Have you misunderstood Unleavened Bread?
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 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 now 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. You couldn’t pick the leaven out of the bread. You could only throw it out – and then we all had to start over 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: Our old carnal selves. It pictures US. Yes, Christ died for our sins and our Father in heaven forgave us. But then we still stumble in sin, though it must not be a way of life any longer. So we remind ourselves that we must continually be putting out our 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”.
When you were throwing out your leavened products, did you realize that all 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 not been in our homes before. It was brand new. It had no connection to the discarded leavened products. It’s a new product.
So the Unleavened Bread does not and cannot picture US. 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 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). It’s HIS body, HIS life; not mine, not yours.
So far, are you with me? The 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.
The unleavened bread pictures Yeshua. Surely it has to, for that’s what Yeshua said, and what Paul echoed.
Yes, I know we are to grow to become in His image. We are to copy him. We are to follow him. (1 Cor. 11:1). I am to let HIS mind become my mind (Philippians 2:5). But the life I now live is not supposed to be mine, nor can it really be mine, just as Paul says in Gal. 2:20 and Col 3:1-4. Christ is now my life. HE is now my righteousness. He “became FOR us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
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). Though you may not have eaten any leavened products so far this week, I doubt any of us can claim to have not sinned at all during the same last few 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 him doing it. 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.”
That’s not me saying that, but Paul. He repeats it in verse 20. Paul makes a clear distinction between the carnal nature he still had (“For I am carnal”- v.14), and the new nature and the new life and new creation inside him -- which is Christ actively living in him. This only happens if we abide in him in constant prayer and frequent studying of his word.
How could Paul say that it was no longer him sinning but sin that dwelt in him? Because he understood that just as we throw out the old leaven, we have to get rid of, surrender, put to spiritual death – the OLD SELF. ALL of it. Did you get that? ALL of it.
But now we have 2 natures inside us: the old carnal self is still there, fighting the new spirit-led self, the new creation. See Gal. 5:16-17.
Our entire life before Christ has 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.
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.
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).
Jesus Christ said the prince of this world (Satan) had NOTHING in him. Nothing (John 14:30). He was the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), totally without sin his entire life. Now THAT is what unleavened bread looks like. It looks like Christ.
Even just a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 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.
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”.
Cast it all out, Paul says, for we are now unleavened. What does that mean? That you don’t sin anymore? Hardly. The Corinthian brethren were loaded with sin. Chapter after chapter is about another sinful behavior – party divisions, marital problems, terrible open sex sins going on, suing one another, getting drunk at Passover, teaching our resurrection is already past, and on and on.
The ONLY way the Corinthians could be said to be “truly unleavened” (v.9) is by the new life of Christ himself living in them.
Who is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? Yeshua! He said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life.” (John 14:6). “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Who is the Word? John 1:1-3. It’s Yeshua! We strive to live more sincerely and truthfully, but the One it pictures is Yeshua.
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 this 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.
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).
WE can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens us so we can fight – but it’s HIS might, HIS power (Phil 4:13) -- not through our own failing efforts. Even Jesus, remember, relied on his Father for everything! He said 3-4 times, “I can do NOTHING of myself” (John 5:19, 30; 8:28) and then reminded us WE can do nothing apart from HIM (John 15:5).
To this end, Paul repeatedly teaches that HE – and you and I – are supposed to have DIED to sin, to have been crucified with Christ, and our new life is not one of our own making, but is the life of the Son of God himself – it’s Yeshua (Jesus) himself! Any righteousness we have now is from and by Jesus Christ (please read Philippians 1:10; 1 Cor. 1:29-31; Phil 3:8-11). I’m finding many “church of God” friends resisting this; that God’s righteousness is only possible through faith in Christ and his life, and his righteousness gifted to us (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21). HE is our righteousness and our unleavened bread.
WE died. Christ was resurrected and his resurrection life becomes ours when we declare it with our mouths and believe it with our hearts (Romans 10:1-4, 9-10). Read these again. This is our unleavened bread that we eat.
Unleavened bread does not picture ourselves defeating sin. It’s much more perfect than that. Unleavened bread pictures Christ living in me and crushing sin. Father sees HIS life, HIS righteousness covering me.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Colossians 3:2-4 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For YOU died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When CHRIST WHO IS OUR LIFE appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Unleavened Bread. It is Christ who is pictured. It is Christ, who is now our life, living victoriously in us. Be sure as you eat unleavened bread, you don’t leave Yeshua out. It’s all about 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. 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.
To him be all the glory and praise. Amen.