Jews around the world celebrated Passover last night, April 14. Most people have heard of Passover, the festival meal that celebrates the Jews’ escape from Egyptian slavery. But not as many know anything about the Feast of Unleavened Bread that lasted throughout the week after Passover. I will be posting a devotional reading for each day of the feast to help us understand its significance.
Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born.
Exodus 12:17-19 (NIV)
God commanded the Israelites to celebrate the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately after the Passover. They had to remove all leaven or yeast from their homes and eat only unleavened bread for seven days. And this passage in Exodus tells us that the reason for this is to commemorate the day God brought his people out of Egypt.
The Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt is a picture of our salvation. The blood of the Passover lamb on their doors delivered the Hebrews from death and led to their freedom from slavery. Likewise, when we trust in the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, we are delivered from death and are freed from our slavery to sin. But just like those ancient Israelites who had to follow Moses out into the desert to find freedom, we must follow Jesus day by day to experience the freedom from sin that he provides.
The removal of leaven symbolizes the removal of sin from our lives. Living out our faith is the message of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We are called to get rid of the yeast of sin in our lives and follow our Savior. Too often we treat salvation like fire insurance. Once we have it we don’t think about it until disaster strikes.
We can fall into this spiritual apathy because the incredible high of the salvation experience is then followed by a spiritual life that doesn’t have the same thrill. Or there are difficult times as our old environment and ways clash with our new standing in Christ. Just as the Jews’ incredible deliverance from slavery led to walking in the desert, our exciting conversion experience leads to a daily walk with Christ that may be less than desirable. We face the frequently painful process of allowing God to transform us, cutting out our bad behaviors and attitudes. We are suddenly forced to choose obedience to Christ by doing what we wouldn’t normally want. We are called to follow him wherever he leads, even if it’s out into the hot and dry desert.
Unleavened Bread is the boring cousin of Passover. But the Feast of Unleavened Bread is absolutely necessary. The two feasts demonstrate the relationship between grace and works. Our salvation is completely the work of God (Passover) but it leads to a life of following Christ (Unleavened Bread). Jesus saves us by grace (Passover) that we might do the good works (Unleavened Bread) that he prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10).
What yeast do you need to remove from your life?