corresponds very nicely with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

        As was stated in the first message, "These festivals make up God's calendar."[5]  Keep in mind that we are not counting the Sabbath, because even though it is a festival, it is of a different nature than the other seven.  God began His calendar with the shedding of blood during the Passover.  Unless you know Jesus Christ as your own Lamb, your Savior, these feasts will have no application to you.  You will miss out on the blessing of being God's guest simply because you have never put your faith in Jesus Christ."[6]

        "As surely as the feast of unleavened bread immediately followed the Passover and was, in fact, a part of it, so the life of sanctification, the life that is one of separation from the world, the flesh, and the devil, commences with our salvation and should continue for the remainder of life's journey on earth, inasmuch as the period of seven days is the symbol of the complete life."[7]  Although sanctification is not the inevitable outcome of salvation, we can see from all that we have studied so far that it is the logical, spiritual, biblically expected outcome of salvation.

        The lesson here is clear:  before they could offer their sacrifices, they had to separate themselves from the old life and the carnalities of this world.

       As a part of any celebration and before we can offer the perfect sacrifice of praise to God, we must separate ourselves from sin, selfishness, the old life, and the carnalities of this world."[8]

·        You can’t watch TV all night Saturday night and expect to worship God on Sunday Morning.

·        You can’t harbor anger, bitterness, envy, etc., in your heart and expect to worship God on Sunday Morning.

·        You can’t lie, cheat, steal, swindle, double-cross, and expect to praise God on Sunday Morning.

·        You can’t smoke, drink, overeat, go without sleep and exercise, and then expect to have celebration on Sunday Morning.

·        Removing sin from our lives follows redemption and precedes rejoicing.

        In order to remove sin, you have to see sin.  Your ability to see sin is dependent upon your knowledge of yourself.  Your knowledge of yourself should not be based upon self-examination or introspection.  Why?  Because the heart is desparately wicked!  Who can know it?  Your knowledge of yourself should be based on the knowledge of God.  The knowledge of God comes from the light of the Holy Spirit shining in your innermost being!!!  David said it best in

Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

        "We have stated a couple of times that these eight feasts are God's calendar of events which shall come upon the world.  They are also a picture of elements of salvation.  The Sabbath denotes thanking God for creation.  The Passover deals with redemption (the blood is shed and the blood is applied).  That brings us to the present festival, which denotes cleansing and preparing to live the Christian life.  First we are created and ought to give thanks to God for that natural creation.  "Then we are saved from bondage and death, and then we are strengthened to live for the Lord.  From a salvific perspective, First the judgment is removed, and then we, in obedience to the Lord, remove sin from our lives.  Redemption should lead to reformation and renewal."[9] Our lives should be changed and renewed, after we have been saved!  The things that we used to do, we don’t do any more!

(Let’s move to the next major feature of this festival.)

2.      No foreigner could participate in this festival.

"Moses makes it very clear (Exodus 12:43-51) that no foreigner could participate in the feast.  In other words, the Egyptians were not allowed to eat of this feast.  No matter how wise, how well educated, how rich, no outsiders were permitted to eat of this feast.  Only God's people could share in this feast.  It was not a matter of morality, it was a matter of birth.  If you were born into the nation of Israel, you were privileged to share in this feast.  A servant who was purchased by money could share in the feast provided he had been circumcised; that is, he belonged to the Covenant.

        The strangers and the outsiders (the foreigners) were not permitted to eat of this feast.  And this is true today!  Those who are outside the family of God, who have never trusted in Jesus Christ, cannot participate in His life and cannot feed on Him.  Those who have not been purchased by His blood, those who have not been marked by God--who do not have the Holy Spirit of God in their lives--cannot feed on Christ.  They are excluded from the feast."[10]  Physically they should not participate in the festival of celebration, and spiritually they cannot.  Unsaved people should not be allowed to lead the celebration service in any way.  Those who have not consecrated themselves unto God by removing all known sin from their lives, likewise, should not lead in the celebration service in any way.

(Another feature of this particular festival is the fact that:)

3.      They ate this feast as pilgrims.

Notice in Exodus 12:11, that "They ate this feast as pilgrims.  They were ready to be called out at any minute.  Egypt was not their home.  Egypt was a place of bondage, a place where they were under the sentence of condemnation.  Israel was destined for the Promised Land.  That was their real home.  They ate this feast as pilgrims who were ready to be called out at God's command.

        You and I must live the Christian life as those who may be called out at any minute."[11]  We don't know when we will die.  We don't know the day nor the hour of Christ's return.  This is not our home, so we don’t treat it like our home.  Therefore, we live in the light of eternity!  We are ready for Jesus to come.  We constantly look for that blessed hope of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!!!

(Let’s look at one final feature of this feast.)

4.      The food of this festival or feast.

(I would like to draw your attention to three things with respect to the food of this festival.)

1)      Notice that "They ate the Lamb.

They were not saved by eating the Lamb.  They were saved by applying the blood.”[12]

        Even though we have had the blood applied to our lives and are saved, to make this tedious journey we must feed upon the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!!!  “Some Christians do not take time daily to feed on Jesus Christ, so they are missing a lot."[13]  We have the privilege of daily feeding on the sustaining flesh of Jesus Christ.  Why would we neglect this great privilege?

“Thus we learn that the saint’s communion is based on redemption, sustained by feeding on Christ, and maintained in holiness and separation from evil.  These are principles of eternal value, unchangeable as the character of God.”[14]

        "This lamb, you will notice, was roasted with fire.  This speaks of the judgment of Calvary.  They did not eat the lamb raw.  People talk about the life of Jesus, the example of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus, but they don't mention the death of Jesus.  They don't want the cross.  But that is trying to eat Christ raw.  The lamb has to go through the fire, and Jesus Christ had to go through the fire of judgment for us.

        They ate all of the lamb.  Anything that was left over was to be burned in fire.  We need the whole Savior.  We need all of the Lord Jesus--His perfect life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension.

        Everybody had their own particular capacity (Exodus 12:4).  Not every Christian has the same appetite.  Some saints are so filled up with worldly things, they've lost their appetite for the Lord Jesus.  But some believers so love the Lord Jesus that they feed on Him moment by moment.

2.      They also ate bitter herbs.

This reminded them of their suffering in Egypt.  Alas, too often the Jews forgot.

        We are not supposed to remember our past sins--they have been taken care of and God has forgotten them--but don't ever forget what your life was like before you met the Lord Jesus.  The next time you think God has been hard on you and the Christian life is too difficult, just remember that you once were in bondage to sin and the Lord Jesus delivered you."[15]

3.      They also ate unleavened bread.

The unleavened bread pictured the sinless life of Jesus Christ.  We must partake of His sinless life and let Him live that sinless life through us, if we hope to properly celebrate this festival.

        "They ate these foods because they needed strength and nourishment for the journey.  You and I are pilgrims on the way to glory (1 Peter 2:11).[16]  We cannot make this journey on our own.  We will die in the wilderness, if we do not partake of the life of Jesus Christ through the Word of God, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, with the proper attitude!!!

        Finally, notice that "The Christian life is a feast or festival.  It is not a famine or a fast or a funeral."[17]

        So, I pray that you can see the importance of celebration to humanity, to the Children of Israel, to the New Testament local church, and to African-American Christians in particular.  I pray that you see the importance of celebrating what God has done for us.  I pray that you will become familiar with the rudiments of celebration, which are resting from worldly labors, remembering God's deliverance, and removing sin, the flesh, and the world from our midst.

Celebration adds vibrancy to life!

Celebration adds meaning to life!!

Celebration adds dignity to life!!!

O come and magnify the Lord with me in joyous celebration through giving, singing, teaching, preaching, praise, etc., with reverence, awe, excitement, festivity, and thanksgiving!!!

(Now is the day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)


Call to Discipleship


[1]John Ritchie, Feasts Of Jehovah, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, pp. 33-34.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 95-96.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 96-97.

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 23.

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 7.

[6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 9.

[7] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 98-99.

[8] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 23.

[9] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 23.

[10] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 23-24.

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 25.

[12] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 27-29.

[13] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 27-29.

[14]John Ritchie, Feasts Of Jehovah, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, p. 35.

[15] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 27-29.

[16] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, pp. 27-29.

[17] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 31.

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