Is this your very first observance of the spring holy days? Is it your fiftieth? Whatever the case, the big question is this: By the conclusion of this year’s Feast of Unleavened Bread, will you be the same person? Herbert W. Armstrong reminded us of the importance and meaning of this festival in his booklet, Pagan Holidays–or God’s Holy Days–Which?
He reiterated the feast as “A memorial of deliverance from Egypt, which pictures to us deliverance from sin!” And to observe “the Feast of Unleavened Bread, picturing the coming out from sin—seven Days of Unleavened Bread symbolizing and picturing complete putting away of sin, or, in other words, the keeping of the commandments.”
For this annual festival, beginning on the 15th of the Hebrew month Abib, God commands us to put leaven out of our homes for seven days (Exodus 12:14). This feast focuses on eradicating the spiritual leaven that puffs us up, conquering lawlessness and building humble, contrite, everlasting godly character.
Recently, two individuals told me, It is impossible to come out of sin. They both denied the power, Word and authority of their Creator, with whom “all things are possible” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Tragically, these baptized individuals once observed the memorial of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in God’s Church. But now their conduct is destroying their character and revealing a worldly form of godliness that also blatantly denies God’s all-conquering power. For such we pray for a full and speedy repentance(Revelation 3:14-22).
Satan relentlessly targets our minds with remembrances of past sins, which have been overcome. He tries to inject doubt and intimidate us back into the life of lawlessness. As we enter into a covenant with God at baptism, we must meet two conditions: repentance and faith (Jeremiah 31:31-34). We must absolutely believe the unbreakable Word of God, which promises that when we repent, God will separate us from our sins as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12, 18).
God permanently and powerfully removed the ancient Israelites from Egypt, a type of sin. He removed them from the grip of Pharaoh, a symbolic type of Satan’s grip on mankind. He delivered them through the waters of the Red Sea, depicting baptism, and destroyed the pursuers who attempted to drag them back into lawless captivity. He is the only source who can help us conquer and remove sin through the active use of His Holy Spirit (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 11:25-29).
Our daily contact with God in prayer and His direction to us through Bible study is paramount for successful, lasting character-building. The Days of Unleavened Bread depict coming out of sin completely. That means keeping the Ten Commandments, which are a codified form of God’s law, His Spirit, His way, His love, His outgoing concern, His very nature.
Have you ever deleavened your home, office or vehicle only to come to find remnants of leaven in an area you felt sure you had cleaned out? This also happens spiritually. When we think we have completely eradicated a particular sin, we often stumble upon hidden sins (Psalms 90:8). Upon discovery, these must be immediately overcome and removed (Psalms 51:7).
“Can you realize that every unhappiness, every evil that has come to humanity, has been the result of transgressing God’s law?” Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. “If no one ever had any other god before the true God; if all children were reared to honor, respect and obey their parents, and all parents reared their children in God’s ways; if no one ever allowed the spirit of murder to enter his heart, if there were no wars, no killing of humans by humans; if all marriages were kept happy, and there were no transgressions of chastity before or after marriage; if all had so much concern for the good and welfare of others that no one would steal—and we could throw away all locks, keys and safes; if everyone told the truth—everyone’s word were good—everyone were honest; if no one ever coveted what was not rightfully his, but had so much outgoing concern for the welfare of others that he really believed it is more blessed to give than to receive—what a happy world we would have!”
“In such a world, with all loving and worshiping God with all their minds, hearts and strength—with all having concern for the welfare of all others equal to concern for self—there would be no divorce—no broken homes or families, no juvenile delinquency, no crime, no jails or prisons, no police except for peaceful direction and supervision as a public service for all, no wars, no military establishments.”
“I’ve come to see why I should hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness,” Mr. Armstrong said in a sermon on April 12, 1985, just months before his death. “You see, every bit of pain and suffering, every bit of stress, mental torment of any kind, every bit of everything that is unhappy and unpleasant comes from sin. If you are righteousness, that’s the absence of sin; and sin is the absence of righteousness. But if you get rid of the sin and supplant it with God’s righteousness, then you have none of those things to worry about.”
This godly mindset of the absence of sin requires that we allow His Word and His law to guide our thoughts and actions. Repentance is a total turnabout change of future conduct.
“I think about God; and God has no worries, no frustrations,” Mr. Armstrong said. “God has full confidence and faith, and full assurance. God is supremely happy. The only thing that could possibly make Him unhappy is some of us, and maybe we do.”
“But I think He loves us so much, He’s willing to suffer that for us, if necessary; and He does. But I do hunger and thirst for His righteousness, because it means the absence of the consequences of sin. This world is trying to do away with the consequences of sin, and they can’t do it!”
“And they are not accomplishing it, and they never will. The consequences of sin are going to be there. We should come out of it all together.”
We live in a world held captive under its god, Satan the devil. He is the fallen light bringer, the author of lawless darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). Yet, the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, reminds us that while in this dying world, we are to come out of its sinful ways, which are hostile to Him and His law (Romans 12:2; Revelation 18:4).
Our goal is to strive for the perfection of our Maker (Matthew 5:48). God in the flesh, tempted in all points, was so connected to His Father that He pursued this path of righteousness (Hebrew 4:15; Matthew 7:14). Following in His steps requires that we identify our transgressions and repent, replacing it with God’s all-encompassing righteousness and character (1 John 3:4; 2:1-4, Galatians 2:20; 5:22-24).
Doing such allows God’s life to be lived in converted, begotten members imbued with His Holy Spirit, who voluntarily submit to His will. Letting Christ come again in our flesh is the re-creation of God in us (1 John 4:2).
In Nehemiah 8:10, we are told: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” When a sin is removed from our lives, replaced with God’s character, the result yields peaceful fruits of righteousness, abundant joy, happiness and rejoicing (Hebrews 12:11).
“We have been richly blessed with a deep understanding of His law. Being a Philadelphian means that we are always striving to keep God’s law more perfectly. No Laodicean group has a full understanding of God’s law any more. And, as time passes, they are losing even more of the understanding they still have. Do we have a greater appreciation for God’s law? We all should be eager to have more understanding of God’s law!”
“How do we keep the ‘joy of the Lord’ in our lives?” he asked. Just as God commanded ancient Israel to fear and obey His commands for deliverance from their captivity, so must we as spiritual Israel be swift to obey God. “Obedience preserves God’s joy in us.”
Anciently, the Israelites greatly rejoiced upon their deliverance from Egypt’s captivity and at the sight of the destruction of Pharaoh and his army (Exodus 14:21-31 and 15:20-21). Do we, in this final church era, likewise rejoice in the ongoing spiritual victory God works in our lives by and through His Spirit?
These precious days thrust us forward toward the soon-coming return of our Savior, the removal of the author of sin, the restoration of God’s government and the ushering in of a wonderful world of utopian physical and spiritual growth for the Family of God. Then, all mankind will hear the message and reap the rewards of removing sin, replacing it with divine righteousness, and rejoice in the supreme joy of God!