Passover pictures the first major step in God's plan of salvation, justification through the forgiveness of sin by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Days of Unleavened Bread explain and memorialize the second major step in salvation, sanctification. When God sanctifies us, He separates us for holy use. After cleansing us at Passover, He sets us apart and considers us to be holy. The problem is, though, that our human nature remains intact and resists holiness.
When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, a type of baptism, they were symbolically washed and sanctified as a holy people to God. However, they began to murmur and rebel almost immediately. Why? Because they still had their slave mentality; they were not yet accustomed to providing for themselves. They were frightened and intimidated, and they voiced their desire to return to their bondage in Egypt.
We also find it very easy to return to old, sinful habits and erroneous ways of thinking. God commands us to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread yearly to remind us to continue to fight free of the bondage to Satan's world and our own carnal nature so that we can truly escape slavery with a high hand!
1. After such a solemn observance as Passover, how does the Night To Be Much Observed fit in with the Days of Unleavened Bread? Exodus 12:42; 14:8; Numbers 33:3.
Comment: Israel, a nation of slaves, began to glimpse the possibility of freedom through Moses. Their anticipation roller-coasted from high expectation to dread after each plague. How their emotions must have soared when they walked away from the brickyards with their firstborn alive, laughing and playing! They left Egypt with a high hand or as we might say "on a real high"! The Night To Be Much Observed memorializes our own freedom from spiritual bondage. We left spiritual Egypt, the world, behind, and in great hope and zeal, began our trek toward God's Kingdom.
2. Why did God tell the Israelites to eat unleavened bread and put leaven out of their homes? Exodus 12:19-20, 39.
Comment: The Exodus involved a great deal of urgency and haste. With Egypt virtually destroyed, the Egyptians urged the Israelites to leave lest further devastation occur. However, God knew Egypt would not long tolerate the loss of her slaves or delay in seeking vengeance. The window of opportunity for escape would quickly close! They did not even have time to let their bread rise! Biblically, leaven represents sin. Once we are converted, we must diligently endeavor to rid ourselves of sin and live God's pure way of life (I Corinthians 5:8). Like the Israelites, we must flee from sin, lest it pursue and destroy us (Matthew 12:43-45).
3. How does leavening demonstrate the effect of sin in our lives? I Corinthians 5:6; James 2:10-11.
Comment: Just as a little leaven in bread quickly spreads completely through the dough, one "little" sin affects our whole being. As James points out, if we break one commandment, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. One sin begets another unless the chain is broken through repentance.
4. How does sin puff us up? I Corinthians 5:2, 6-8.
Comment: The Corinthian congregation had serious problems with sexual sins, but instead of feeling terrible, people were "glorying" in it. They did not comprehend the slavery imposed by profligate lifestyles: broken marriages, ruined health and alienation from God and man. They did not realize true liberty is in keeping the law.
5. Does leaven represent false doctrine as well? Matthew 16:6-12; I Corinthians 5:8.
Comment: Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees' doctrines, and Paul advises the Corinthians to partake of the bread of sincerity and truth. False doctrine causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. True doctrine promotes sincerity, humility and obedience to the Sovereign of the Universe, the overall lesson of this festival.
6. Why do we now keep these days? What is their spiritual significance? Exodus 13:8-9; I Corinthians 5:1-13.
Comment: These days are a memorial to God's law and to His powerful deliverance from Egypt and bondage. Paul explains this significance to the Corinthians and the urgency attached to cease sinning. He says we should not even keep company with a brother involved in flagrant sin! Also, by ridding our homes of sin, we realize that overcoming sin is hard work!
7. Why are there seven days of Unleavened Bread but only one day of Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets and Atonement? Exodus 12:19; Hebrews 12:1; I Corinthians 9:27; 10:12-13; Romans 7:14-25.
Comment: God knows that we tend to change slowly. He gives us seven days each year to concentrate on our duty to rid our lives of sin. Those acts that are God's responsibility—the sacrifice of one for all sin, the sending of His Spirit, the resurrection of the dead or the binding of Satan—He can accomplish in one day. The part that involves mankind's participation—overcoming sin—requires more time and attention. The Days of Unleavened Bread represent a period of judgment when man is required to overcome. To us, overcoming a deep-seated sin can seem to take an eternity! The obvious lesson is that we must draw much nearer to the Source of the power to overcome!
8. This world's Christianity has perverted Passover into Easter and completely dismissed the Days of Unleavened Bread. What have they lost by avoiding these days? Revelation 3:12; 22:14-15; Hebrews 6:4-6; 12:14-17.
Comment: It has lost a vital step in salvation: SANCTIFICATION! God sets us aside for a lifetime of overcoming sin so that we might enter His Kingdom. By their "once saved, always saved" doctrine, worldly Christians deny the whole process of putting sin out of their lives. They believe that once they "accept Christ," their salvation is secure—they cannot lose it no matter what lifestyle they choose to live. This directly contradicts God's holy Word in Hebrews 6 and 12! God has chosen to reveal this festival to us so that we will overcome, pursue holiness and secure eternal life in His Kingdom.