Feast of Unleavened Bread – Matzah

“These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: the LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Matzah Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work” (Leviticus 23:4-7).

The seven days of Unleavened Bread follow the Passover as a memorial to the Exodus when the Israelites were set free from    slavery.  The first day of unleavened bread when Israel left Egypt is   the exact day that Jacob and his family entered Egypt centuries earlier.  The Exodus marked the end of the prophecy given to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years (Genesis 15:13).  Through the blessing of the God of Jacob, a family of 70 had grown to over one million. 

After losing his firstborn son and the firstborn of all of his kingdom, Pharaoh set the people of Israel free.  God made the Egyptians favorably disposed to the Israelites and they were more than willing for them to take whatever they wanted from livestock to gold just so they would leave their land.  For seven days the children of Israel  traveled from Egypt to Sukkoth during which time they ate only matzah. 

“They baked matzah loaves from the dough they had brought out of Egypt, since it was unleavened; because they had been driven out of Egypt without time to prepare supplies for themselves” (Exodus 12:39).

Soured Dough – Chametz

“You are not to eat any chametz with it; for seven days [of Unleavened Bread] you are to eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction; for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste. Thus you will remember the day you left the land of Egypt as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 16:3).

‘Leaven’ in Hebrew is chametz and literally means ‘soured dough.’   In ancient times, leavening was done through a soured starter dough.  The starter was a mixture of flour combined with water and allowed to sit for several days, souring the dough.  A portion of this soured dough could be mixed with other flour creating a leavened dough.  Then, a little more flour is added to the lump of starter to keep the wild yeast from dying.   By removing the chametz from their homes, the Israelites were literally throwing away a ‘lump of dough’ in order to start over with a new batch.    

“Get rid of the old lump, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened…” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Yeshua used leaven of ‘soured dough’ to symbolize the false teachings and traditions of the elders that diluted the truth of the Scriptures.  Just as a little leaven infects a whole loaf of bread, centuries of false teachings and manmade practices had contaminated the Word of God. 

This is what happened to the Israelites in Egypt.  Centuries of other gods and Egyptian culture had infiltrated their lives and their faith.   God commanded His people  to remove all ‘soured dough’ from their homes because He desired that his people would leave behind the leaven of Egypt and become decontaminated with the ways of that nation.  For seven days they were to eat nothing but the ‘bread of affliction’ and search their souls.  They were to leave behind everything in Egypt that puffed up their hearts with pride and unbelief.

The Bread of Affliction

Matzah or Unleavened BreadWithin the symbolism of the ‘bread of affliction,’  there is the idea of death and decay.     As the little yeasty bugs puff up the dough by souring it, they are actually dying and decaying.  If the dough is allowed to rise too long, those little guys run out of energy and the loaf flattens or ‘dies’.  This is the essence of the new pure lump of dough, the Bread of Life and the true Word of God,  where there has been affliction and the death of those yeasty bugs that puff up the dough.

When making unleavened bread or matzah, it is important to prick the dough.  This allows all air to leave and keep the dough flat.  As it bakes, it turns brown between the piercings giving the bread the appearance of stripes.  In the traditional Passover seder, a piece of matzah is broken and half, wrapped in a white cloth and hidden.  It is called the afikomen and means ‘that which comes after.’ 

After the Passover supper, Yeshua used the afikomen to reveal himself as ‘the coming one.‘   He broke the pierced and striped bread, his ‘bread of affliction’,  and gave it to his disciples to eat.  He was arrested during the night, beaten in the morning, and hung on the cross in the afternoon where his broken body died.  (Mark 10:45).

“Also, taking a piece of matzah, he made the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19).

Preparation Day

“It was Preparation Day [for Unleavened Bread], and the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat. In the vicinity of where he [Yeshua] had been executed was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried.  So, because it was Preparation Day [for Unleavened Bread] …, and because the tomb was close by, that is where they buried Yeshua” (John 19:31, 41-42).

The day these events took place the Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread and known as a ‘high sabbath’, different from the weekly Sabbath.  Because sunset was approaching and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was arriving, Yeshua was quickly rubbed with myrrh, wrapped in linens and placed in a tomb.   He was buried hastily and his ‘appointed time ‘ of burial began.  For the first three days and three nights of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yeshua lay dead, left to decay in a tomb. 

“You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation” (Exodus 12:17).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a permanent regulation to be celebrated from generation to generation  to remember Israel’s hasty exodus from the land of Egypt.  The ‘appointed time’ of matzah was fulfilled by the hasty burial of Yeshua, the unleavened  bread from heaven, who was ‘the coming one.’  Paul tells the Corinthians that believers in Messiah are to remove the ‘soured dough’ lump of false teachings and celebrate the festivals of Unleavened Bread (and Passover) not with the puffed up bread of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and sincerity in the Truth of God’s Word. 

For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed.  Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 The Amplified Bible).

©2010 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.)

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