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What Does Unleavened Bread Teach Us?

by Glen White
Image by: cottonbro studio on Pexels
 

All New Testament instruction harmonizes perfectly with the Old Testament, because the God of the Old Testament put these instructions and symbols in place Himself, when He brought Israel out of Egypt. “Now all these things happen unto them for examples: and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Then 1,400 years later, He came as the Messiah, expounded and lived these prophetic edicts to their fullest (Isaiah 42:21, Matthew 5:27-28, 43-45).

Why was unleavened bread commanded and not another substance ? Let’s go back to the clearly outlined institution of using Unleavened Bread with the Passover commandment.

The congregation of Israel was given explicit instructions concerning the use of calendar dates (Exodus 12:2) and the execution of the sacrificial lamb (verse 6). Then in verse 8, the added instruction to eat this Passover sacrifice with unleavened Bread and bitter herbs.

Later in this scriptural passage the instruction is to eat unleavened bread for the duration of the seven-day festival, known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is used exclusively during the 15th to the 21st day. This command is serious enough that God’s warning in verse 19 legislates excommunication to anyone using leaven bread during this period (verse 18). To further impact the gravity of this, a further warning in verse 20 is given.

In the next chapter of the book of Exodus, intertwined with the observance of the Night to be Much Observed (when Israel started out of Egypt) again the edict to use only Unleavened bread during these seven days is made (Exodus 13). This command becomes very personalized as we explain this to our children. “And you shall show your son in that day, saying, this was done because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt [sin].” Now turn to Leviticus 23:5 where we find the pointed instruction, “…seven days you must eat unleavened bread.” Each time we eat unleavened bread it should trigger a growing appreciation of what it symbolizes.

The New Testament places added emphasis on these basic principles. The Apostle John emphasized that the Bread from heaven is Jesus Christ. And he who eats this Bread shall live forever. In other words, those accepting this bread or relationship also become partakers of Eternal Life (John 6:32-35, 40, 44, 45, 47).

To dispel any spurious interpretation, Christ plainly said, “I AM the bread of life” (verse 48). He again emphasizes this in verses 53 and 54. Now, a most meaningful statement in verse 57, “…he who eats [imbibes] of Me, shall live by [or because of ] me.”

This passage emphatically declares Christ as the Bread of life, and offers a special personal relationship when one continually uses the Unleavened Bread. The worshiper ingests the Bread (teachings) and they gradually change one’s values and character to emulate those of the Master. Within this concept of communion with Christ, it also extends to the Body of Christ which is the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:23). A statement is also made by the Apostle John (1 John 1:3, 7) that fellowship is first with the Father and the Son, then with the brethren. All parts are inclusive, like the many parts of the human body working together (1Corinthians 12). So to establish a relationship with Christ, the Head, is to create bonds with the rest of the body as well.

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, several additional points are recorded. Quoting the words of Jesus Christ at the last Passover before He was crucified, He established the New Testament symbols of the bread and wine for His worshipers to use. “[T]ake eat this is My Body, which is broken for you” (Matthew 28:19,20). In this passage, equal emphasis is placed with the wine (forgiveness). So both bread and wine continue to be of primary importance, not practices someone can change, or arbitrarily decide to keep or not keep.

Verse 27 declares these symbols must be implemented in a most worthy manner, in an attitude that esteems Jesus Christ in absolute reverence. This is demonstrated in the manner one responds to His instructions.

Paul then brings an additional point into focus (verse 30). Because some had let this holy relationship become mundane, some who had become ill, died as a result when they could have been healed from their ailments. “[This] was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17). We belong to God, heart, mind, and soul (physical body).

Christ went through 18 hours of intense agony leading up to the Cruxification. Part of this agony was the brutal and scathing beating He endured. Christ was perfect in mind and health. His body was an unblemished sacrifice as demanded by the Biblical parameters for the sacrificial Lamb. So He offered His perfect health, so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:2-11 prophesied what the Messiah was to endure. Peter later summarized this part of the prophecy with his statement, “…by His stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). So physical healing is also symbolized in the taking of Unleavened Bread at Passover. Observing the Passover each year is a sacred privilege. It is also a time of reflection on what the Christ endured that each of us might be forgiven and become an intrinsic part of His body. The Unleavened Bread we are commanded to use at Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread, keeps us mindful of our responsible relationship with the Master and the body of fellow believers He died for, our dedication to the continual study of the Scriptures (Bread), and that Christ has the prerogative to heal our physical bodies.

This flat, unpretentious bread that God chose to represent Jesus Christ’s body as well as His humility in fulfilling His Father’s will, is a spiritual state of mind that is offered to us on a daily basis. “For this cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

This is a brief summary of the symbolic meanings that are retained in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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