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In Leviticus 23, God outlines part of His law. Here we find the commanded Holy Days of the Eternal God (vs.2). In contrast to man's holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, which one may search in vain for in the Scriptures; God's festivals are outlined so clearly even a child can understand them. In fact that is exactly what God demands of parents - teach your children (Exo.13: 8). Rehearsing these holy days annually reinforces our understanding of God's master plan of salvation. The weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are all God revealed "appointed times," which He commands to be honored and observed forever.
When properly understood, each Holy Day impresses upon us a vital key in understanding how to become citizens of the Kingdom of God. Before we enter that society as spirit beings, we must thoroughly understand God's laws and the penalties for violating them.
The Days of Unleavened teach us about the law of God. And the law of God reveals the character we are to build in our lives to make us ready for citizenship in His Kingdom. Christ taught, "But if you will enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19: 17). If we expect to enjoy eternal life in God's Family, we must obey His law! Our Father is not going to allow any disobedient children to be part of His Family. The Days of Unleavened Bread - observed for the complete seven days, teaches us that we should strive for perfection in obedience to the law of God.
Notice Leviticus 23:6-8. "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Lord: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. But you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein."
This is God's clearly stated law concerning this particular festival. We are told when to keep it - there is a God-ordained time to observe it. We are not given the prerogative to postpone it or alter it in any way. God specifies that during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we are to keep two separate holy convocations, or commanded assemblies. On these two Holy Days, we are to meet, as God's people, to receive teaching from God about the meaning of the days. These Holy Days are annual Sabbaths and just as with the weekly Sabbath, we are not to continue with our regular job, household chores, entertainment, etc. because our attention is to be focused on God during this time. Also, an offering is taken during these days - something we should be preparing for now (Deut.16:15). These are directives from God according to His law.
Finally, God directs us to remove all leavened products from our homes. We eat unleavened bread throughout the week to remind us of the haste in which Israel fled Egypt. "You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life" (Deut.16:3).
God gives us these physical practices to help us grow in our understanding of the spiritual significance of the days. Learning to obey the law of God builds godly perfection in our lives.
Any Bible student is familiar with the use of analogy, parable or symbolism to convey a message from God. Sometimes these are used to obscure meaning so as to be understood only by a specific group of people. Other times, the meaning is made plain and understandable by use of symbolism. God also uses physical examples to teach spiritual principles. Scriptures regarding the Days of Unleavened Bread serve as examples of these teaching techniques of God. One must, through much dedicated study and practice, come to master the true observance of these critical days.
The people of ancient Israel were taught the principle of deliverance from this society and its laws as they fled from Egypt. Be sure to read the book of Exodus before the Days of Unleavened Bread. Not only is the story of Israel's journey out of Egypt recorded there, but the law of God is also expounded directly in this book. The symbolism of Israel's perilous exodus from slavery to the Promised Land was not only used to teach them, but it is meant to benefit us today as we comprehend the spiritual lessons of their pilgrimage. "Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor.10:11).
Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, shows an analogy between Egypt and sin. Revelation 11: 8 also likens Egypt to sin. By following the analogy of Israel's deliverance by Godly intervention, we also make our exodus by miraculous intervention. Pharaoh can be equated to Satan. Immediately as the Israelites embarked en route to the Promised Land, they were chased by Pharaoh. So too, for us today: the moment we forsake our sinful ways, Satan is hot on our heels trying to tempt us back into disobedience (1 Pet.5:8). He is a deceiver and he wishes to bring us back into slavery to sin. His goal is to discourage us, tempt us with the glitz of this world, derail us from our obedience to God and thus keep us out of the Family of God!
Just as the Israelites were miserable under the conditions of slavery in Egypt, so have we suffered under the influence of Satan's world - a world of misery, death, disillusionment, discouragement and frustration. Satan's way of life is contrary to that of our Promised Land - the Kingdom of God.
So one lesson we learn through the Days of Unleavened Bread, is that we too are on a journey - away from the captivity of Satan and his system. The Israelites encountered a multitude of obstacles on their exodus - just as we do. God tested ancient Israel to determine their commitment to His law. Yet He knew they would not live up to this test because they lacked His Holy Spirit; but as we saw, their example is for us today. Along our journey, we are tested by God as He proves our heart "For whom the LORD loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?" (Heb.12:6- 7).
Yet, we should not be discouraged: "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (ICor.l0-13).
The primary lesson God was teaching ancient Israel, and is teaching us today, is to rely on Him for deliverance. We are not capable of freeing ourselves; we need God. He always provides a way of escape. This is a promise. God's goal is to prove to us that He is our only hope. By coming to this understanding and yielding ourselves to Him and His law completely, we enjoy the benefits of coming under His justice system. Our "Promised Land" lies just over the horizon in the Kingdom of God. But again, we must learn to live our everyday lives under the direction of the law of God. If we can't live under God's laws now, what makes us think we will do any differently in the Kingdom of God? That's why God is training, teaching and correcting us today. The Days of Unleavened Bread symbolize our "exodus" and put us in remembrance of our need to remove every sin and every act of disobedience to God's law from our lives
The apostle Paul wrote extensively about the law of God. Paul understood the Days of Unleavened Bread thoroughly. He used this Holy Day season to expose a major character flaw in the Corinthian church. Paul said they had become puffed up with vanity as they presumed they were more converted and merciful than Paul (and even God) as they permitted a sinner to remain in their midst (1 Cor.5:1-2). Paul compared the actions of sin to that of leaven, noting that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (vs.6). How do we correct this problem? "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you 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" (vs. 7 -8). The Corinthians were urged to remove the sinful individual from their midst and to take the leaven, or sin, out of their own lives!
God commands that Christians abstain from leavened products during the seven-day period of Unleavened Bread. We are to physically remove all leaven from our lives (homes and work). God doesn't do this for sanitary reasons, but to teach a spiritual lesson. Again, that's what Paul taught. Let's follow the symbolism: For seven days, we are to remove all leaven from our lives. Leaven is symbolic of sin. "Then Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees'" (Matt. 16:6). Jesus explains, "'How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (vs.11- 12).
Paul says, again to the Corinthian church, "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (l Cor.5:7-8). During this 7 day period, and honestly throughout the year, we must strive to remove sin from our lives.
God teaches us that the sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins is only part of the plan - we have responsibilities as well. We are commanded to forsake our ways, turn from our carnal, sinful self - truly bury the "old man" in the baptismal waters, be raised a "new man" and live in obedience to the law of God. We can't hang on to the old way of living, because the ways of God are not man's carnal ways. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (lsa.55:8-9). Man's ways are reflected in the following verse, "There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov.14:12). This familiar scripture alone should drive us to desire God's way. God challenges us to "choose life."
How much effort should be expended in our fight against the carnal self? "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the SIN which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin!" (Heb.12:1-4). Though we suffer tremendous trials, we have not had to go through what the Son of God did on our behalf. The plan of God does not end with Passover - it begins there! We must do our part to build upon the foundation established by Christ.
Living according to the law of God is not easy. In fact, Jesus said, "Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt.7: 13-14). Compounding the difficulty; we have been purposefully left in this world in order that we might develop godly character. "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17: 14-18). We have a difficult calling, but God wants us to come to rely upon Him. That is the same lesson ancient Israel should have learned.
God is looking for real change. We may fool ourselves and others around us, but God searches the heart. "Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom.8:27). God admonishes us to put Him and His Kingdom first in our lives. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. . ." (Matt.6:33). God knows if you are seeking Him first - if you value anything connected with the carnal, mundane society of this evil age more than your opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life and be born into His kingdom. God tests us, to see if we are really willing to submit ourselves to Him and do our commanded part.
You see, at baptism we promised God that we would commit ourselves to develop as citizens of the Kingdom of God. We covenant with God and promise to forsake our sinful ways. If we fulfill our part, then we can expect to receive the gift of eternal life. But God is going to require complete adherence to the terms agreed upon in the contract!
Our calling is deadly serious. The Apostle Peter gives this perspective: "For if after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, 'The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire'" (2 Pet.2:20-22). The Apostle Paul gives a slightly different perspective, yet with the same end result: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tested the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb.6:4-6).
We have a daunting task ahead of us - overcoming Satan, self and society. Yet we have the inspiration to motivate us through to the end. We have God fighting for us, just as He did for ancient Israel. Just when it looked impossible, God delivered them. For us today, God promises to aid us along every step of the way. He requires that we expend every ounce of energy we have to obey His law. God reminds us every year of His plan through His Holy Days. The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us to actively search out and destroy ALL of the spiritual leaven in our lives.
These Holy Days of the Eternal God, powerfully point us to the Promised Land soon coming. That Kingdom will be one of peace, abundance and equity! The law that God expects us to live by is a perfect law. God is a true and righteous judge. We must submit to this law willingly. We must forsake our old ways of life, and come under the government of God. We must obey His commands to honor and observe the Holy Days as He commands - and at the time He commands!
Pete Fleming

© Church of God, In Truth
Used with permission.

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