The judgment of God upon the firstborn in Egypt was so severe that the Egyptians asked the Israelites to leave immediately. Israel complied, leaving so suddenly that they had no time to leaven (put yeast in) their bread and allow it to rise. As a result of God’s provision of a substitute Passover lamb, Israel was redeemed and separated themselves from Egypt post haste. God established the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning immediately after the Passover, to remember this event. It was a time of fasting from leaven.
In the Scriptures, leaven often (but not always) pictures corruption or a corrupting influence. Except for two special cases (Lev. 7:13; Amos 4:5), anything made with leaven was not to be offered upon the Lord’s altar. Jesus warned about the corrupting influence of the teaching of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians by using leaven. Paul did the same when speaking of the teaching of the Judaizers.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
(Galatians 5:7–9, ESV)
Paul also warned of the corrupting influence of the example of others (1Cor. 5; 15:33-34). The Corinthian church had a sinful person in their midst, yet they allowed him to continue in his sin. In arguing that they needed to put this person out of the church, he referenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 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. 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. …I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. …”Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Cor. 5:6b–13, ESV)
Unleavened Bread pictures Christ’s uncorrupted body: The Church. The influence of Christ’s work as our Passover should be a church that seeks purity among its membership in testimony and teaching.
A redeemed people should seek purity among their membership by removing those with corrupted teaching and sinful lifestyles.
Further reading: Exodus 12:14-20; 33-34, 39; 1Cor. 5; Gal. 5:7-12
David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.