Why Should Christians Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

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Why Should Christians Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

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God directly commands that Christians also observe this festival, which represents the work of Jesus Christ in our lives. The seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows the Passover (Leviticus 23:6-8). Historically it commemorated the ancient Israelites leaving Egyptian slavery in haste, not leavening their bread and giving it time to rise (Exodus 12:33-34).

God commanded the Israelites to keep this festival by removing leaven (a rising agent, which for them was yeast) out of their homes for seven days and to avoid eating leavened bread during this time. The first and last days of this weeklong festival are set apart as holy convocations, annual Sabbaths, days devoted to rest and meeting for worship and learning.

Leaven is banned during the festival and in cooked grain offerings (see Leviticus 2:11) as symbolic in those contexts of corruption and waywardness. Jesus Himself identified leaven as a symbol of sin (Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1)—as did the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 5:2, 6-8).

The early Christians continued to celebrate this festival by putting leaven out of their homes for the week as a symbol of the sinless lives and attitudes God desires of His people. Paul, who was apostle to the gentiles, even exhorted Church members, “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 5:8).

While putting out leaven represents putting sin out of our lives, eating unleavened bread symbolizes taking in of Jesus Christ, the bread from heaven (John 6), and His righteous way of life. It was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that Jesus was raised from the dead—a vital factor for us to be delivered out of sin (see 1 Corinthians 15:17). As Romans 6 explains, our old self is to have died with Christ and we must be raised with Him into new life—being delivered from sin to live in righteousness, on the path to eternal life.

Christians who celebrate this festival see that its meaning leads directly to the meaning of the third festival of God, the Feast of Pentecost.