Today’s justice system: overburdened, drowning in paperwork, prey to courtroom theatrics and politics and prone to corruption, hostile to common sense, rendered ineffectual by a growing mountain of picky technicalities! Jeremiah said that it is impossible for man to guide his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23)—let alone legislate justice for a society of individuals. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the legal system.
In contrast to mankind’s justice system, God’s law and administration are incorruptible, just and perfect. It creates a yearning in all of us for the return of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time for true justice?
Why the Days of Unleavened Bread
In Leviticus 23, God outlines part of His law. Here we find the commanded holy days of the Eternal God (verse 2). God’s festivals are outlined so clearly even a child can understand them. In fact that is exactly what God demands of parents—teach your children (Exodus 13:8). Rehearsing these holy days annually reinforces our understanding of God’s master plan of salvation. As we know, they are to be honored and observed for eternity. The weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are all commanded to be observed.
When properly understood, each holy day impresses upon us a vital key to understand how to become citizens of the Kingdom of God. Before we enter that society as spirit beings, we must thoroughly understand God’s laws and the penalties for violating them.
The Days of Unleavened Bread teach us directly about the law of God. And the law of God reveals the character we are to build in our lives to make us ready for citizenship in His Kingdom. Christ taught, “But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). If we are to enjoy eternal life in God’s Family, we must obey the law! This holy festival, observed for a complete seven days, teaches us that we should strive for perfection in obedience to the law of God.
Notice Leviticus 23:6-8. “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.”
This is God’s clearly stated law concerning this particular festival. We are told when to keep it—there is a God-ordained time to observe it. There are specific orders to keep two separate holy convocations, or commanded assemblies, on which we are to meet, as God’s people, to receive teaching from God about the meaning of the days. On these holy days it is forbidden to continue in regular work because attention is to be focused on God. An offering is taken on these days, again, without question. It is simply a directive from God according to the law.
Finally, God directs us to remove all leavened products from our homes. We eat unleavened bread throughout the week to remind us of the haste in which Israel fled Egypt. “Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life” (Deuteronomy 16:3).
God gives us these physical practices to help us grow in our understanding of the spiritual significance of the days. Learning to obey the law of God builds godly perfection in our lives.
Any Bible student is familiar with the use of analogy, parable or symbolism to convey a message from God. Sometimes these are used to obscure meaning so as to be understood only by a specific group of people. Other times, the meaning is made plain and understandable by use of symbolism. God also uses physical examples to teach spiritual principles. Scriptures regarding the Days of Unleavened Bread serve as examples of these teaching techniques of God. One must, through hours of dedicated study and practice, come to master the true keeping of these critical days.
The people of ancient Israel were taught the principle of deliverance from this society and its laws as they fled from Egypt. Be sure to read the book of Exodus before the Days of Unleavened Bread. Not only is the story of Israel’s journey out of Egypt recorded there, but the law of God is also expounded directly in this book. The symbolism of Israel’s perilous exodus from slavery to the promised land was not only used to teach them, but it is meant to benefit us today as we comprehend the spiritual lessons of their pilgrimage.
In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, we see a connection between Egypt and sin. Revelation 11:8 also likens Egypt to sin. Following the analogy of Israel’s deliverance by godly intervention, we also make our exodus by miraculous intervention. Pharaoh can be equated to Satan. Immediately as the Israelites embarked en route to Palestine, they were chased by Pharaoh. So too, for us today: the moment we forsake our sinful ways, Satan is hot on our heels trying to tempt us back into disobedience (1 Peter 5:8). He is a deceiver; he constantly connives to bring us back into slavery! (Romans 6:16). His goal is to prevent us from becoming perfect like our Father and thus keep us out of God’s Family.
Just as the Israelites were miserable under conditions of slavery in Egypt, so have we suffered under the influence of Satan’s world, a world of misery, disillusionment, discouragement and frustration. Satan’s way of life is contrary to that of our promised land—the Kingdom of God.
So one lesson we learn is that we are on a journey away from the captivity of Satan and his system. The Israelites encountered a multitude of obstacles on their exodus, as we do. God tested ancient Israel to determine their commitment to His law. He knew they would not live up to this test because they lacked His Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 5:29), but their example is for us today (1 Corinthians 10:11). Along our journey, we are tested by God as He proves our heart (Hebrews 12:6-7).
Yet we should not be discouraged: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The primary lesson God was teaching ancient Israel, and is teaching us today, is to rely on Him for deliverance (Exodus 14:14). We are not capable of freeing ourselves; we need God. He always provides a way of escape. This is a promise. God’s goal is to prove to us that He is our only hope. By coming to this understanding, and yielding ourselves to Him and His law completely, we enjoy the benefits of coming under His justice system. Our promised land lies just over the horizon in the Kingdom of God. But again, we must learn to live under the law of God. The Days of Unleavened Bread symbolize our exodus and put us in remembrance of our need to remove every act of disobedience to God’s law from our lives.
Forsake Your Ways
The Apostle Paul wrote extensively about the law of God. Paul understood the Days of Unleavened Bread thoroughly. He used this holy day season to expose a major character flaw in the Corinthian church. Paul said they became puffed up with vanity as they presumed they were more converted and merciful than Paul (and even God) as they permitted a sinner to remain in their midst (1 Corinthian 5:1-2). Paul compared the actions of leaven to that of sin, noting that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (verse 6). The way to correct this problem? “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” (verses 7-8). The Corinthians were urged to take the leaven, or sin, out of their own lives. They were to remove the sinful individual from their midst.
God commands that Christians abstain from leavened products during this seven-day period. We are to physically remove all leaven from our lives (homes and work). God doesn’t do this for sanitary reasons, but to teach a spiritual lesson. That’s what Paul taught. Again, follow the symbolism. For seven days, we are to have all leaven removed from our lives. Leaven is symbolic of sin (Matthew 16:6, 11-12; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). During this period, and really throughout the year, we must strive to remove sin from our lives.
God teaches us that the sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins is only part of the plan—we have responsibilities as well. We are commanded to forsake our ways, turn from our carnal, sinful self, and live in obedience to the law of God. God tells us that our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). This familiar scripture alone should drive us to desire God’s way.
How much effort should be expended in our fight against the carnal self? “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1-4). Though we suffer tremendous trials, we have not had to go through what the Son of God did on our behalf. The plan of God does not end with Passover—it begins there! We must do our part to build upon the foundation established by Christ.
Make Real Change
Living according to the law of God is not easy. In fact, Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Compounding the difficulty, we have been purposefully left in this world to develop God’s character (1 Corinthians 5:9-10; John 17:14-15). We have a difficult calling, but God wants us to come to rely upon Him. That is the same lesson ancient Israel should have learned.
God is looking for real change. We may fool ourselves and others around us, but God searches the heart (Romans 8:27). He admonishes us to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and to put Him first (Exodus 20:3). “God knows what you are seeking first. If you value anything connected with the carnal, mundane society of this evil age more than your opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life and be born into His Kingdom, you will never inherit eternal life. Almighty God promises to test you, to see if you are really willing to submit yourself to Him and do your commanded part in his master plan!” (Ambassador College Correspondence Course, Lesson 34).
You see, at baptism we commit ourselves to develop as citizens of the Kingdom of God. We covenant with the God Family and promise to forsake our sinful ways. If we accomplish this, then we can expect to receive the gift of eternal life. But God is going to require complete adherence to the terms agreed upon in the contract.
Consider how serious our calling is: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22). Paul gives a different perspective, yet with the same end in Hebrews 6:4-8.
We have a daunting task ahead of us—overcoming Satan, self and society. Yet we have the inspiration to motivate us through to the end. We have God fighting for us, just as He did for ancient Israel. Just when it looked impossible, God delivered them. For us today, God promises to aid us along every step of the way. He requires that we expend every ounce of energy we have to obey His law. To summarize God’s purpose as outlined in His holy day plan, God wants His Family to grow ever more! He reminds us every year of that plan. The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us to actively search out and destroy all of the spiritual leaven in our lives.
These holy days of the Eternal powerfully point us to the promised land soon coming. That Kingdom will be one of peace, abundance and equity! True justice can only be accomplished through a perfect system. God’s law is a perfect law (James 1:25). He is a true and righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8). Those are two of the most critical factors, but there is still a third dimension to making this work. You! We must submit to this law willingly. We must forsake our old ways of life, and come under the government of God. We must obey His commands to honor and observe the holy days as He commanded. In short, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).