As I finished and published my last blog “The Passover Lamb – not the easter bunny” last week, I couldn’t wait to dive into this next topic - the meaning of Unleavened Bread. The importance and symbolism were very foreign to me since I grew up in a non-denominational Christian religion that never taught or even mentioned the commanded annual observance of Unleavened Bread.
“Isn’t that just for the Jews?” was my initial question when I started my walk towards His Ways. After much time in diligent study, I discovered through His Word that His chosen people are those who join in Covenant (follow Torah – His instructions) through the Messiah, Yahushua. Once, I was a gentile, then I chose to be grafted into His nation, the commonwealth of Yisra’el. My book “Turn and be Saved” goes into more detail of the mistaken identities and false doctrines of Jews, Yisra’el and the Bride. But if you have read my other blogs up to this point, you are caught up and understand “who’s who” and so we can move on to the significance of leaven.
Most of us are familiar with the exodus from Egypt. Just before the children of Yisra’el began their journey out of bondage and into freedom, YHWH instructs them to eat unleavened bread for one week. Remember that these are His people who have been enslaved for hundreds of years and have forgotten the Ways of YHWH. They have become accustomed to the Egyptian culture which included the worshiping of other gods. They had been steeped for generations in this pagan nation so learning the ways and instructions of YHWH was going to be a process (sound familiar?) and thankfully thus far, they were on the right track.
They had obeyed His instructions regarding the preparation of the Passover Lamb and covering their doorposts with the pure blood from the unblemished lamb to be protected from the wrath of YHWH. Now, they were to make bread without leaven and to take it with them. They were instructed not to eat any bread that contained leaven starting on the observance of the Passover Seder, and not to be in possession of leaven nor eat any leaven during the Appointed Time of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20).
What is leaven?
We know that leaven is an ingredient used for baked goods to make them rise or grow. So basically, its purpose is to make something puff up. If you tried to bake a cake for example, without baking powder and/or baking soda (leavening agents) then the cake would come out flat. It needs the leaven to make it expand. That is the basic physical understanding of leaven but what does it symbolize Scripturally and Spiritually?
“Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the Commands of YHWH your Elohim which I am commanding you.” Debarim (Deut) 4:2
“Do not add to His Words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” Mishley (Proverbs) 30:6
In both the above verses the English word add is translated from the Hebrew word Yasaph (yaw-saf). Yasaph according to Strongs H3254 is defined as: to add or augment, exceed, increase, more, proceed further. Augment is further defined by Websters to enlarge in size or increase.
This sounds a lot like the characteristics of leaven. YHWH is warning in Deuteronomy not to add to His Word. His Word, His Way and His Instructions are pure and perfect, they do not need human intervention nor for us to determine what is missing (thus adding our own thoughts or traditions).
“Seek YHWH while He is to be found, call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to YHWH, who has compassion on him, and to our Elohim, for He pardons much. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares YHWH. “For as the shamayim (heavens) are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:6-9
Furthermore, we should not take away from His Word which can and has led down a rabbit trail of false doctrine littered in today’s churches. We will discuss this further in the blog.
Yahushua gives great descriptions of those who add to or take away from the Word. He repeatedly warns His followers to beware of this sin and even describes it as leaven.
“And Yahushua said to them, ‘Mind! And beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthithyahu (Matthew) 16:6
While Yahushua spends much time during His ministry healing the sick, performing miracles and teaching those around Him the Torah, he also spends much time rebuking those who have added or taken away from it. Here is a more detailed description of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
“Then there came to Yahushua scribes and Pharisees from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), saying, ‘Why do Your talmidim (disciples) transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread?’ But He answering said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the Command of Elohim because of your tradition? For Elohim has commanded, saying, ‘Respect your father and your mother,’ and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother,“Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated,” is certainly released from respecting his father or mother.’ So, you have nullified the Command of Elohim by your tradition. Hypocrites! Yeshayahu (Isaiah) rightly prophesied about you, saying, ‘This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.’ “
Mattithyahu (Matthew) 15:1-9
This is very interesting. Yahushua is rebuking them for upholding and honoring their added traditions rather than upholding and honoring His Father’s Commands. They had put more weight and significance on things they had added rather than on the importance of remaining on YHWH’s Covenant path. Yahushua emphasizes this point further in the book of Matthew.
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Mosheh. Therefore, whatever he says to you to guard, guard and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but with their finger they do not want to move them.” Mattithyahu 23:2,3
Yahushua is saying to the crowds that the scribes and Pharisees are reading the Torah (seat of Mosheh) so be sure to guard and do the Torah. However, outside of that they have added leaven and He is warning them to not do according to “their” works for they may read the Torah, but they do not do the Torah. They add to it by “binding heavy burdens” and traditions that are hard to bear.
As we have read earlier, washing of hands before eating is an example of what they added to the Commands. While it is common sense to wash our hands before eating, it is not a deal breaker in YHWH’s Word and labeled as a sin. Traditions can become very powerful and get out of control. They can start as a common practice and then be puffed up to mandatory obligations.
While I’m no expert nor have I studied the ins and outs of Judaism (a religion derived from the Pharisees) I have paid attention to the warnings from my Savior, Yahushua. Particularly when He declared that they “transgress the Commands of Elohim for the sake of your tradition.” I could actually identify with that statement growing up in Christianity. There were many added traditions that went against the very Word of Elohim! I was living a life full of leaven (sin), and I desired to get unleavened (cleaned up) as soon as possible.
What is sin?
“And everyone having this expectation in Him cleanses himself, as He is clean. Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one lead you astray. The one doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. The one doing sin is of the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of YHWH has manifested: to destroy the works of the devil. Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, because His seed stays in him, and he is powerless to sin, because he has been born of Elohim. In this the children of Elohim and the children of the devil are manifest: Everyone not doing righteousness is not of Elohim, neither the one not loving his brother. Because this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” 1 John 3:4-11
I originally was only going to quote the first two sentences indicating where John describes sin as lawlessness, however I could quote the entire letter from John as it is loaded with incredible confirmation of YHWH’s Word (Torah). But I did stop as the purpose of this section is to identify sin. We read the English word “lawlessness” which was translated from the Greek of both John’s letter and Yahushua’s teaching in Matthew 7: 21-23 as anomia. Anomia is better defined as without the law, or without the Torah, to be unrighteous. So as stated above, the one doing righteousness (living the Torah) is of Elohim while the one doing sin (lawlessness, unrighteousness, breaking the Torah) is of the devil.
John is really emphasizing the same point that Yahushua made in Matthew 7:21-23. There will be those doing “things” that seem good but are actually not THE “things” YHWH really wants from us (while neglecting His instructions) thus being lawless and He will declare “I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!” These people who are described as “many” will be doing works like prophesying and casting out demons, yet they are living without Torah.
This is a future prophecy, and the hope is we all learn from His warning as well as the examples of people He rebuked publicly. Similarly, as Yahushua describes the works of those “many”, He also reprimanded the works of the scribes and Pharisees.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you tithe the mint and the anise and the cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah - the Right-ruling and the compassion and the belief.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 23:23
“So you too outwardly indeed appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 23:28
There is a pattern that there are many in the past and in the future who are doing “works” but these actions seem to be right in their own eyes, rather than doing the works (living righteously) that YHWH instructs in His Torah. This can become dangerous as majority of man-made religions have been founded on altered and distorted doctrine.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Mishley (Proverbs) 14:12
Just as much as customs were added (leavened) to YHWH’s Torah, obedience to the Torah (foundation of the Covenant path) has been removed from most doctrines thus resulting in a religion steeped in lawlessness.
The Lawless one
“…and it speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the qodeshim (set-apart ones), of the Most High, and it intends to change Appointed Times and Law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time…” Daniel 7:25
“Let no one deceive you in any way, because the falling away is to come first, and the man of lawlessness is to be revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called Elohim or that is worshipped, so that he sits as Elohim in the Mishkan (dwelling place) of Elohim, showing himself that he is Elohim… For the secret of lawlessness is already at work – only until he who now restrains comes out of the midst.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7
Notice some key points in the above verses which fall right in line with our current topic. First, the lawless one will change Appointed Times and Law. In other words, this lawless one will add to and/or remove from YHWH’s instructions. Second, the lawless one is a clear imposter. This imposter fools many into showing himself that he is Elohim, yet he opposes Elohim by being lawless. Again, we see the English word “lawlessness” from the Greek “anomia” meaning without the Torah. This verse becomes more profound if we use the more accurate words of “living without Torah”.
For the secret of living without Torah is already at work…
Wow!! That is exactly the doctrine I had been steeped in by my religion for 30+ years of my life! I believed what I was taught – that my Savior came and lived a sinless life, died for me to make a way to eternal life with Him, thus removing or abolishing the very Law (Commands/Torah) He lived and taught so I was then no longer “under” the law. In other words, I could now be lawless (living outside of YHWH’s instructions) thanks to the one who took away the law (aka: the lawless one).
It's a hard pill to swallow for most. To think that the Christian doctrine attached to the Savior promotes lawlessness and is in complete opposition to the teachings and purpose of the Son of Elohim can be mind boggling for new seekers. The reason we don’t know we have been lied to, conditioned and brainwashed is because we have been lied to, conditioned and brainwashed. However, when Paul says to “test everything” and to prove them all (1 Thess 5:21), should our religion, culture and traditions be counted in that list? If it makes us feel good and has become our way of life, does that exempt it from being tested and proven through Scripture? If you have not yet read “Identifying a god”, that blog gives a more detailed study on the lawless one.
I’ve read a couple memes months ago that really hit the point home:
“Pastor, I’ve got a question for you – How will we recognize the “lawless one” if we’ve abolished the law?”
“Messiah spent His whole earthly life magnifying Torah. Why would any follower of Messiah spend their life trying to diminish it?”
These are legitimate questions that can only be tested and the truth revealed through His Word. The emphases on “leaven” is so important to YHWH that He literally has appointed an entire week for us to examine ourselves and clean ourselves up. He also attached a physical symbolic practice to help us understand its significance.
How to observe Unleavened Bread
As stated previously, this was all foreign to me and I had no clue what to do, how to do it and why I was doing it. Hopefully, at this point of our discussion, the “why” makes sense. So, it’s important that we now understand what to do, as instructed in His Word.
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed, on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisra’el. And on the first day is a qodesh (set-apart) gathering, and on the seventh day you have a qodesh gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you. And you shall guard the Matstsoth, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Mitsrayim. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting Law. In the first, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Yisra’el, whether sojourner or native of the land. Do not eat that which is leavened – in all your dwellings you are to eat unleavened bread.” Shemoth (Exodus) 12:15-20
“Guard the Festival of Matstsoth (Unleavened Bread). For seven days you eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the Appointed Time of the month of Abib, because in the month of Abib you came out from Mitsrayim.” Shemoth (Exodus) 34:18
“And in the first month, on the fourteenth day, is the Pesah of YHWH, and on the fifteenth day of this month is a Festival. For seven days unleavened bread is eaten. On the first day is a qodesh gathering, you do not servile work…And on the seventh day you have a qodesh gathering, you do no servile work.” Bemidbar (Numbers) 28:16-18,25
“And no leaven should be seen with you in all your border for seven days… six days you eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there is a closing Festival to YHWH your Elohim – you do no work.” Debarim (Deut) 16:4,8
So, the bullet points of these verses are the following:
*Hebrew month refers to the Creators Calendar - not the Roman Gregorian Calendar that the world follows
Remember, this is a physical symbolic reminder – as we clean out the leaven in our homes and borders, that leaven represents the sin in our lives that needs to be removed. It is a powerful self-examination through a physical act.
I think it’s important to be zealous in all His Commands rather than to relax or loosen them (Matthew 5:19). I have witnessed those who debate whether baking powder or baking soda is really leaven. Also, that some bury their leaven or give it to a friend to hold for seven days. It’s hard for me to see the logic in these practices being that during this time, leaven represents sin… so would we also remove sin from our lives for seven days then invite it right back in once the Festival is over? I believe those “relaxed” ideas can blur the line on His clear instructions. I do not have any hesitancy to throw it all out. Saving around $50 or so in products in my cabinet by temporarily removing them is not worth it to me as I’d rather not “skim the surface” of obedience but dive in with my whole body. I’d rather be over than under and I’d rather do too much than too little.
[Side Note: The key in understanding the symbology of leaven Scripturally is to focus on what leaven does. It adds, increases, and grows something in size. It is not necessarily a bad thing all the time as Yahushua states “The reign of the shamayim (heavens) is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until all was leavened.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 13:33
Some concerned friends in the past thought because we rid the leaven during the Feast representing sin then it must be bad all the time so maybe we should never consume leaven. This is simply not the case as we know throughout all Scripture leavened foods were eaten all year – accept during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We need to focus on the symbology of it. “A little leaven leavens all the lump.” Galations 5:9]
While we are only a few days away from Unleavened Bread in the writing of this blog, (published hours before Unleavened Bread) I do suggest for next year that people start organizing and setting out on the counter all the products that contain leaven about 3 weeks before. That way you can bake and cook up these foods in plenty of time thus not having to throw out so much the days before. The simplest way for me to organize is to look for any foods that can rise when baking or cooking or anything that is already risen like bread, cakes, cookies, etc. And you will probably be surprised with some foods (mostly packaged) that have leavening agents in them. The ingredients list will normally identify something questionable as a “leavening agent” which helps to know what’s what.
When we are new in our Covenant Journey and observing the Appointed Times, we might not get “how to do it” perfectly and that’s okay… this is a journey, and we are learning and doing as we go. The key is that our heart is all in, we do our due diligence in studying to show ourselves approved and we stay steadfast in our obedience to Him, being set-apart from this world. Personally, I continue to learn every year the depth, significance, and application of His Appointed Times. The Appointed Times – by Todd Bennett is an incredible study on this very important topic. In fact, he goes into much detail of the prophetic implications and the direct ties of the Appointed Times with the regathering of Yisra’el and the end of the age.
While this blog is by no means an exhaustive study on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, my hope is that it is a good starting point - introducing those who are new in their Covenant Walk to better understanding the importance of it, what it symbolizes and how we can do our best to please our Father.
I believe the priority is to know when it is, as we do not want to show up late and miss this significant event. There is a reason that YHWH repeatedly gives the precise date of observance. He never states to just observe when you want or what feels good to you. He is very clear about the date, as He is on what to do during those days, so it is important we get that part right as well. Here is a link to help those wanting to be in sync with YHWH’s calendar (also discussed in my previous blog – “The Passover Lamb – not the easter bunny”) so we can all show up on time for our scheduled Appointment with Him. 2022 Appointed Times Calendar
Next, it’s time to clean house. The Appointed Times are rehearsals that are to be honored forever, throughout our generations. The Festival of Unleavened Bread is a physical symbolic sign to show YHWH that we are throwing out anything “added” or “puffed up” in our lives that could separate us from being in His presence. We do not want anything to hinder our opportunity for Him to dwell in us and us to dwell with Him. So, while we are inspecting all our labels and throwing the leaven out, let’s also inspect our lives for leaven and fervently throw it out.
"Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Pesach was offered for us. So then let us observe the Festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:7,8
“Blessed are those doing His Commands, so that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of life, and to enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14