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Correctly understand eating unleavened bread
(This article is an updated version of one I wrote a year ago).
Let me get right to the point. Over the many years in the Church of God and its subsequent branches, I was taught – and I even taught – this about unleavened bread:
** Leavening pictures sin like malice and wickedness (1 Cor. 5:6-8) as well as false doctrine (Matthew 16:6-12) and so that is why we put it out. (True, but leavening can also picture God’s kingdom that spreads! Matthew 13:33).
** Then when talking about eating UNLEAVENED bread, it is believed that this pictures our new life committed to obedience and being free from sin.
All that can be true. But it’s not complete. It’s dangerously incomplete, in fact.
When you deleavened your home, and men – I hope you helped a lot and led the family in this – you threw OUT and disposed of all leavened breads, crackers, cookies, etc. because there was no way to salvage any of it. We couldn’t pick the leaven out of the bread. We could only throw it out – and then we all had to REPLACE it all with brand new unleavened bread that you either made at home or bought matzah from an outside store.
What did the leavened bread you threw out picture?
The right answer: It pictures our old carnal selves, not just sin itself, but how we had sin in our lives and were sinners. Leavened bread pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, perhaps even daily, even during the days of Unleavened bread. Sinning is no longer our way of life, but we still stumble in sin, as even Paul says in Rom.7:15-20. Please read it carefully.
So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out, not just sins, but our sinful old self. We must be totally surrendering to God in every facet of our lives so we can call Jesus our Lord. So the leavening we throw out pictures – US. Not just sin generally, but “US”. And this is why Paul would say in Galatians 2:20 that he is crucified with Christ. Paul wanted his old self tied down and killed – with Christ.
When you were throwing out your leavened products, did you realize all that leavening pictured – YOU? Your old self; what Paul calls “the old man”? It pictured you giving up the old ways of unrighteousness.
After throwing out the old sinful way pictured by leaven, we go out and buy or bake fresh UNLEAVENED bread that had never been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product that NEVER had any leavening in it. That’s key.
Sin is defined as breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4), for failing to do the good things we should have done (James 4:17), going against our conscience, doing things “not of faith” (Romans 14:23). All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). We repent of what we ARE – a sinner, as the tax collector did (Luke 18:12-14).
So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US because there’s still sin in our lives we need to repent of, daily. True unleavened bread has never had any leaven in it. It doesn’t even picture us as we try to keep sin out of our lives because as Paul admits in Romans 7, we all still stumble in sin. UNLEAVENED bread has to picture something more, and someone far greater than you and me.
Unleavened Bread pictures the One, and the only One, who DID keep sin totally out of his life. HE is the Unleavened Bread of God. HE is the manna, the bread of heaven, from God (John 6:48-51 please read it). He and he alone. This is why Yeshua said, “this is MY body, broken for you.” (Matthew 26:26). The unleavened bread of Passover AND during the days of unleavened bread picture HIS body, HIS life; not mine, not yours.
So far, are you with me? Leavened bread pictures us who still stumble in sin. Each year, we remind ourselves that there are still vestiges of sinful habits and ways of thinking we have to cast out as we cleanse the temple of God, which is our body (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said – “This is MY body…,” and what Paul echoes in 1 Cor. 11:23-25. It pictures us taking in Christ’s life. The old sinful self – pictured by leavened bread – we threw out. We eat of it, in remembrance of HIM. We focus on Christ now in the new covenant more than on coming out of Egypt. And we don’t focus on ourselves trying to get sin out of our lives by ourselves.
Let me say again: we don’t try to take the leavening out of already leavened products. We can’t. We throw them out. They are not able to be unleavened. They must be replaced.
In the same way, we must die to this world and its way. We must be crucified with Christ. We cannot – we cannot ourselves make ourselves righteous enough to be acceptable to the “be ye therefore perfect/complete” standard Yeshua/Jesus laid out for us (Matthew 5:48).
We have to eat the unleavened bread that pictures the NEW life, the new bread of our Messiah Jesus Christ. We put out malice and wickedness, remember, and take on sincerity and truth. WHO is the Truth? It is Yeshua/Jesus!
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore throw 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. 8 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”.
Corinthians – truly are unleavened? Each chapter is about another one of their corporate sins, one after the other. The only way they were unleavened was through Christ, sacrificed for them and who is sincerity and TRUTH. You cannot take leaven out of an already leavened product. Our old self is leavened. We can’t perfect it. It has to be thrown out and we have to accept the NEW UNLEAVENED, SINLESS life of Christ. And HE, by his one offering, we are told in Hebrews 10:14 – “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
So the Unleavened Bread does not picture our perfection by us taking each little and big sin out of our lives – but pictures us accepting the forever sinless perfection of Christ’s life now to replace our old life.
In 2 Cor. 5:17 that Paul tells us that in Christ we are A NEW CREATION – like the new unleavened bread you bake or buy that had never existed before in your life. We cannot make ourselves a new creation. The Creator of our NEW CREATION is – guess who? Is GOD through Christ, just like the original creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Paul goes on after saying all of this is made possible by God. “Now all things are of God.” God’s perfection and righteousness is credited to us as his gift (Romans 5:17; as we accept the justification that is by faith – Romans 5:1)
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that WE might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.”
And so now we can come boldly before the throne of God’s favor or grace. HOW? Is it because we have become so good now, though we still stumble in sin? No! We come boldly through the blood and pierced flesh of our Savior (Hebrews 10:19). God will remember our sins no more (Heb. 10:17)
Hebrews 10:19-23 – “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Don’t misunderstand me. Now once we have partaken of our Savior we must, of course, fight sin viciously and keep ourselves from intentional sin, willful sin, which is seen very seriously by our God.
Hebrews 10:26-27 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries”.
As we focus on Christ, we become more and more in his image (2 Cor. 3:17-18). We copy Him, follow him (1 Cor. 11:1) and we let HIS mind become ours. Christ himself is now our new life – Colossians 3:1-4.
So the UNLEAVENED BREAD we eat does NOT picture US primarily. It is NOT about our lives that are now free from the penalty of sin, but we still sometimes sin (leaven) as Paul says in Romans 7:15-17. Though you may not consume any leavened products during the week of unleavened bread , I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during those seven days. Apostle Paul, as you know in Romans 7, still admitted to stumbles of sin that he hated.
Paul even goes on to make a differentiation between his old carnal sinful fleshly self – and the new creation Paul. In fact Paul says in Romans 7:16-20 that NOW when he sinned, it was not really himself sinning. It wasn’t the new Paul—no, it was “Sin that dwells in me” that was doing the sinning.
Romans 7:15-17 “but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
Paul differentiates between the old carnal self that we still have – alongside the new creation of God in Christ, that we now have as well. These 2 fight each other and fight they must. But the UNLEAVENED bread is Yeshua, our Messiah. Each day we eat of it, we are asking God to let Christ BE our new life, and that we follow his guidance and look more and more like HIM.
Our entire life before Christ had been leavened, in other words. We can’t keep any of it. It all has to go – just like your bread, cookies, and crackers. Once a life is leavened, you cannot deleaven it, any more than you can deleaven already leavened bread. A leavened LIFE – which is really what all this pictures – has to be cast out and rejected just like we do leavened bread.
Even GOD has to start with a new creation in us. A once-leavened life cannot be deleavened. It has to be replaced. It is replaced by the life of Christ alive in each of us. So I need a new life pictured by new bread that is unleavened: Yeshua himself.
But my new self is NOT me, trying to qualify for God’s kingdom in my efforts to overcome and defeat sin. In fact, remember that the days of Unleavened Bread come BEFORE the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Imagine claiming you could have any victory over sin without the holy spirit! My old me failed. So did yours. We need something – or Someone – PERFECT, without ANY sin at any time, ever (Hebrews 4:15).
Are you seeing the difference? It’s ALL about Yeshua. ALL about him and how he perfectly obeyed his Father, and our Father.
I eat unleavened bread to remind me that I have to take in Jesus Christ my Savior day after day. We become what we eat. In this season, let’s FEAST on our Messiah. I don’t eat matzah to remind me I no longer sin – because you and I still do. I eat matzah during Passover week – and figuratively the rest of my life – because I need HIM living in me from now on.
When our Savior handed out the pieces of matzah to the disciples, he does NOT say “Eat this, as this pictures the new you trying your best to ‘make it’ and to finally be good enough to be allowed into the kingdom.” No!
Yeshua said, “Eat this bread, for this is MY LIFE broken for you. Drink of my cup, for this is MY BLOOD of the new covenant” that he SHED for us (Matt. 26:26-29). Life is in the blood. It’s all about him. “Do this in remembrance of ME,” He said several times (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).
I know you know that, but I still keep hearing and reading an emphasis on the unleavened matzah picturing each of US successfully fighting sin. But even just ONE sin makes us a sinner, right? Even one lustful or overly angry thought makes you and me a sinner, right?
Yes, we have to fight sin. Yes, we have to be Christian soldiers fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12). Yes, we have to put on the whole armor of God. All of that is in context that we must “be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might” (Eph 6:10).
Unleavened bread does not picture us defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures CHRIST living in me and crushing sin and being my new life. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me. As you eat unleavened bread, don’t leave Christ out of your thoughts: you’re picturing HIM.
As you eat unleavened bread, think of it as you pursuing the Messiah, seeking to be with him, learning what it means to abide in him. As you eat unleavened bread, invite him to BE the new you, PERFECTLY at one with Him, prepared to be His Bride. Invite him to cleanse the temple of your body of anything unpleasing to Father. Dwell in him. Invite him and Father to dwell in you.
And this is why you and I must eat unleavened bread each and all 7 days of the Feast. We simply cannot live perfectly enough without it being HIM and HIS righteousness all the time, 7 days a week living as our new life.
To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.
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Dear Philip Shields,
Thanks so much for this powerful article! I really learned something new in this article, that, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is NOT, I was once taught that its wholly about us Coming out of sin! I have come to now fully understand that its ALL ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD! I highly recommend this every serious believer and worshiper of God and more specifically to majority in the CoGs so that they may come to fully understand that it's all about Jesus Christ! Be blessed and to God be the glory.
Yours in Christian Service,
George Otieno Owato, Pastor
Holy Anointing Church of God
(Seventh Day) Fellowship - Kenya
Philip, you have done it again . . . taken a subject I thought I knew everything about and changed my understanding of it. Your message presents a deeper and more intimate dimension to Unleavened Bread then I had ever realized, and to me it's a beautiful new truth. What a blessing! I would encourage anyone who keeps Passover & the Feast of Unleavened to read this.
Philip, This article adds so much to the meaning of Unleavened Bread--it's a deeper meaning than I've ever had! Because Grace has not been understood, neither has the fact--as you keep pointing out--that OUR righteousness can never make us perfect; can never 'earn' us salvation. It's clear now that unleavened breadis symbolic of Christ's sinless life in place of ours. He's not trying to fix our rotten human nature, He's given us a new nature--Christ's own righteousness. It all makes sense!