In the previous lesson, we saw that Christ’s sacrifice, depicted by the Passover, was the beginning of God’s Master Plan of Salvation. Professing Christianity claims that upon acceptance of that sacrifice, the only remaining obligation is to “just believe.” Although genuine belief is crucial, there is much more to do in order to qualify for eternal life.
The sacrifice of Christ is what covers the sins of those who truly repent. The definition of sin is found in I John 3:4: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” In order to truly repent of sin, one has to stop breaking the Law of God—the Ten Commandments. Christ’s own words in this regard are “…if you will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). Once someone has come under the blood of Christ, having been forgiven of past sins, he has the opportunity for a new start.
The very process of coming out of sin is what true Christians must do once their slate has been wiped clean. Even before coming under the sacrifice of Christ, there has to be an acknowledgement and regret of having sinned as a way of life. The process of coming out of sin is not instantaneous—it requires many years of overcoming and character building. This second step of God’s plan is pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread, which typify putting sin out of our lives.
This lesson will examine the origin and meaning of these days.
The Days of Unleavened Bread
(1) Can valuable lessons be learned from the experiences of ancient Israel as they came out of Egypt? Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:1, 5, 11.
(2) In review of the Passover, was the lamb to be eaten at a designated time and was a memorial of this event to be observed at that precise time on an annual basis? Exodus 12:6, 11, 14.
(3) In the wake of the Passover, was Israel commanded to do more? Exodus 12:15-16.
Comment: The first Day of Unleavened Bread immediately followed the Passover. There were seven days of Unleavened Bread, in which the first and seventh days were holy, requiring a convocation or gathering and an offering to be presented to God.
(4) Were the Days of Unleavened Bread only to be kept for a limited time? Exodus 12:17.
(5) What did God further explain had to be done during these seven days? Exodus 13:6-10; Deuteronomy 16:3-4.
Comment: Leaven had to be put out of the Israelites’ homes and away from their property. They were to instruct the following generations about what had happened in Egypt during that time. God’s people were commanded to eat unleavened bread for the entire seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Christ and the Apostles Kept the Days of Unleavened Bread
(1) Did the parents of Jesus Christ keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread? Luke 2:41-43.
Comment: Verse 43 states, “when they had fulfilled the days,” which meant the Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
(2) Did Christ observe the Days of Unleavened Bread as an adult? Mark 14:1-2, 12-16.
Comment: Verses 1-2 pertain to the planning of Christ’s enemies to arrest Him. They were well aware that He would be observing the Days of Unleavened Bread. Verses 12-16 show how Christ directed His disciples in arranging for the Passover meal. Passover was observed prior to these days. The same God who commanded Passover to be kept forever also commanded that the Days of Unleavened Bread be kept forever.
Even though the Passover meal required unleavened bread, Passover was not a time of unleavened bread. Although leavened bread could be eaten on this day, by this day’s end, all leaven had to be put out in order to enter the First Day of Unleavened Bread as commanded. The Jews at Christ’s time wrongly counted Passover as a time of unleavened bread (see Mark 14:12).
(3) Did the apostles observe the Days of Unleavened Bread after Christ’s death and resurrection? Acts 12:3; 20:6.
Comment: As the writer of the book of Acts, Luke (Acts 12:3) used this reference as an event that was observed by the true Church. Likewise, this timeframe was used again as Luke was later traveling with Paul in Asia Minor (Acts 20:6).
(4) Does the Bible contain any explicit command to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread? I Corinthians 5:7-8.
Comment: Paul was expressing that as Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, we should proceed to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The central meaning of leavening will be discussed in more detail below.
Symbols That Typified Sin
(1) Does Scripture refer to Egypt as being a symbol of sin? Revelation 11:8; Hebrews 11:24-27.
Comment: In Revelation 11:8, the great city (referring to Jerusalem; see also Rev. 16:19) in its sinful state was spiritually compared to Sodom and Egypt. In Hebrews 11:24-27, we find that Moses rejected the pleasures of sin that Egypt had to offer—choosing to obey God and suffer along with His people, while looking beyond the attraction of this temporary evil world.
(2) How was Israel treated in Egypt? Exodus 1:11, 13-14; 2:23.
Comment: All the world has likewise suffered in the bondage of sin, since the time of Adam.
(3) Are those called of God admonished to resist this present evil world and the sin it promotes? I John 2:15-17; Hebrews 12:1-4.
Comment: Resisting and turning from sin in this world requires diligence and sustained effort.
(4) Why did God command Israel not to eat leavened bread (or leaven in any food) during the Days of Unleavened Bread? Exodus 12:15, 20.
Comment: A leavening agent causes bread to rise or become puffed up.
(5) What is wrong with a person being “puffed up”? I Corinthians 5:2, 13:4; Colossians 2:18.
Comment: “Puffed up” is a condition of self-exaltation or pride that comes from a sinful or defiant attitude. It is clear that a “puffed up” condition results from sin. Just as bread rises as the result of containing leaven, men are “puffed up” as a result of sin. Note that it was permissible to eat leavened bread at any other time outside of these days.
Israel Comes Out of Egypt
(1) When and where did Israel begin their exodus out of Egypt? Was Israel very joyous and excited upon first leaving Egypt? Numbers 33:3; Deuteronomy 16:1.
Comment: Rameses was located in Goshen, where the Israelites lived. After having approached the Egyptians on Passover day to “borrow” (Ex. 11:2) treasures from them (actually to receive the fair wages they were never paid as slaves), they assembled on the night beginning the 15th of Abib. This was the “Night to be Much Observed” as the cloud first formed over the Israelites, providing light by night and shade by day (Ex. 12:42; 13:21-22). Soon after gathering and organizing according to tribes, they began their journey. Israel disembarked that night and continued traveling through the next day.
(2) To where did Israel go from Rameses? Numbers 33:5.
Comment: They traveled on the route called “Way of the Red Sea” until reaching a point near Succoth (a name which means “temporary dwellings” or “tents”). On the following morning, they proceeded to the next campsite.
(3) What was Israel’s next destination after Succoth? Numbers 33:6.
Comment: They continued eastward on the Way of the Red Sea until reaching Etham. Etham was located on this major travel route near the eastern edge of Egypt where the wilderness began.
(4) Where did God instruct Israel to go from Etham? Exodus 14:1-2, Numbers 33:7.
Comment: The logical way out of Egypt was to continue straight ahead to the east, but at this point, God instructed Israel to “turn” or change direction from where they were previously headed. Apparently, they turned sharply to the south from Etham, just before reaching the region of the Red Sea.
(5) As Israel headed south, did God cause Pharaoh to have a change of heart? Exodus 14:8.
Comment: Israel camped in the region of Migdol, as Numbers 33:7 states. Here, the land was more rugged and progress was much slower in this wilderness between Baal-zephon and Migdol, just west of this upper portion of the Red Sea. This Migdol is also mentioned in Jeremiah 44:1 and 46:14 as being in Egypt.
(6) Did the people of Israel panic upon learning that they were trapped by the Egyptians? Exodus 14:10-12.
Comment: As Israel was escaping Egypt, it appeared that the Egyptians had trapped them between the Red Sea to the east and the Pihahiroth mountains to the south (Ex. 14:2-4). Pharaoh intended to destroy as many of these helpless Israelites as possible with his well-equipped army—the most powerful army in the world at that time. Josephus recorded that the Egyptians who pursued Israel included not only 600 chariots, but 50,000 horsemen and 200,000 footmen (Antiquities, bk. II, ch. 15, par. 3). Pharaoh had pursued those who were leaving the bondage of Egypt, just as Satan attempts to block anyone’s efforts to flee the bondage of sin. As Egypt typified sin, so did Pharaoh typify Satan.
(7) How did Israel escape their deadly entrapment by the Egyptian army? Exodus 14:13-16.
Comment: Only by God’s miraculous intervention of opening up the Red Sea was Israel delivered from the Egyptians. The seven days of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:15) picture leaving spiritual Egypt and completely coming out of sin. Coming out of Egypt required effort on the part of Israel, as well as God’s intervention. Likewise, we have to exert sustained, persistent effort with God’s help to come out of sin.
Commanded Observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread
The day that Israel started their exodus was on the 15th of Abib and the day they completely came out of Egypt was on the 21st of Abib. We will see that both days are commanded to be observed as Holy Days—times of commanded assemblies.
(1) What does God command with respect to the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the day that immediately precedes it? Leviticus 23:4-7; Numbers 28:17-18.
(2) What does God command with respect to the seventh and last day of Unleavened Bread? Leviticus 23:8; Numbers 28:25.
Comment: Both of these Holy Days (also referred to as High Days) fell within the first month of the sacred year, which occurs in the spring. “Abib” was the name of this first month, which was later called “Nisan.” On these two Holy Days, no servile work was to be done, commanded assemblies were to take place, and special offerings were to be given.
Avoiding Spiritual Leavening
(1) Did the apostle Paul have to address a particularly grievous sin in Corinth on one occasion prior to the Days of Unleavened Bread? I Corinthians 5:1.
(2) Did the brethren who tolerated such sin consider themselves to be especially forgiving and righteous? I Corinthians 5:2.
(3) What did Paul command to be done with the offender in this matter? I Corinthians 5:4-5.
(4) What did Paul command those who had this puffed up condition? I Corinthians 5:6-7.
Comment: After condemning their puffed up condition, Paul warned that even a tiny amount of leaven can leaven a large amount of dough, just as even the smallest sin can corrupt one’s character. He then charged them to purge out the old leavening or put away the leavening, as done about the time Passover arrived (as true Christians practiced both then and now).
Paul was emphasizing the spiritual aspect of putting away the spiritual leaven of sin, pride and self-righteousness, in order to become unleavened, or pure from sin. This analogy would have been useless if the brethren had not been familiar with the putting out of leavening during this season on an annual basis.
(5) Having put away the old leavening, both literally and spiritually, what did Paul command these brethren to do next? I Corinthians 5:8.
Comment: Paul explicitly commanded the Corinthian brethren to keep the Feast. The old leavening, which was thrown out, represented malice and wickedness, while the unleavened condition represented sincerity and truth. The meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread pointedly defines what God expects of His people—we are to put out sin as a way of life!
Kings of Judah Observed the Days of Unleavened Bread
(1) As King Hezekiah ascended to the throne, did he institute needed reforms? II Chronicles 29:3-10.
Comment: Hezekiah feared God and sought to obey Him in all things. Hezekiah charged the priesthood to put the temple in order and to prepare to resume the sacrificial system that had been neglected for many years.
(2) After having kept the Passover, did Judah and those of Israel who journeyed south to join them keep the days of Unleavened Bread with great gladness? II Chronicles 30:21.
(3) After having rejoiced during these days (for the first time in many years), did those of Judah and Israel take counsel to observe another seven days of Unleavened Bread? II Chronicles 30:23.
Comment: Nowhere else in Scripture do we find this ever happening. So joyous was this event that the people celebrated 14 days of Unleavened Bread with God’s approval and blessing!
(4) Did Hezekiah’s great grandson, Josiah, likewise institute reforms after Judah had departed from following God? II Chronicles 34:1-5.
Comment: Josiah deeply sought to obey God, and did so with all his heart.
(5) Did Judah (and the remnants of Israel who had previously relocated to Judah) keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread during the reign of Josiah? II Chronicles 35:1, 16-17.
(6) Was that Passover and the following Feast a memorable occasion? II Chronicles 35:18.
Comment: The term “Passover” (or Passover season) has often been used to describe both Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. This occasion was so memorable that such a Passover had not occurred in all Israel since the time of Samuel, about 500 years before that time. This was surely a joyous time of celebration and heartfelt worship of God. After having been deprived of the worship of the true God for a number of decades, the people once again rejoiced to worship Him according to His laws and statutes.
Far from being a burden, worship of the true God in the true manner is indeed a joyous privilege for those who come to (or return to) follow His Way wholeheartedly.
In the next lesson, we will examine the next Holy Day in God’s Plan, the Day of Pentecost.
Lesson Twenty-Five: The Feast of Firstfruits – Pentecost
The third step in God’s Plan of Salvation is pictured by the Feast of Pentecost.
The Days of Unleavened Bread picture God’s people coming out of sin, just as ancient Israel coming out of Egypt typified coming out of sin. This is the second step in the Plan of Salvation. But another vital step is necessary in order to successfully overcome sin in this physical life. We will find that this missing element, central to the Day of Pentecost, is the Holy Spirit—the very power of God.
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