"And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt [see Rock Of Ages]: therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as an ordinance for ever. In the first month [see Bible Months], on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, and so until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for if any one eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land." (Exodus 12:17-19 RSV)
The Passover marks the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread. What was the purpose of the seven-day observance?
- "Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand The Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten." (Exodus 13:3 RSV)
- "Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. And you shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what The Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt." (Exodus 13:7-8 RSV)
- "You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction - for you came out of the land of Egypt in hurried flight - that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days; nor shall any of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning." (Deuteronomy 16:3-4 RSV)
What relevance do the Days of Unleavened Bread have to Christians? The Feast of Unleavened bread memorialized Israel's deliverance from a life of slavery under Pharaoh after the slaying of the Passover lamb, but it also now represents the Christian's deliverance from a life of sin under Satan after the slaying of Jesus Christ, the "Lamb of God."
- "Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 RSV)
There was, and is, nothing wrong with eating things containing yeast at other times, but for the purpose of the Days of Unleavened Bread it was used as an symbol of sin. It was also sometimes used as a metaphor for sinful pride and hypocrisy:
- "How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:11-12 RSV)
God does nothing in vain. All of the Old Testament observances have Christian applications - that was their entire purpose, to preview what was to come in due time.
The Dual Meaning Of The God-Commanded Biblical Holy Days
The spring Holy Days symbolize the events related to the First Coming of Jesus Christ:
- Passover - The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay for the sins of all humanity. (Exodus 12:13, John 1:29) (see Passover In Egypt and The Lamb Of God)
- The Days of Unleavened Bread - the removal of sin from the lives of
converted, repentant people. (Exodus 12:15, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8) (see What Is Sin?)
- Pentecost - the "first fruits" harvest, the coming of God's Holy Spirit upon
conversion. (Leviticus 23:16-17, Acts 2:1-4) (see Pentecost and The Elect)
The autumn Holy Days symbolize the events related to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
- The Feast of Trumpets - The Return of Jesus Christ. (Leviticus 23:23-25,
Matthew 24:30-31) (see The Feast Of Trumpets and The Return Of Jesus Christ)
- The Day of Atonement - the final judgment and sentencing of Satan after his removal as "the god of this world." (Leviticus 23:26-32,
Revelation 20:10) (see The Day Of Atonement and The Lame Duck)
- The Feast of Tabernacles - the first 1,000 years after The Return of Christ
in which the harvest of salvation will truly begin. (Leviticus 23:33-36,
Revelation 20:2-4) (see King Of The Mountain)
- The Last Day - the 8th day of the Feast of Tabernacles picturing the
resurrection of all those who did not have an opportunity to hear (physically and/or spiritually) the Gospel
in all the ages prior to the millennium. (Leviticus 23:39, Revelation
20:5,11-15) (see What Happens When You Die? and The Last Day)
Fact Finder: Did the early Christian church continue to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
Acts 20:6 and 1 Corinthians 5:7-8