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Chapter 55

 

“The Feast of Unleavened Bread”

 

“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)

 

In Leviticus 23 God the Holy Ghost gives us Jehovah’s instructions to Moses and to Israel about the seven annual feasts, or “holy convocations,” he required the children of Israel to keep throughout their generations.

1.    The Feast of Passover

2.    The Feast of Unleavened Bread

3.    The Feast of Firstfruits

4.    The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

5.    The Feast of Trumpets

6.    The Feast of Atonement

7.    The Feast of Tabernacles

 

            These “holy convocations” are called “the feasts of the Lord” because they were feasts of worship required by the Lord, feasts of worship by which men and women symbolically came to the Lord; and (primarily) they were feasts of worship that portrayed and typified the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation we have in him.

 

            These were material, carnal feasts; but they pointed to that which is altogether spiritual. We no longer keep the material, carnal feasts; but all who believe God, all who are born from above, all the Israel of God keep these feasts spiritually and continually in the exercise of faith in Christ.

 

Sabbath Rest

 

This chapter begins with instructions about the keeping of the sabbath (v. 3). This, of course, speaks of the blessed rest of faith in Christ. When sinners come to God by faith in Christ, they cease from their works of self-righteousness and find rest in Christ’s finished work as our all-sufficient, all-glorious Substitute (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:9-11). Christ is our Sabbath. We keep the sabbath by faith in him. — “He that is entered into is rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).

 

The Lord’s Passover

 

In verses 4 and 5 we are given instructions about the feast of passover, which portrayed Christ our Passover, who is sacrificed for us. The only way sinners can ever find rest in their souls, the only way we can find peace with God is by the sin-atoning blood and substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

 

            Come, now, to Christ. Come to God by faith in his Son, confessing your sin, trusting Christ alone for righteousness, redemption, and acceptance with God, and you shall find rest for your soul. Oh, may God grant you grace to trust his Son!

 

The Feast Of Unleavened Bread

 

In verses 6-8 the subject is the feast of unleavened bread. Be sure you do not miss the very close connection between the feast of unleavened bread and the feast of passover. The feast of passover was to be kept on the 14th day of the month of Abib (the first month of the Jewish calendar). The feast of unleavened Bread began the very next day, on the 15th day of the month.

 

            There is a reason for this. The two feasts refer to two things that can never be separated: — the death of Christ in the room and stead of his people and the deliverance of his people.

 

            The feast of unleavened bread was a continuation of the feast of passover. In fact, the New Testament frequently uses the terms unleavened bread and passover as synonyms of one another (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:1, 7).

 

            The passover portrayed the cause of deliverance. The feast of unleavened bread portrayed the experience and the effects of deliverance. The passover was a picture of redemption and pardon by the blood of Christ. The feast of unleavened bread portrayed the believer’s life of faith in Christ and our experience of grace in this world. The Holy Spirit makes this crystal clear in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.

 

“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.”

 

            Paul’s exhortation here is often applied to the observance of the Lord’s Supper. But that is not what Paul is referring to when he says, “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.” We know this does not refer to the Lord’s Supper precisely because Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11 that the Lord’s Supper is not a feast. It is a remembrance of redemption and has connection with the Jews’ passover and the feast of unleavened bread, in the sense that the Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of that which those Old Testament ceremonies typified, the sacrifice of Christ and our salvation by him. But the connection ends there.

 

            When Paul says, “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,” he is telling us that since Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us and we are “unleavened” in him, we are to spiritually keep the feast of unleavened bread in sincerity and truth, by faith in Christ.

 

            When God the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen those blessed words, “ye are unleavened,” this is what he meant for us to understand. — Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are pure, holy, and righteous. — “In him is no sin.” Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. We are redeemed by his precious blood. He has, by himself, purged our sins by his sin-atoning sacrifice.

 

            We are by him, in him, and with him “unleavened,” because we are now new creatures in Christ. By the new birth, we have been “made partakers of the divine nature,” and have in us that “new man created in righteousness and true holiness” which cannot sin. We have been made the righteousness of God in him.

 

            We keep the feast of unleavened bread, not one week a year, but spiritually, “in sincerity and truth,” living by faith in Christ, feeding upon him. The feast of unleavened bread pictures faith in Christ, eating his flesh and drinking his blood (John 6:53-56). We must have a whole unleavened Savior for salvation. Christ is our whole Savior. Anything of ours mingled with his pure and perfect sacrifice would pollute it. We feed upon him alone.

 

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

 

            The feast of unleavened bread began the next day after the Passover was ended. So, too, the gift of life and faith in Christ follows the accomplishments of Christ at Calvary. All who were redeemed by blood shall be made to live and feed upon Christ at God’s appointed time (Galatians 3:13-14). Feasting upon our crucified Redeemer, we glory in him and glorify him (Galatians 6:14-15; Philippians 3:3).

 

Five Aspects

 

Leviticus 23:6-8 gives the five specific words of instruction given about the feast of unleavened bread.

 

  1. The feast began with a sabbath day observance, portraying the rest of faith.
  2. No servile work was to be done. This cessation of work was to be maintained throughout the seven days of the feast. No works of our own could ever bring us to God. And we must never look upon our works as in anyway commending us to God now.
  3. Throughout the feasts, every day an offering made by fire was to be brought to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).
  4. The feast of unleavened bread lasted for seven days. The number 7 represents grace, perfection, and fulness. Here it speaks particularly of the full age of a man, the whole span of our lives in this world.
  5. The feast ended with another sabbath day observance, portraying the rest of heavenly glory.

 

            How does all of this apply to us? The Apostle Paul tells us to keep this feast. But how are we to keep this feast? Spiritually, of course. But how do we keep it spiritually? The feast of unleavened bread typified and represented the life of faith, the believer’s whole experience of grace in this world.

 

            It begins with the experience of deliverance from the curse of the law by the blood of Christ. Everything in our experience of grace is based upon and arises from the sin-atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot worship God, we cannot come to God, we cannot have peace with God, except upon the ground of Christ’s sacrifice as our Substitute. Once we have received the atonement by faith in Christ, we enter into the blessed sabbath of faith, cease from our own works, and find rest in Christ.

 

            Resting in Christ, being accepted in the Beloved, we are unleavened, without sin, before God, because “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). But Israel’s redemption did not stop with deliverance from Egypt. It continued until Joshua brought them into the possession of Canaan. And our redemption is more than just deliverance from the curse of the law. It is also deliverance from our vain conversation, our vain, empty, meaningless way of life (1 Peter 1:18), as well as from our state of condemnation and death (Titus 2:14).

 

            We keep the feast of unleavened bread as those who stand before God as unleavened in Christ. Being received in Christ, by virtue of his blood, we feed on and apprehend the unleavened perfection that is ours in him. — “As he is so are we in this world.” Yet, we are required to put away the old leaven, that we may keep the feast.

 

“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)

 

            Two Sabbaths were always involved, plus the weekly sabbath. It didn’t make any difference on which days of the week they fell. It was the day of the month which counted. It began on the fifteenth day, lasted seven days, then ended. This feast, like the feast of passover, looked back to Egypt to the command God gave in Exodus 12 that the Israelites purge all leaven from their houses. To this day orthodox Jews meticulously do this in preparation for the Passover season.

 

Constant Purging

 

In this life of faith, we must constantly purge out the old leaven of malice and wickedness. Obviously, all who are born of God know that we cannot, so long as we live in this world, purge sin from our lives.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

 

            Yet, it is our responsibility and our hearts’ desire to put away sin, to put off the old man, to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly lusts, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what Paul is talking about when he says, “purge out the old leaven” (1 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 4:21-24).

 

            Leaven comes in many forms. It is yeast. It is a symbol of that which tends to puff us up. That is what yeast does in bread. It makes it swell. And there is something at work in us, God says, which makes us swell up, something that puffs us up. Someone once said, “The strangest thing about the human body is that when you pat a person on the back, the head swells up.”

 

            Why is that? It is because there is a principle at work in us constantly driving us to be self-sufficient. One of the earliest struggles we have with our children is in this area. Who has not had a child push him away saying, “I can do it myself”?

 

            We don’t want any help. We don’t even like to tell people our problems, to let them know that we are not sufficient in ourselves. We all have this tendency within us to want to protect our image and to look as if we’ve got it made and don’t need help. And if someone makes us mad by offering aid, we tell them so. That is leaven. It comes in many forms.

 

            Our Savior often spoke of leaven. He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Nothing swells a man like the hypocrisy of self-righteousness.

 

            The Master also warned us to beware of the leaven of the Sadducees, which was rationalism and self-sufficiency, the denial of the supernatural, the proud assumption that everything can be explained in terms of what you can see, taste, touch, smell, and feel, that there is no power beyond man and that man is sufficient of himself, the proud assumption that we do not need God, do not need grace, and do not need a Savior (Matthew 16:5-12).

 

            The doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, though expressed with dogmatically maintained distinctions, is one doctrine. — Self-salvation! Legalism, Rationalism, Gnosticism, Freewillism, and Decisionism, Romanism, Campbellism, Mormonism, Russellism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Mohammedanism are all essentially the same. They all teach self-salvation, salvation dependent upon and determined by man.

 

            Our Lord warns us, too, of the leaven of the Herodians (Mark 8:14-21), who were materialists. They lived for pleasure, for comfort and luxury, and for status and prestige. The Herodians lived to be seen, recognized, and applauded by men.

 

             Paul tells us to keep the feast without the leaven of malice, that is without that natural, sinful, proud self-love that makes other people contemptible and disposable to us. He also tells us to keep it without the leaven of wickedness. The leaven of wickedness refers specifically to those sensual lusts of our hearts that are reflected in ungodly attitude and behavior (Ephesians 4:17-5:21).

 

            If we would worship and serve God our Savior, we must put away the old leaven of malice and wickedness, materialism, self-sufficiency, and hypocrisy. In other words, we must cease to live for ourselves, after the lusts of our flesh and live for God.

 

            Perhaps you are thinking, “How can anyone be expected to do that? It makes for good, pious sounding religious talk; but surely no one is really expected to live like that.” — Not so! Indeed, this is not only what is expected, it is normal, everyday Christianity.

 

Constant Offering

 

You see, the keeping of the feast of unleavened bread involved a daily offering of fire unto the Lord for seven days. — “Ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days” (vv. 7-8). The life of faith, true Christianity, is a continual offering made by fire unto the Lord. It involves the constant giving up of ourselves to our Savior.

 

            To trust Christ is to cease from all servile work for acceptance with God. There is no faith in Christ where there is no denunciation of all personal righteousness.

 

“Not the righteous, not the righteous,

Sinners Jesus came to call!”

 

            Faith in Christ is the giving up of my life to him, the surrender of lordship over myself to Christ as my Lord (Mark 8:34-35: Luke 14:26-33). This voluntary, continual, lifelong surrender of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ is the most reasonable thing in the world to the believing heart (Romans 11:33-12:2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20).

 

Continual Feast

 

Living in this world by faith, this life of faith in Christ is portrayed as a continual eating of unleavened bread, a continual feast of unleavened bread. Without question the feast of unleavened bread speaks of our continual feast of faith, feeding upon Christ the Bread of Life, that Manna which came down from heaven. In Deuteronomy 16:3, this unleavened bread is called “the bread of affliction.” — Why? It is thick and heavy, hard to digest, unsavory, and unappealing.

 

            Certainly all those things are true. But there is more to this than the physical characteristics of unleavened bread. It is here called “the bread of affliction,” because it represents the same thing as was represented in the bitter herbs with which the passover lamb was to be eaten.

 

            The believer’s life, the life of faith, so long as we live in this world is eating “the bread of affliction.” This does not refer to outward, providential affliction, but to inward grace, the affliction of our souls. That’s it. That is what it is to keep the feast of unleavened bread. It is continually eating “the bread of affliction.”

 

            Yes, we rejoice in Christ. We live in this world in the joy of faith. This is not the bread of doubt and despair, but “the bread of affliction.” It is bread we delight to eat. But it is heavy and hard to digest. It is the very bread of life to our souls. But it is still “the bread of affliction.” We eat “the bread of affliction” when we cease from all legal works and legal hopes before God.

 

            We eat “the bread of affliction” when we, under the weight of Holy Ghost conviction, confess our sin with mournful hearts. There is more to this than the remembrance of our sins, more than looking to the hole of the pit from whence we were digged. To eat “the bread of affliction,” this keeping of the feast of unleavened bread, involves the unceasing, growing, bitter-sweet remembrance of the price of our ransom. It begins in conversion, but continues throughout our days in this world (Zechariah 12:10; Philippians 3:10; Galatians 6:14).

 

            Nothing is so humbling as the realization of the cost of our redemption, the sacrifice of Christ. Nothing produces contrition before God like the cross. Nothing produces consecration of heart like Christ crucified. Nothing produces sincerity and reflects truth like this.

 

Another Sabbath

 

At the end of the feast of unleavened bread, the Jews kept another sabbath. The feast began with sabbath observance and ended with sabbath observance. So it is with us. — Soon we will eat the bread of affliction no more, and there shall be another sabbath (Revelation 14:13; 21:4-5). — Our gospel feast of unleavened bread began with the sabbath rest of faith in Christ. And it shall end with the blessed sabbath rest of eternal heavenly glory with Christ.

 

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

 

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:4-5)

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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