Feast of Unleavened Bread

There’s only one name given to this Festival in Scripture which is transliterated in Hebrew as ‘Hag Hamatzah’ meaning "The Festival of Unleavened Bread".  “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt," (Exodus 23:15). 

While Passover is only one day in length, celebrated on the 14th of Nisan (Numbers 28:16, Leviticus 23:5), Unleavened Bread lasts seven days from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan. This makes the entire festival eight days in duration (Numbers 28:17, Leviticus 23:6). The Feast of Unleavened Bread stood or fell with Passover so that ‘Passover’ became the name for the entire Festival and not just the name for the day immediately preceding the seven days of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1).

Although Passover and Unleavened Bread are two distinct Festivals in Leviticus 23, they merged into one almost immediately. For example, Exodus 23:15-17 and Deuteronomy 16:16 both list the three Festivals at which Jewish men were to appear before the Lord; the Scriptures record the first as "Unleavened Bread", but it goes on to note the seven day period unleavened bread was to be eaten. This demonstrates how they were both inextricably linked in the Jewish mind. In fact, they are so connected that it’s difficult to be absolutely certain whether a seven day Festival or a one day event is being referred to in some of the texts. However, it is fair to say that the Festival of Unleavened Bread was compulsory for all male Israelites to attend annually.

At the Passover and Unleavened Bread, leaven is to be removed from all the houses (Exodus 12:15). Leaven was to be excluded throughout the entire territory of Israel for the full duration of the festival (Deuteronomy 16:4). For seven days no leaven was to be present and only unleavened bread was to be eaten. It was to be a reminder to the Israelites of the day when they came out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:33-34). 

Yeshua acted out of the plan of salvation by becoming our sacrificial Passover lamb. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (compare Isaiah 53:7-9; 1 Peter 1:18-19). So, at the very core of the celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the all-encompassing truth that Jesus died and was raised from the dead during the spring festival!

The Symbolism of Unleavened Bread 

Part of God's instruction for the Days of Unleavened Bread is to put leavened bread products out of our homes (Exodus 12:15-16). The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5:8, encouraged the mostly gentile church there to "keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness [lingering sinful attitudes], but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth"—a clear reference to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (emphasis added).

Paul recognized that the unleavened bread of this Feast is symbolic of sincerity and truth, which should be hallmarks of the life of every saint. He also understood that leaven during this time symbolized sin, and this Feast pictures our need to make every effort to eliminate it completely from our lives.

The truly great story about the Days of Unleavened Bread is the story of the resurrected Christ living His life in those of us who have truly repented of living in sin and have received the Holy Spirit! This empowers us to overcome sins in a way that previously was simply not possible.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Festival that helps us to focus on replacing sin with righteousness. But the only real way to put sin out of our lives is to put Jesus Christ into our lives!  We are promised that we can truly put sin out of our lives because Yeshua lives within us through His Holy Spirit (compare Galatians 2:20; Romans 7:23–8:4).

The evening meal of Passover leads into a new day as the sun sets in the west.  Just as the death angel passed over the people of Israel because they obeyed, using the sacrificial blood of a lamb, so Almighty will pass over the saints with death's sentence as they have trusted in the blood of the Lamb.

The Historical Feast of Unleavened Bread

On this day the people were to "hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work."  The sabbath of unleavened bread evokes images of that night when the Israelites ate the sacrificial lamb in fear, yet eager anticipation of the coming days.

Around them rose cries of Egyptians mourning the loss of their firstborn.  Suddenly the word came from Moses to hurry and gather themselves together for their great journey.  Pharaoh had decided to release the people of Yahweh.  The Israelites had prepared the unleavened bread called matzah for Passover, as Moses had instructed, so they picked up the matzah as their only provision and ran.

Matzah is a symbol of liberation from bondage of slavery and of sin.  Unleavened bread recalls the simple yet active faith of the Israelites who were willing to leave the home they knew to travel into the unfamiliar parched desert.  Having seen God's mysterious power in the plagues, they trusted in the promises of His servant.  As a bride they loved Almighty; He said, "and [she] followed me through the desert, through a land not sown," Jeremiah 2:2.

Devotees do not eat or use any food with yeast during the seven days of Passover.  Those who celebrate Pesah with deep commitment search out and dispose of leavened products.  To them, leaven is a symbol of "yetzer ha-ra"--evil inclinations--in particular, the prompting of pride.  No matter how small the leaven is in a food, the smallest particle is corruptive.  Similarly, no matter how small or deeply hidden is the leaven of evil in our lives, it will fester and grow to eventually poison every aspect of our lives.  

In the Bible, leaven is compared to the erroneous doctrines and vicious practices of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Christ's day (Matthew 16:6).  God's people, in the troublous times that lay ahead, must also put away the leaven of the religious leaders of our modern day.  Many a minister, rabbi and priest will succumb to the demonic deceptions seen around the globe, being ignorant of the Scriptures and prophecies which would save their souls and guide their congregations through the uncertain days ahead.

More on the Feast of Unleavened Bread from WikiBooks.