The Apple Of God's Eye

April 1, 2010

Days Of Unleavened Bread: More Than Mere Symbolism

Leaven pictured as sin

Leviticus 23 outlines part of God’s law, where we find commanded the holy days of God (v. 2).  Rehearsing these holy days (the Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day) reinforces understanding of God’s master plan of salvation. They are to be honored and observed for eternity.

God also directs us to remove all leavened products from our homes during the one week period of the Days of Unleavened Bread (D.U.B.) , and conversely to eat unleavened bread to remind us of the haste in which Israel fled Egypt. On the two Holy Days at the beginning and end of the festival, God forbids Christians to continue in regular work because attention is to be focused on Him. The days are holy and an offering is to be taken.

The D.U.B. teach us that we should strive for perfection in obedience to the law of God at all times(Leviticus 23:6-8). God’s law is extended through the New Testament to help Christians build character in their lives. Christ taught, “But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). If we are to enjoy eternal life in God’s Family, we must obey the law.

Biblical Symbolism

The symbolism of Israel’s perilous exodus from slavery to the promised land was not only used to teach them, but it is meant to benefit us today as we comprehend the spiritual lessons of their pilgrimage.

  1. In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, we see a connection between Egypt and sin. Revelation 11:8 also likens Egypt to sin.
  2. Following the analogy of Israel’s deliverance by godly intervention. Christians today also make their exodus by miraculous intervention.
  3. Pharaoh can be equated to Satan. Immediately as the Israelites embarked en route to Palestine, they were chased by Pharaoh. So too, for us today: the moment we forsake our sinful ways, Satan is hot on our heels trying to tempt us back into disobedience (I Pet. 5:8), and trying to bring us back into slavery (Rom. 6:16).

Just as the Israelites were miserable under conditions of slavery in Egypt, so have we suffered under the influence of Satan’s world, a world of misery, disillusionment, discouragement and frustration. Satan’s way of life is contrary to that of our promised land—the Kingdom of God.

So one lesson we learn is that we are on a journey away from the captivity of Satan and his system. The Israelites encountered a multitude of obstacles on their exodus, as we do. God tested ancient Israel to determine their commitment to His law. He knew they would not live up to this test because they lacked His Holy Spirit (Deut. 5:29), but their example is for us today (I Cor. 10:11). Along our journey, we are tested by God as He proves our heart (Heb. 12:6-7).

The primary lesson God was teaching ancient Israel, and is teaching us today, is to rely on Him for deliverance (Exod. 14:14). We are not capable of freeing ourselves; we need God to provide a way of escape. This is a promise and our only hope, as we remove every act of disobedience to God’s law from our lives.

Forsake sinful ways

The apostle Paul understood the Days of Unleavened Bread thoroughly and wrote extensively about the law of God. He rebuked the Corinthian church because they became puffed up with vanity as they presumed they were more converted and merciful than Paul (and even God), permitting a sinner to remain in their midst (I Cor. 5:1-2). Paul compared the actions of leaven to that of sin, noting that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (v. 6). The way to correct this problem? They were urged to take the leaven, or sin, out of their own lives. (vv. 7-8) They were to remove the sinful individual from their midst.

Paul used the analogy of leaven to powerfully picture sin in three ways:

  1. It Puffs Up -When you mix leavening agents with other ingredients, they create carbon dioxide and air. When you put leavening in bread dough and heat it, those gasses form bubbles that get trapped in the loaf, causing the product to rise. Likewise, sin puffs us up with vanity and selfish pride. Just like that bloating caused by leavening, sin causes us to lose godly perspective, and we become more and more inflated with ourselves—puffed up with the substance-less gasses of arrogance and self confidence. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 shows how tolerating sin caused the Corinthians to become puffed up.
  2. It’s Soft & Easy – Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is usually easier to eat than unleavened bread. Likewise, going the way of sin and this world is easier than living righteously, because we still have natures that want to sin (Romans 7:14-15). It is through the battle against sin that we develop the character of God-this is our part in God’s master plan. It continues all of our natural lives.
  3. It Spreads – When you put leaven in a lump of dough, you can’t see anything happening at first. But once it does its work, the whole loaf is leavened. Likewise, sin can start small—even invisibly—but it spreads. One sin leads to another. That is why we must put sin out completely! There is a danger in thinking we can handle just a little bit of spiritual leaven. The Apostle Paul said that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6). Sin not only spreads through our lives after it starts, but if tolerated, it can spread through an entire family or even a Church congregation, as it did with Corinth.

So there is a direct correlation to God’s people today. God commands that Christians physically remove all leaven from their lives to teach a spiritual lesson. Following the symbolism, we see that leaven is symbolic of sin (Matt. 16:6, 11-12; I Cor. 5:7-8). During this period, and honestly throughout the year, we must strive to remove sin from our lives.

Anti-law religions don’t understand this. But then God tells us that our ways are not His ways (Isa. 55:8-9). “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). This familiar scripture alone should drive us to desire God’s way.

Make Real Changes

The entirety of the Bible is full of examples and admonishments (read commands) for living according to the law of God. But it is not easy. In fact, Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Compounding the difficulty, true Christians have been purposefully left in this world to develop God’s character through a difficult calling (I Cor. 5:9-10; John 17:14-15). That is the same lesson ancient Israel should have learned.

God is looking for real change. We may fool ourselves and others around us, but God searches the heart (Rom. 8:27). He admonishes us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and to put Him first (Exod. 20:3). If we value anything connected with the carnal, mundane society of this evil age more than your opportunity to be born into His Kingdom, we will never inherit eternal life.

The D.U.B. powerfully point us to God’s Kingdom! True justice can only be accomplished through a perfect law (James 1:25). We must forsake our old ways of life (repent of our sinful ways), and come under the government of God, obey His commands to honor and observe the holy days as He commanded.

But true repentance is changing what we are, not just what we’ve done. God doesn’t care about sorrow. He only cares about repentance, not human sorrow or guilt. Change is repentance, followed by consistent obedience. Either we obey God or Satan. We are servant to whomever we yield ourselves. Our own righteousness is worthless. It is God’s mind we have to measure ourselves against, as sin is the transgression of God’s law. We can’t repent without the law of God.

The better we keep the DUB, the better our life will be. In short, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

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