PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 12:14-20 and 13:3-10; Feast of Unleavened Bread

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110220_exodus12_14-20and13_3-10.mp3

02/20 Exodus 12:14-20; 13:3-10 Feast of Unleavened Bread

Context:

Last week we looked at God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt by a strong hand. God’s final blow against Egypt was the death of all their firstborn. Pharaoh had refused to free Israel, God’s firstborn. So God promised to kill Pharaoh’s firstborn. But God provided a way of escape. Come under the blood of the lamb and you are safe. The lamb died in the place of the firstborn. So every firstborn that survived the exodus belonged to God because God provided a substitute. We are doubly his; his by creation and we were bought with a price. God gives a reminder of his ownership of all of life by demanding that every firstborn be given to him. Every firstborn that was fit to be eaten or offered was to be sacrificed to him. All that were unclean or unfit were either to be redeemed by the substitute sacrifice of a clean animal, or destroyed. God demands that we acknowledge his right of ownership over everything by surrendering part of what he has given us back to him.

Unleavened Bread

Exodus chapter 13 begins (v.1-2) with God’s requirement of the firstborn and concludes (v.11-16) with more detailed instructions about the firstborn, but sandwiched in the middle (v.3-10) is a section about the feast of unleavened bread. How does this all fit together?

13:3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

What can we learn from this? Connected with paragraphs about the redemption of the firstborn by a substitute sacrifice, there is instruction about a period of time that no leavened bread is allowed.

In chapter 12, instructions for the feast of unleavened bread come sandwiched between God’s promise of deliverance for all who come under the blood, and instructions to go select and kill the passover lamb and apply its blood. Look back at chapter 12:

12:14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty–first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

So we have in chapter 12, ‘when I see the blood I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you … observe the feast of unleavened bread … Go and select lambs for yourselves … kill the passover lamb, dip it in the blood … touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood.’

And in chapter 13, we have ‘Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine. …Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you , and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. … you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. … Every firstborn of man among yours sons you shall redeem.’

Consequences are Severe

What is the connection between the passover sacrifice and the feast of unleavened bread? What is the connection between God’s right to the firstborn and the feast of unleavened bread? Notice also that the consequences for eating leavened bread are severe:

12:15 …On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

12:19 …If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.

The consequences are severe – cut off from the community. The connections are interesting – the blood of the lamb and God’s ownership of us.

The feast of unleavened bread is a memorial – a sign and a memorial – that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. It is to be a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. We are commanded to remember. Remember the day in which you were brought out of the house of slavery by the strong hand of the Lord. It is also a teaching opportunity. Remember what the Lord did for you, and tell your son on that day ‘it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’. It is a memorial for you and a teaching opportunity to pass this truth on to the coming generation.

What is Leaven?

But why unleavened bread? Why is no leaven allowed? Why such sever consequences for eating anything leavened? Initially, it was a practical necessity in the hurried expulsion from Egypt – they didn’t have time for the extended process of making leavened bread and letting it rise before baking. That’s the practical and historical reason. But leaven has a symbolic significance in Scripture. Let’s first look at the significance of leaven in the Scriptures. Then we may see the connection with the passover sacrifice and the consecration of the firstborn.

In the sacrificial system that God gave Israel to make atonement for their sins, no leaven was allowed.

Exodus 23:18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning.

In Matthew 13 (cf. Lk.13) Jesus told three parables; about birds and weeds and leaven – all bad. His point was that in this age, there will be genuine children of the kingdom and there will be sons of the evil one – causes of sin and law-breakers – all mixed together until the final separation at the end of the age. In Matthew 16, he warns his disciples to be ware of the leaven, or teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. In Luke 12, he says this leaven is hypocrisy.

Leavened bread was made by mixing a starter or a fermented piece of dough saved from the last batch of bread into the new dough. ***Funk&Wagnall’s dictionary defines fermentation as “The gradual decomposition of organic compounds induced by the action of living organisms…” The bacteria that cause fermentation actually eat away at the sugars in the dough and give off a gas that inflates or puffs up the dough. So leaven in bread introduces fermentation, which is a process of decomposition or decay and death.

Leaven in Corinth

Six times in 1 Corinthians Paul warns against being ‘puffed up’ (fussiow; only 7 times in NT: 1Cor.4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Col.2:18). This is literally what leaven does – it inflates the dough to several times its actual size. The danger he is warning against is being puffed up with pride. In chapter 5, Paul is confronting blatant sin among members that is being allowed and even embraced by the church. In verse 2, Paul says that they are arrogant or puffed up:

1 Corinthians 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

He goes on to confront their boasting and likens it to leaven:

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So there is leavening influence of sin in the church that will permeate the whole church if not dealt with. We are being instructed that since Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed, we really are a new, unleavened lump. The transformation has happened through what Jesus did for us. We must act like what we already are in Christ. We are transformed, not as a result of our own efforts, but as a result of Christ’s efforts for us. We are given a new nature. We are exhorted to live consistently with that new nature.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This helps us make the connection in Exodus between us being set apart to God, belonging to God, because we have been purchased by God with the blood of the lamb, and celebrating and remembering with unleavened bread. God brought us out from the house of slavery by a strong hand – I remember what the Lord did for me. I have been set free from sin. Having been set free I must live consistently with my freedom. This is not how to gain your freedom. This is how to be who you are now that you have been bought by Christ.

The passover lamb was to be selected on the 10th day of the month. The lamb was to be observed from the 10th to the 14th. The lamb was to be killed at twilight on the 14th and on the 15th began the seven day feast of unleavened bread. This symbolic cleansing out of sin was to be in response to the completed sacrifice and the provided deliverance. Because we have escaped God’s just wrath by coming under the blood, we respond by purging out the elements of decay.

We belong to God as his creation, and we have been redeemed, or bought with the price of a substitute sacrificed in our place, so because we are doubly owned by God, we get rid of that which causes decomposition.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

This is the fruit of holiness is produced by Christ’s finished work of redeeming love.

Why call it a Feast?

Why call it a feast? Going without something you normally enjoy is usually called a fast, not a feast. And the severity of the consequences – we’re going to have a party, but if you eat the wrong thing, we will cut you off and throw you out. That seems a bit harsh for a feast. Again, I think we can get some help here from Paul’s use of this in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So the old leaven, he defines, as the leaven of boasting, malice and evil. Who wants that at the party? Get rid of pride, the disposition to do evil and the active participation in evil. Get rid of what causes decay and decomposition. That will affect and infect the whole thing. We can truly celebrate with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. There is freedom in authenticity and a genuine desire to do what is good and right.

Freedom

We often have a distorted conception of freedom. We think we’re not free unless all the options are open to us. Let’s say you have a nice new ¾ ton four wheel drive diesel pickup truck. This thing will give you the freedom to go off-road into places you never would have dreamed of taking the family mini-van. Freedom! But there’s this tiny little sticker on the dash that is trying to steal your freedom and kill your joy. It says “diesel fuel only”. That’s so limiting! Especially when unleaded is cheaper and available at so many more places. I’m just gonna peel that little freedom-crushing sticker right off and start pumping in the unleaded. In fact, I’m just going to throw off all restraint and get out the garden hose and pump some good old H2O into my gas tank. Now that’s freedom. Freedom to do whatever I feel like doing. Freedom to wreck your investment. Freedom to sit by the side of the road and wait for the tow-truck. Freedom to be called a fool by anyone who knows anything about trucks. You see, that little sticker was intended by the one who designed the vehicle to give you the parameters inside which the truck will operate correctly. Violating the design engineer’s instructions is not freedom; it is catastrophic.

We want the freedom to do the things that are off limits to us. We need a change in perspective. What we should want is freedom from the things that cause decay and decomposition. Freedom from the things that will cause our engine to seize up so that we can live the human life to the full, so that we can get the maximum pleasure we were designed to enjoy. The author of Hebrews urges us:

Hebrews 12:1 … let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, ….

Peter warns us of false teachers promising phony freedom:

2 Peter 2:18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

Sin is slavery, not freedom. Holiness is true freedom to live the abundant life. Holiness, being set apart from sin and to God is the way to extract the maximum capacity of joy and true pleasure out of this life. Eternal life that Jesus promises is not merely a definition of length, but of quality. Paul gives us detailed instructions on how to walk in this blood-bought newness of life in Romans 6:

Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. …22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remember, freedom from sin comes as a result of the once-for-all sin-bearing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as our substitute. As a result and because of what he has done, we can enjoy the feast of freedom.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Because Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us, we can celebrate true freedom – freedom from death and decay, freedom to be what God created us to be, freedom to run the race, freedom to really live, freedom to seize the maximum pleasures and joy offered to us by our Creator who invented all the good things he longs for us to enjoy.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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February 20, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , ,

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