Bill Cloud, Exodus 12, Feast of Unleavened Bread, God's calendar, God's Feast Days, Isaiah 53:5, Jeremiah 7:1, Jesus and the Moneychangers, John 2:13-16, LUke 19:45-46, Mark 11:15-17, Matthew 21:12-13, Nehemiah 13, Passover, Perry Stone
God has a schedule that He keeps in great detail. The example of Algebra can be used to explain God’s schedule, because with Algebra the whole formula is important, every step is significant and not just the answer. In fact, even if the final result is the correct number, if the steps of the equation are not met, then the entire answer is considered wrong. That is how detailed God is with his schedule.
On His schedule are seven holidays, three fall holidays and four spring holidays. These were kept by the Jews as meticulous dress rehearsals, but though the Jews observed these holidays they are not technically Jewish holidays. They are God’s (Leviticus 23:1). In Bible study last September, we discovered the three fall holidays, and last week we learned about the first of the four spring holidays, namely the Lord’s Passover and how Jesus is the fulfillment of every minute detail of Passover, from the selection and inspection of the lamb, to the very songs that were sung, the exact timing of events, and the very words that were spoken.
Here are just a few of the Passover details that Jesus fulfilled:
Four days before Passover a lamb was selected and taken into the family’s house to be inspected to make sure it was without blemish. In Jesus’ day the lambs were escorted into Jerusalem by the High Priest with songs (from the Hallel, namely Psalms 113-118, and even more specifically Psalm 118 was sung while ascending to Jerusalem) of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118) up into the Temple precincts four days before Passover. Even so, four days before Passover, Jesus was selected and ushered by a large crowd up into the Temple precincts to the tune of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” He was then inspected with questions for four days and found to be blameless, without blemish, The perfect Lamb of God.
Year after year since the first Exodus, the lambs had been slain “between the evenings” at 3pm (Exodus 12). In Jesus’ day the High Priest would slay the lamb at 3pm then stretch out his arms and say, “It is finished.” Even so, Jesus on the cross had his arms stretched out, and his final words (John 19:30) were, “It is finished” as he died at 3pm.
These are just a few ways in which Jesus fulfilled Passover. And that’s just scratching the surface! Incredibly, God planned it all in every microscopic facet, marked it on His calendar, and brought it to pass on the exact day and at the precise time it was to happen. God inspired the particular songs that would be sung as Jesus entered Jerusalem; He chose the very day and even the very second that Jesus would die; even Jesus’ words said from the cross were a script from the Father and in fulfillment of the minutest detail of the law.
The Feasts/Appointments of the Lord
There are four spring feasts altogether. Passover is the first one. Unleavened Bread is the second in that series, and overlaps with Passover. Just as God wove an amazing set of details into the feast of Passover, He also interlaced Unleavened Bread with its own elements that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Now, what is unleavened bread? It is bread made without any rising agent in it, in other words, no yeast, no baking powder. In Hebrew the word for leaven actually means “sour”. It might bring to mind sourdough bread.
Here is what it looks like (hold up/pass out example Matzah). It has holes in it because they would pierce it to keep it from rising/bubbling which is yeast-like behavior. It has lines on it because it is grilled. It has dark marks on it too because of the fire.
The history behind this day takes us all the way back to the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt. They had prepared in haste, eaten in a rush, and in all the hurry and flurry they did not have time to let their bread rise. It’s not like today when you can just stop at a grocery store and pick up what you need to eat. They had to make everything from scratch. And on this hectic day of the Exodus, they did not have time to leaven their dough.
God had them continue this tradition of eating unleavened bread every year, in order that they remember that significant day that changed their lives forever, the day in which God lifted the burden from their shoulders, released them from their chains, ransomed them from Pharaoh, and promised them a new life of liberty. On top of this, leaven in the Bible refers to sin, because sin just like leaven, spreads through the entire lump of dough or body of believers and causes it to become puffed up (like the rising of leavened dough), to become proud and hardhearted because of sin. God wanted to remind them through the eating of unleavened bread the importance of living sinless lives. They were not liberated by God in order that they might sin, but instead were liberated from sin that they might live unbound by the cruel taskmaster of sin.
Thus, for years and years, even in the time of Jesus, the Jews would make sure that all the leaven was out of their houses. It was not enough to simply have it out of their bread, but it was not to be found in their home. First the mother would clean until all was spotless, but she would intentionally leave a small cake of yeast hidden somewhere. It was then that the father of the household would enlist the help of the kids as sort of search party. “Yeast: Wanted Dead or Alive”. And they would do this at night. The father would hold a torch or candle, and one child would hold a wooden spoon while another held a feather, and the group would look for the hidden yeast. Once it was found, the feather would dust the yeast into the spoon and they would take it outside where they would burn it. The Orthodox and some traditional Jews still perform this search today.
Jesus: Our Unleavened Bread
Jesus fulfills all of this, down to the last detail. Let’s take a look!
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-16 all give a similar account of a particular event. Matthew’s account reads as follows: “And Jesus went into the Temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Jeremiah 7:11).
Have you ever wondered what on earth this was about? It’s a zealous action, and makes me think of Nehemiah’s zeal. Nehemiah had been so zealous for God and His word and purity that he took men by their beards and pulled out the hair to get them to listen. We catch a glimpse of God’s heart concerning sin through Nehemiah 13. It says, speaking of what Nehemiah did to the leadership of Israel, “25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”
Well, in Jesus’ day it was nearly Passover, a day of holiness and purification and corruption was being allowed by the religious leadership to thrive in the House of God. But, there’s more to it than holy zeal. Remember, God is a God of details.
Jesus had just entered Jerusalem to the tune of children and throngs of people shouting and singing, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” And had thus been selected as the Passover Lamb. He then entered the Temple, the house of His Father, and just as the mother, father and children had been taught by God to cleanse their home of all leaven before Passover, Jesus carefully cleansed His Father’s house of sin by forcefully extracting the greedy moneychangers out of the Temple.
Remember, leaven symbolizes sin. So, Jesus like the unleavened bread, otherwise known as matzah, was without sin. As 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth…” and 1 John 3:5, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
Furthermore, Jesus just like a piece of matzah was pierced, striped and bruised. As it states in Isaiah 53:5, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” And in Psalm 22:16b it states of the future dying Messiah, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” Indeed, Jesus was beaten with many stripes by the Roman soldiers (Matthew 20:19, 27:26; Luke 18:33; John 19:1), was pierced in His hands and feet and in His side by a sword (John 19:34), and bruised with the fists of angry and cruel Jewish leadership (Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; John 18:22).
As we move into this holiest season of the year, let us remember Jesus our Passover Lamb and Unleavened Bread. God, who is a God of details, fulfilled in specific detail those two feast days through the death of Jesus. Jesus was the Lamb without blemish. Jesus was the sinless bread. Jesus was pierced. Jesus was bruised. Jesus was striped. Jesus was indeed, the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world. Jesus was the Lamb, who God had prepared for Himself to be our perfect sacrifice, once for all. Jesus cleansed His Father’s house of leaven.
Now, as Christians we have all been cleansed by the blood of Jesus the perfect Lamb; we have been made new creations in Christ. The old has passed away, and all has been made new. He has therefore, called us to live “unleavened” sinless lives. So, as we enter more deeply into this special time of year, may we examine our lives and hearts and thoughts, and may we allow God’s Holy Spirit to convict us. When we are alone with God, may we be still and allow Him to show us. For we are God’s His Temple, each of us individually, as well as all of us together (1 Corinthians 3 and 6). And we have seen through the example of the Jewish families how important it was for the leaven to be cleansed from their homes. Nehemiah also exemplified this. We have also seen through Jesus’ example of zeal how important it was for His Temple, His Father’s house to be purified. We are that house; we are that Temple. We want to be without spot and without blemish as the Day of Jesus’ return approaches.
Let us say with David in Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Let us also in agreement with David say with Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit [and renew a right spirit within me].”
Mark Biltz DVD series, “The Feasts of the Lord.”