The Feast of Unleavened Bread

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The Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated the day after the Passover. In the New Testament, it is also known as a feast of passion commemorating the Crucifixion. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is associated with agony and pain—the suffering of Christ in the New Testament as well as the affliction of the Israelites in the Old Testament.

As the name implies, it is the feast to eat unleavened bread—bread made without yeast—which represents suffering. In the Old Testament, the ceremony of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated by eating unleavened bread for seven days; in the New Testament, we participate in Christ’s suffering by fasting.

God appointed this feast of suffering as a command for us to keep. Through this feast, we not only remember the suffering of Christ and the Israelites, but we also realize what kind of mindset we should have while walking the path of faith. Let us understand through the Bible the true meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Origin and Regulations of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Old Testament

After moving to Egypt because of the famine in Canaan, the Israelites were forced to do hard and dangerous work for over 400 years; they built Pithom and Rameses, the store cities in Egypt. As their outcry reached Heaven, God sent the prophet Moses and saved them through the great power of the Passover.

When the firstborn of every Egyptian family died in the great plague, Pharaoh the king of Egypt finally surrendered to God and let the Israelites go. The Egyptians urged the Israelites to leave in haste, so they could not add yeast to the dough and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. Since they had no time to prepare any other food, they baked loaves of unleavened bread made from the dough without yeast (Ex 12:29–39).

The Israelites departed from Rameses on the night of the Passover and camped by the Red Sea. Pharaoh, who had suddenly lost the large labor force of 600,000 men, changed his mind and gave the order to bring the Israelites back to Egypt. Then he mounted his own chariot and pursued the Israelites.

The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. . . . Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. . . .” Ex 14:8–18

When the Israelites saw that Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were right on their heels, they trembled with fear. The Israelites could not move quickly due to the large number of people—men, women, children, and the elderly—who were carrying their possessions and traveling with many livestock. To make matters worse, they faced a great dilemma, being hemmed in by the Red Sea in front and the Egyptian army behind. They were seized by fear, anxiety, and tension until God divided the Red Sea by His mighty power, and they crossed over on dry ground.

From this history of the Israelites, God appointed the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Every year, at this feast, God let the people eat unleavened bread for seven days to remember the suffering they went through from when they left Egypt until they crossed the Red Sea. So, unleavened bread is also called the “bread of affliction” (Dt 16:3).

The Fulfillment of the Prophecy of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Its Regulations in the New Testament

The regulations for the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Old Testament were a prophetic shadow of things to come, which Jesus fulfilled by His suffering from the time of His arrest on the night of the Passover until His death on the cross the following day—the Feast of Unleavened Bread—in the New Testament times.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. . . . Isa 53:3–8

As Isaiah had prophesied, Jesus was oppressed, interrogated, flogged, pierced, and crushed. While celebrating the Passover with the disciples, Jesus sealed the New Covenant with His flesh that would be torn and His blood that would be shed on the cross. On the night of the Passover, He was arrested and suffered severely until He died on the cross the next day, which was the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Bible describes this scene very simply; however, the movie “The Passion of the Christ” vividly depicts Jesus’ suffering on that day. When the movie was released, many people were shocked to see the tragic and heart-wrenching scenes of Christ’s suffering. To help us understand the suffering of Christ more deeply, God let the Israelites keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread by eating bread without yeast for over 1,500 years. After Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the New Testament, the saints commemorated Christ’s suffering by fasting on this day.

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” Mk 2:19–20

The time “when the bridegroom will be taken from them” refers to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the day Jesus died on the cross. At the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God allows us to experience physical suffering, albeit temporary, by fasting. In this way, we can begin to fathom how much Jesus suffered and also participate in His suffering.

Following the Path of Christ’s Suffering

Many people in the world suffer because of their own greed and vanity; however, Jesus suffered to save His children who deserved to die. Out of His deep and selfless love to save us, Christ willingly carried the burden of our sins.

Jesus endured all kinds of suffering even to the point of death. In addition to realizing the providence of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, we should also learn the value of following His precious path of sacrifice. We used to live only for ourselves before. However, as Christ walked the path of suffering for our salvation, God wants us to follow in His footsteps and walk the valuable path of faith to save our brothers and sisters.

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Pe 2:19–21

Following in the footsteps of Christ is not a glorious or comfortable path. It is a rough path where suffering is unavoidable. So, the Bible says that everyone who wants to live a godly life, following the teachings of Christ, will suffer persecution.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted[.] 2 Ti 3:10–12

The apostles of the early Church, who followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, were severely persecuted whenever they preached the gospel. Likewise, the saints of the church established by Christ at His second coming will experience suffering if they want to live according to God’s teachings. Then, why does God make us walk the path of suffering?

God’s Will in Suffering

God wants to make us into a masterpiece. As God said, “I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction,” we can understand why God leads us through the furnace of affliction rather than through a quiet, peaceful, and complacent life of faith (Isa 48:10).

Let us see the testimony of Job who by faith overcame many sufferings and trials and was greatly blessed in the end.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

The destination at the end of our path of suffering is the Kingdom of Heaven. God refines us through many sufferings to remove our impurities so we can stand in front of Him, shining as pure gold. God arranges smaller and bigger trials according to what each of us needs. Until this very moment, God has been encouraging and helping us overcome all hardships.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Pe 5:8–11

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. Rev 12:17

When we overcome all kinds of sufferings under God’s care and guidance, we can become strong enough to fight the devil. As our faith gets stronger through suffering, we will finally become the rest of the woman’s offspring who can resist the dragon, standing on the shore of the sea, as prophesied in the Bible.

Thus, God’s profound will can be found in suffering. When we face hardships, we must not foolishly complain against God or abandon our faith because of a lack of understanding of God’s will. Rather, we should realize the earnest love of God who sacrificed Himself to lead us to Heaven where we will live in love, joy, and happiness forever.

The Apostles Overcame Suffering With Joy and Gratitude

The apostles realized God’s immense love deep in their hearts through the sufferings they experienced while preaching the gospel. For this reason, they felt that it was commendable to suffer for doing good—preaching the gospel (1 Pe 2:19–20). Moreover, they were grateful for having been counted worthy of suffering; they felt proud and honored, considering their suffering as a glorious medal.

“But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Ac 5:39–42

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. . . . However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Pe 4:12–16

Following in the footsteps of Jesus, the apostles joyfully carried their own crosses and walked the noble and beautiful path of suffering to save brothers and sisters. They were delighted to participate in the suffering of Christ and never stopped preaching and teaching God’s word. As a result, they were refined like pure gold in the furnace of affliction, and now they are finally enjoying eternal happiness and joy in the beautiful Kingdom of Heaven, encouraging us along our journey of faith.

God willingly suffered on the cross to take our sins upon Himself so that we would be healed and live in peace. He came to earth once again and left behind the footsteps of suffering to lead His children to the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven. Even at this moment, our Heavenly Mother is taking upon Herself the burden of our sins and walking the path of suffering together with us.

Now we should have mature faith since we have received even greater love from God than the love given to the apostles 2,000 years ago. While walking the path of faith, if we throw away our sufferings because they are a burden, our Heavenly Mother will take them upon Herself in our stead. Realizing this, we must not commit the unfilial act of making Mother carry our crosses.

Let us follow in the footsteps of Christ’s suffering with joy and gratitude. Thinking about the moment when we will stand before God as brilliant ones like pure gold, let us offer up sweet incense with gratitude to God who makes His children strong and perfect through suffering. Brothers and sisters in Zion! I earnestly ask you all to save the whole world by walking the truly noble and beautiful path of faith in God’s eyes by practicing Christ’s holy and sacrificial love contained in His suffering.