This video reveals fresh insights into the biblical Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
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 symbolizes completion or perfection. YHVH has given man 7,000 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 6,000 years, YHVH has left men 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.
The children of Israel left Egypt on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in a de-leavened state. What is the spiritual lesson in this for us? On an individual level, once a person has placed their faith in Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim (as pictured by the children of Israel killing the lamb and placing its blood on the doorposts of their homes on the first Passover), and has been spared from sin’s death judgment (as pictured by the smiting the firstborn of Egypt), one then must leave spiritual Egypt and begin their spiritual journey or trek through the wilderness of life en route to the spiritual “rest” of Yeshua’s eternal and spiritual kingdom (Heb 4:1–11). At that time, a person must take on the spiritual “yoke” of loving and obeying Yeshua, which is light and easy (Matt 11:28–30) compared to being a spiritual slave in the Egypt of this world. As a result of turning one’s back on Pharaoh (a spiritual type of the devil) and Egypt (a spiritual type of this world), one must choose to follow Yeshua who is their new spiritual Master. As the children of Israel chose to follow YHVH Elohim through the wilderness (Exod 19:8; 24:3–7), the redeemed believer must likewise choose to follow Yeshua every day, which involves eradicating sin (the violation of YHVH’s commandments, 1 John 3:4) from one’s life, loving him and keeping his Torah-commandments (John 14:15). This process is how one de-leavens his or her life. As the sin is removed, a person will begin to experience the “joy of YHVH” (Neh 8:10; John 16:24; Rom 5:11) and the peace or shalom of YHVH that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) as the freedom from sin and the guilt and shame it brings occurs. This step in a redeemed believer’s life corresponds to the first day or Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
After day one of the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes, there are five regular work days before the final seventh day of Unleavened Bread, which is a Sabbath. These five days are a picture of the Israelites’ trek through the wilderness en route to the Promised Land. For the redeemed believer, it is a symbolic picture of life in general, which is a like a spiritual wilderness that one must traverse before attaining the goal and the reward of one’s spiritual inheritance or the spiritual Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom. In this life, a believer must do his best to live a sin-free life, which is like eating the “bread of affliction” or unleavened bread (Deut 16:3). Yeshua instructs his disciples and us that though we are in the world, we’re not to be of this world. Additionally, the world will hate and persecute us when we follow him (John 17:11, 14; 15:18–20; 16:2, 3, 33). Being faithful to Yeshua, keeping his commands and not sinning will bring persecution and affliction, but the spiritual rewards that will given for those who overcome the world will be worth the rigors of the journey!
The Paul the apostle refers to this process when he talks about “working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), his struggles to defeat the carnal man (Rom 7), to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and to enter into a life dominated by the Spirit of Messiah Yeshua (Rom 8:1–2). Yeshua also talked about the persecution and tribulation that his disciples would have to endure to enter the ultimate rest of his kingdom (Matt 5:10–12). Paul said that all who live godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12), and that the spiritual metal of our lives must be tested and purified by the fire of life’s trials (1 Cor 3:12–13). James says that we are to count it all joy when we are tried or proven (Jas 1:12). Will the fires of persecution separate us from the love of Yeshua, Paul asks the Romans (Rom 8:35)? During this journey, which is arduous at times, will we forget our first love as the Ephesian believers did (Rev 2:4), and lose faith and long for the delicacies of Egypt as the Israelites did when they fell into doubt and unbelief and perished in the wilderness (Heb 3:8–19)? Or will we persevere and overcome the world as Yeshua, the Author and Finisher of our faith, did (John 16:33) and to be granted entrance into the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom? For us to receive this reward, we must bring down the walls of our spiritual Jericho—the sin strongholds of our lives. Only then will we receive the rewards of the kingdom of Elohim (Matt 5:10, 12; 1 John 5:4; Rev 2:7, 17; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7). We are to resist sin (leavening) in our lives even to the point of paying the ultimate price, if necessary, as Yeshua did (Heb 12:1–4) and as many of YHVH’s servants in the Bible have done as well (Heb 11).
This is the wilderness walk to which the servants of YHVH have been called. Like the Israelites, we must press on in faith for the hope that is set before us (Heb 6:18–19), the hope of eternal rest in the Promised Land of the kingdom of Elohim. This is what the last Sabbath or seventh day of the Days of Unleavened Bread represents.
Yes, we were saved or redeemed out of the spiritual Egypt of this world at the time of our spiritual conversion and have passed from death and condemnation to everlasting life (John 5:24), but salvation and sanctification (being set-apart from the world, flesh and the devil for service to YHVH) are also a lifelong process, which will culminate in the transforming of our mortal bodies into glorious and spiritual bodies at the resurrection. At this point in time we will have arrived at the completion or perfection of our hope that the number seven epitomizes in Scripture, which is what the seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread prophetically pictures.
Various Subjects Relating to the Feast of Unleavened Bread
Meaning of the Word Matzoh
It is essential to understand the meaning of words in order to grasp the concepts behind them. Here are a few Hebrew words relating to the Feast of Unleavened Bread and their definitions that will help us to understand this feast more clearly.
In the Tanakh (or Old Testament), the word for unleavened bread in Hebrew is matzoh/הצמ meaning “without leaven.”
In the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament), the word for unleavened bread in Greek is azumos and means “without leaven.”
In the Tanakh, there are two words for leaven:Continue reading
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.
When YHVH commands us to remove the leavening from our homes during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he’s teaching us an important lesson: We must remove the contagion of sin from our lives if we’re to be sweet, pure, sinless and holy (or set-apart unto YHVH). Sin, like yeast fungi, causes decay and death, and to remove yeast from our homes is like removing sin from our lives, which brings about a reverse of the curse of death resulting in eternal life.
In ancient times, unleavened bread was made to rise by the injection of sour dough or leavened dough into the pure and undefiled unleavened lump of dough. Unleavened dough has nothing old from the past that is added to it. It’s a totally new lump. That’s what were to be in Messiah — a new creation, or a new lump.
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. (1 Cor 5:7–8)
Through Messiah, our past sins—our past sour history is broken off (the sour dough yeast from the past, Rom 3:25) and has been forgiven and we get to start out totally new! What’s more, every time we sin, if we confess our sin and repent of it, he forgives and cleanses us and make us new yet again (1 John 1:9).
Unleavened bread is a picture of the life of Yeshua unspoiled by the taint of sin and death. Even his body, after his death, resurrected to life before decay could set in. He truly was the Lamb of Elohim who was without blemish in every possible way. When we eat unleavened bread, it’s symbolic of putting on or into ourselves the righteousness of Yeshua.
Paul mentions the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:7–8). Sincerity and truth is in contradistinction to the concept of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). Hypocrisy is a form of self-inflated ego or pride where one thinks that he is better than he really is or better than someone else based on outward show, but in reality, it’s a sham. The Greek word for hypocrisy (hupokrisis) literally means “to play act like an actor, to pretend, to simulate, to feign.” This kind of sinful behavior doesn’t belong in one who is a new, unleavened lump in Yeshua.
This feast helps us to focus on putting sin out of our lives and replacing it with righteousness or the righteous works of obedience to Elohim the opposite of which is sin. This can only be done through a relationship with Yeshua the Messiah and with the help of the resurrection power of Yeshua living in us through his Holy Spirit. This is why the next feast to occur after Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the receipt of the Holy Spirit who came to empower us to keep the laws of Elohim (the opposite of sin) by writing them on our hearts—that is, giving us the internal desire and fortitude to obey them.
Unleavened Bread Is the Bread of Affliction
Scripture calls unleavened bread “the bread of affliction [poverty, misery, to be humbled, to put down, to stoop, to be depressed, to come low].”
Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. (Deut 16:3)
Unleavened bread pictures the Israelites coming out of Egypt where they were afflicted in bondage under the cruel slavemaster’s whip. But even as each of us has been set free from spiritual enslavement to Satan and this world, we still have to endure the wilderness of this life en route to the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance in the kingdom of Elohim. As Yeshua suffered for us that we might have life through him, we must follow in his footsteps as we endure suffering and persecution to be victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil even as he was.
The Resurrection Life of Yeshua
Yeshua resurrected during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The importance of this event can’t be overemphasized. Now through the power of his resurrected life, believers have the ability to overcome the power of death as represented by yeast and leaven, which is a picture of sin, and to live in an unleavened or sin-free state.
Unleavened Bread Versus Manna
During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, YHVH commands us to eat matzah, which is a picture of the sin-free Yeshua. The Scriptures call it the bread of affliction, since it memorializes the end of the Israelites’ enslavement in Egypt. The unleavened bread also marked the beginning of Israel’s freedom, for it was on the first day of this festival that they came out of Egypt. It was the unleavened bread that they made while exiting Egypt that empowered them physically for their trek out of the land of their affliction. After that, YHVH fed them manna, which was the bread of life that empowered them to press onward to the Promised Land. The unleavened bread symbolizes taking into ourselves the sinless life of Yeshua who empowers us to leave the Egypt of the old self behind with its life of bondage to sin, the devil and the rudiments of this world.
The unleavened bread of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the bread of communion and that bread that was offered at the daily sacrifices is different than the manna YHVH fed the Israelites each day. The manna is the bread of life to which Yeshua speaks about in John 6:33, 50, 51. Though different, the unleavened bread and manna each point to something different about Yeshua. The unleavened bread commemorates leaving the sin of Egypt behind and identifying with the broken and sinless body of Yeshua on the cross. The manna, on the other hand, fed and nourished Israel on a daily basis during their journey through the wilderness en route to the Promised Land. The manna is a prophetic metaphor speaking of how the Word of Elohim (both through the Written Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit) sustains the redeemed believer through the wilderness of life. The manna is about living in and through the power of YHVH’s Word, while the unleavened bread of the Passover communion, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the daily sacrifices is about dying to old lifestyles and deliverance from and forsaking the leavening of sin through Yeshua’s death on the cross. The manna is all about receiving Elohim’s spiritual provision, whereas the unleavened bread is all about dying to self, and leaving sin and the world behind.
Paul instructed believers to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor 5:8). So why doesn’t the whole Christian church worldwide do so?
Here are some free resources from Hoshana Rabbah to make your celebration of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) more meaningful:
- On the resurrection of Yeshua at the Messiah and First Fruits Day: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf
- On counting the omer to Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/counting-the-omer.pdf
- For more insightful articles on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, go to this blog’s search engine at the top of the home page (the magnifying glass) and type in the key word “Feast of Unleavened Bread” for some spiritual unleavened bread manna to feed on. Bon appétit!
Free resources from Hoshana Rabbah to make your celebration of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) more meaningful:
- Calendar with dates for spring feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/calendars.html
- Expected dates for 2021 biblical feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/moedim-dates-2021.pdf
- Articles by Natan on the biblical feasts and biblical calendar: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast
- Free resources on celebrating Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot): https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pesach.html and https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pesach.html#pesach_prep (including a downloadable Passover seder haggadah or order of service)
- Videos by Natan on the biblical feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pesach.html#pesach_prep (including Passover, the Passover seder, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yeshua in the Passover and much more)