The Feast of Unleavened Bread
This is perhaps one of the most unrecognized feasts on the biblical calendar among Gentile believers. However, this particular feast reveals to us something significant in the life of the individual believer, as well as the global Church, that will help us understand the completed work of Christ and the distinction of His Passover meal.
The biblical calendar begins with Passover, which is celebrated in the Spring. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is very much a part of Passover and is celebrated for seven days. Why unleavened bread, you may ask? That is a very good question, and that is precisely the question that is going to reveal the potency of its prophetic message.
In this post we’re going to discover why and how the Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated and what it means for the believer. We’ll visit the traditional observance, its prophetic fulfillment , and how we can apply it to our lives today as we celebrate.
The Biblical Significance of Bread
Bread is one of the staple foods in Israel. It’s spoken of prolifically in both testaments. Bread represents life and sustenance at the most basic levels both physically and spiritually. One may survive without meat, but to survive without bread was not possible. Christ spoke of His bread as doing the perfect will of His Father in heaven. Bread was multiplied in the loaves that fed the five thousand. Jesus spoke of Himself as the bread from heaven. Christ spoke frequently of wheat in reference to the true believers who would be gathered into His barn. He also referenced the fields being white for harvest, which is characteristic of ripened wheat – a staple food from which bread was made. In the Old Testament it is no less frequently mentioned. Israel’s salvation in the time of famine happened through a strategic harvesting and storage of grain, which God revealed as sheaves of wheat in Joseph’s prophetic dream. That dream came to pass when Joseph was given charge over all of Egypt through a stewardship that saved Israel and all surrounding regions through a rationing of wheat. Again, Israel was saved in the wilderness with the manna (bread) from heaven. Traditionally, a ‘breaking of bread’ was done ceremonially between those who made covenants of friendship. In this way relationships were established as sacred and binding. So we see, that for Israel, the ability to harvest grain and bake bread, which was leavened with yeast, sustained their lives all year throughout the seasons. Therefore, when we find Christ breaking bread with His disciples at the Passover meal, let us understand its significance. This was no ordinary bread. It was unleavened bread.
The Biblical Significance of Yeast
Unleavened bread is free of yeast, a leavening agent, which is obviously still used today. What many may not realize is that yeast is actually a living organism. Its official name is Candida Albicans which is a fungus that reproduces rapidly in the presence of moisture, warmth, and sugar. Yeast produces ethyl alcohol and other toxic bi-products which can actually be harmful and even cause death at the cellular level (hence the dangers in alcohol). As an RN I can tell you that when yeast is left unchecked, it multiplies out of control and is often the cause of skin infections and other systemic maladies in compromised immune systems. Systemic yeast can be an underlying cause to other chronic problems. It’s manifestations are numerous and often vague, which may remain undetected or misdiagnosed for this very reason. Cells that are directly presented to the bi-products of yeast die. The body works very hard to metabolize these bi-products into harmless metabolites. Yet when a threshold is reached, as with alcohol, the damage caused is permanent cell death.
Yeast spreads like wildfire when given the proper conditions. A little goes a long, long way. Therefore, within a home where bread is prepared daily, yeast spores can become virulent and abundant very quickly.
Aside from adding flavor, yeast is mainly used because it causes bread to ‘increase’. However, this increase in the bread’s size is not a true multiplication of grain or flour. It’s merely a ‘puffing up’ in appearance only. This puffing up has no genuine substance whatsoever. It adds absolutely nothing to the original product. The Apostle Paul speaks of yeast in reference to keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread in this way:
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the LORD will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (1 Corinthians 4:18-21, KJV).
And yet he says more. At this juncture it’s important to understand the context. These same individuals who are so arrogantly contesting Paul’s authenticity are also committing glaring acts of incestuous fornication. So let us be fully aware of what we read within the context here. We find Paul using a very applicable reference to yeast, or leaven, which represents sin in the body of Christ. He goes on…
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge 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 5:1-8, KJV, emphasis mine).
Paul is not speaking to Jews. He is speaking to the Corinthian church – a congregation of Gentile believers, in which he vehemently urges them to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, reminding them that it has already been fulfilled in Christ our Passover Lamb. We see his reference to them as ‘unleavened’. Therefore, let us understand that yeast represents sin – both in the life of the individual, as well as the corporate Body of Christ.
Christ Jesus further illustrates the effect of yeast when He spoke of the Sadducees and Pharisees:
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, (Matthew 16:1-6, KJV).
It is important to note here that the Pharisees and Sadducees were the only people Christ ever condemned to hell – and He condemned them openly. Over no other sinner did He ever declare such condemnation. Throughout the Gospel accounts we find an abundance of mercy displayed by our LORD toward the sinner that preferred to see the beauty and value of those who were lost to sin’s plague of death. In Matthew 23 Christ clearly delineates the sins of the Pharisees in a series of vehement “woes” (eight to be exact), condemning them to their faces in a public contest that ended in their humiliation. Therefore, let us understand that once again, their ‘yeast’ of which He warns us to ‘take heed’ and ‘beware’ is the sin of pride and hypocrisy. It is worth noting that Christ referred to them as ‘serpents’, ‘hypocrites’, ‘fools’, and ‘blind’.
When we celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we are celebrating not just the covering of our sin as under the old covenant, but the entire removal of it from our lives according to the new covenant which Christ established. When Christ fulfilled Passover, He also fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread in which sin – spiritual yeast – was entirely destroyed and eradicated.
Sin likes to spread and multiply, and it does so quite easily. When we allow sin into our lives we must remember that its very nature is a virulent one. Yeast is therefore an excellent representation of how sin proliferates, and the death it accomplishes.
It is an accurate statement to say that removing physical yeast from a household was no easy task, even as it is no easy task to spiritually remove the sin from our lives. In this way we see a direct connection to our LORD’s beautiful Passover sacrifice which was so necessary for our cleansing from sin. He was the pure, unblemished Lamb of God who gave His life for the sin of this world through whom all spiritual ‘yeast’ was removed.
Yet before Passover could be properly fulfilled, a time of intense preparation was necessary – and that was the strict removal of all yeast from every household. Jewish families spent days, even weeks, in tedious preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began the day after Passover. During this time of preparation they would make diligent search, sweeping their homes in search of hidden yeast. Taking a feather and a lit candle they would scour every nook and cranny, collecting crumbs that would later be burned.
Unlike other feasts, this feast was introduced prior to the Law of Moses when the children of Israel were still in Egypt. It is an extension of Passover, lasting seven days (seven being the number of completion).
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 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 a 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 12:11-19, KJV).
And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual, (Exodus 12:39, KJV).
It is through the Feast of Unleavened Bread that we see a purification and cleansing of all sin – even that which is hidden. And so we see that Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were not instituted in the Law of Moses – because the salvation and sanctification which they represent came by grace and mercy.
Passover represents our salvation in Christ.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents our sanctification in Christ.
Both of which came to us by grace – apart from the Law.
Unlike the other feasts we have discussed so far, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread have already been fulfilled by Christ Jesus. He was the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, and He is the Unleavened Bread from Heaven, given for all mankind. His body saw no decay of sin, and He was raised to life… which brings us to our next feast which He so beautifully fulfilled: The Feast of Firstfruits.
Your Personal Celebration
The Passover Seder (a.k.a. The Last Supper) which Christ privately ate with His disciples was one without yeast. The bread He broke to establish the covenant in His flesh was indeed unleavened. The wine they drank which represented his shed blood was not fermented. Their homes were cleansed and purged of all yeast, and for the next seven days they would eat unleavened bread. In His death Christ Jesus was our perfect, sinless Lamb of God, without stain or blemish. He was also our Unleavened Bread from Heaven which knew no decay.
As you celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread it is imperative that you understand what Christ accomplished regarding your sin:
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness… But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 6:14-18 & 22-23, KJV).
We still have a responsibility to search our homes (lives) and remove all yeast (sin). We do this through surrender to His indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who guides us into all truth. When we choose to serve Christ, His Spirit will diligently search our hearts and lives, revealing areas we need to repent and surrender to Him for purification (burning) in the refiner’s fire. As we surrender to Him a work of sanctification (the eradication of sin) takes place that can only be accomplished by His Spirit.
So although sin still exists, for the believer its power is broken. We are free. All who believe now have the power to freely choose righteousness and serve Christ. The power and dominion of sin has been destroyed. When we surrender our lives to Christ, He gives us the Unleavened Bread – the Bread of His Presence, which never perishes, upon which we may feast.
May the diligent searching of your life ever continue as you allow Christ to illuminate those areas that need to be cleansed, purified, and sanctified by Him, so you may serve Him freely.
Cheers & Shalom,