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Search and Examine

by Herb Teitgen
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
 

Have you ever searched for something you knew you had, but just could not discover where it was hiding?

Several years ago, I put together a chronology of the events of Jesus’ last Passover and remembered several books were still in boxes in my garage. I searched in multiple boxes for them without success. I found other books I had forgotten about. Finally, I examined a stack of boxes and looked in one near the top that I was fairly sure did not contain the books. Yet, when I opened the box, there was a book that I had been searching for. I then remembered that I had loaned the other one to my son, Robert, when he was attending Ambassador Bible Centre. Sometimes you have to make an extra effort in a search.

At this time of year, we are instructed by God to search out leavening and leavened food and either consume or remove them from our dwellings before the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Let’s go back to the original instructions given to the tribes of Israel concerning the preparation for observing the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses...” (Exodus 12:15). The sense of the phrase is, “you shall have removed leaven” by the first day. Young’s Literal Translation renders this part of the verse as: “…in the first day ye cause leaven to cease out of your houses.” Israel caused it to cease by having removed it previously. Obviously they could not wait until the first Day of Unleavened Bread had begun to start removing the leaven. The instructions continue in this chapter: “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses” (v.19) and “You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread” (v. 20).

God repeats the instructions several times in these chapters. When the Lord repeats instructions, we need to take note! In the next chapter, we see the instructions repeated again (Exodus 13:3, 6-7). There were two activities specified and commanded: to remove all leavening and leavened bread and to prepare unleavened bread to be eaten during the seven days.

While still in Egypt, the people of God were instructed to prepare and eat unleavened bread with the roasted Passover lamb during the night of Abib 14 (Exodus 12:8). Obviously they would not make any more leavened bread after this evening. The process of completing the removal of leaven would occur on Abib 14.

These seven days commence with sunset that ends Abib 14 and conclude with sunset that ends Abib 21 as instructed in Exodus 12:18: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.” God also instructed future celebrations to include holy convocations on the first and seventh days of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:16).

With that first observance, God orchestrated the “convocation” and gathering of the tribes of Israel. He organized them into ranks and they exited Egypt to a location just beyond the usual border of Egypt (Exodus 12:37; 13:18).

The Israelites were in their homes celebrating the Passover during the whole night of Abib 14 (Exodus 12:6-11) and could not leave their homes until morning or daybreak (Exodus 12:10, 22). They departed from Egypt at the going down of the sun (Deuteronomy 16:6) during the evening that began Abib 15, the day after the Passover (Numbers 33:3). Their mass exodus from Egypt was to be remembered and commemorated. “It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” (Exodus 12:42 KJV). God directed Israel and us to begin this special festival with a special commemoration of God’s deliverance of ancient Israel from Egypt and our deliverance from sin and the deception of the god of this world.

God directed events to occupy the Israelites during the night of Abib 14 and daylight of Abib 14. They did not have time to use starter dough to make new leavened bread. “And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, ‘We shall all be dead.’ So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders” (Exodus 12:33-34). God influenced the Egyptians to urge them to leave because of the catastrophes they had faced with the plagues. By the time they commenced their trek out of Egypt, the only bread they could make was unleavened bread.

To prepare for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are to examine our physical and spiritual condition. Part of that includes making a search for physical leaven and leavened bread. We are to also search out the sins and faults they symbolize. Paul instructed the church, “Therefore purge out the old leaven...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” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

But there is the other side of the search. We are to search for the evidence that we are “in the faith.” We are to examine our “spiritual diets” and the condition of our “spiritual bodies.” We are to search for the stockpile we have assembled of unleavened bread of sincerity and truth and other godly qualities as well. It is not just a negative focus. There is a positive objective as well. Paul also instructs the church, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). With the examinations we make we must focus on ourselves. It is not our place to critically examine and judge and condemn others (Matthew 7:4-5). We must repent of our own sins. We cannot repent for someone else.

When we think of “examination” we think of a test or exam at the end of a semester or school year. We are tested on what we learned. The time before Passover is a time to review the lessons of the past year. For those who have been coasting and merely putting in time, the exam will be a wake up call.

Some have gotten so caught up in spring house cleaning that they have little time for spiritual de-leavening. God asks us to simply search for and remove leaven and leavened bread. We want to have the right balance and emphasis so that we do what God asks us to do. In spite of our best efforts, we will at times miss something. Leavened food will remain hidden until it is revealed sometimes in a surprising or unexpected way. Then we must act to remove it. This reminds me of some sandwiches my daughter made for me about a month before Passover. During Unleavened Bread, I was looking for something in my trunk and there I found one of the sandwiches hiding among some extra winter clothing! Out it went.

We see in the above Scriptures guidance and teaching to apply both the letter and the spiritual application of these instructions:

1. We should not be careless about searching out leavening and leavened bread, but be methodical and organized and give attention to details.

2. In the same way, we are to search out and remove that which is spiritually puffed up, that is prideful, sinful and unlawful.

3. We must put into action the instructions to look for the flaws and leaven in our own lives before we go about examining others.

4. We are to assemble the ingredients that are without sin and ingest the nutritious spiritual food and qualities to promote spiritual growth.

5. We are to remember the miracle God orchestrated to call us out of slavery to sin and the control of the god of this world. Make participating in the Night to be Much Observed a celebration that is meaningful and encouraging.

6. As God calls us to depart from Egypt and leave the old life of enslavement to sin, we should have a sense of urgency. We should not be hesitant or procrastinate in following the instructions of the LORD. When God shows us that we need to get away from the old lifestyle, we need to be urgent and make haste to do what God instructs us to do.

7. We are to assemble with a congregation of called-out individuals to celebrate our calling, to worship God, to receive and digest spiritual food and to encourage each other.

If we love God and desire to serve Him and be prepared for His kingdom, we will have a heart to consume the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Get out those unleavened bread recipes and prepare those tasty morsels. Also, assemble the Scriptures and instructions that provide the ingredients to prepare for and provide a wonderful feast of spiritual food. Let us partake of them and be strengthened and sustained to continue on our spiritual journey to enter the Kingdom of God.

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