We find the instruction for the feast of Unleavened Bread in Exodus 12:14-20. This feast coincides with Pesach/Passover in that the Pesach is the first day of Unleavened Bread. Beginning on the 14th day of the first month, not only was the Pesach Lamb to be slain but Israel was to put out all leaving elements from their homes. And for the next seven days, only bread without leaven was to be eaten. This seems like a strange ordinance from God and at first appears to have no real value other than He said to do it. Yet, the physical ordinance speaks volumes of the spiritual condition.
Israel only had two components to keep for this feast, (1) to remove leavening from the home on a specific day; (2) to eat bread without leaving for seven days. This seems easy enough but unfortunately, Israel did not always obey and keep the rules God set forth. Today, many Jewish homes and many Messianic Homes will follow these instructions to the letter. However, doing so is not an end to itself. The end is how it points to Mashaich/Christ and to us.
Mashiach/Christ the sinless One
Leavening is a shadow or type of sin and this is how the New Testament uses it. The concept can be seen in its being forbidden in the use of meal offerings, which accompany the fire (burnt) offerings (Leviticus 2:11; 6:17). Since Mashiach Yeshua/Christ Jesus is our fire offering for our sins and trespasses, he would have to be without sin and this completely portrays His character, attitude, and obedience to the will of God and His character and attitude toward His neighbors.
Paul and Peter both declare that Mashiach was without sin but became sin for us:
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Co 5:20-21, KJV)
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Pe 3:18, KJV)
Some may argue that this is not important but it is of great importance. If Mashaich/Christ had any ounce of sin/leaven, He could not be the perfect necessary sacrifice to bring righteousness back to mankind. Paul brings this truth out in his comparison of Mashiach/Christ to Adam (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 5:2028, 42-49). In Romans, Paul deals with the nature of sin verses the nature of righteousness, whereas in Corinthians, Paul deals with death and resurrection.
Believers are to be sinless
Some will immediately revolt against this statement but please read on and examine the Scriptures themselves. By this statement, I do not imply we are without sin for as believers we still have the old nature within us but we are not to walk in it. Since Unleavened Bread is associated with Pesach, we are to have a new nature and we are to walk in this new nature. Paul places this new walk in context to the death, burial, and resurrection of Mashiach/Christ, thus in the context of Pesach, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. Writing to the Congregation at Rome, he states:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” (Ro 6:3-12, KJV)
Here we find the primary purpose of baptism, to portray in a physical act, the spiritual application that has taken place. It is not that we are sinless but we move into a mind-set that changes our attitudes and actions thus our behavior reflects a changed life. This comes by presenting ourselves to God as a holy acceptable sacrifice as Mashiach/Christ did and then moving into a metamorphic state of mind from this world’s system of thinking and doing to a state of mind that is Mashaich/Christ like (Romans 12:1-2)
But to the idea of leaving, we find Paul writing to the Congregation at Corinth with these words:
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”. (1 Co 5:6-8, KJV)
The Resurrection of Mashiach/Christ
Pesach/Unleavened Bread is one of three pilgrim feasts and at each of the pilgrim feasts, Israel was to bring their first-fruits. First-fruits is based upon an agricultural system not a monetary system. This was the issue Yeshua/Jesus had with the money changers who were inflating the prices of the animals in order to make money.
Because the Church has followed the Roman Catholic system of the teachings of the early Church Fathers who moved away from the Jewish roots, there is much confusion and misunderstanding of the time of Mashiach’s resurrection. While it may have occurred on the first day of the week in the time He was crucified, its celebration would not have been every year on a specific Sunday, but rather on any day of the week depending on when Pesach occurred. This is based on the fact that He rose on the same day first0-fruits was being celebrated.
Paul puts the resurrection of Mashiach/Christ in the context of first-fruits:
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Co 15:21-23, KJV)
Therefore, to celebrate the resurrection of Mashaich/Christ, correctly and exactly, one needs to do on the day of first-fruits within the week of Unleavened Bread.
There is much debate even among the Rabbis as to what the day of first-fruits takes place. Its importance to the resurrection is obvious, but it also starts the countdown of the omer, which culminates in the next festival, Shavuot/Pentecost. The Dicitonary of Bible Themes accurately states we do not know but possible took place on the 16th of the month. This is the date used by the Jewish people as a whole with one group using a different time. The argument within the Church whether it was three full days or nights or just partial days and nights is not the real issue, but rather it is first-fruits.
The grain harvest of first-fruits that was to be brought and presented to God was from the barley harvest. We know many elements of time within the stories of the Scriptures by knowing the elements of the feasts. This element is found within the story of Ruth for it was at the time of the barley harvest.
Many use the concept of first-fruits to get believers to donate money to their ministries but that is not the purpose of first-fruits. First-fruits was used to (1) feed the Levites and the Kohen (Priests); (2) to feed the poor of Israel; (3) to help take care of the strangers. The purpose was not “ministry” as we understand it today. If one chooses to give a firs-fruit offering at this time of the year, one should take in consideration the purpose of the original first-fruit meaning in Mashiach/Christ and how first-fruits were to be used. God’s Word does not change, nor does His teachings. Ministries that would use the money to (1) witness to all people and (2) to help feed and clothe people for the specific purpose of witnessing of the resurrected Mashaich/Christ would be excellent ministries to give a first-fruit offering too. Remember, first-fruits was never monetary–the concept is based in an agricultural system where crops and animals were given as first-fruits. Also remember, humans were also considered first-fruits and we are first to give ourselves as “first born” to God and for His use.