Immediately following Passover, in fact, beginning during the Pesach Feast, comes the feast known as “Unleavened Bread”. I find this order of things most significant! First the Lamb is sacrificed, and its blood is applied to “thresholds” of our “dwellings”, delivering us from the curse of promised – pretty much guaranteed - death – at Passover or Pesach. Then it is our turn to sacrifice the leaven of fleshly preferences, addictions, cravings, etc. - also known as the lusts of the flesh – by entering into the feast of unleavened bread.
Those who observe God's appointed times according to Torah will eat this flat, unappealing bread, mostly known as Matzah, for seven days. They will make desserts that require no leavening agent. The really dedicated ones will purge their homes of ALL leavening agents until this feast has been completed. For some this may be – as most Christians loudly accuse - a “legalistic” or empty religious act to make them feel better about themselves. But for many it will be what it was meant to be – a great illustration – in education we might call it a “manipulative” - meaning a “hands-on” example – to teach an important concept.
In His teaching Yeshua warned His Talidim (disciples) to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. But He was NOT talking about bread – as He was quick to point out to His confused followers! The general meaning of His words, when studied a bit more deeply would mean something akin to avoiding their false teachings as one avoids slow acting poison! ( He was NOT referring to general Torah Observance! Rather, He spoke of the Rabbinical Laws - which were adjustments or amendments to God's commands to make them reachable through the flesh – when God deliberately made them out of reach of the flesh so that each one would have to seek His help – He spoke of their additions and requirements as yokes of bondage - and utmost hypocrisy – to be avoided at all costs!)
Why did He refer to these false religious teachings as “Leaven”? Because, like yeast or other agents that make bread rise, these religious practices were pretentious acts of outward piety, causing men to puff themselves up as more “righteous” than others, when inwardly it was only empty, religious, fleshly works, worth no more than air! These outward acts tended only to enable fleshly pride, giving the studied ones foolish delusions of spirituality that their restrictions did not in fact produce! Which, indeed, could never produce! Being that it was NOT what God had instructed!
Yeshua was an obedient Son – and a completely Torah observant Jew! However, He was not Rabbinically instructed or observant. Which is among the reasons which they loathed Him, feared Him and rejected Him as Messiah!
I find an odd irony that, supposedly, from all I have heard over the years, that is offered as the explanation of “why the “Church” does not closely adhere to the Torah, or commandments or keep the feasts”, etc., because they want to avoid the same mistakes which the Pharisees made! However, the sad irony is that in judging the Pharisees and Sadducee harshly they have done the same thing with their own misguided, misinformed doctrinal legalisms!
There are more religious restrictions in Christianity – if you look at all the disciplines combined – than in any other religion known to man! It is mental illness looking for a mind to disturb! It is the spawn of the devil, and his own special invention to twist the efforts of mankind to seek his God! It is insidious evil and entirely too widespread! We are shnooks of the highest caliber! Or would that be the lowest caliber?! We have bought the deception hook, line and sinker, and are therefore wholly invested in irrational, religious, priggish, critical, judgmental, bondage – while the onlooking world goes by us in their hell-bound hand-baskets looking on in despair and disgust!
Face it, one need only peruse the news to know that we are NOT doing our job – we are not successful in our mission to win the lost! We can't even efficiently guide the “saved”, for the most part! The Church in America, and in most of the world is failing badly, while Islam thrives. Am I among the few who have stopped their comfortable, convenient religious activity long enough to ponder on why that might be so?! In seeking answers to those kinds of questions I have discovered some basic disconnects, time and again, that are the flies in this spiritual ointment! I believe that I have located at least some of the error in this spiritual map we follow - which has caused us to leave the paths of righteousness in so many areas that we look, sound, feel, and smell entirely too much like the stinking world!
How can we help them, when we ourselves are not helped?! How can we love them when we are so distracted? How can we free them when we are in more bondage than they are?! We may have come forth from the grave like Lazarus did when the Lord called him forth, but now we just stand around in our grave clothes stinking and bound like a mummy, because we have only heard – only acted on - ONE word of instruction! We have come forth – but we will not pursue the instruction that will enable us to GO forth! Converts are never what He commanded us to make – He instructed us to make disciples to HIM! That means that first WE must become HIS disciples! And HE was Torah Observant!
So what am I saying? We need to return to the WORD of GOD! AS WRITTEN! We need to leave behind the man made doctrines of bondage and division! We need to seek God, and walk in unity with each other, the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts, and pouring forth onto a lost and dying world! Love that seeks good and overcomes evil, love that has an anointing to break yokes of bondage. A stout, powerful love that can give the last full measure without a grain of resentment! That is what He is looking for. That is what HE IS – and what WE will become if we follow after Him!
Those are the people for which He will return! Disciples that have deprived the flesh, who have decreased so that He can increase, who have been willing to let their flesh be completely displaced by His Spirit. Those who have laid aside the leaven of religious hypocrisy and have taken on the mantel of true holiness! Those who have shunned man-made religious expression and have sought Him in Spirit and in Truth! Those are the ones who will know Him when He comes – who will side-step deception and be led into the presence of the Most Holy Father – the few who will reign with Him! Will we be among that remnant of those who are not only called, but chosen? The only difference between the ones called and the ones chosen, is that the chosen ones came when called!
Now I am not saying that these hard working religious ones will have no place in the Kingdom at all. That is not my place to say. Honestly, I have heard good scripturally sound arguments for both sides of that coin. However, I am pretty well assured that those who are hoping to become the bride of the Messiah are going to have to purify themselves to that end, and be more than religiously zealous!
That means that the process of removing leaven needs to begin now, meaning that sin must be systematically eradicated from our lives! His anointing must be received and applied – Torah must be observed – His appointed times must be celebrated – and their beauty and cleansing must permeate our walk with Him as a pleasing aroma to Him. That is process by which the mind is renewed and sin is eradicated!
There is no magic word, magic wand or presto-change-o going to happen to miraculously cause us to suddenly stop all the patterns of the fallen flesh! It is a process of discipleship that we miraculously enter into at Salvation, and which His Spirit then initiates and enables for the duration of our earthly journey! As He said that He only did or said what He saw or heard His Father saying or doing – so we – as His disciples – must only do or say what we hear or see HIM doing or saying! And He mostly did and said Torah!
That is how discipleship works! We need to stop this lazy cop-out of “do as I say, not as I do” and adapt to the motto that Rabbi Shaul (also known as Paul of Tarsus) took up - which was “follow me as I follow Christ”! The problem has been that most of Christendom does not want that kind of responsibility! The general tendency seems to be to cruse through life as far under the radar as possible - unobserved, unaccountable and not hassled by the needs of others! But that is so far from the Christian life expectancy detailed in the “New Covenant” that we claim to follow!
Let me debunk several popular Christian myths. First of all, being Torah observant is not “legalism” (unless you take it to ridiculous extremes which the Torah does not recommend, as is the tendency in Rabbinic Judaism) – when done as Yeshua recommended, however, it is called OBEDIENCE! Second of all – observing the feasts because God said that they were an ordinance for His People FOREVER is not legalism, but also obedience! Third of all – the “New Testament” did not do away with the “OLD” it merely explained it, and enabled us for its use!
What a bunch of dim-wits we have been! And the price we've paid for our selective, corporate and individual, stupidity has been the unrighteous, selfish, fleshly, unproductive lives of millions! We are no righteous force in the earth! If we were could abortion have made such horrific strides? Would divorce be rampant? Would suicide be rising as the leading cause of death? Would mental illness and general unrest be on the increase? Would antisemitism be rearing its ugly head again? NO! The answer is an unqualified “NO!”.
As we – who have realized the importance of the appointed times - celebrate Pesach tonight, and as the rest of Christendom celebrates the resurrection that came as a result of it next weekend – let's remember to also celebrate the feast of unleavened bread ! Even if we don't observe avoiding leavening agents in our bread – let's avoid the leavening agents of false doctrine in our teaching! Let's get hold of His unadulterated Word and let it purge out the sin and pride in us! Let's purify ourselves for His coming – and let's walk in such a way that lifts Him up so that all men are drawn to Him through us! After what He has done for us, it is the least we can do for Him! He is worthy!
“Let us celebrate the feasts, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice or wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” I Corinthians 5:8
Chag Sameach Pesach!