On the heels of Part 6 of this series, we get to the rewarding aspects of all this calendar reflection.
Add the fact that Jesus died on 14 Nisan, “preparation day,” to the previously discussed times of day that Jesus was nailed to a cross, died, and then was taken down.
Do you see it yet?
The parallel, and Christ’s fulfillment of the feast, reaches an ultimate apex. Every single step taken throughout His last days was a moment-by-moment, exact playout of what the feast lambs over in the temple grounds faced in their own last days.
The massive Jewish crowds escorting lambs into the gates of the city and onward to the temple would have been aligned with Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city amidst shouts of “Hosanna!” and the waving of palm leaves.
The lambs were being loved, praised, doted on, and eventually inspected by the Temple priests to be proven worthy as the sacrifice, just as Jesus was being loved, praised, doted on, and eventually tried before the secular and religious authorities, upon which He proved Himself worthy as the only sacrifice for all mankind.
At 9 o’clock a.m. Friday, as the sacrificial lambs were led to the holding pens where they would be bound for slaughter, Jesus was led to the hill at Golgotha, where His hands were bound to the cross by nails.
Before, during, and after midday, between the binding of all the lambs and their mass slaughter, the Jews gathered for the singing of the Hallel, an event dedicated to thanking Jehovah for His love, grace, and provision. Simultaneously, Jesus was on the cross, completing Jehovah’s love, grace, and provision in the ultimate act of redemption.
The very second that Jesus died was at 3 o’clock on Passover day, after moving His lips one last time to say, “It is finished,” precisely in accordance with the high priest in the nearby temple proclaiming, “It is finished,” as he ended the life of the sacrificial lamb. A spiritual transferal occurred in that instant, from the kosher knife of the Old Covenant Passover lamb to the forever accessible grace of the New Testament Covenant Lamb.
Once the no-bones-broken lambs of the Jews had been roasted with their bloody crown while hanging, arms outward, on their cross-shaped spit, they were prepared for the Seder.
Then, at precisely sundown—when the Judeans were sitting down to the Seder to consume the now-deceased, no-bones-broken lamb that had been hung, arms outward, on their cross-shaped spit with the bloody “crown of the sacrifice” atop their heads—Jesus was taken to the tomb to be washed and laid to rest.
One final thought on how all this might be additionally connected to The Messenger Apophis.
- According to NASA’s original dating, the asteroid Apophis could strike earth Friday, April 13, 2029, six days after Passover, and six is the number of man, sin, and judgment.
- Passover is also connected to the Rapture and Second Coming, as Jesus was the firstfruits of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–23).
- Lastly, the Apophis-Wormwood strike is one morning after HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the number one in biblical numerology represents God and His power displayed.
The best men in Hollywood can’t write a more poetic drama…and now we’re going to see how this masterpiece is still, unbelievably, only the beginning.
- Commanded to do in: Leviticus 23:6–8; Exodus 12:15–20
The Lord commanded that all the people of Israel eat unleavened bread for seven days (Leviticus 23:6–8). The Hag HaMatzot (pronounced “Hawg Hah-Maht-zot”) Feast, or the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” is a continual observance from 14–21 Nisan. In Scripture, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is often treated like a separate feast than Pesach (though not always; cf. Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, and Luke 22:1, 7), but because the dates overlap, today’s tradition involves the observance of all three together over a week: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits (which will be discussed shortly). This is why, today, when we hear “Passover,” it’s in reference to a week-long celebration instead of a single meal.
As Passover commemorated the Jews’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the Feast of the Unleavened Bread observes the “going out” of Egypt.
Leaven (an ingredient used to make bread dough rise) was a symbol of sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7–8 and Luke 12:1), so the unleavened bread of the Passover week, known as matzah (or matzoh), became a symbol of either sinlessness or the removal of sin from one’s life. In fact, though the etymology of matzah only partially connects to this concept, as it first meant “sucked out” or “drained out” (note this original meaning for later!), after the establishment of the Passover, the use of matzah more heavily implied “without sin.” This flatbread, which looks quite a bit like a cracker, must be prepared and baked in less than eighteen minutes to prevent it from rising by fermentation, and during the preparation process, the dough cannot touch anything (cooking utensils, etc.) that has ever been in contact with leaven.
Before Passover, the Jews had to take serious measures to remove all traces of leaven from their houses, including an aggressive scrubdown of all walls, floors, ceilings, tables, chairs, cupboards, and any other surface that might have ever touched leaven at any point. Any leaven or leavening agents stocked in the home had to be destroyed or sold to a non-Jew.
The “Search for Leaven” Ceremony
Then, the Bedikas Chametz (“Search for Leaven”) ceremony takes place, conducted by the homeowner and/or head of the household: After sundown, the following blessing is recited:
Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the world, who sanctifies us with mitzvot [commandments] and calls upon us to remove chametz.
Once this blessing has been spoken, all others present say “amen,” then it becomes forbidden to speak about anything other than the search.
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Carrying a lit beeswax candle and shining its flame high and low into every crevice, the homeowner thoroughly inspects the house on a mission to find any trace of leaven left behind or overlooked during the prior cleansing. The homeowner or his assistants bring along a small bag, a wooden spoon, a feather, and often a bell. When leaven is found, the bell is rung to herald the discovery. The feather is then used like a tiny broom to carefully sweep the substance onto the wooden spoon, and then the leaven is collected in the bag. When the search is over, the wooden spoon, feather, and candle are placed in the bag with the leaven, and a safety-measure “nullification statement” is spoken to cover any crumb that might not have been found throughout all these previous endeavors:
All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
The next morning, the bag, now more flammable, as it contains the wooden spoon and feather (thus the reason behind why these otherwise odd utensils would be used), is burned. During this somber moment of watching flames engulf the bag and its contents, ceremony participants are to think of their own lives and their own sin and pride, and they are to reflect on the God-given gift of sanctification.
The ceremony is celebrated at night because, in ancient times, the Jews didn’t have the kind of lighting needed to see in every nook and cranny of their home, and the candlelight tended to cast hyper-focused illumination in areas where daylight wouldn’t suffice. It’s common today for the custom to be carried out with a candle and supplemented with a flashlight (and even regular electric lights) for areas in a home where a flame would present potential danger.
Early on, it was decided that the blessing spoken at the beginning of the search was less meaningful (some even believed it was in vain) if there was no leaven anywhere in the house at the time to substantiate the recitation. On the other hand, the house cleansing is such a tedious and involved process that it wouldn’t be logical to leave it until the Bedikas Chametz to justify the blessing of removal, because it’s likely there would never be enough time to have it all done between the start of the “search” ceremony and the time the Jews must be leaven-free.
Just like their calendar, the precise time of day in reference here is difficult to calculate because it depends on what area of the world a Jewish family might live in and that geographical location’s relationship to the sun, known as the “halachic [seasonal] hour.” Suffice it to say that, for their purposes, it was midmorning, or one halachic hour before midday. Also, they weren’t allowed to start the Bedikas Chametz early (unless they had good reason, such as traveling far from home to join another family or a medical emergency, etc., in which case there were provisions in place to helpfamilies schedule the search around that event). This meant that they would have between sundown one evening and midmorning the next to start the search with all the candles, feathers, bell-ringing, etc., and complete all the washing down of the house to ensure that it was leaven-free. It could be that this was more possible in the beginning, when Israelite houses were much smaller than today, but before long, it became impractical to squeeze all this activity into such a narrow time frame when there were so many other Passover-related preparations to be done simultaneously.
So, the Jews essentially had no choice but to complete a pre-cleaning in the days leading up to the Passover, in which all the leaven would be removed. Then, to ensure that the “Blessed are You…who sanctifies us with [commandments] and calls upon us to remove [leaven]” words still had spiritual significance during the ceremonial search, a compromise was reached: Ten small pieces of leavened bread (a nod to the ten plagues) were separately secured in wrapping that wouldn’t allow them to leave crumbs behind, and they were hidden by a member of the family throughout the house. Notes were made as to where the pieces were placed, just in case the homeowner didn’t find all ten, to make sure that locating them later would not depend entirely on anyone’s memory. (For modern Jewish families, this hunt is often a favorite part of Passover week for young children who get to stay up late and wander the dark with flashlights looking for anything out of place. It’s like an Easter egg hunt with an Indiana-Jones twist. A similar hunt is the “search for the afikomen,” which takes place at the beginning and the end of the Seder, but it’s related to unleavened bread, so we’ll address that at the end of this section as well.)
With the Bedikas Chametz finalized and the bag burned (along with any leftover leaven stored up that the household wasn’t able to sell to non-Jews), the family is now set up to remain chametz-free for Passover week.
Now, comparing the leaven to sin and the symbolism enacted in this custom, we arrive at the early, pre-Christ representation: They had set out to acknowledge the presence of sin in their lives (planning the search and hiding the pieces of leavened bread), thanked the Lord for His command to remove it (the blessing), systematically searched all nooks and crannies for any sin that may have been either hidden or overlooked (the ceremonial search), claimed nullification of any sin they weren’t aware of (the nullification statement), and destroyed any remnant of sin (the burning of the bag).
As to why, of all things, flat, cracker-like bread would be so important as to be assigned the central symbol of sinlessness, there are several excellent reasons, but discussing those at length crisscrosses our reflection of Jesus’ personal fulfillment of the feast, so we will deal with both subjects simultaneously in the following pages.
Note going forward: As to what leaven, matzah, the Bedikas Chametz, and ultimately the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread would eventually all have to do with Jesus—those details, like the Passover links, couldn’t have been planned beforehand by any brilliant mind save for the Creator’s. Keep your eyes peeled to see the glory and wonder of all God designed, those elements that the best of human imaginations couldn’t have contrived just to make religion look pretty. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the next bit is as profound as all we’ve discussed regarding the Passover.
Origins, Meanings, and Jesus’ Role and Fulfillment
Leaven, and Christ’s relation to it, naturally relates to a historical as well as a spiritual explanation. Since the former of these two is easier to address than the latter, we’ll tackle that first.
Historical Reasoning for Leaven-Link
The historical and circumstantial origin of the unleavened bread is simple to clarify looking back on just a few relevant verses (pay attention to italics/emphasis):
[The tenth plague:] And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
[Pharaoh’s sudden, middle-of-the-night release of God’s people:] And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”
[Israelites leave in a hurry:] And the Egyptians were urgent upon the [Jews], that they might send them out of the land in haste; for [the Egyptians] said, “We be all dead men.”
And the [Israelites] took their [bread] dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs [a rectangular bowl about the size of today’s average kitchen sink in which the ancients would knead their bread together with yeast] being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.… And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough [the first matzah] which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry. (Exodus 12:29–39, emphasis added)
Before the feast of the same name was instituted, having unleavened bread was a result of being in a huge rush to get out of Egypt. Normally, the Jewish families’ bread would have been leavened, and until this point, nothing was inherently sinful about fluffy bread.
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However, because of this speedy deliverance from Pharaoh’s totalitarian and tyrannical oppression—the leader’s polytheistic religions opposed and greatly offended God—the lack of yeast in the bread took on a spiritual importance. It was a separation of God’s people from the old life—when they weren’t allowed to worship God freely, when they grew accustomed to not worshiping God the way He longed for them to—and into the new life, where they were liberated to worship God without the sin of the Egyptians’ prohibitions preventing them. The matzah marked the moment when, for the first time in hundreds of years, God’s people ran toward Him and His provisions. A couple of other passages drive home the importance of this unleavened bread as a symbol of the transition from the old life to the new:
Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.… Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, “This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:3–8)
Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. (Deuteronomy 16:3; emphasis added)
God wanted more than just the path away from Egypt to be remembered. His deliverance from slavery, oppression, and discomfort would have been enough, but that wasn’t the whole picture. God wanted His people to be able to worship Him (translation: have the fullest relationship with Him), and Pharaoh repeatedly stood in the way of that (Exodus 8–10), which was the greatest of sins against the God of the Hebrews. So, the item that marked their quick, middle-of-the-night abandonment of Egypt (unleavened bread) came to represent of leaving behind all else and hurrying toward a spiritually free relationship (righteousness) with God.
With the seemingly coincidental, historical association of leaven/yeast addressed, let’s look at the layers behind why leaven/yeast ended up being the prophetically perfect icon for sin.
Spiritual Reasoning for Leaven-Link
First, leaven and/or yeast, because of its effect on bread dough, is an excellent metaphor for something that spreads uncontrollably and swells larger than it started out to be, as well as something that can’t be removed from the mix, as it is, by nature, inherently there from the beginning. Sin, too, spreads uncontrollably and swells beyond the first offense (we will look at one example of this shortly), and the sin nature cannot be removed from mankind, as it has been there since the Fall.
The difference between “leaven” and “yeast,” just to proceed with clear terminology, is that “leaven” can be any ingredient added to a bread recipe that makes the bread rise, expand, or puff up, as well as a common way of referring to the leavened bread, itself; “yeast” is a specific ingredient, a popular, yellowish fungus that creates a leavening (lifting) effect in baking goods through a fermentation process. Whereas there can be several different leavening agents in baking (such as baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, etc.), the most well-known and referenced ingredient in baking since ancient times in Israel is and always has been yeast, which is why so many sources discussing the Hebrew feasts use “leaven” and “yeast” interchangeably.
UP NEXT: Why It Matters That Jesus Fulfilled Both Pre- and Post-Passover Matzah Definitions