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Passover is just around the corner. It is the first step in YHVH Elohim’s plan of salvation or redemption of sinful humans to reconcile fallen man back to him. Did you ever wonder how this process really works?
There is never a better time to begin repenting of sin and getting under the blood of the Lamb of Elohim than just before Passover. As the children of Israel applied the lamb’s blood to the door posts and lintels of their house, so we must apply the sin-cleansing and Satan-defeating blood of Yeshua afresh to our lives (i.e. to our thoughts as represented by the door lintel and to our hands or actions as represented by the door posts). Cleansing of our sin occurs as we repent of our sins, and pray for and receive YHVH’s forgiveness. He will then cover our sins over or wash away our sins by Yeshua’s blood (1 John 1:9; Rev 1:5).
In Egypt at Passover time, YHVH judged all those who had failed to put the lamb’s blood on the door posts of their houses. In other words, they weren’t under the blood of the lamb, but were still under the penalty of sin, which is death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23). Any unrepented of sin in our lives brings the curse of death on us. To the degree that we have sin in our lives is the degree to which the spirit of death has a legal claim on us. Now is the time to repent of sin by confessing it and seeking Elohim’s forgiveness under the blood of Yeshua and then forsaking that sin through YHVH’s grace (1 John 1:9).
Let us now discover the miraculous process of how to overcome sin in more detail through a spiritual magnifying glass. How do we go from being a lost sinner—the walking damned or the living dead—to becoming the glorified and immortalized children of Elohim?
It works like this: When we confess and repent of our sins, Yeshua will pass over or forgive us of our past sins (Rom 3:25; Ps 103:8–12). From this point forward, it is up to us to embrace a new mindset and a new spiritual identity and reality; that is, we must reckon our old sinful man as having been crucified with Yeshua, in that we are now dead to sin, no longer slaves to sin, freed from the power of sin, and alive to Elohim in Yeshua our Lord (Rom 6:7–11). Yeshua is the one who victoriously defeated the power or sting of sin, which is death, hell and the grave at the cross and through his resurrection (1 Cor 15:56–57; Col 2:13–15). Through our faith in him and our legal identification with his death, burial and resurrection through the symbolic ritual of baptism for the remission of sine, his victory is legally applied to us by the courts of heaven, which is how he has made us more than conquerors over sin and death (Rom 8:37; 6:1–14) such that the power of sin and death will no longer have dominion over us (Rom 6:12–14). He now gives us strength through his enabling and empowering grace to resist and overcome sin, that is, to not let sin control us any longer (Rom 6:12). He promises to give us a new, circumcised heart as he writes his laws or commandments on our hearts, so that we will be supernaturally inclined to love him by keeping his commandments (Jer 31:33; 24:7; Heb 8:10; 10:16; Ezek 36:25–27; Isa 51:7; Ps 40:8; 37:31; Deut 30:6; John 14:12 cp. Rom 7:22). What is that supernatural power that works in us to help keep us from sinning? It the Spirit of Elohim or the Comforter that Yeshua promised would come along side of us to aid us in the process of overcoming sin (John 14:16–18, 25–26; 15:26–27; 16:7–14).
To summarize, this whole supernatural and miraculous process of being victorious over sin is activated when we first acknowledge our sin, confess our sin, repent of our sin and then place our faith in Yeshua’s death and burial. This occurs when we appropriate or reckon, by faith, our old sinful man to have been crucified with Yeshua, and then been resurrected in the newness of spiritual life with him. We now embrace the new identity that he has given us—a spiritual reality that he has imparted to us and has been legally recorded in heaven (Col 2:14)—that we are a new creation and are victorious over sin (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17), and have become Spirit-begotten children of Elohim. This whole process is summarized from beginning to end in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans chapters six through eight. The end result, if we continue in a right spiritual relationship with Yeshua the Messiah for the rest of our lives, is that our names will be recorded in Elohim’s Book of Life, and our physical bodies will be glorified—we will be given immortality—at the resurrection of the righteous dead, which occurs at the second coming of Yeshua.
This whole process or chain of events that transforms sinful humans into glorified and immortal children of Elohim begins at Passover which symbolizes the first steps a person takes when he comes to faith in Yeshua the Messiah.
In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul the apostle of Yeshua the Messiah instructs the early Jewish and non-Jewish believers about the spiritual ramifications and significance of the Passover and the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread. Then in verse eight, he assertively declares, “Let us keep the feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
You who call yourselves Christians and who don’t celebrate the biblical feasts including the Feast of Unleavened Bread, what about this command do YOU not understand? How can anyone declare that the YHVH’s biblical feasts were done away with, or were for the Jews only, when the apostle in this letter is addressing the non-Jews as well? How can we justify substituting non-biblical holidays such as Christmas and Easter for YHVH biblical holidays and call ourselves Bible believers and followers and imitators of Yeshua and the early book of Acts church? These are serious questions that many of us need to ask ourselves if we’re serious about our faith walk before YHVH Elohim and Yeshua the Messiah.
1 Corinthians 5:6, Purge out. The greater context of this passage is about putting sin out of our life (which is the temple of YHVH’s Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 3:16–17), which collectively form the spiritual body, church or the greater temple of Yeshua’s spiritual body (John 2:21). Therefore, sin that defiles the temple of Elohim must be put out of the church. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is especially concerned about the sin of sexual immorality that the church in Coringh had allowed to come into its midsts (1 Cor 5:1ff). From the context of this passage in light of Paul’s discussion about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it would appear that he wrote this letter just prior to the spring festivals (1 Cor 5:6–8). He is urging the church to remove the leavening of sin from its midsts prior to keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which he, by the way, urges the Corinthian believers to do. In fact, Paul’s admonition to “keep the Feast [of Unleavened Bread]” in verse eight, is the strongest imperative command in the Testimony of Yeshua (or NT) to keep the biblical festivals, and from this it’s evidence that in the mind of the apostle the biblical festivals were still relevant to Yeshua’s followers well past the middle of the first century, which means they’re relevant to the saints of today as well.
In his admonition to the Corinthian believers, it’s possible that Paul had in mind two examples in the Tanakh where spiritual revivals occurred after Hezekiah and Josiah cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of the filth of idolatry in preparation for Passover. Similarly, Ezra finished completion of the rebuilt temple in time to celebrate Passover (Ezra 6). These examples teach us that YHVH commands us to cleanse or deleaven our spiritual temples (individually and collectively) of sin annually in preparation for celebrating Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This spiritual spring house cleaning at the beginning of the biblical new year sets the tone spiritually for the rest of the year to go forward in a sin-free state.
1 Corinthians 5:7, Messiah our Passover. In the Bible, the term Passover refers to both the appointed time or moed and to the sacrifice that was made on that day.
1 Corinthians 5:8, Let us keep/observe the feast. This verse proves several things. First that Paul (a Jewish believer) kept the biblical feasts, that non-Jewish believers kept the feasts, and that all believers could keep the feasts outside of Jerusalem.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread Is a Commemorative Ritual
Passover going into the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the birthday of the nation of Israel. In ancient times, universal Israel came together in Jerusalem to celebrate this event. Today, redeemed Israelites or the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16) come together to celebrate these divine appointment sacred convocations (1 Cor 5:6–8) cp. 11:17–29).
Abstaining from leavened bread for seven days is symbolic of Elohim’s people separating themselves from sin and entering into a holy or set-apart relationship with him. Without holiness, no one ever see Elohim (Heb 12:14). Set-apart from what? The world, the flesh and the devil (Rev 18:4; 2 Cor 6:14–18; John 17:11, 14; Jas 4:4)
Removing leavening from our homes is a symbolic activity just like taking communion, being baptized for the remission of sins, or building a sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles. As humans, we need symbolic commemorative occasions for several reasons. They give us a sense of history by helping us to understand the past, so that we can move forward into the future knowing who we are and where we’ve come from. They give us guidance so that we’ll learn from the lessons of history, both the good and bad ones. Our American culture is full of symbolic rituals and commemorative acts and markers (Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, statues, historical markers, monuments, museums, heritage sites, etc.). Likewise, Biblical commemorative rituals help us in several ways.
They help us to both recall and commemorate past and future events.
They help us to understand who we are by recalling where we’ve come from which in turn helps us to understand where we’re going.
They can be something physical that helps us to wrap our minds around difficult-to-understand spiritual principle.
They are something physical that help to point us toward a spiritual reality. They help to raise our hopes and our eyes above our mundane existence and strengthen our faith as we move toward the higher goal or reality to which the ritual or commemorative event points.
They help us to teach and to pass on to each new generation not only about our past history, but our future hope.
Leavening Is a Picture of Sin
The observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a symbol of our commitment to turn towards righteousness and turn away from sin. How serious we are about removing physical leaven from our homes in compliance with YHVH’s commands is an indicator of how serious we are about removing sin from our lives.
While leavening makes bread rise and is therefore a symbol for pride, leavening is also a symbol of decay. The rising of the dough is only possible by the natural process of fermentation or decay through fungal activity. In ancient times, a pinch of fermented or sour dough was placed into a batch of unleavened dough to make it sour and cause it to rise. Yeast is a living micro organism that is classified as a fungi. Fungi feed on both living and dead and decaying organic matter. Yeast turns food sour through the process of fermentation and this begins the process by which something dies. Yeast is an apt metaphor for the corrupting influences of sin, which invades our lives and turns our souls from sweet to sour leading to spiritual death. Were it not for the curse of death because of Adam and Eve’s sin, it’s quite possible that fungi would not exist.
Chag HaMatzot (The Feast of Unleavened Bread): An Overview
Chag HaMatzot or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second annual festival on YHVH’s biblical calendar, and occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of the Abib, which is the day immediately following Passover (or Pesach, Lev 23:5–8). Because both of these feasts (Exod 34:25; Lev 23:2, 6) occur back-to-back, the Jews often refer to Passover and Unleavened Bread simply as Passover Week or some similar term that places the main emphasis on the Passover. But it must be noted that, though related, these two festivals are separate in meaning and purpose. Passover pictures Israel coming out of Egypt. Upon separating from Egypt, YHVH (the LORD) then commanded the Israelites to put all leavened food products out of their houses and to eat unleavened bread (flat bread) for seven days, hence the origins of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the first and seventh days of this week-long event are Sabbaths, and YHVH commanded his people to hold a set-apart convocation (or gathering) on these Sabbaths.
What, you may ask, is the purpose of putting leavening out of one’s home and eating unleavened bread products such as matzoh for one week? This seems like a curious request by YHVH of his people. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has a reason for everything. The spiritual implications are enlightening and highly relevant to the disciples of Yeshua. In commanding his people to de-leaven their homes and lives, YHVH is teaching us an object lesson that applies to us as much today as to the Israelites of long ago.
Eating unleavened bread for seven days is a memorial, remembrance or reminder (Exod 13:6–9) of our coming out of our own spiritual Egypt. But how did unleavened bread enter into this picture? The Torah tells us that the Israelites left Egypt early in the morning as they were making their daily bread, and because they left in haste the bread was not able to rise (Exod 12:34). Therefore, they were forced, by circumstances, to leave their leavening — a biblical metaphor for sin — behind in Egypt. Similarly, believers in Yeshua are commanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor 5:6–8), which helps to remind us that we should have left our old sinful ways behind us in the spiritual Egypt of this world when we surrendered our lives to Yeshua. We are pressing onward to the Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom.
Not only did YHVH command his set-apart people to leave Egypt (a biblical metaphor for this world and its godless ways), but he wanted his people to separate themselves from and leave behind in Egypt the rudiments of this world, or sin, which defiles them and separates them from a set-apart and sinless Elohim (God). Leaven is a picture of this, as we will see more clearly below.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was the next step in YHVH’s plan of redemption for his people. Israel had just left Egypt and we know that Egypt is biblically a spiritual metaphor for the world and Satan. It may have been easy for the Israelites to leave Egypt, but after their exodus, the arduous process of getting the sin or spiritual leaven of Egypt out them began! The same is true when we leave the spiritual Egypt of this world and endeavor to follow obey Yeshua through our spiritual journey in the wilderness we call life. The old sin habits die hard and often lie hidden in our lives waiting to be exposed and cast out from the recesses of our mind, will and emotions—or one’s spiritual houses. This is not an easy process, and is not unlike ridding our physical homes of leavening products, such as bread crumbs, which find their way into the nooks and crannies of our homes that the word of Elohim commands his people to do in order to properly keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exod 12:14–15). Throughout Scripture, leavening usually represents sin, pride, hypocrisy, malice, bitterness and false religious doctrine (Pss 71:4; 73:21; Hos 7:4; Matt 16:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:8–6; Gal 5:9).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days. The number seven in YHVH’s spiritual economy represents completion or perfection. YHVH has given man 7000 years on this earth to get rid of sin completely and totally in preparation for admission into his eternal kingdom as revealed in Revelation 21 and 22. For 6000 years, YHVH has left men on this earth to their own sinful devices. The seventh thousand-year time period, called the Messianic Age or Millennium (Rev 20:2, 3, 4, 6), will be different than the previous 6000 years, for during this time Yeshua will be ruling over the earth with a rod of iron as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; 17:14; 19:16), and Satan will be bound in the pit (Rev 20:2–3). All humans on earth will be taught the Torah-truth of YHVH Elohim without the evil influences of the devil and the world as we know it today. During the Messianic Age, the earth will be at peace and rest, and men will be taught to love YHVH with all their heart, mind and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. This time of relative peace and rest is the seventh thousand-year time period of man’s tenure on this earth, which corresponds to the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath. It will be a Sabbath of rest and peace on this earth for 1000 years. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture this, for the first day is a Sabbath representing the first Sabbath when YHVH rested after creating a perfect, paradisiacal and sin-free world. The last day or seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also a Sabbath, which corresponds prophetically to the Messianic Age.