Is the Feast of Unleavened Bread mentioned in the Bible for Christians too? The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day feast that is kicked off the evening of Passover. This is a Biblically-commanded Feast of the Lord. But even though this feast first appears in the Old Testament to the Israelites, did you know that it’s actually a feast that was foreshadowing and celebrating Jesus as Messiah?
In this post I’d like to explore that a little more. How does this Old Testament feast apply to modern day Christians? Is it Biblical to observe it? Is it Biblical to NOT observe it?
Let’s dive into these questions so you can come out with a greater understanding of what God’s desire is for you and your family in regards to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The First Feast of Unleavened Bread
In Exodus 12:15-20,39 we find the very first Feast of Unleavened Bread. This happens directly after the first Passover. In Exodus 12:17 God tells the children of Israel why they are observing this feast:
“And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.” – Exodus 12:17
So God is telling them that they are to observe this feast because He has delivered them from Egypt.
You might ask yourself, why? Why do they have to do this because God brought them out of Egypt? Where is the connection?
Well, Egypt, like Babylon, can be used as a metaphor for the world, or sin and bondage to sin. This article does a good job of explaining this. But as that article notes, you can also read Hebrews 3:14-4:11 for a Biblical example of Paul using Egypt as a metaphor for life before salvation in Christ.
We will get into this concept more in a little bit too.
The Command to Observe the Feast Every Year
Jumping forward a little bit to Exodus 13:6-10, we find God instructing Israel to keep this feast from year to year, ” as a sign unto thee upon thine hand and for a memorial between thine eyes” (Exodus 13:9).
So the reason that God tells Israel to continue observing the feast from year to year is so that: 1) they will remember all that God has done for them when He delivered them from being slaves in Egypt (i.e. to sin) and 2) as a sign of their covenant with Almighty God.
If Egypt is representing the ways of the world (or sin), do you think that, as Christians who are gloriously delivered from sin by the blood and power of Christ, this feast has any significance for us? Would it be good to be reminded regularly of all that God has done for you by bringing you out the bondage of sin? Do you have a covenant with God that you need to declare to the world?
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15
Leaven as a metaphor for evil and sin
God uses metaphors all throughout the Bible. And just as Egypt can represent the world (or sin), leaven also is representative of something too. God doesn’t just throw any old thing into His Word. No, every word is significant.
In the Old Testament we find leaven mostly referred to when talking about the the Feast of Unleavened Bread itself, and often times in regards to sacrifices. Most of which are commanded to be brought without leaven, “for it is most holy” (Leviticus 6:17)
Leaven is corrupt doctrine
In the New Testament we find that Jesus likens the corrupt doctrine of the Pharisees to leaven:
“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” – Matthew 16:6-12
In Galatians, Paul also refers to bad doctrine of a work-based salvation as being leaven (Galatians 5:1-8) and warns that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:8).
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump
Then he uses this same phrase in reference to sin being present among the congregation of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye 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.” – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
As you can see here, he also refers to Christ as Our Passover Lamb and urges us to keep the feast of Passover (which is connected to the Feast of Unleavened bread). But not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the UNLEAVENED BREAD of sincerity and truth.
We are to learn from the light that has been shed on this feast and observe the feast accordingly, in light of what we now know. That leaven represents sin, Jesus was without sin (Unleavened) and He has saved us from that sin with His perfect sacrifice.
Jesus is Our Unleavened Bread
Jesus is so many things, isn’t He? He is our Salvation (Yeshua). He is the Passover Lamb of God. He is our Lord and King. He is our Friend. And He is so much more. As you read the Word of God you discover that He is everything to us. He is God’s love sent down from heaven while we were still sinners (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).
He is also the bread of life. The true manna come down from heaven.
“Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” – John 6:31-35
The Israelites were commaned to eat only Unleavened Bread for 7-days. Because it was a symbol of rejecting the sin of the world (Egypt). It was a symbol of choosing LIFE (Jesus) over DEATH (sin).
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
Jesus tells us He is the Unleavened Bread at The Last Supper
During the Last Supper, which is the Passover meal and the first day of The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:12), Jesus breaks the bread and tells his disciples that this bread represents His body (Mark 14:22). He says that by eating it, they are choosing Him (life).
Think about that for a minute. This is the Passover meal that they had been observing for thousands of years. And in this Passover meal they had always eaten unleavened bread, because it was commanded of them. And now, Jesus gives them a revelation. This unleavened bread that they had been eating as a memorial is really representative of HIM. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been to receive such a revelation after going through the motions for your whole life, not fully understanding the fulfillment that God had planned.
So Jesus Himself has defined the unleavened bread of this feast as representing His body. This isn’t a new tradition created especially for Christians. This is a previously commanded Biblical feast that Jesus is shedding new light on. That He is sharing the true meaning of. And that meaning is celebrating the LIFE we have through Jesus Christ when we CHOOSE HIM over sin.
The Last Breadcrumb
In Jewish households there’s a long held custom to have a big spring cleaning the week before Passover, hunting down every last breadcrumb in their homes to make sure that no leaven is in the house at all.
It’s actually a ceremony called Bedikat HaMetz, which means “the search for leaven”. The ceremony entails the wife purposefully leaving ten pieces of leaven throughout the house after finishing her very thorough spring cleaning. Then, at nightfall on the day before Passover, the father will take the children on a hunt throughout the house for the last ten pieces of leaven.
They will perform this search by candlelight only. Once a piece of leaven is found, the father sweeps the leaven onto a wooden spoon with a feather. Then, careful not to touch the leaven, the father takes the spoon and leaven, wraps them in a linen cloth, and puts them outside of the house. The next morning, he goes into the synagogue and puts it into a fire to be burned.
The parallels to the fulfillment of Jesus here are thick! The candle representing The Word of God (Psalm 119:105), the feather representing the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22), the wooden spoon the cross of Jesus (John 19:18) and the linen cloths the linen clothes that Jesus was wrapped in after being crucified (Luke 23:53). Then the fact that this leaven (sin) is “nailed” to a cross and destroyed (Colossians 2:14). Wow.
The spiritual significance here is important. Because it’s not bread that God is concerned with, it’s our hearts. And since we know that the leaven here represents sin, it’s important that we examine our temples for any breadcrumbs of sin that might be overlooked.
The Purpose of Unleavened Bread Week for Christians
So as you can see, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is extremely significant to the life of the believer. Jesus himself has told us that He is the Unleavened Bread of Passover (Mark 14:22) and we are urged in the New Testament to keep the Feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Knowing that choosing Jesus means choosing the bread of life (John 6:35) who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and turning from the sins of the world, how do you think we can observe this special feast as Christians?
We are to celebrate the sinless life of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation that He has given us through His sacrifice on the cross (Romans 6:23). We are to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24). It’s a perfect time to do some spiritual spring cleaning. To examine our lives for any sin that might be seeping in, and coming before God in repentance and joy of the forgiveness we have (Acts 3:19) because of the blood of The Lamb of God (John 1:29).
Removing the Leaven
The Bible says that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and so we must read the Bible with the spirit behind the commandments in mind, and not just the letter of the law. The Pharisees were guilty of this, and the danger is missing the entire lesson that God is trying to teach us.
So, if you choose to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, you are welcome to also abstain from eating leaven throughout the week too, if you wish, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Now that we know what the leaven ultimately represents, it’s important for us to focus on what really matters to God: which is removing sin from our lives.
Having said that, it is a great object lesson for kids (and for you). The very first year we celebrated Unleavened Bread as a family we tried abstaining from leaven and let me tell you…it’s hard not to eat it on accident! It was a great lesson because it taught us that leaven (sin) can be SO SNEAKY and can seep into your life without your alarms even going off.
So, pray about it and see what God wants you to do with your family.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread: A Celebration of Choosing Jesus Over Sin!
So, friend, as you can see this feast is a celebration. It’s a celebration of choosing a life following Jesus over a life filled with sin. It’s a celebration of our Christianity. Of being disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s glorious and wonderful and very much for anyone who follows Jesus.
If you decide to observe The Feast of Unleavened Bread with your family, be sure to remember that the days of The Feast of Unleavened Bread are different every year because it’s based on the moon cycle. You can find accurate dates for all the Biblical feasts on this page. They even have a printable calendar that you can use to remember when they are each year.
Be leery of following any of the Biblical feast dates on the Jewish calendar because unfortunately the Jews have switched to a fixed calendar for observing the Biblical feasts. The link above is to a Christian organization that determines the Biblical feasts based on the moon cycles (which is how the dates were originally determined).